This is a collaborative post
Everything you put in your body affects your chemistry and overall health — including the food you eat. Unfortunately, many people unwittingly consume more than their fair share of toxins daily.
Some people have unique sensitivities, but other products simply aren’t good for human consumption. Here are seven common toxins found in our food and beverages and how to avoid them.
Ah. There’s nothing like relaxing at the end of a long day with a nice, frosty glass of formaldehyde. Okay, you might not put your favourite 11th-grade science lab chemical in your cup — but that wine you just poured will convert to it in your body.
Alcohol causes multiple problems. It can even take a toll on your appearance. Falling asleep after your evening nightcap can lead to acid erosion, causing lost teeth and cavities.
More frighteningly, this substance can take you down the road to addiction, even if you never intend to travel it. That’s because alcohol stimulates your GABA receptors, producing the initial calming effects. However, when your levels seek to readjust, you get more anxious — often reaching for another drink to relax. Over time, your brain adapts by reducing GABA receptors. You’re left with a chronic sense of anxiety, irritation and agitation that only more alcohol can remedy.
Rates of Type 2 diabetes continue soaring in America, and sugar might not be the only culprit driving the climb. The real culprit might be the all-purpose flour showing up in nearly every bread and baked product, along with coating fried foods with that divine crust.
Producing white flour forces manufacturers to separate the nutrient-rich chaff and bran, leaving behind only empty calories. While enriching the final product helps, it pales in comparison to the way your body absorbs nourishment from whole foods. Eating such products leads to a rapid glucose spike followed by a crash that leaves you hungry again.
That’s not the only problem, however. Bleaching white flour creates a chemical byproduct called alloxan. Scientists use this substance to destroy the pancreas and induce diabetes in laboratory animals. When you add this chemical to the blood sugar effects of this rapidly absorbing food, you have a Type 2 bomb waiting to explode.
Sometimes, a salty bag of chips is just the ticket for a stress-free dinner. Just don’t indulge too often. Besides the high sodium content putting you at risk for heart disease, you could also increase your chances of getting cancer — particularly if you like the burnt bits.
Acrylamides form as a result of a chemical reaction between sugars and asparagine, an amino acid found in plant-based foods like potatoes. It forms during high-temperature cooking like frying and baking.
These substances caused cancer in laboratory animals, although scientists caution that the doses used were much higher than those found in foods typically consumed by people. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps an eye on levels to ensure safety.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently labelled processed meat as a carcinogen. Much of the reason relates to the nitrates manufacturers use during the curing process.
High nitrate intake can elevate your risk of gastrointestinal cancers like colon cancer. Your best bet? Stay away from foods like lunch meat, hot dogs and bacon. If you must pack a sandwich, opt for natural roasted meats like turkey made without tons of preservatives.
You might have heard that you shouldn’t put plastic in the microwave. The reason? A set of chemical compounds called bisphenol A (BPA). While manufacturers use these substances to make plastic more flexible, they can leak into food, causing endocrine disruption.
Your best bet is to follow the guidelines and use caution when purchasing food and beverages in plastic containers. Switch foods to a microwave-safe glass cooking container before heating.
If you eat a lot of fish, you might have concerns about mercury poisoning. The risk is greatest among pregnant women, as this chemical can hurt their unborn child, causing nervous system issues.
Experts recommend staying away from shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish, as these typically contain the largest concentrations. If you enjoy tuna, regular light is better than albacore.
Aldehydes arise from polyunsaturated fatty acids found in culinary oils used during high-temperature cooking. Research suggests that overconsumption of these oils might lead to neurodegenerative diseases. They often occur in oils like sunflower oil that are frequently reused for deep frying.
Oils such as olive, coconut and avocado form aldehydes later and in fewer quantities. It’s best to stick to these oils and avoid reheating them multiple times.
Everything you put in your body impacts your chemistry, including the foods you choose. Gaining awareness of common toxins gives you the savvy you need to avoid them. Eat smart and enjoy better health.