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The Dangers of K-Cups

The Keurig and K-Cups: The best things to happen to a cup of coffee since the emergence of the first cup of coffee! ((Clears Throat… Ahem)), I mean, worst.

Aside from the obvious detriments K-cup plastic pods (and plastic, in general) cause on the environment, have you ever stopped to wonder about the bodily complications we may have because of the plastic pods?

In recent years, people have begun to market plastic containers as BPA-free, and a hyperawareness of the dangers of plastic has materialized because of plastic research.

In our case, K-cup pods are made from a mix of plastics, and while the pod packs claim BPA-free, they are still made with a number of different plastics, nonetheless. Here’s what we actually know about plastic.

According to an article published on USA Today’s website, most plastic products contain chemicals that act like the sex hormone, estrogen, in the form of xeno- (or foreign) estrogens, even those that are marked, BPA-free. Approximately 70% of all plastic used in the study tested positive for estrogenic activity (EA)—the most common form of endocrine disruptor activity. Now that may not seem like a big deal, but here’s what we know about environmental estrogen and too much estrogenic activity in the body.

Because these types of EA have shown to alter the structure of human cells, products that leach chemicals with EA can cause any number of health risks, including (but not limited to), early puberty in females, decreased sperm counts in males, altered function of reproductive organs, obesity, and an increase in the rates of some breast, ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancers (Source). Furthermore, the leaching of such chemicals is accelerated when exposed to real world uses, such as acidic contents, UV radiation exposure, microwaving, and/or moist heat via boiling or dishwashing. Now, your once 70% figure of plastics testing positive for EA has risen to 95%, and almost all commercially available plastic products will leach detectable EA chemicals—even those marked BPA-free. Xenoestrogens are hard to detoxify through the liver and certain types of chemicals, organochlorines for example, are known to accumulate in fatty human tissue and fluid, such as breasts and breast milk.

I am aware that none of this information has actually been tested on K-Cups, but let’s reminds ourselves of the facts:

  • K-cup pods are made of plastic, giving us a 70% chance of chemically induced estrogenic activity

  • K-cup pods are exposed to high heats and boiling liquids, giving us a 95% chance of chemically induced estrogenic activity

  • K-cup pods contain and act as a passageway for acidic contents: coffee grounds

From these conclusions, it’s safe to assume that K-cups are releasing any number of xenoestrogens into our “fresh” cup of coffee, and ultimately, our bodies. The best coffee we can drink is our own freshly ground coffee beans coupled with the most convenient stainless steel, reusable K-cup (Link). Great for the environment, great for you!

Now, I fully understand how difficult—and let’s face it, impractical—a plastic-free world would be, but it is crucial for the sake of healthy and clean living to acknowledge the research facts and findings about plastics, and avoid what you can, when you can.

Here are some easy tips to remember:

  • Wash your foods thoroughly with a fruit and vegetable wash (salt and vinegar works wonders)

  • Get a good water filter

  • Replace your plastic water bottles with a stainless steel bottle and wash frequently

  • Use glass storage containers

  • Never heat plastic containers or cover your food with plastic wrap in the microwave. For an alternative, use glass, ceramic, or paper plates and bowls with wax paper to cover

  • Buy a reusable, stainless steel cup for your Keurig.

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