“Forever Chemicals”: What Are They And How To Avoid Them With Leah Segedie Of Mamavation.com
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They say nothing is forever; however, the chemicals in our food supplies and water tables beg to differ. In fact, there are over 12,000 of these “forever chemicals” we are exposed to in commerce, and there is no telling when they are going away. How can we protect ourselves? In this episode, Corinna Bellizzi interviews the wellness influencer behind Mamavation.com and the owner of The Bookieboo Influencer Network, Leah Segedie. Bringing the conversation forward, Leah discusses the harmful and hormone-disrupting pollutants surrounding us and their effects, including BPA, BPS, Phthalates, and other PFAS. She then warns us about where we’re getting exposed and how we can avoid them. So join this conversation and learn how to protect yourself from these harmful chemicals.
Key takeaways from this episode:
- What are “forever chemicals”
- The effects of PFAS on our health, immune system, and development
- Where we are exposed to these “forever chemicals” and how to avoid them
- What it means to be “Green Enough”
Guest Social Links:
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/163497447012490
“Forever Chemicals”: What Are They And How To Avoid Them With Leah Segedie Of Mamavation.com
Learn Why You Should Care About Forever Chemicals Including BPA, BPS, Phthalates And Other PFAS
Welcome to another great episode of the show. In this episode, we're going to talk about the forever chemicals that have been leaching into our food supplies and our water tables for generations. We're going to make this real as we touch on topics like the products that you use every day as I introduce you to my friend, Leah Segedie.
Leah is the genius and the champion behind Mamavation.com, a website and a community that holds the feet of the big guys, including our governments, to the fire as it relates to these harmful pollutants. She has successfully pushed for change in her local community and also at big companies, like Target, where she successfully lobbied them to change how they printed their receipts. They’re moving from hormone-disrupting chemicals to innocuous paper receipts. We will hear more about that and why you should also be concerned about exposure to PFAS and other forever chemicals as we get to know Leah Segedie.
Leah, welcome to show
Thank you so much. I'm it's a pleasure to be here.
It's so great to be here. This is one of those topics that I've wanted to talk more about, but the reality is it's so complex.
It’s tough already. We're already overwhelmed.
When you talk about something like chemicals leeching into water tables, that means you're exposed to them when you take a shower. You're exposed to them when you use drinking water, whether or not you filter it in your home or get it from some third-party site that's off in the cascades. They say that it is going to be better for you and doesn't have pollutants, but they're there because they're everywhere. What do we do?
PFAS is a very interesting topic. It's something I'm quite obsessed over. I don't even know why I'm compelled to wrangle this alligator to the ground and whack him down as much as I can. The truth of it is it's a concerning issue. There are over 12,000 of these chemicals in commerce. They are considered forever chemicals because they do not break down. They do not go away.
What these 12,000 chemicals have in common is they're a flooring carbon bond, which is one of the strongest bonds that we have on the planet. That's the reason why they're forever. We don't know when they're going to go away. That's part of the answer. They don't know. The same is true when they get into our bodies. Some of these chemicals stay around for months. Some of them stay around for decades. You won't have them out of your body for 40 years or 30 years. They just continue to build up. The same is happening in our environment. They are continuing to build up.
Let’s talk about PFAS. You said specifically that they're connected to flooring. That makes them incredibly stable, which is bad for our bodies.
It's great for what they do. They're water-resistant chemicals, grease-resistant chemicals, and stain-resistant chemicals. They very powerfully push those things away. There are Teflon pans to keep out grease. That is powerful. There are Stainmaster carpets to repel stains. That is powerful. There Gore-Tex clothing. It's a modern miracle of chemistry, but we never realized that it was incredibly toxic and ubiquitous because there are 12,000 of these chemicals. These chemicals are everywhere and incredibly persistent, not only in our bodies but in the earth and the planet.
The challenge is to get them out of consumer products so that people are no longer exposed to them, but then also clean them up out of the environment. What I focus on is not so much the clean-up, but identifying them in consumer products so that our community can avoid them. They are hormone-disrupting. They are problematic. They are linked to all kinds of things that you don't want to have to deal with, like including a reduction in immunity. Your immune system is one of the primary things that has to deal with PFAS.
Let's say you have hypothyroidism or something relatively simple as something that tends to be treatable. Suddenly, you're more likely to be sensitive to some of these chemicals or these forever chemicals.
