What’s in Your Water? BPA Can Cause Autoimmunity to Myelin

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When I was little, kids would drink out of garden hoses in the summertime. We’d drink out of public water fountains, and streams if we came across any. We didn’t think about added chemicals, bacteria or pollutants. We never got sick, but who knows what was lurking in the water?

Nowadays, kids carry water bottles everywhere, but I’d bet they still aren’t considering the contents or the container. Most of us were raised thinking that when we turned on the kitchen tap, we could expect clean water. Or, if we bought a bottle of water, it would be safe. But is that true?

Drinking water in the US, is considered safe to drink. It’s monitored and treated according to federal standards. Water companies are obligated under federal law to notify the public if the local drinking water is unsafe. If you want to know about the quality of your water, contact your local water company to request a copy of the Annual Water Quality Report. You can also enter your zip code into the Environmental Working Group’s, EWG’s Tap Water Data Base, to check if pollutants have been found in your water and if your local water company has been compliant with federal health-based drinking water standards.1

That said, a high percentage of drinking water available is reportedly contaminated with pollutants, chemicals, and pharmaceutical drugs. The U.S government does not require any testing for drugs in the water supplies, nor does it set limits for drug contamination.2 If you want to learn more, the EPA has compiled a list of 100 potentially risky chemicals and 12 microbes that are known or expected to be found in public water systems but are not yet regulated.3

In the US, chlorine and fluoride are added to drinking water and are considered safe, but are they?

Chlorine can affect the immune system.  It was introduced into the water supply to kill bacteria. The problem is, it also kills the good bacteria that populate your gut. This upsets gut flora balance causing digestion issues like bloating and indigestion. It also allows for the overgrowth of candida yeast which can weaken your immune system.4 It is estimated that 70% of the immune system is in the gut and a healthy microbiome plays an important role in immune function.  Studies have shown that an insufficient amount of good bacteria, may have a direct link to multiple sclerosis.5

Fluoride was added to the water supply in the 1940’s to prevent tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 2/3 of the US population has fluoridated public water. Fluoride has been linked to negative health effects like bone fractures, thyroid disorders and impaired brain development and function.6

 Fluoride has also been known to impact the central nervous and immune systems and is recognized as one of 12 industrial chemicals known to cause developmental neurotoxicity in human beings.7

Over 300 studies have found fluoride a neurotoxin, including,  53 human studies that link moderately high fluoride exposure with reduced intelligence and 45 animal studies reporting fluoride causing impaired capacity to learn or remember.8

Bottled water is convenient and portable but is not safer than tap water. In fact, the plastic water container itself contains chemicals including, bisphenol A (BPA). These compounds can seep into the water, especially if the bottles are stored or transported in a hot environment. Why is that important?

A 2016 study found a significant link between an immune reaction to BPA and an autoimmune attack against nerve sheaths.9

 Research suggests consuming products that contain BPA may be risky for those with brain inflammation or neurological autoimmune reactions such as Multiple Sclerosis. BPA can cause an immune response that triggers autoimmunity to myelin, the sheath that coats brain and nerve fibers.10

Alteration of the immune system may result in neurological diseases from BPA exposure due to its ability to cross the BBB. (Blood-Brain Barrier)11 This study is based on immune sensitivity to BPA, not the amount of BPA in the blood. That’s an important distinction. A person can react to BPA the way people react to gluten or dairy, developing inflammatory symptoms. This means a person may have low levels of BPA in their blood yet still have an autoimmune reaction to it that can trigger autoimmunity.12

BPA is present in water bottles, plastic food containers, the lining of tin food cans and cash register receipts. Studies show that blood levels of BPA spike after handling store receipts for only five seconds and that the toxin lingers in the body.13

For years I only drank bottled water thinking I was drinking ‘cleaner’ water. Turns out, I was doing my health more harm than good. When I think of all the times I’ve left plastic water bottles in a hot car to drink while running errands, I cringe. Or how many times I bought a case of water with the bottom of the bottles distorted from the heat. (You know the ones, they don’t stand up). Last year, I finally got a filtration system for our tap water and stopped buying bottled water. I bought a good stainless-steel water bottle that keeps water cold for 24 hours. I also threw away my plastic containers containing BPA, and replaced them with glass.  Small steps can lead to big changes.

What will you do to ensure you are drinking good quality water? Please let us know in the comments.

Be well!


1 www.ewg.org/tapwater
2 www.foodrevolution.org/blog/problems-with-tap-water/
3 https://www.epa.gov/ccl/chemical-contaminants-ccl-4
4 www.thecandidadiet.com/chlorne-immune-system/
5  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627125355.htm
9,12,13  www.drtraviselliott.com/blog/bpa-may-trigger-autoimmune-damage-nerves/

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