Another reason to avoid high-fructose corn syrup (as if you need one): The processing used to make this sweetener leaves small amounts of mercury in the syrup. That may seem inconsequential, but at the rate Americans consume high fructose corn syrup, the added mercury could be a problem. Even if you eliminate HFCS from your diet, canned tuna-a staple in many healthy lunches-can also contain mercury. As long as you stick to no more than three cans of tuna a week, you should be fine. It’s also a good idea to avoid chunk white tuna, which has more than double the mercury of chunk light tuna.
These chemicals are added to plastics to in order to improve their durability, flexibility, and transparency and are also found in pacifiers, children’s toys, and personal care products such as soap, shampoo, hair spray, and nail polish. Korean researchers found higher levels of phthalates in obese children than in healthy-weight kids, with those levels correlating to both BMI and body mass. Scientists at the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York found a similar relationship between phthalate levels and weight in young girls. In addition to buying phthalate-free baby products and toys (Evenflo, Gerber, and Lego have all said they will stop using phthalates), you can search the Environmental Working Group’s database to check if your bath and beauty products contain any toxins.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States. It’s commonly used on corn, sugarcane, sorghum, and in some areas on grass lawns. Atrazine disrupts normal cellular mitochondrial function and has been shown to cause insulin resistance in animals. The EPA last thoroughly examined the health effects of atrazine in 2003, deeming it safe, but since that time 150 new studies have been published, in addition to documentation about the presence of atrazine in drinking water, prompting the agency to actively monitor our water supply. You can minimize your exposure to atrazine by buying organic produce, particularly corn.
Hand sanitizers, soaps, and toothpastes often add triclosan for its antibacterial properties. However, animal studies have shown that this chemical negatively impacts thyroid function. The FDA is currently reviewing all available safety and effectiveness data on triclosan, including information concerning bacterial resistance and endocrine disruption. For now, the FDA considers the chemical safe, but further research needs to be done to determine if and at what dosage triclosan decreases thyroid hormone levels in humans. If you would rather take action now, check the labels of your hand sanitizer, soaps, and toothpaste to be sure triclosan isn’t listed.