Lead in drinking water was in the news a lot in Summer 2016. That’s because lead had seeped into the water supply in Flint, MI, causing President Obama to declare a Federal State of Emergency. That should give you a clue just how dangerous lead and other environmental chemicals (also called Persistent Organic Chemicals or POPS) are. During pregnancy, it’s especially important to avoid these chemicals because they can derail proper fetal development, causing long term problems with brain and motor functions in children. You can store chemicals in your body where they could eventually reach your unborn baby or newborn when breastfeeding. This makes it important to watch out for these during all your childbearing years. Here is a quick overview of top ways to avoid POPS from Eating Expectantly.
Twenty-Two Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Persistent Organic Chemicals, Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and Heavy Metals:
- Eat as little animal fat as possible.
- Choose lean meats, removing the fat and skin from all animal products including fish.
- Choose skim and low-fat dairy products or choose organic for higher fat levels. (Higher fat dairy is recommended while trying to conceive.)
- Choose smaller seafood species fish (trout, tilapia, shrimp) instead of large predatory fish (tuna, shark, swordfish).
- Eat up to 12 oz. (375 g) of fish per week of those considered safe choices. Find a list of best choices and other info at Purdue University’s Fish4Health.net.
- Avoid eating oysters, clams and mussels unless you know that they came from a safe area.
- If you live near an industrial area (or where one used to be), have your soil tested before you plant a vegetable garden.
- Avoid storing food in crystal and use caution when using handcrafted pottery from other countries, especially those painted with bright colors.
- Take a close look at your hobbies—they might expose you to paint, adhesives, and metals that contain POPs.
- If you or someone in your family is a sports or recreational fisherman, pay close attention to consumption guidelines posted at fishing sites and at epa.gov/General.aspx.
- If you drink water from a well, have the water tested for nitrates, heavy metals and bacteria when you confirm your pregnancy.
- Make sure you have a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin D, copper and zinc in your diet to decrease absorption of heavy metals.
- Be very careful about the type of plastic that comes into contact with your food—avoid the #3 and some #7 recycling codes. (Some 5 gallon water bottles are #7)
- If you are unsure about your water supply, add a filter to your tap.
- Choose organic food when possible, especially those highest in pesticide residues–see EWG’s Dirty Dozen. Eat more from the Clean Fifteen.
- Avoid exposure to pesticides and herbicides around the house. More on that here. A pest-specific list of alternatives here.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables well before eating—even organic and home grown.
- Limit canned foods or choose brands that are labeled BPA-free or are in alternative packaging.
- Limit rice products to once or twice a week and avoid rice milk. More on from the FDA and Consumer Reports.
- Avoid hijiki, a type of seaweed.
- Avoid or limit exposure to chemicals in the workplace (by both mom and dad). More on that from OSHA.
- Carefully read the labels of products that come into contact with skin, hair and lungs avoiding those that contain fragrance, phthalates and other questionable substances. More info at Skin Deep Database.
- Limit exposure to pesticides. Sometimes you can’t avoid it, but there are also many chemical-free ways to control pests. Find more information about Pest Control for Expectant Moms here.
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