Keto, Paleo, Plastic? What’s in your diet?

"Annual global production of 350 million tonnes in 2017 makes plastic the third most abundant human-made material after steel and concrete"

The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, in its opinion report to the EU titled "Environmental and Health Risks of MicroPlastic Pollution"

Since microplastics have been found all over the food chain, it's reasonable to wonder how much is inside our own bodies. Well, the answer to that is a resounding yes.

“I’d say microplastics in (human) poop are not surprising,” says Chelsea Rochman, an ecologist at the University of Toronto, who studies the effects of microplastics on fish. " it shows we are eating our waste—mismanagement has come back to us on our dinner plates". Chelsea's comments are regarding an experiment conducted by gastroenterologist Philipp Schwabl, who proved the presence of microplastics in human stool.

The smaller the plastic particles we look for, the more of them we find. The most often used analysis equipment can detect particles down to about 10 microns. How small is 10 microns? Smaller than a white blood cell.

So how is the plastic getting into our bodies, and how much of it are we consuming?

"The average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and breathes in a similar quantity"

Human Consumption of Microplastics - Kieran D. Cox, Garth A. Covernton Department of Biology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia

The consumption of plastics seems to be directly attributed to consuming goods packed in it. Individuals who meet their recommended water intake through only bottled sources may be ingesting an additional 90000 microplastics annually, compared to 4000 microplastics for those who consume only tap water.

So, we're eating plastic, we're breathing plastic, and it's definitely in our guts. The long-term health effects of these findings are devastating, as shown in the infographic below, part of a report titled "Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet", authored by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Earthworks, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), IPEN, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), University of Exeter, and UPSTREAM.

8.3 Billion Tons of Plastic.

Humans have made at least 8.3 billion tons of plastic, and most of it is discarded into the natural environment. Only 9% has been recycled, according to Great Britain's Royal Statistical Society.

National Geographic reports that most of the plastic pollution can be attributed to plastic packaging.

A Chinese laborer sorts through plastic bottles at a recycling operation in Dong Xiao Kou village, on the outskirt of Beijing.
PHOTOGRAPH BY FRED DUFOUR, AFP, GETTY