I would say that every single person in the world is different. They're going to react to different things. Not everybody's going to react equally to PFAS as another person would. It would be different. That's because if you think about the body as having a bucket and you don't know how big your bucket is, you don't know if your bucket has holes in it. You start putting those toxins in your bucket. At one point in time, your body can't take it anymore. If you don't have holes in that bucket to drain it out at the same time, like efficient metabolism and a body that's taking care of that, one of these health impacts is going to affect you.
The immune system is the primary place where people are concerned about PFAS. Not only are they all concerned with that, but they started looking into vaccinations. They started looking into infants who had PFAS in their bodies. The higher the rate of perfluorinated chemicals within the body of an infant, the less likely that the infant’s vaccinations are going to work. That means you could be getting vaccines like a COVID vaccine, MMR vaccine, or any of those vaccines. Regardless of if you believe in vaccines or not, you still need a working immune system to be safe. That's what we're finding. It makes vaccines not work. It lowers your immune system.
Another part that's problematic, for women particularly, is obesity. There are 50,000 ways that PFAS can make you fat by doing things as turning bone cells into fat cells in your body and doing things like messing with your lipids and other hormones. It's linked to obesity and diabetes. It's also linked to cardiovascular diseases in your heart. It impacts all of the development of children. When they walk, talk, their temperament, all of those things are also impacted by that with children. It also increases the risk of allergies and asthma in young children as well. It lowers your ability to get pregnant and it also increases your chance of miscarriage.
This is a lot.
I know it's a lot. That's what I'm telling you. This is one of the worst things that we've done to the planet. It's a big deal. Lower sperm count in men is another big one. Men are having trouble having children because what it does in a man's body is it's an androgen mimicker. It goes into the male body and says to the male body, “We've got lots of androgen in here,” which is a type of testosterone.
The male body is a lot less forgiving than the female body. Their body stops producing testosterone. That's what happens. The more PFAS you have in your body as a man, the lower your testosterone will be. It also is linked to smaller penis sizes. In the womb or utero, if a woman has a lot of PFAS in her body, then it slows down testosterone. Other things like that will happen with children. Their penis size is smaller and their taint size is different.
The more PFAS you have in your body as a man, the lower your testosterone will be.
You are reminding me of Dr. Doris Rapp who was an ancient doctor back when I knew her. I'm sure she's since passed. She would talk specifically about the overconsumption of soy and how even over-consuming soy would limit the size of boys' penises after a generation or two.
Shanna Swan is a lady that has a taint measurer. She was on the Joe Rogan show. She was there before we were down in January or February 2022. She's an advisor of mine. She's an amazing lady. She studies phthalates more than PFAS. She did this whole study on the effectiveness of sperm or the efficiency of sperm. According to her studies, men have lost 50% of virility since the 1970s.
Sperm is not what sperm was in the 1970s. A lot of it has to do with these androgen mimickers or hormone-disrupting chemicals. PFAS is one of them. Phthalates are another one. She brought her taint measure to his show, which was hilarious. It's this thing where on little baby boys, you measure the distance between their scrotum and their penis. It's called a taint. She brought the taint measurer. Joe Rogan was hilarious. He's all, “I want to measure.” Can you imagine?
This is one thing we didn't expect to be talking about, but sexual reproduction is part of humanity’s existence.
This is PFAS, so it's stressful. I'm going to be laughing and finding levity in things because this is what I do for a living. It is very serious because it is physical reproductive things that are changing all based on exposure to these chemicals and utero or exposure to these chemicals when you're under the age of five. It's serious. These types of chemicals are found in a lot of different places. Do you want me to go through some of the places you can find?
Yeah. I follow your page on Facebook. You send alerts to your community where you'll say things like, “I'm about to release a new study on period underwear and what exposures you can expect from those. Let's go ahead. Let me know if you're interested in this. I'll be sure to DM you.” It seems like every month, you're coming out with some other groundbreaking, real third-party analysis of what people's exposure can be from the use of everyday household items, personal care items, nutrition items, etc. Please, let's go through a basic list so people can understand where they're getting exposed to PFAS and where they might be able to easily limit it. We live in this world. We breathe the air. What do we do?
Corinna is talking a little bit about the consumer studies that Mamavation has commissioned. We've done twelve so far. We've done everything from cooking oil, tooth floss, toilet paper, baby strollers, different types of foods, ketchup, parchment paper, yoga pants, green beauty makeup, and all kinds of things. This is how I can tell you PFAS isn't everywhere, but it's in a lot of places that you wouldn't expect.
