Microplastics: 6 Basic Ways You Can Avoid Them In Your Food

The potential dangers of microplastics in food have been the subject of many discussions around food safety. Microplastics can be ingested through food and water consumption. Once ingested, they may be absorbed by the body, potentially leading to systemic distribution and accumulation in various organs and tissues. 

They have the ability to adsorb and concentrate harmful chemicals from the surrounding environment, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals. When ingested, these contaminants may leach into the body, posing toxicological risks.

Studies have suggested that microplastics may trigger inflammatory responses in the gastrointestinal tract and other tissues, potentially leading to adverse health effects such as inflammation, oxidative stress, and tissue damage.

Microplastics in the gastrointestinal tract could disrupt the balance of gut microbiota, which plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health, immune function, and metabolism. Alterations in gut microbiota composition and function have been associated with various health conditions, including metabolic disorders and immune-related diseases. Here are some things you can do to avoid ingesting microplastics with your food.

Choose Fresh, Whole Foods

One of the most effective ways to minimize exposure to microplastics is by opting for fresh, whole foods over processed and packaged ones. Processing and packaging often involve plastic materials that can shed microplastics into the food. By selecting fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats, you reduce the chances of ingesting these contaminants. Additionally, buying locally sourced produce can further decrease the likelihood of contamination during transportation and storage.

Use Glass or Stainless Steel Containers

Plastic containers, particularly those made of low-quality plastics, can leach harmful chemicals into food, including microplastics. To mitigate this risk, switch to glass or stainless steel containers for storing and reheating food. These alternatives are inert and less likely to contaminate your meals with microplastics or other toxic substances. By investing in durable, reusable containers, you not only protect your health but also contribute to reducing plastic waste.

Filter Tap Water

Studies have shown that tap water can be a significant source of microplastic contamination. Microplastics can enter water sources through various pathways, including urban runoff, wastewater effluent, and the degradation of plastic waste. To reduce your exposure, consider installing a high-quality water filter certified to remove microplastics. Look for filtration systems that employ activated carbon, reverse osmosis, or other advanced technologies capable of capturing microscopic particles effectively.

Minimize Consumption of Plastic-Packaged Products

Plastic packaging is ubiquitous in the food industry, but it also presents a significant risk of microplastic contamination. To lessen your exposure, make conscious choices to minimize the consumption of plastic-packaged products. Instead, opt for items sold in bulk or those packaged in paper, glass, or other eco-friendly materials. When feasible, support brands that prioritize sustainable packaging practices and are transparent about their efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

Safer food handling

Certain cooking and food handling practices can inadvertently introduce microplastics into your meals. To minimize this risk, adopt safe cooking techniques such as avoiding the use of plastic utensils and cookware, especially when exposed to high temperatures. Silicone spatulas and wooden utensils are excellent alternatives. Additionally, refrain from wrapping food in plastic cling wrap during storage or microwaving, as heat can accelerate the release of microplastics from the plastic film.

Choose natural fibres 

Microplastics are not only present in food but also in the air we breathe and the water we drink. Synthetic textiles, such as polyester and nylon, shed microfibers during washing, contributing to environmental pollution. To reduce your exposure, opt for clothing, bedding, and other textiles made from natural fibres like cotton, wool, or linen. These materials shed fewer microfibers and are biodegradable, posing fewer risks to human health and the environment.