Happy healthy YOU

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Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU

(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

The ole saying goes that if you eat an apple a day you will keep the doctor away, including the doctor of dentistry.

Why? Apples are good for our health including our pearly whites.

Tooth decay is an infection that seriously damages the structure of your teeth, which is caused primarily because of bacteria. The juice of the apples has properties that can kill up to 80 per cent of bacteria. Crunchy foods such as apples, celery, and carrots, act like mini toothbrushes when you chew them. Some dentists say eating these types of foods can actually help scrub away stubborn stains over time.

But if you are not ready to throw away tooth brush as a form of dental hygiene you may want to examine your habits at the very least.

Recently a friend of mine went to the dentist for their annual cleaning and check-up. The hygienist was cleaning away and wiping the stainless steel scraper on the bib of shame when she looked down to witness little blue flakes.

“What is that?” she asked.

“They are specs of plastic from your whitening toothpaste,” the hygienist replied (gasp).

The flesh around our teeth have little channels in our gums, sort of like the cuticles around our fingernails. The gum channel is called a sulcus, and it’s where diseases like gingivitis get their start. A healthy sulcus is less than 3 millimeters, so when you have hundreds of pieces of plastic being scrubbed into your gums each day that are even smaller than a millimeter, many of them are getting trapped, thus my friend's dental bib of blue flecks.

Did you know that polyethylene is the most common plastic in the world? It is used primarily for containers and packaging, such as bottles and plastic grocery bags, and has been a concern for the environment because polyethylene lasts practically forever and isn’t biodegradable. It only breaks down into smaller and smaller particles until you can’t see it anymore.

Did you also know this same plastic – microbeads – are in face soaps, body washes, face scrubs and even toothpastes? In fact, Crest had almost 20 kinds of toothpaste that had this plastic pieces in them. (double gasp).

You are probably wondering what happens to the plastic once you have brushed your teeth with it? What you spit out when you rinse your mouth, goes done the drain and what gets swallowed goes in your body. Then what?

Here are some completed research statistics from last year:

* 5,000 to 95,000 microbeads are released into the environment with every single use of personal care products. This has been researched by various scientists and published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

* In terms of relative contributions to microplastic pollution, a range of studies have looked at the number or concentration of microbeads in individual products. The American non-governmental organization (NGO) 5Gyres found a large number of microplastics in the Great Lakes and estimates that one single care product (Neutrogena's Deep Clean) contains 360,000 microbeads. Dr. Leslie (VU University, Amsterdam) found that microplastics made up 10.6 per cent of one scrub (Exofonic scrub of L'Oreal).

* According to research by Deltares (the Netherlands) microplastics appear to be even more dangerous than originally thought. When plastics break down, more toxic substances which are harmful to humans and which cause hormonal imbalances or neurological diseases are released than previously thought.

* Substantial quantities of microplastics in the ocean sink to the bottom. This is shown in a recent study into plastics in the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. A team of scientists researched these oceans between 2001 and 2012 to a depth of up to 3,000 metres. The amount of plastic on the ocean floor is 1,000 times greater than the amount floating on the surface.

* Microplastics in toothpaste are 100 times smaller than in scrubs.

* United Nations experts state that what is known as the 'circular economy' (based on recycling) is the best and cheapest way to reduce the amount of microplastics ending up in the oceans.


But what about the pieces of microplastic that don’t make it out of our bodies? Studies have been done that show these microbeads in toothpaste don’t break down with acetone or alcohol. If they don’t get trapped in our gums, and make it to the stomach, do they get trapped in our guts?

That apple option is looking more appealing more and more, isn’t it?

The good news, due to scientific proof of the harm microbeads and microplastics are causing and the outcry from the masses, many companies are looking to remove them from their products. And while Fox News reported Procter & Gamble, makers of Crest, said the ingredient is completely safe and approved by the FDA, they have now they aim to be microbead-free by 2017.

But if it's FDA approved, how could it be harmful? Well, my fellow community members that is a whole other article.

Next week I will examine the health benefits or health damage of fluoride. Until then, throw out your micro-beads, watch for products that say, eat an apple and keep smiling.

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