Until recently, Type 1 diabetes has not been attributed to diet and lifestyle factors, but along with Type 2 diabetes, its incidence is rising at an alarming rate. One reason for this is becoming clear.
Poor diet and lack of exercise are known to be major factors in causing the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes spreading around the developed world, but in the past two decades, Type 1 diabetes has become the most common chronic childhood disease in developed countries. It usually develops suddenly in people under the age of 30 years. It is thought to be caused by an autoimmune process that destroys the insulin-producing or islet-beta cells in the pancreas. In New South Wales, Australia, between 1985 and 2002, the incidence of Type 1 diabetes doubled in children under five years, leading researchers to conclude this rise of Type 1 diabetes is due to “a major environmental effect.” Researchers tested BPA’s effect on glucose regulation and discovered a link between BPA and insulin resistance.
Scientists have known for years about the endocrine disrupting effects of BPA and other chemicals, which can diminish sperm production, accelerate the onset of puberty, damage sexual organs, and affect glucose metabolism.
Now it seems certain that Bisphenol A (BPA), widespread in our environment, is an endocrine disruptor. Since the 1950s, it has been used in plastics that make water bottles, jugs, baby bottles, toys, and the linings of food and beverage cans. Consumers using plastic bottles and food containers continually ingest BPA that leaches from these containers into food and drinks. Studies in the United States showed that BPA appeared in the blood and urine of 93% of people tested – and that it lingers in the body and is not easily excreted.
Cause for alarm?
Environmental factors must to be examined at least in equal part to dietary and lifestyle factors, especially for understanding the reason for the rapid rise in the number of children being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Given the number of studies emerging on the link between diabetes and BPA, it is well worth knowing where exposures to BPA lie.
How to avoid BPA:
- Make sure that the plastic you are using is BPA free. Many plastics are now marked as ‘BPA’ free.
- Avoid all plastics marked with the numbers 3, 7, or no number.
- Replace plastic food containers with glass or ceramic ones.
- Use stainless steel drink bottles.
- Avoid cling wrap especially in the freezer and microwave.
- Keep plastics away from hot or oily food.
- Use ceramic or glass dishes and covers in the microwave.
- Avoid tinned food in cans with white plastic lining – especially tomatoes. Buy glass containers instead.
- Give babies wooden toys to play with.
- Eat minimal processed food, which is invariably has been stored in plastic containers.
These simple measures like this could make a big difference to the amount of harmful chemicals like BPA that you, your children and grandchildren are exposed to.