My job is to go through the consumer products, send things to the labs, and do spot-checking on different things. When I find something that has a hit, I do a whole category investigation. We could be doing upwards of 60 products in a category and then we post that. We've done twelve since 2020 starting with period underwear. I'm going to go through some of the main things where you will find PFAS so that you can start to avoid them in your everyday life.
One of the biggest areas is cookware. We've all heard of Teflon non-stick pans. Those non-stick pans are made from a type of PFAS called PTFE. The only thing you need to know is they're a polymer. They're more like a plasticizer than they are regular chemicals. They've made it so that they have this coating right over your pan. It repels oil and water. It makes it easy for you to clean your egg after you fried one up in the pan. The stuff comes right off. It's all that non-stick, but that non-stick is a PFAS chemical. That is one place where if you can toss those non-stick pans, you're doing a great service to your hormones.
Let's talk about the pans for a moment because there are many that are purported to have a nanolayer or that are made from ceramic that is claimed to be non-stick that are not traditional Teflon. What are your findings on that specifically?
The vast majority of the non-stick pans are either in the realm of PFAS or nano-coated titanium dioxide. It's a nanoparticle. Those are ceramic pans. Ceramic pans are also non-stick. I have only found one non-coated ceramic pan that we recommend. There are a couple that uses silicone instead of nano-ceramic or nano titanium. That would be more in the realm of what would be better.
You also want to avoid these ceramic pans that are non-stick. That's why I say, “If it says non-stick, toss it.” There's nothing that we found that has been non-stick on a pan that is great for your hormones yet. The nano titanium is linked to all kinds of gut health issues. They’re things that happen in your gut and stuff like that. If you're going to bother with organic eating because you want to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals, you don't want to fry those organic things in a frying pan that's going to disrupt your gut health. Non-stick in general is not a good idea. You're going to have to use a little bit more elbow grease if you want to protect your hormones.
If it says non-stick, toss it because there's nothing we found that's been non-stick on a pan that is great for your hormones yet.
That leaves us with rod iron pans.
We've got stainless steel and glass. The answer is there is no perfect cookware. It's not possible. What our epidemiologist recommends is that you rotate between stainless steel, cast iron, glass, and maybe a non-stick, uncoated ceramic, something like Xtrema. Xtrema is a good brand because it's not coated with anything. Rotate between those. The rotation saves you because there's no such thing as perfect cookware. You'll find something in everything, but the safest ones are the ones that I mentioned.
When you continue to use iron all the time, there's a tie to getting too much iron in your diet. You can have some concerns over that. There are even woks that are made from carbon steel. Something like that would be usable, right?
Beyond our cookware, where else are we getting it?
We're moving on to clothing. We're moving on to jackets, raincoats, and stain-resistant clothing. If it's stain-resistant, they have put a perfluorinated chemical on that. There's a PFAS chemical to make it stain-resistant. You don't want to buy stain-resistant clothing. If you are a fitness person, the world of sweat-wicking is also perfluorinated. I have tested about 45 different yoga pants. We found PFAS in the crotch. We've also found a lot of sweat-wicking-type chemicals inside sports bras. We did about 25 sports bras that we tested.
That category is very difficult to navigate. It's difficult for me to say all the brands because I don't remember them all off the top of my head. Mamavation has done a deep dig in this category, so If you're looking for jackets, please go by our site and check out what we've done. We have put it in a section of not our favorite brands, better brands, and best brands based on PFAS chemicals and all kinds of other things to help you. Clothing is a big one.
Textiles and fabrics are also another way you can get this into your life. The older carpets are typically the worst ones. I've done some carpet testing, and some of the carpets, the more modern carpets, don't have as much PFAS or any PFAS. If you go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, they have removed PFAS from their carpeting. You can safely buy that there.
Those types of things like your furniture, scotch guard, and all that stuff are where you're going to find it. This is a difficult part because it's expensive to change. If your furniture is older, and what I mean by older is five years or older, it likely has some PFAS chemicals in it. When you buy new furniture, because I know you're always going to buy something new, look specifically for something that doesn't have any stained treatments, PFAS chemical treatments, or fire retardants as well for that matter.
