- Diet & Weight Loss
Dangerous Foods: Natural, Contaminated, and Adulterated
Written by Angela LaMor RMA NCPT and Frances Bleuet owner of Nutrition for Weight Loss
Foods contain factors other than nutrients. These substances can be harmful under certain circumstances, such as when they age or when combined with other substances in other foods. Some examples are:
Psoralens are chemicals found in fruits and vegetables, particularly vegetables that are members of the genus psoralea, which are: carrots, celery, turnips and parsnips. While these foods are important to a healthy diet, psoralens can be harmful to your health. Psoralens in lower doses can make you photosensitive, which means overly sensitive to sunlight. You may break out in a rash or burn from minor sun exposure. Wash hands after handling these vegetables if you are going to be exposed to natural sunlight.
Psoralens in higher doses are carcinogens, which means that they can cause cancer. Psoralen content in increased as vegetables age or are damaged. Avoid old, moldy, and bruised fruits and vegetables.
Nitrates are added to foods (especially processed meats, such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and sausage) to prevent the deadly disease of botulism from manifesting in these foods. Nitrates can also occur naturally in foods. Amines are formed from the breakdown of protein, such as in aged, and overcooked meats and the over ripening of some fruits. Eating foods containing nitrates with foods that contain amines can cause nitrosamines to form in the body.
Nitrosamines are known carcinogens, (can cause cancer). Taking vitamin C with meals containing both nitrates and amines inhibits the formation of nitrosamines and therefore, inhibits their ability to cause cancer. Garlic also inhibits the formation of nitrosamines.
Raw egg whites contain an enzyme called avidin that binds with the B vitamin biotin making it unusable by the body. Cooking destroys enzymes including avidin.
Foods Contaminated by Improper Storage and Handling
Foods that contain acids can leach substances out of container that they are stored in.
Acid containing foods (such as fruits and vegetables) are best stored in glass containers. Acid can leach chemicals out of plastic, metal and painted containers (some mugs and soup bowls), but absolutely nothing leaches out of glass.
The longer the acid food remains in the container the higher the risk of toxic levels of contamination. Coffee mugs and bowls can contain lead based paints or finishes that are unsuitable for storing acidic foods or juices. There have been fatal cases of poisoning especially in children from this type of improper storage. Acidic foods can also leach dangerous levels of metals out of brass, copper or iron containers.
Potatoes in Aluminum Foil
Potatoes are commonly wrapped in foil before baking. The danger can arise when the potatoes that are wrapped tightly in foil, are left out overnight unrefrigerated. This can cause botulism to grow. Botulism is often fatal, and some symptoms remain for years in those who do survive.
Botulism occurs when a specific germ is present in a food, the food is not cooked hot enough for long enough for the germ to be destroyed, and then the food is stored in an airtight container (such as a can or foil) and left out at room temperature.
Many years ago, refrigerator shelves were made from galvanized steel, which means that the steel was coated with zinc. When these shelves are used as a substitute for oven racks or barbeque grills, the heat can cause the food to absorb a dangerously high quantity of zinc causing poisoning in those who consume the food.
Contamination by Germs
Common germs that are present in our mouths and sinuses can be introduced into food from a sneeze or by tasting the food, and then putting the utensil back into the food. If this food is allowed to sit at room temperature, instead of being thoroughly cooked and then promptly refrigerated, it can produce germs that in turn release high levels of toxins that cannot be destroyed heat. The germs can be destroyed by cooking, but the toxins remain in the food causing illness in whoever eats it.
Most foodborne disease, such as, salmonella from raw poultry and eggs, trichinosis from raw pork and E. coli from raw ground meats can be prevented by proper refrigeration and cooking methods.
Some types of plastic are considered more dangerous to health than others. Plastic from reusable sports bottles, water pipes, some dental work and the plastic linings used in some canned foods contain an environmental estrogen called Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is an endocrine disruptor which interferes with the normal functioning of the endocrine system by working in place of natural estrogen. It has been linked to hyperactivity, schizophrenia, diabetes, and breast and prostate cancers.
When a food that normally contains fat say "fat free" on the label, it usually means that the fat has been removed and replaced by a fat substitute. Fat substitues are made in laboratories by scientists from components of carbohydrates, proteins or fats. They are modified so that the body is unable to digest them and they go through the body unused and unchanged. They offer no nutritive value and some of them block the absoption of vitamin E and possibly other fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and K). Originally some brands caused diarrhea and other digestive disturbances, although an alteration in the formula seems to have rectified this side effect.
Genetically Altered Foods
Genetically altered foods are altered by introducing molecules from a plant, animal, bacteria, virus, or chemical into them for the purpose of improving them. For example, they may inject molecules from a species of tomato that is extremely resistant to mold into a corn plant to make the corn extremely resistant to mold. Scientists have been able to make plants that produce their own pesticides and plants that can't be destroyed by weed killer.
They often use antibiotics as markers. The antibiotics are mixed with the molecules and they are injected together into the food. This allows scientists to trace their progress, to see if the new molecule made it into the food. If the food is resistant to bacteria from the antibiotic then they know the other molecule made it in also. This wide use of antibiotics may be contributing to the growing number of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. There may also be an allergy hazard for someone allergic to peanuts, for example when peanut molecules are injectecd into another food without out knowledge.
Genetically altered foods have been used in our food supply for many years, without our knowledge of consent, and this process was not included in the labeling.
Aspartame is a well known, commonly used artificial sweetener made from two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, combined with methanol (wood alcohol). It has been linked to weight, neurological problems, including severe seizures, multiple sclerosis, lupus, cancer and diabetic comas.
Part of the problem with aspartame is caused by the product breaking down with age or exposure to heat, releasing methanol, which is unsafe even in small doses. Methanol can cause blindness, damage to the brain, heart and pancreas, severe acidosis, shock, and death.
Another problem is that some people lack the enzyme needed to break down phenylalanine which can accumulate and cause brain damage. This disorder is called phenylketonuria or PKU.
Hydrogenated Fats and Heart Disease
Heart disease is still the numver one killer in America. This disease was rare before itn 1900s. That was around the time we started refining grains (removing the germ, bran and nutrients, including vitamin E) and using margarine.
Margarine is unnatural. It is oil, modified into a hardened form by adding hydrogen to it. Once it's hardened it is no better for you than butter, in fact it's worse because it's unnatural and unstable.
Foods that are fully hydrogenated lose all nutrients and contain traces of metals and altered fatty acids. They are just empty calories.
Foods that are partially hydrogenated, such as, margarine and shortening are unnatural, unstable and harmful to the normal processes of the body. These foods offer little or no nutritional value and can damage the body.
Unnatural foods are not just those that have been tainted with chemicals or made in a laboratory. Once a food is old, moldy or improperly stored it becomes unnatural. Avoid all unnatural foods.
In many cases nutrients can protect us from harm from these foods. For example the vitamin E removed during the refining of grains prevents heart disease in several ways: First it decreases the need for oxygen in the body. Second it dilates the blood vessels, which decreases the pressure in them, decreasing blood pressure. Third if prevents atherosclerosis by preventing the oxidative changes that allow fats and cholestero to be deposited in the arteries. Fourth it works with vitamin C to prevent clots, and strengthen blood vessels.
This article was compiled from excerpts from the book "EveryBODY Can Heal" by Frances Bleuet and Angela LaMor RMA, NCPT available in soft cover, hard cover and as an eBook.
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