The CDC estimates that 99% of Americans have Forever Chemicals in their blood. Is that bad? And what can you do about it?
Maybe you’ve already heard of the newest Blog Bogeymay making the rounds on daytime TV.
PFAs, also known as “Forever Chemicals,” are a group of 9000 chemicals found in food, clothes, packaging, and even in polar bears and the ice caps.
The concern with PFAs is that they’re virtually everywhere, and experts don’t fully understand how they can impact our health and environment.
Betr believes that knowing is half the battle, so we wanted to give you some background on Forever Chemicals and tips on what to do about them.
- What PFAs are
- Where to find PFAs.
- How PFAs affect your health
- How to avoid PFAs
- How Betr can help you minimize the PFA impact
What are PFAs or “Forever Chemicals?”
In 1938 Roy Plunkett, a young scientist working for Dupont accidentally found a white, waxy residue in his work with fluorine gases. This substance would become known as Teflon, one of the first and most well-known brand names of PFAs. It’s the nonstick coating on cookware.
Since the discovery of Teflon, we’ve developed over 9000 PFAs that have countless uses.
They provide stain resistance, waterproofing, and wind up in packaging for many products we use every day.
Chemically, PFAs primarily contain fluorine and carbon atoms. The chemical bonds between fluorine and carbon are EXTREMELY strong and last for a long, long time.
In an interview with the New York Times, researcher Dr. Keith Vorst states, “ If a factory using PFAs completely stopped using them today, there would still be traces of the chemicals in its product 10-15 years later.”
PFAs don’t just hang around in factories, either.
They stay in the environment for CENTURIES.
In the human body, research has shown that it takes an average of 2-4 years for PFA levels to reduce by half.
Because it takes PFAs so long to break down, they have plenty of time to travel.
PFAs are a group of thousands of chemicals created from carbon and fluorine. They are used heavily in manufacturing everyday consumer goods and take a long time to break down.
Where are PFAs found?
We wish we had better news, but the short answer is that PFAs are everywhere.
They’re in the soil, groundwater, ice caps, and grocery stores.
Because they’re in soil and water, they end up in plants. Because they’re in plants, animals eat them.
Who eats plants and animals? We do.
In a 2019 report, the FDA found potentially hazardous levels of PFAs in a New Mexico Dairy farm and less toxic but still present levels in produce in a North Carolina farm.
Forever Chemicals aren’t only in the food part of the human food change.
More recently, Consumer Reports tested the packaging used by nationwide fast-food chains. More than half contained measurable amounts of PFAs in at least some of their packaging.
A 2022 study of PFAs and product labeling showed that 60% of textile products identified as waterproof or stain resistant contained PFAs.
Even more disturbingly, these products were often labeled “green,” “environmentally friendly,” “green,” or “non-toxic” and marketed for kids and adolescents.
PFAs have even been found in dental floss! As if you needed ANOTHER reason not to floss!
If these forever chemicals surround us and are ubiquitous in food packaging and products…are they in us!?
More bad news, folks.
PFAs are found virtually everywhere, including rainwater, soil, livestock, produce, clothes, food, medical devices, and numerous products we use daily.
Do PFAs affect your health?
We’ll start with the bad news. Yes, you have PFAs in your blood.
A 2019 CDC report estimated that 99% of Americans have some PFAs in their bodies.
And to answer the original question: Yes, PFAs have been associated with poor health outcomes.
A study of Merrimack, New Hampshire, a town whose water was polluted with high levels of PFAs, showed to following associations:
- Increased occurrence of developmental, autoimmune, and kidney disorders in kids
- More health concerns, including autoimmune and reproductive issues, in women
- Employees with increased exposure through work reported more health concerns like cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, and liver disease.
- Increased incidence of health issues was more significant in long-term residents of Merrimack.
A Danish statistical survey observed that people with higher known, immunotoxic PFA levels were more likely to experience severe outcomes from COVID-19.
Sorry, that was a lot. But here’s some good news!
Scientific research, public knowledge, and industry efforts have been working!
Since the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) began measuring PFAs in 1999, blood levels of the most common PFAs have decreased by 60-80%!
There’s more good news.
You can take meaningful steps to avoid additional PFA exposure for you and your family.
Excessive PFA exposure appears to have negative health consequences like reproductive, cardiac, respiratory, and autoimmune conditions. High levels of PFAs may contribute to cancer, fetal development issues, and poorer outcomes for COVID-19 patients.