I'm connected to some people in the fashion industry who have been working to make more sustainable garments. They like to tell you that for something like moisture-wicking fabrics, you go to wool. I realize that's not a vegan solution, but it's the world's oldest natural moisture-wicking that can be used for almost anything. It doesn't necessarily keep you cold if you get a little damp, which is one of the ways in which we've innovated polyester. That is a petrochemically placed clothing item.
It also has a lot of antimony in it, too. We don’t know when that releases. They use petroleum to create clothing, they have to use a lot of toxic chemical additives. Some of them are still in the clothing. Some of them are stuck in the clothing and are released at a later time. The answer is we don't know. Those types of studies haven't been done to tell us how bad these petroleum products are. I feel like researchers are focusing on food packaging and other things, but eventually, they'll get over to clothing. You're right. A lot of the vegan options are very toxic.
When I hear things like vegan leather, I cringe. Let’s talk for a moment about nutrition sources. Are you finding that there are certain foods that should be avoided or foods that we should have more concern about perhaps? That goes even in the supplement realm or things that we put in our mouths to eat.
We did an investigation on foods. We did all the cooking oils. We did nut butters and we did tomato sauce and marinara sauces. We also did ketchup. We were a little shocked to find some of these ingredients had indications of PFAS. When you find it in food, it's typically at low levels, but you will find it. We found it in canola oil of all things. Remember, I said this repels oils, so I didn't expect to find anything in oil at all at the level that we were testing.
When I consistently found about five canola oil brands having indications of PFAS, I was like, “Something's going on in the processing.” If you look at the processing of how they do canola oil, it's called an RBD oil where it's bleached and deodorized. There are all these chemicals added and this and that happens. There are a lot of ways that PFAS can get into this process.
In terms of food, if we're talking about the levels I'm testing at, it is 10,000 parts per million, which is very high. When they test for water, it's in the parts per billion and the parts per trillion, which is infinitesimally smaller. The reason I'm testing for ten parts per million is that's the only level that we can get where it encompasses all 12,000 of those chemicals.
When you start to go down the processes of how they test, it excludes parts of the PFAS chemicals. When you go down lower, you're looking at fewer things. What we've decided is to go up to that higher level, which is where the states are creating standards for food packaging and stuff like that. We're at that level looking. As soon as I can go down below that level because science is always changing, I'm going to go down lower. We're at ten parts per billion or ten parts per million.
We found canola oil was a big issue. This was a tough one. When we looked into nut butters, tomato sauces, and marinara sauces, we found a lot of contamination in the organic industry. We didn't anticipate finding that, but that's what we found. There were indications of PFAS in that investigation. I want to say it was Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Organic Fill, and another one that I don't remember off the top of my head. With nut butters, 3 out of the 4 nut butters were organic.
In terms of organic, we reached out to the Organic Trade Association because I've been a partner of theirs for many years. I talked to them about this. I’ve sent several emails back and forth saying, “I'm finding a problem here and I'm finding it just in organic food. You need to look at this.” What they said to me was the FDA's rules on indirect additives are the same for organic as it is for conventional. All of these chemicals that are used as additives on manufacturing equipment and things that they're able to use are the same. If I wanted change to happen, I needed to talk to the FDA. We do have NGOs and people that are focusing on the FDA with PFAS in general. There are a lot of them, but the organic industry can't do that. They need to start looking into this.
Where is it coming from? Is it coming from perhaps the plastic packaging? Is there some common thing that you're thinking is the culprit?
We've helped many brands behind the scenes reformulate. I can tell you some of the things that we're finding. Fluorinated plastic is a very big deal. We found a lot of fluorinated plastic issues in the green beauty industry where they had no idea where it was coming from, but it was the packaging. It is even to the extent of looking at a data sheet and the datasheet does not say anything about it being fluorinated. There isn’t anything about this thing that they've bought being fluorinated, but it is. You can send it to the lab and check these plastics, and they're in fact fluorinated.
That fluorination process deposits PFAS into the food. Fluorinated plastics aren't done to bad plastics. They're done with the safer plastics. Those are the polypropylene and those kinds of things. It's the number 1, number 2, and number 5 plastics. They’re those recyclable numbers. Those are the safer plastics. Those are also the plastics that warp easier because they're not shored up by these nasty chemicals, so to speak.
Over the years, these plastic companies or these manufacturers have realized that in terms of things like food or personal care products, if the packaging warps on the shelf, it's going to look like something happened to it, but it's not. It's the chemical, food, or whatever that's inside the bottle that can react with the plastic and cause it to warp and change. If they fluorinate it, it doesn't.
