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Try This – Do Microplastics Cause Heart Disease?

What if I told you that a toxic, pervasive, everyday material was a huge contributor to heart disease? 

Some super-scary information came out recently that’s been circulating the news, and you’re going to want to hear about it—especially if you’re worried about preventing heart attacks, stroke, and even death! 

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some simple everyday swaps we can make to reduce our exposure to this material and protect our heart health. 

Let’s jump in…

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Our Huge Plastic Problem 

When plastics break down, they become microplastics and nanoplastics, both of which are so dangerous because they cross the bloodstream and can cause severe damage to our organs.

They can even store themselves in our fat, causing fat growth. They can cross the blood-brain barrier, damaging our brain health. And they can even cross the placenta, causing damage to the fetus. 

Now, recent research that has taken the internet by storm is shedding light on a terrifying way that plastics are creating major health problems. 

The research, published by The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at patients who were undergoing a procedure to remove plaque from clogged arteries to determine whether or not it contained microplastics and nanoplastics. 

Two hundred fifty-seven patients completed the study, and polyethylene (the most commonly used plastic) was found in 150 of the patients’ carotid artery plaque. 

Through an electron microscope, they also found “visible jagged-edge foreign particles” in the plaque, which is beyond frightening. And, the patients with micro- and nanoplastics in their plaque had higher inflammatory markers and were at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and death than those without detectable plastics in their plaque. 

Actually, researchers found that there was a 4.53x greater risk of cardiovascular events and death in those with micro- and nanoplastic particles in their plaque.

This is both deeply concerning and incredibly valuable information. 

If we know that the presence of micro- and nanoplastics in our bodies can contribute to something as lethal as a heart attack or stroke, we have an opportunity to take charge of our health by reducing our exposure to plastics. 

Try This – Reduce Your Plastics 

I am personally doing my best to reduce my exposure to plastics, especially because there’s a history of heart disease in my family, and I’m a hyper-absorber of cholesterol. But you don’t have to have an increased risk of heart disease to take action; everyone can take steps to reduce the amount of plastics in their life—starting today! 

  1. Invest in a high-quality water filter. Bottled water and tap water are filled with micro- and nanoplastics. I have an under-the-counter reverse osmosis filter. And there are so many countertop water filters out there that are good quality, too, like AquaTru.

  2. Stop getting takeout in hot plastic containers. Plastic is an issue, but heated up plastic is an even bigger problem! When you get takeout in hot plastic containers, the plastic leaches into your food. If you really want to enjoy something specific, try to eat it at the restaurant and bring your own container for leftovers. On the days when takeout is a must, get that food out of the hot container as soon as possible!

  3. Similarly, watch out for the lids on to-go coffee cups. The lids, which contain plastic, get heated and also leach plastic into your coffee and mouth. Take your own coffee cup with you, or enjoy it without the lid if you can safely do so. 

  4. Reduce ultra-processed food. Most ultra-processed food is found in plastic containers. When we cook at home, using real, whole food, we are already reducing the amount of plastic in our lives. I try to eat 80 percent whole foods. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about crowding out the processed stuff as much as possible. 

  5. Take a stainless steel water bottle with you. Speaking of water, I always take a stainless steel water bottle with me so that I can fill up at a friend’s place or bring water from home. I’m not perfect, so I sometimes forget to take this while traveling by air, but I do my best because most airports have water stations where you can fill up your water bottle. Or, opt for glass water bottles when you can find one. 

  6. Swap out personal care items and fabrics. This one can get a little expensive, so it’s more of a long-term goal. Many of our daily apparel items contain plastics, which we then put near our reproductive organs. By choosing brands that focus on natural fibers, we can limit our exposure to microplastics. Here is a good article on some nontoxic clothing brands. Likewise, it’s important to be mindful of what we put on our skin, since it’s our largest organ and absorbs everything we slather on. I like to use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to see how clean my skincare products are

  7. If you can, invest in a high-quality air filter: Microplastics aren’t just in our water and food; they are also in our air. That’s why I personally have an air filter in my home, and run it, especially at night when my body is detoxifying. Read more about this here

Again, some of these changes might happen in phases, and others are simpler to incorporate today. 

What simple swaps will you make today? 

Here’s to your health, 

Dhru Purohit