Tag Archives: Weight Management

Are you eating your way to a hormonal imbalance? 50 foods to avoid.

PROPYL PARABEN

Are you eating an endocrine disruptor?

The pastry you’re thinking about buying may contain the preservative propyl paraben, linked to disruptions in hormone signaling.

According to ingredient data obtained by EWG’s Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, an online database and app that helps consumers eat healthier, propyl paraben is in 49 widely-available processed foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes and La Banderita Corn Tortillas.

Last year, EWG turned the spotlight on propyl paraben in its Dirty Dozen Guide To Food Additives because the federal Food and Drug Administration has listed its use in food as “Generally Recognized As Safe.” Despite mounting evidence that propyl paraben disrupts the endocrine system, the FDA has failed to take action to eliminate its use in food or reassess its safety.

In 2002 researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health discovered that propyl paraben decreased sperm counts in young rats at and below the concentrations which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers safe for human consumption in food (Oishi 2002; 21CFR184.1670).

Other researchers have confirmed propyl paraben’s effects on the endocrine system. It acts as a synthetic estrogenic compound and can alter hormone signaling and gene expression (Routledge 1998; Terasaka 2006; Vo 2011; Wróbel 2014). A recent study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health suggested that exposure to propyl paraben might be associated with diminished fertility (Smith 2013).

Proper endocrine signaling is particularly important during critical windows of development—while in the womb and during childhood and adolescence. Chemicals that disrupt hormone signaling can lead to adverse effects on development, reproduction, and the neurological and immune systems.

Citing the study by the researchers in Tokyo, the European Food Safety Authority issued an advisory in 2004 that the presumed safe exposure level for propyl paraben in food was no longer valid because it affected sex hormones and the male reproductive organs in young rats (EFSA 2004). Based on that advice, in 2006, regulators removed propyl paraben from the list of food additives authorized for use in the European Union.

Propyl paraben is starting to disappear from some cosmetics, so it is a wonder that it is still allowed in food. If you browse the personal care product aisles in any drug store, you are likely to see labels advertising that certain body washes, lotions, and other items are “paraben free”. Under pressure from EWG and other health advocates, in August 2012 Johnson & Johnson voluntarily pledged to remove this and other members of the paraben family from all its baby products. Brands such as Alba, Origins and Burt’s Bees don’t use parabens at all.

Yet Americans are still widely exposed to this chemical. In 2010 research led by Antonia Calafat, Ph.D., a respected chemist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported that 92.7 percent of Americans tested had propyl paraben in their urine (Calafat 2010).

via Propyl Paraben | EWG.

50 Foods Containing Propyl Paraben

  • Amport Foods Chocolate & Nut Trail Mix
  • Archer Farms Gourmet Dessert Cookies
  • Arizona Snack Company Canyon Runner II Trail
  • Arizona Snack Company Sweet Energy Trail
  • Cafe Valley Apple Spice Mini Muffins Apple Spice
  • Cafe Valley Banana Nut Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Blueberry Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Cake Pumpkin Cream Cheese
  • Cafe Valley Chocolate Chips Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Corn Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Lemon Poppyseed Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Orange Cranberry Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
  • Creative Occasions Old Fashioned Carrot Cream Cheese Cake
  • Elizabeth’s Naturals Psychedelic Sunday Mix
  • Emerald Breakfast On The Go Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Nut & Granola Mix
  • Energy Club Fancy Mojo Mix
  • Energy Club Nuts N Chocolate Blend
  • Entenmann’s Coconut Crunch Donuts
  • Essential Everyday Classic Trail Mix
  • Island Snacks Fancy Chocolate Mix
  • La Banderita White Corn Tortillas
  • La Banderita Yellow Corn Tortillas
  • Little Debbie Pecan Spinwheels
  • Newton’s Naturals Get The Munchies Trail Mix
  • Nuevo Leon Tortillas
  • Oh Yeah! Candies Chocolate Caramel
  • Ole Mexican Foods Corn Tortillas
  • Patissa Pumpkin Pie Cream Puffs
  • Premium Orchard Rainbow Trail Mix
  • Private Selection Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Quality Club Deluxe Moxxi Mix
  • Roundy’s Cranberry Trail Mix
  • Roundy’s Pak O Snax
  • Sara Lee Cinnamon Rolls
  • Sara Lee Honey Glazed Buns
  • Setton Farms Hiker’s Trail Mix
  • Superior Chocolate Nut Trail Mix
  • Superior Mini Chocolate Eclairs
  • Sweet P’s Bake Shop Black & White Cookies
  • Tropical Corn Tortillas, Traditional Style
  • Turano Brat & Sausage Rolls
  • Weight Watchers Carrot Crème Cake
  • Weight Watchers Chocolate Crème Cake
  • Weight Watchers Golden Sponge Cake
  • Weight Watchers Lemon Creme Cake
  • Weight Watchers Red Velvet Creme Cake
  • Weis Cross’n Country
  • Weis Milk Chocolate Candies

