Some reports indicate that Americans eat more and more of their meals at restaurants. Other reports say restaurant eating is on the decline. Most reports say that millennials are eating out more and that they don’t know how to cook. We’re not sure where the truth lies, but we’re pretty sure it’s not normal for twenty-year-olds to be cooking most of their own meals. And, more importantly, young consumers are growing more concerned with finding healthier food choices, whether they are eating out or not.
On that note, the single most important thing you can do for your health is to prepare your own food from scratch. Now, a new study published in the journal Environment International states that Americans’ are getting more than they bargained for when they eat out. Eating out restaurants frequently is correlated with higher body levels of phthalates.
Phthalates are not food additives; at least, they’re not intentional. Phthalates are chemicals that are mixed with plastics to make them more pliable or flexible. They are also linked to reduced semen quality, diabetes, lower IQ, cancer, and more. The chemicals can leach into food as they are stored in restaurant-style plastic containers, handled with food-handling gloves, and processed through plastic processing equipment.
George Washington University, UC-Berkeley, and UC-San Francisco analyzed urine sample data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is a government-backed health survey that is performed every two years. Data from more than 10,000 Americans (between 2005 and 2014) included urine analysis along with what they ate the day before and where they got the meal. Approximately two-thirds of the respondents reported having eaten restaurant food the prior day.
We found that people who eat out more at full-service restaurants, cafeterias, and fast-food restaurants have nearly 35 percent higher phthalate exposures than people who bought their food from a grocery store, and are presumably eating at home,” – Ami Zota, senior author on the study, Mother Jones
The reports also states that people who ate restaurant-made meat sandwiches (including hamburgers) saw increased phthalate levels higher than that of people who ate homemade meat sandwiches. Fast food consumption showed a big increase in phthalate exposure.
Our findings suggest that eating fresh, less processed foods at home can potentially reduce biologically-relevant phthalate levels in your body, and that’s something you could do tomorrow,” – Julia Varshavsky, lead author on the study
Phthalates last in the body for about a day, so the good news is that it’s not too hard to detoxify oneself of most of them by not eating out, but it begs the question, what other plastic and chemical contaminants are we getting from restaurant foods? Not to mention rancid industrial cooking oils, GMOs, and extreme cooking temperatures that cause Advanced Glycation End Products.
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