They've been fluorinating a lot of food, a lot of personal care, and a lot of everything. To fluorinate a plastic, they put a gas polymer over the top of the plastic and it shores it up. At the same time, it's not like a chemical process has to happen to get this fluorination out of the plastic. You only have to rub on it or have something acidic touching it. It's simple and easy, which is why it's coming out and why we're seeing it at the lab.
Especially with tomatoes and tomato sauces then, right?
Yeah. The ironic thing was I'm not finding it so much in non-processed foods as I was in processed foods. To give you an idea, there's a difference between the marinara sauce versus the tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is just tomato sauce. The marinara sauce is like 50 spices, oils, and everything. It's been processed a lot more in that factory. What we're finding is the less processed something is, the less likely we're going to find fluorine.
Another thing that could be happening at the factory is this manufacturing equipment has to be lubricated. As we were looking into lubrications that could be used in a manufacturing facility, 40% to 50% of these lubricants are all fluorinated. If you are lubricating machinery, I don't know what could happen, but it's very possible that PFAS can be aerosolized into the air because of the heat and then drop down on whatever is being processed in the factory for how long. It could be for 1 week, 2 weeks, 2 months, or 1 month.
What happens to the workers that are there, too? That's long-term exposure.
That's another question.
It sounds to me like the basics that we're getting to are whole foods, if possible, make your own stuff, don't use pans that are non-stick, and avoid plastics.
Wash your hands before every meal. It's important because our hands are going to have little amounts of PFAS all over them. We're going to have phthalates. We're going to have all kinds of different plasticizers because we live in a modern world. In that modern society, your desk has stuff on it that is dropped down from being off the gas.
In your house, by your electrical equipment, television, or what have you, that is one of those places where you're going to find a lot of PFAS. Over time, all of these things get into the air and then come down onto the surfaces. We're touching all those surfaces. Before you eat, make sure to wash your hands. Before you cook, make sure to wash your hands. It might sound like a simple thing, but it makes a big dent in how much of these toxic chemicals you are getting into your body.
Let's talk for a moment about receipt paper. You've talked about the things that we touch, and this was a big one for you.
This was fun.
Talk to us about how this journey started with Target and what you were able to accomplish as a result. I alluded to it in the intro, but I know there's so much more to this story.
My main advisor's name is Pete Myers. He's the man that coined the phrase Endocrine Disrupting Chemical. He and a few other scientists created that category of science and wrote the book on it, and have been mentors for decades about this. Pete and I have a monthly talk or maybe a talk every two months. We talk about things that we're concerned about.
Bisphenols are an endocrine mimicker. Like PFAS was an androgen mimicker for testosterone, bisphenol is an estrogen mimicker. It's very bad for girls and for women. Our largest exposure to this chemical is not in cans as we thought. It's on thermal receipt paper. We are the shoppers. We're the ones that are getting the stuff, grabbing the receipt, handling the receipt, throwing it in our bag, leaving it in our bag, reaching back in there, and getting exposed.
Women's hands are different than men's hands, which makes it so that we're even exposed even more. Men have thicker skin than we have. It's real. Their skin is thick. Our skin is thin. When we're touching that thermal receipt paper, it is like fluorinated plastics. When they add BPS to the thermal receipt paper, it's like powder on the top of the receipt. When you touch these receipts, you can feel they're powdery. They feel a little different. That's bisphenol powder.
What happens in the machine is the machine puts a light on it. Those bisphenols react to the light and turn a purple color. That purple color is proof that they're there. You know that they're there because that's what's reacting to the light. There are other types of receipts that you can purchase so that you're not exposed to bisphenols. I did a lot of research into what the options were. At that time, there were 5 or 6 options. One of those options was used by Best Buy. Best Buy was the first company to have safe receipts. With the receipts that Best Buy was using, I was like, “Everyone needs to use this type of receipt.”
I was like, “Pete, this makes sense. We need to do something about receipt paper, but what? What brand? Who do we go after?” I asked all the ladies of Mamavation. There are about 10,000 that we have in that group. What they all had in common was Target. They were all shopping at Target. Not only is Target a more dynamic brand where they move and do things because they are concerned about these issues, but also the fact that they're so big and national. I knew that if we could get Target to change, more brands would follow suit.