References:

Calafat AM, Ye X, Wong LY, Bishop AM, Needham LL. 2010. Urinary concentrations of four parabens in the U.S. population: NHANES 2005-2006. Environ Health Perspect. 118(5):679-85.

21CFR184.1670. Available: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=184.1670 [Accessed February 7, 2015]

EFSA. 2004. Opinion of the Scientific Panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food (AFC) related to para hydroxybenzoates (E 214-219). EFSA Journal. 83, 1-26.

Oishi S. Effects of propyl paraben on the male reproductive system. Food Chem Toxicol. 2002 Dec;40(12):1807-13.

Routledge EJ, Parker J, Odum J, Ashby J, Sumpter JP. 1998. Some alkyl hydroxy benzoate preservatives (parabens) are estrogenic. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 153(1):12-9.

Smith KW, Souter I, Dimitriadis I, Ehrlich S, Williams PL, Calafat AM, Hauser R. 2013. Urinary paraben concentrations and ovarian aging among women from a fertility center. Environ Health Perspect. 121(11-12):1299-305.

Terasaka S, Inoue A, Tanji M, Kiyama R. 2006. Expression profiling of estrogen-responsive genes in breast cancer cells treated with alkylphenols, chlorinated phenols, parabens, or bis- and benzoylphenols for evaluation of estrogenic activity. Toxicol Lett. 163(2):130-41. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

Vo TT, Jung EM, Choi KC, Yu FH, Jeung EB. 2011. Estrogen receptor α is involved in the induction of Calbindin-D(9k) and progesterone receptor by parabens in GH3 cells: a biomarker gene for screening xenoestrogens. Steroids. 76(7):675-81.

Wróbel AM, Gregoraszczuk EL. 2014. Actions of methyl-, propyl- and butylparaben on estrogen receptor-α and -β and the progesterone receptor in MCF-7 cancer cells and non-cancerous MCF-10A cells. Toxicol Lett. 230(3):375-381

Dr. Court’s Comments:

Endocrine disruptors like parabens and others such as BPA, PFOA, phthalates,  and PCBs are potent chemicals that surround us ubiquitously. Their ability to disrupt our hormonal system has lead to changes in how our bodies function. BPA was originally created as a synthetic estrogen, albeit a weak one. However, because we are exposed to it all the time, those weak estrogenic effects are magnified. BPA, PFOA, phthalates and PCBs are classified as obesogens. That means they cause weight gain. They do this by increasing the number of fat cells we have and increasing our ability to store fat. More fat cells storing more fat means we are increasingly overweight. Avoidance of these chemicals is probably impossible, however, do your best to minimize exposure. First and foremost, avoid processed foods. They are loaded with these chemicals. Secondly, buy products that specify ‘BPA free’ or ‘phthalate free.’ Last, but not least, exercise regularly to assist your body in detoxifying you system.

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‘What’ you eat is more important than ‘How Much.’

The Hat in Rancho Cucamonga California

Image via Wikipedia

Finally a large-scale study has concluded what I have been telling patients for years! What you eat is more important than how much of it you eat.  A calorie is not a calorie!

