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Recent scientific journals have been focusing on the health effects of microplastics and the results look very concerning. 

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are small plastic particles that are less than 5 millimeters in size. They originate from the breakdown of larger plastic debris or are manufactured as small particles for use in products like cosmetics and industrial processes. They are ubiquitous in the environment and sadly almost impossible to avoid. Microplastics enter the body through the lungs when breathing and are also found in foods. 

What do the studies show?

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found patients that had microplastics in plaque from the carotid arteries that supply the brain had a higher risk of a composite of myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from any cause at 34 months.”

Another study found that patients with inflammatory bowel disorders that had microplastics in their stool had worse symptoms than those without them.

Another concerning study shows that microplastics may be a factor in the rising rates of male infertility as they have been found in testicular cells at very high levels. They seem to cause a decrease in sperm counts.

How does it affect longevity?

From a longevity perspective, any disease, condition or environmental factor that causes inflammation can lead to a decrease in lifespan and quality of life. It is not surprising then that microplastics are a threat to longevity because the body has no way to metabolize or eradicate them and this can lead to biochemical changes that can affect health.  

How do I avoid microplastics?

There are ways to decrease your exposure to microplastics but no way to totally avoid them. Here are a few suggestions:

-Limit the ingestion of any foods that have been exposed to plastic s-especially highly processed foods.

– Stop drinking water in plastic bottles as studies have shown elevated levels of microplastics in bottled water as compared to tap water. Switch to refillable glass or stainless steel water bottles.

– Always use glass containers to store and reheat food

– If you order take away food from a restaurant, transfer the food to a standard plate as soon as you get home.

– Limit the purchase of clothing and furniture that has plastic in it. Instead choose natural fibers such as wool, linen and cotton.