We all love “easy” when it comes to cooking. However, sometimes convenience can come at a high price. There are many hidden dangers in everyday cooking items that may be in your kitchen. They may contain toxic chemicals that can dramatically affect your health. Five commonly used items are styrofoam, ceramics, aluminum foil, plastic wraps, and plastic containers. All can potentially have devastating impacts on your body.
Styrofoam, also known as Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. The biggest environmental health concern associated with polystyrene is the danger associated with Styrene, the basic building block of polystyrene. Acute health effects are generally irritation of the skin, eyes, upper respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal effects. Chronic exposure affects the central nervous system showing symptoms such as depression, headache, fatigue, and weakness, and can cause minor effects on kidney function and blood. Manufacturers are encouraged to keep exposure to styrene of workers to 50 parts per million (ppm). Did you know it takes upwards of 500 years for styrofoam to disintegrate?
Polystyrene contains the toxic substances Styrene and Benzene, suspected carcinogens and neurotoxins that are hazardous to humans. Hot foods and liquids actually start a partial breakdown of the Styrofoam, causing some toxins to be absorbed into our bloodstream and tissue. Do not warm food in the microwave on styrofoam. These harmful chemicals can absorb into your food. Burning polystyrene on bonfires releases Carbon Monoxide and styrene monomers into the environment, which can be extremely hazardous to our health. Be mindful of this when grilling and having styrofoam close to the heat. I know, your like no more styrofoam…. does that mean I have to wash dishes more? You don’t have to go cold turkey. Just try to do your best to limit the use and avoid heat as much as possible.
Ceramics can also be hazardous to your health. Ceramics may contain lead which may lead to lead poisoning especially in small children. They may suffer from kidney malfunction or affect the nervous system. Coated and glazed ceramic cookware may contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and cadmium — all toxic chemicals. These substances are liable to react with food and cause food poisoning. This may cause reproductive issues or liver failure if ingested in large quantities. Out goes the crock pot your thinking. Just read the label and make sure the ceramics you use are FDA approved for cooking. Be aware that ceramics made before the 1960s may be coated with harmful chemicals. I would just keep grandma’s ceramic sets for sentimental value only.
Aluminum foil is another go-to item in the kitchen. Aluminum can seep into your food while it’s hot. Foods that are high in acidities such as spices, lemon juice, and tomato based items can absorb higher levels of aluminum. Increased aluminum levels in the body are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum can also build up in the body, leading to diseases such as osteoporosis. Abundant aluminum concentrations also affect how calcium is absorbed in the body, further contributing to bone deficiency.
Put parchment paper between your food and the aluminum when grilling or baking. Do not place aluminum foil in the microwave. The sparks discharged may cause a fire.
Plastic wraps are used frequently in the kitchen as well. There are different types of plastic wraps. Before you put any plastic wrap in the microwave, you should check the packaging to see if the plastic wrap is “FDA Microwave-Safe”. You may potentially expose your body to harmful BPA (bisphenol A). These harmful chemicals can increase the risk of high blood pressure, or cause changes and brain damage, particularly for young children. Our greatest concern, however, is whether plastic wrap will leach chemicals such as DEHA (diethylhexyl adipate) to get into foods, particularly fatty foods such as meats and cheeses. DEHA is an endocrine disruptor and has links to breast cancer and low sperm count. Use wax paper, or paper towel as a substitute when heating food in the microwave.
Plastic containers are another common household item that could have negative effects on your health. If the container is not marked as FDA Microwave-Safe, then you should transfer the food to a container that can be used in the microwave before attempting to heat it. Especially for one time use plastic containers. They can leave harmful toxins such as Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that, once ingested, mimics estrogen in our bodies. It may alter normal hormonal function.
You are what you Eat is definitely a True saying. Please read the labels on the items that you buy. You may be harming your family blindly and not know it. Education is key to protecting yourself. Unfortunately, manufacturers will not tell you all of the hidden dangers and chemical makeup of their products if the FDA does not regulate it. So please be aware. Here at Naturally Me we strive to educate and give you the facts. Helping you to make more educated decisions about you and your family our Mission. Till Next Time.