We did a petition to Target. We got about 50,000 signatures. We demanded that they reformulate their receipt paper to something that was not hormone-disrupting. I met with corporate probably a month after the petition was out and had a meeting with them. Within a year and a half, it was done. By 2020, all of the target receipt paper no longer had bisphenols in it.
CVS followed suit. CVS is another brand that you can go to, handle their receipt paper, and not have to worry about it. There are additional brands that have done it as well, but I haven't been updated by how many yet. We've done a big dent in that. With any other brand, if you go to the grocery store, ask them, “Is this thermal receipt paper covered with BPA or BPS?” They'll say, “It is BPA-free,” but it's got BPS in it, which is as bad if not worse.
Ask them because these brands need to continue reformulating to safer paper. That is the power of community. That is the power when you get women together and say, “This is in everyone's best interests. Let's get together. Let's work on something.” These brands who want our market share, our money, and our support care about what we have to say. Once we start getting together, they don't like that, but they do. They change quickly.
When I was in the meeting with Target, Target lied to me and said they weren't going to do anything about this. They started fixing it immediately. It is interesting. I don't know why they said that to me. They should have said, “We'll work on it. Give us a couple of years.” They didn't know how long it was going to take and they didn't want to say, “Leah pressured us, and then we did it.” They had it done by 2020, which was a year and a half later. Power to the people. Power to women.
You're talking about the power of, in a way, protest. As we're recording, this is September 23rd, 2022, which is #FridaysForFuture, the hashtag that Greta Thunberg started. Talking about coming together as people, sometimes we need to be visible. Sometimes, we need to be loud, even if we're a minority, to push for the sorts of positive change that we want to see. Pushing for chemicals coming out of your food supply and clothing, all of those things are important.
I know they can go to Mamavation.com and to your Facebook group to learn more. I also know that you wrote a book called Green Enough, which I have on my shelf. The thing that is so interesting about this particular book that you undertook writing is that even while you're out here being this loud minority who's talking about the dangers of PFAS and everything else, you also acknowledge that it can be frustrating and also hard to be green enough, sustainable enough, or to eat the right foods all the time. The book, in a way, is this statement of, “I’m doing enough already, aren't I?”
There are a lot of four-letter words in the book, which is exactly how I feel all the time dealing with it. It makes people feel good because they know they're not alone. They want to cuss, too, when they're stressed out by all this stuff.
It is so frustrating because you can't move all the things forward in a way that you want to all the time. The information available to us is imperfect. I think back to the moments when our grandparents were growing up and being told that Crisco was the thing that could solve their challenges in baking foods and always having some shelf stable shortening on hand to later find out this is dietary plastic. That is gumming up your health and prevents things like the cell to cell signaling, takes the place of essential fatty acids in your body, and creates all sorts of health challenges for people.
I've spent a lot of time learning about fats specifically. It's maddening to know that when we're told something is healthy or is a great solution, everybody jumps onto that ship. We're all moving in one direction only to find out a matter of years later that this chemical construct built by humanity and not built by nature was somehow going to be healthy.
The message I tend to take away from the generality of these sorts of messages is that if it comes from nature first, it's going to be better. It is nature first. It is natural whole foods first. When it comes to something like trying to be more green, more eco, or more sustainable, you do your best. You go to Whole Foods. You try not to waste. Waste not, want not. You’re spiriting forward some of those ideas that may have come from our grandparents. I'd love for you to share with our audience why you wrote the book, who it's for, and what they can expect.
I wrote the book because I wanted to create something for the newbie who was overwhelmed, who wasn't used to all this green stuff, and who used to get annoyed by that green environmentalist girlfriend that they had that was always telling them not to do this and not to do that. I wanted to write the book for someone who didn't have time for BS, so to speak. I wanted to write a book for her to tell her, “Here are the basics of what you need to worry about and here's what you don't need to worry about. Here's fluff and here's reality.” I wanted to make sure she knew it was the daily stuff, not the stuff that she touches once every month. It's more of the daily things that you're talking about.
I wanted to be able to bring along experts to be able to make it very scientifically sound so that we're only concentrating on things that are making an impact on our health and nothing else. I wanted to do something that was fun, light, and easy to read. I wrote Green Enough to be flippant and funny, but I also wanted to flip the bird off at some of the deep green moms who don't let you eat a pizza every once in a while.
