top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr. Kogan

A smart person’s guide to the toxic world

In today’s fast-paced world, living a healthy life is a goal that often feels like an uphill battle. We are surrounded by a multitude of chemicals and toxins in our environment, from the air we breathe to the food we eat, and even the products we use daily. It’s an alarming reality, but there are steps we can take to minimize our exposure and lead healthier lives. In my article last month, we started describing the stark reality of this chemical-laden world and I gave you some advice on how we can make informed choices for a healthier, toxin-free lifestyle. Today, we will focus on some common toxic culprits and learn how to avoid them the best we can.

Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA is one such scary chemical. It makes its way into a lot of food and drink packaging, Tupperware, plastic containers, and many canned foods. BPA can have a very disruptive effect on the body. It disrupts normal estrogen metabolism, increases the risk of diabetes and weight gain, and contributes to developmental delays and ADHD in children, to name a few. In manufacturing, BPA is often added to known human carcinogens such as vinyl chloride. What to do? Here are some useful tips:

  • Avoid water and sports bottles made with any plastic, even if it is labeled “BPA-free,” because they are likely to contain other harmful BPA substitutes.

  • When you go for takeout food, bring your own glass or stainless-steel food containers, to avoid using heated plastic.

  • In general, avoid the use of any plastic containers, especially in the heat, like in a car.

  • Do not heat or microwave any plastic containers and do not wash them in a dishwasher.

  • If you absolutely must use plastic—carefully look at the recycling codes on the bottom and avoid numbers 3,6, and 7—as they are likely to be the most toxic.

  • Try to eat fresh foods and avoid the use of canned foods and drinks. Buy milk and other liquid food like soups sold in glass containers instead.

  • If possible, buy food and produce which are not wrapped in plastic.

The food we consume is a significant contributor to our daily chemical intake. Modern agriculture relies heavily on pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to maximize crop yields. These chemicals can leave residues on the fruits and vegetables we consume. I usually recommend buying ‘USDA organic’ labeled food. This way you can be sure that at least 95% of the ingredients are organic, which means they are free of synthetic additives, artificial preservatives, colors, chemical pesticides, and toxic fertilizers. The label also ensures that the food was not processed using industrial solvents and that no bioengineering was involved. This automatically means that the foods are non-GMO. If USDA organic food is not available where you live, the next best thing is a “made with organic ingredients” label.

Regardless, remember to rinse all your produce before using it. Use a reputable vegetable cleaner or mix clean warm water with baking soda or white vinegar (in a ratio of one part vinegar to four parts water). Soak and mildly agitate produce for five minutes, then rinse with clean water. Sea salt can also be used as an abrasive agent to clean produce skin.

Reducing exposure to chemicals and toxins is smart, but it is essential to be realistic. We cannot eliminate all risks, but we can minimize them. Start small and make gradual changes. Incorporate a few organic foods into your diet, avoid plastic containers and packaging, and switch to natural cleaning products or personal care products. Over time, these changes can add up to a significant reduction in your chemical exposure.


The author of Diet Slave No More!, Svetlana Kogan, MD is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine, Holistic & Functional Medical Doctor with 25 years of experience. | 239.676.6883


bottom of page