Can you reduce your PFA exposure?
So far, we’ve told you that undetectable chemicals are already in your body and everywhere else.
At this point, you might feel pretty powerless over those PFAs.
It’s not hopeless, though!
Now that you know about PFAs, here are 4 tips for fighting Forever Chemicals:
- Labels Lie! Because of a lack of regulation, manufacturers can use downright misleading labels. Remember that study about PFAs in kid’s clothes? This study found that even when labeled as “non-toxic,” they had similar levels of PFAs as products that didn’t use these labels.
- Forever be Filtering This method has pros and cons. On the one hand, filtering water effectively reduces PFAs in contaminated drinking water. On the other hand, an effective whole-home water filtration system is expensive and takes up space in your house.
- Cook at home! This method is scientifically proven! Many fast-food chains use packaging with measurable levels of PFAs. A 2019 study saw that cooking at home was directly associated with lower blood levels of PFAs.
- Keep it Fresh! This is another food-related tip, but the same 2019 study found that many packaged foods contained high levels of PFAs. Buying fresh meats and produce and minimizing your use of packaged foods is one way to reduce PFAs.
If these steps seem pointless, it’s important to remember that PFAs become troublesome at high levels. Our baseline exposure may not be doing us serious harm (but it’s probably not doing us any favors!).
That’s why it’s essential to reduce your intake of PFAs where possible. Getting rid of Forever Chemicals won’t be a quick fix, so taking steps where and when we can is essential!
Although Forever Chemicals seem unavoidable, there are proven, practical steps you can take to minimize your exposure.
A Betr Way to Cut Back on PFAs!
If you need another reason to be angry at PFAs, we should point out that they often partner with the worst inflammatory food culprits.
We’re talking about pre-packaged foods in the grocery store that also contain extra sugar, salt, fat, flavors, preservatives, colors– the list goes on. So whether or not PFAs are doing you direct harm, a diet based on junk food from the grocery store and fast food DEFINITELY is!
Do you see where we’re going with this? Following the Betr protocol is a perfect way to cut back on forever chemicals AND all the other inflammatory chemicals stuffed into our guts by the food industrial complex.
There’s another, less obvious benefit of Betr that reduces the potential harm from PFAs.
Healing your gut and decreasing inflammation go a long way toward ensuring your body is in tip-top shape to fight the effects of forever chemicals. Our protocol arrests the inflammatory cycle, including potential inflammation or sensitivity responses to PFAs.
Our point is that the Betr protocol isn’t just a way to lose weight, reduce inflammation, and relieve symptoms of chronic disease. It’s a Betr way to directly reduce PFAs AND guard against their harmful effects!
The steps that Betr recommends for healing your gut and reducing inflammation (eating fresh foods, avoiding anything in a pack, box, or bag) can help you reduce the amount of PFAs that you ingest with your food and help reverse the inflammatory effects of PFAs.
Wrapping up our PFA PSA
In this discussion, we’ve learned:
- PFAs are used heavily in manufacturing everyday consumer goods and take a long time to break down.
- PFAs are found virtually everywhere, including rainwater, soil, livestock, produce, clothes, food, medical devices, and numerous products we use daily.
- Excessive PFA exposure has been associated with adverse health issues
- You can take steps to minimize your exposure to PFAs.
- The Betr protocol steps can also help reduce PFA exposure while healing your gut, reducing stress and inflammation, and reversing the effects of chronic disease.
There’s one more thing that we think is important to point out.
If this is your first time hearing about PSAs, you might feel scared, freaked out, or stressed.
That’s not what Betr’s about, though.
We provide knowledge, not nightmares.
Stressing over PFAs in the environment won’t make them go away.
Taxing your body with additional stress is probably MORE likely than PFAs to harm your health. Read about it in our post, Gut Health and Anxiety: The Truth Behind Gut Feelings.
It’s important to be aware of PFAs. We’ve provided you with information and actionable tips to minimize your risk.
And it’s about being Betr, not perfect. Just do your best—any impact matters.
The best way to avoid the harmful health effects of PFAs is to maximize your overall mental and physical health. And at Betr, we can help you do that!
We’ve seen tens of thousands of members use food as medicine to heal their guts, reduce inflammation, fight chronic disease, calm stress, and live their best, Betr lives.
Try it. You deserve Betr.
Explore Betr's risk-free trial to see if you could benefit from using food as medicine to rebuild your microbiome and realize the healthy potential you never knew you were missing!