I'm green enough. You're green enough. I feel like it's a destination that we're all getting to that nobody's perfect with. It's also a book that says, “One day, you choose the non-toxic lifestyle, and the next day, you choose mental health.” That's why I said, “Have the pizza if you want it.” Your mental health is as important as the toxicity we're talking about. Sometimes, it's more important.
When we get into this world, it is so scary. Trust me. That's why I laugh a lot at inappropriate times because there is nothing else you can do. I don't want to be stressed out and freaked out. I want to be educated. I want to be of sound mind. I don't want to be living in fear, but I also don't want to be stupid. I also want to be able to make decisions that will protect my family in ways that I know they need it.
We have a lot of special needs in our house. We have people that are chemically sensitive. We have people with allergies. I have all the things going on here. I'm an autism mom. I'm an allergy mom. I have a husband with autism as well. He has Asperger's. I have a lot of interesting challenges that millions of women throughout the United States have as well. That goes into the book. I am the person writing this. In real life, when you hang out with me, I'm not like Adam Ruins Everything. Sometimes, I am, but I'm funny. When you read the book, you get my humor because I have to laugh or I'm going to go crazy. I'm compelled to do this work, but I have to laugh at the same time. You get a little bit of my humor.
Women that have read the book appreciate the humor and the lightness of it. They also appreciate the deep dig into science so they have a basic understanding of personal care, safe things for the home, air quality, food, packaging, and all of these things that we bring into the home. They’re like, “What's the best thing for my family? What's not?” They’re even able to make those decisions based on, “Do I have a lot of money? Do I not have a lot of money?” We've tried to think of everything in there.
To your point, you can be almost religious about your diet to the point where you no longer enjoy food. Your Friends might say, “Let’s go out for dinner,” and you're like, “How are the animals raised? Where did all of their ingredients come from? Is it all organic?” The reality is there are so few restaurants that will tell you the name of the cow that they slaughtered to give you on your plate. They don’t have that information.
In our industry, orthorexia is a big deal. There's a lot more of it that people want to admit having. I can spot it very quickly where you don't have a medical condition or your children don't have a medical condition. You just have a rigidity about your diet and it prevents you from interacting with your family or seeing other people. It's always something you're obsessed about. That's orthorexia. That's what that is.
I've never heard the term before.
It is a type of eating disorder, but it has to do with non-toxic living. It's when you're so obsessed with it that you can't enjoy your life. That's what we're talking about. You have to be able to enjoy your life. You have to be able to go to the birthday party with the blue cake and eat it once a month. These are things that you need to let go of. Those types of issues are also in the book.
It's easier for women when they understand they're not alone. A lot of times, having a supportive community around you, having women with that you can express these issues or these challenges, and know that they have gone through the same thing and they're operating in a similar way that you are makes people feel better.
Often, just having a supportive community around you where you can express these issues and challenges and know that they have gone through the same thing makes people feel better.
With the idea of being green enough, you also need a community to be supported by. We invite people to Mamavation because those 10,000 women that I have in our Facebook group, that's what we have. We have newbies to deep green women. It's a judgment-free zone. Come with questions. Come with anything. Be supportive. Those are important things when we're walking into this industry because it's not easy. It's tough.
You do a great job of monitoring that group, too. There aren't people getting a little bit too ruffled or ruffling the feathers of others.
We leave politics out of my group unless we're talking about the politics of food or the politics of toxics. We don't talk about politics in Mamavation. I've decided not to do that because I'm here to serve everybody. That's how I feel. In 2021, I was like, “We’re not talking about anything that doesn't have to do with what we focus on.” There are a lot of things that we focus on. I make it a comfortable place for people.
As long as you don't want to come in and talk about what's happening to the president or all those crazy things, we don't discuss those options. We just keep it clean. I've noticed that it’s so much more peaceful, and then you can find that both sides can talk to each other because we have a lot more in common than we think we do.
That's amazing. I want to do a quick round of a couple of speed questions for you. I'd like you to give a quick reaction. The first is, with plant-based vegan or animal-based diets, which exposes you to more chemicals?
I would say both in different ways. Animal-based ones are probably worse for you because fat is a good transporter for toxic chemicals. They come in through fat. Phthalate is an example of that. When you do low-fat milk, for instance, versus regular milk, the phthalate level that you will have in your body from that consumption will be less. There are times when vegan food is not as nutritious or wholesome for people. I feel like they're better for different things.
