If you’re serious about building muscles and staying healthy, you need to be aware of bisphenol A. BPA is a chemical that was first produced in 1891 and has been used to make products of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are easily molded, are very durable and have numerous applications as food containers, electronic components and construction materials. Epoxy resins can be used to make adhesives, product molds and insulation for electronic systems.
The versatility of BPA is such that more than 6 billion pounds of its products are produced each year. What is alarming is that this ubiquitous chemical is creating toxicity in human bodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BPA was detected in 93 percent of the subjects tested.
The really bad news is that BPA is considered a synthetic hormone that is estrogenic, meaning it mimics estrogen in the body and binds to estrogen receptors (it has even been investigated as a replacement for estrogen). When ingested, BPA can influence endocrine response—essentially, it alters hormone levels in both women and men. Hormones affect just about everything, including brain function (concentration), nervous system activity (sleep and energy levels), metabolism (insulin health and fat burning) and organ function (heart and liver health).
For muscle building, consider that BPA will lower men’s testosterone, since it mimics estrogen’s effect in the body. A study in the November 2011 journal Toxicology Letters looked at the effects of BPA on androgens in both humans and rats. The researchers found that BPA exposure led to lower testosterone production in rats, and the inhibition was dose dependent, meaning that the greater the BPA levels, the lower the testosterone.
BPA exposure was shown to inhibit androstenedione, a hormone from which androgens are produced, and lower androstenedione leads to lower testosterone. Take note that in this study some of the enzymes required to make testosterone were more sensitive to BPA among the human males than the male rats, indicating that the dangers of BPA may be greater for humans than animals.
One way to limit your exposure to BPA is to avoid purchasing food in metal cans, as the BPA leaches from the liner of the can into the food. Although raw fruits and vegetables are best, frozen produce is the next best choice. Also, consider that there are BPA-free cans available from many manufacturers, such as Eden Foods, Native Forest and Trader Joe’s.
Next, if you must use a food that was stored in a BPA-laden container, at least rinse the food with water prior to cooking or eating it. Also, never eat out of plastic containers (even BPA-free plastic containers, because there’s concern about toxicity from all plastics). And if you must microwave, never heat any food in a plastic container; instead, use ceramic or glass containers.
BPA is here to stay, and despite our best precautions, we will have some exposure to this toxin. Our response must be to dramatically reduce BPA exposure to give us and our families the best chance for a healthy life.