If you ask many classically trained dietitians about maintaining a healthy weight they will regurgitate the same old rhetoric they always have – “as long as you don’t eat more calories than you expend you won’t gain weight,” and “there are no bad foods, just bad amounts of food.”

The above statements have never made sense to me.  I remember taking ‘advanced biology’ in high school.  (There was nothing really ‘advanced’ about it. It was just the second of two courses, the first being ‘basic’ biology.)  In this class I remember learning about physiology and how the body responded differently to different types of food.  Some foods caused the release of insulin while others caused little or no release of this hormone.  The job of this hormone? It basically tells the body to store fat.  From that information I concluded that what you ate had to make a difference in your weight.

As I progressed through my eduction in college (as a biology major) and then on to chiropractic school where I truly received advanced training, my view did not change – the quality of food that I ate had to make a difference on maintaining my weight.  It could not possibly be as simple as calorie-in/calorie-out.

Yet when you read information online or from other mainstream media outlets you will hear just the opposite. “Eat whatever you want, just be sure it’s in moderation.” Or “It doesn’t matter what kind of food you eat as long as it’s low calorie.”

A new study of just over 120,000 people finally has come up with a conclusion that makes more sense.  Hopefully the American Dietetic Association will take notice.  Individually there are some very good dietitians out there, but the American Dietetic Association is making people sicker and sicker with their stance on many aspects of health in my opinion.

The researchers analyzed data on three separate studies over a 20-year period, tracking the long-term effects of different foods and lifestyle changes on more than 120,000 men and women. Adults in the study gained an average of 3.35 pounds every four years, for a total average weight gain of almost 17 pounds.

Regular consumption of potato chips, French fries and sugared beverages were most to blame for slow and steady weight gain. However, people who ate yogurt, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains either lost weight or gained the least.

Now, I will be the first person to tell you that weight is not the be-all, end-all of health markers.  It’s a good one, but there are plenty of thin people in this world who are very unhealthy.  Also, I generally do not recommend grains be a big part of anyone’s diet.  In small amounts they are ok, but they contribute to inflammation which can be problematic for many reasons.

The other foods in this study – yogurt, fruits, vegetables and nuts – are free foods! Eat them as much as you want.  I routinely encourage people to eat these foods as much as possible.

Interestingly, nuts are a high calorie food yet they performed very well in helping people lose or maintain their weight.  If it truly was about calorie-in/calorie-out then nuts should have performed poorly.  It just goes to show you it isn’t about the calories that we’re putting in, it’s about the quality of those calories.

As much as I’d like to say it’s only about the quality of our food that matters, I cannot.  The amount matters to a certain extent.  If you are regularly consuming 7,000 calories per day you will gain weight.  That type of excess cannot be combated with ‘good’ foods.  However, to get that kind of extra calorie one would have to consume huge amounts of the ‘bad’ foods like fast food, doughnuts, etc.  Those clearly are not quality foods in the first place.

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the author of the study that appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.  He says the calorie-in/calorie-out theory is incorrect “because different foods have a different effect on the body. ‘You can’t just say a calorie is a calorie. It doesn’t address your feelings of fullness, your blood glucose levels, your blood insulin levels and the other biological responses in your body.”

I could not agree more and this has been my point to other ‘experts’ on nutrition when we debate the calorie-in/calorie-out theory.

Let me pose this scenario to you –

Two people are going to embark on an experiment.  They are going to eat identical calorie diets for the next year.  One person is going to eat 2,000 calories per day in potato chips and the other is going to eat 2,000 calories per day in chicken and vegetables.  Who will be healthier and have the most optimal weight at the end of our experiment?  Intuitively we would say the person eating the chicken and vegetables would be and I believe this is correct.

There have been many short-term studies that have concluded healthy diets only need to focus on calorie content.  The quality of the food was not important for maintaining weight.  Finally a study has looked long-term and concluded that the quality of your food is important. Make sure your choices are good choices.  If you focus on the quality of your food you will maintain your weight more effectively than counting those calories.

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