True Cellular Formulas Team - October 11, 2023
Detoxing from Microplastics
Steps to Reduce Our Ingestion and Exposure
Microplastics: two words that, when combined, should evoke an environmental concern we can no longer afford to ignore. Recent studies have delivered sobering news: these tiny plastic fragments aren’t just in our oceans and food but have been found within the most sacred chambers of our body—our hearts. With evidence pointing towards these tiny invaders being present in our innermost tissues, the question on everyone’s lips now is: How can we reduce our exposure and ingestion of these microscopic invaders? This article will provide insight into microplastics, their potential dangers, and tangible steps to minimize our exposure.
What are Microplastics?
Microplastics are essentially miniature ambassadors of our plastic-dependent society. They are plastic fragments that measure less than 5 millimeters in size, roughly equivalent to the diameter of a pencil eraser. Though they may seem inconspicuous due to their tiny stature, their prevalence in the environment is alarming.
The sources of these microplastics are diverse: they can originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items, be manufactured intentionally for use in cosmetics and personal care products, or result from the wear and tear of synthetic textiles and tires. Once they enter the environment, they persist, becoming a part of our food chain and, as recent research indicates, a potential health concern for humans.
Why Should We Be Concerned?
The omnipresence of microplastics is concerning enough, but their potential health implications amplify these concerns. When microplastics enter our bodies—whether through the food we eat, the water we drink, or the air we breathe—they bring along a myriad of potentially harmful substances. These tiny fragments can absorb and carry toxins, heavy metals, and harmful chemicals, thereby acting as carriers for these hazardous compounds.
Moreover, the real danger lies in what we don’t know. The research on microplastics' long-term effects on human health is still in its infancy. Preliminary studies have hinted at potential disturbances to the endocrine system and a possible link to inflammatory reactions. The recent discovery of microplastics in heart tissues serves as a stark reminder of how much we have yet to uncover about these particles' journey inside our bodies and their subsequent effects.
Everyday Sources of Microplastics
As we go about our daily routines, we are often oblivious to the invisible intruders we inadvertently invite into our bodies. Understanding the most common sources of microplastics can be the first step toward minimizing our exposure.
- Food and Water:
- Seafood: Shellfish, especially those that are filter feeders, tend to accumulate microplastics from their environment. Saltwater fishes can also ingest these particles as they mistake them for food.
- Salt: Harvested from seawater, some salt brands have been found to contain microplastics.
- Bottled Water: Plastics from the bottle itself can leach into the water, especially if exposed to heat.
- Cosmetics and Personal Care Products:
- Microbeads: These tiny plastic spheres, once popular in exfoliating face washes and some toothpastes, are a direct source of microplastics.
- Makeup: Some makeup products, especially glittery ones, can contain tiny plastic particles.
- Home Environment:
- Synthetic Textiles: Every time we wash our synthetic clothing, thousands of microfibers are released into the water.
- Household Dust: The wear and tear of household items made of plastic, from toys to furniture, can contribute to microplastic-laden dust.
Strategies to Reduce Microplastic Ingestion and Exposure:
Awareness is half the battle. Once we understand where these microplastics come from, we can adopt strategies to reduce our intake.
- Dietary Choices:
- Freshwater Fish: Choosing freshwater species over saltwater ones can reduce microplastic ingestion.
- Minimize Processed Foods: The packaging of these foods often sheds microplastics.
- Filtered Water: Using good quality water filters can help trap microplastics and reduce their ingestion.
- Household Tips:
- Frequent Cleaning: Regular vacuuming and dusting can reduce the number of microplastic particles we are exposed to.
- Natural Fibers: Opting for natural textiles like cotton or wool over synthetic ones can reduce the microfibers entering the environment.
- Product Vigilance: Checking the ingredient list of cosmetics for microplastics or opting for natural, eco-friendly brands.
- Medical Awareness:
- Stay Informed: Understanding potential sources of exposure, such as the recent revelation about medical procedures, can help in making informed choices.
- Seek Alternatives: Discuss potential risks with healthcare providers and, where possible, inquire about alternative materials or methods.
The discovery of microplastics in our bodies underscores the intimate connection between our environment and our health, serving as a stark reminder of our era's ecological challenges. Although eradicating microplastics entirely may seem daunting due to their widespread presence, the steps presented provide a tangible path toward reducing our exposure. By making informed decisions in our daily lives, advocating for systemic change, and supporting sustainable innovations, each of us can contribute to a collective effort, striving for a healthier future for both ourselves and our planet.
- “Microplastics Found in Human Heart Tissues, Both before and after Surgical Procedures.” American Chemical Society, www.acs.org/pressroom/presspacs/2023/august/microplastics-found-in-human-heart-tissues-before-and-after-surgical-procedures.html.
- “Plastic, (Micro)Plastic Everywhere. What Does It Do and Why Should We Care?” American Chemical Society, www.acs.org/pressroom/tiny-matters/plastic-micro-plastic-everywhere-what-does-it-do-and-why-should-we-care.html.
- Lee, Yongjin et al. “Health Effects of Microplastic Exposures: Current Issues and Perspectives in South Korea.” Yonsei Medical Journal vol. 64,5 (2023): 301-308. doi:10.3349/ymj.2023.0048
- Campanale, Claudia et al. “A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health.” International journal of Environmental Research and public health vol. 17,4 1212. 13 Feb. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijerph17041212
- Smith, Madeleine et al. “Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health.” Current Environmental Health Reports vol. 5,3 (2018): 375-386. doi:10.1007/s40572-018-0206-z
- US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “What Are Microplastics?” NOAA’s National Ocean Service, 13 Apr. 2016, oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/microplastics.html.
- “Your Laundry Sheds Harmful Microfibers. Here’s What You Can Do About It.” The New York Times, 21 Apr. 2021, www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/reduce-laundry-microfiber-pollution/.