I'm not an anti-vegan person. I'm not an anti-meat person. I hug everybody. I would say there are probably things about the vegan diet that specifically might have PFAS issues and stuff like that, or things that vegans are exposed to that we are not exposed to necessarily. In terms of food in general, meat is a lot more toxic in terms of what you consume.
Perhaps not a speed round, but that also points to potentially limiting things like canola oil or seed oils that might somehow have brought over some of this PFAS in that mysterious way that we've yet to unveil. Limiting processed foods is what it sounds like overall.
Limiting processed foods is best for you.
If you limit processed foods, you also limit your fat consumption because it tends to be buried in everything. It is so true.
I should tell everybody that I'm a meat eater. I still eat meat.
Being an omnivore, a whole foods diet that incorporates many different things is something that Dr. William Li purports to be the best solution for overall health. We've spent a few weeks doing a deep dive into his work, Eat to Beat Disease. I would caution people to go back to that and learn there.
The message overall, when it comes to healthy eating, is variety. If you can eat a wide variety of foods, you're going to be the healthiest. Even if you are vegan, eating a wide variety of foods within a vegan diet does not mean that you jump to the impossible burger. The impossible burger is made of highly processed soy that's full of GMOs and a bunch of other stuff that you may not want. Go to whole foods. Go to a wide variety of foods and you will have better health.
In some senses, I value the impossible burger because they're doing something that is great. It’s the idea of it. We're trying to lower the amount of carbon. We're trying to do all these things. I feel like our parents' generation of biotechnology is very different than this new generation of biotechnology. I'm neutral on that stuff. I feel like it has a place.
I've not assessed its toxicity of it. I don't eat it myself, but I have so many vegan friends who love to eat the impossible burgers. I have no issues. At the end of the day, your bigger issues are Teflon pans and all the toxicity you have in your electrical equipment, your house, and your indoor air. All of those things could be worked on first before we even dug into that.
This has been so awesome to have the opportunity to dive deeply into PFAS and some of the other forever chemicals that we can all seek to avoid. As we prepare to wrap, I’d love to ask you if there's a thought that you'd like to leave our audience with or a particular spot where you'd like them to go to learn more. I'm guessing it's Mamavation.com, but I'll leave that to you.
Mamavation is the place to be. We've done investigations on pretty much anything you would bring into your home. Use the search bar or click on where it says Start Here. There's a little tab that says Product Investigations. You'll see how many I've done. Your jaw will drop to the ground because it's a lot that we've done in five years. That is when we started doing the investigations. One every week for five years, that's a lot. Check out Mamavation.com. You can also find me on Instagram @Mamavation. Twitter is @Mamavation and Facebook is Mamavation. It's an honor to be here. Thank you.
Thanks for joining us for another episode of the show. We were so thrilled to bring Leah Segedie to you to talk about PFAS and forever chemicals. I do have my copy of Green Enough. It says, “Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier, All Without Driving Your Family Crazy by Leah Segedie.” I have my copy. It’s a great, fun book to read. There are a few of those four-letter words peppered throughout.
If you have questions about what we covered today, you can always reach out to us via social channels, @OrloNutrition. I also want to mention that anyone who is tuning into this show qualifies for an extra 10% discount at OrloNutrion.com. All you have to do when you are checking out is use the coupon code, NWC10. You’ll get a 10% off our omega-3, immune-boosting immunity spray, and even t-shirts that are printed with algae ink. To stay in touch, you can always send us an email at Hello@OrloNutrition.com. As we close this show, I want to invite each of you to raise a cup of your favorite beverage, coffee or tea, as I say my closing words. Here’s to your health.
- Leah Segedie
- Facebook Page - Mamavation
- Facebook Group - Mamavation
- Green Enough
- Eat to Beat Disease
- Start Here - Mamavation
- Product Investigations - Mamavation
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About Leah Segedie
Leah Segedie is a wellness influencer known by her blog Mamavation.com and her book, Green Enough. She is the owner of The Bookieboo Influencer Network (housing over 10,000 bloggers), host of the ShiftCon Social Media Conference, consumer activist and community leader. With her health inspired campaign on Mamavation.com, she's helped women lose over 3,5000 lbs. and embrace safer nontoxic products inside their homes.
Leah Segedie has a Masters degree from the University of Southern California in Communication Management and lives in Simi Valley with her husband and 3 young boys. Leah sits on the boards of two non-profits, Healthy Child Healthy World and Made Safe.