As an integrative physician, some of the most important recommendations I make for my patients include advice on diet and healthy eating habits. But what about healthy cooking? Cooking techniques that can increase nutrient availability are certainly an important part of a health-promoting diet. However, many people don’t consider the fact that some cooking methods can also increase the presence of toxins in their meal.
A significant number of consumer reports and scientific studies have revealed the presence of harmful, carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals in aluminum and other nonstick cookware products. Peer-reviewed research suggests that certain nonstick chemicals can contribute to cancer, birth defects, flulike symptoms, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation, weakened immunity, and other health problems. These chemicals also pollute the environment, including public drinking water, and pose numerous health hazards during the manufacturing process. Such staggering reports are encouraging many to look twice at the cookware they use.
Nonstick Cookware Chemicals
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is the main chemical used in the manufacturing of most nonstick coatings. It is also present in numerous types of food packaging and in materials that are fire-resistant and able to repel oil, stains, grease, and water. This feature might appear to make PFOA ideal for use in nonstick cookware; however, scientists have expressed serious concerns about repeated exposure to this known toxin. In addition to PFOA, 15 other types of gases can be released when cooking with this coating, which can affect health over the long term. Exposure to PFOA primarily comes from consumer products, but can also stem from environmental contamination and bioaccumulation, especially in marine animals. Many people who live in areas of high PFOA contamination, especially near facilities manufacturing PFOA products, have shown an alarmingly elevated body burden of PFOA.
Health Risks of Aluminum and Nonstick Cookware
A normal intake of aluminum is roughly 3 to 5 milligrams per day, but Americans may ingest up to 10 milligrams per day on average. Cooking and storing acidic foods in aluminum pots and pans is likely to release higher amounts of aluminum into the food. Research suggests that using aluminum and other types of nonstick cookware products can increase risks of cancer, respiratory problems, and other serious health problems in adults and children, including a possible link to Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.
Stainless steel is a man-made combination (alloy) of steel and other metals which can include nickel, chromium and iron. Some studies have suggested that these elements can leach into food during cooking, cleaning and normal wear and tear.
Safe Cookware Alternatives
So what can you do to protect your body potential exposure to these harmful and elusive toxins? The first step is to replace your aluminum or other nonstick cookware. Here are some recommended alternatives:
- Cast Iron: Cast-iron cookware is a safe alternative that is well known for its durability and even heat distribution. Cooking with cast iron also saves energy, as it retains heat even after the heating element is turned off.
- Ceramic: Ceramic or porcelain coated cookware also offers even heat distribution, and is nonreactive, meaning it won’t release compounds into food.
- Glass: Glass cookware is the most inert, meaning it will not leach chemicals, metals, or other harmful ingredients into your food. Tempered glass cookware can be used at high temperatures for baking and stovetop cooking.
- Clay: Unglazed clay cookware was once a kitchen staple throughout much of history, and today serves as a more natural cooking alternative. Clay is inert and does not leach into food, it holds heat and moisture, and it helps retain nutrient content. However, clay cookware is less durable and needs extra care to protect the life span of the product.
Protect Your Health through Gentle Detoxification
In addition to avoiding chemical and heavy metal exposure from certain foods and cookware, you can protect your health by clearing toxins from your body that may have been stored over the long term. This is best done using gentle, safe, and effective detoxification methods. My top recommendation is to engage in a gradual heavy metal and environmental toxin cleanse, using a natural chelation formula made of modified citrus pectin and seaweed-derived alginates. Not only is this combination clinically proven to remove heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, and mercury, from the body, but it also achieves this goal without depleting essential minerals in the process. This formula also prevents the reabsorption of toxins through the digestive tract. It can be used safely over the long term, and is phase one of a comprehensive, two-step detoxification protocol for removing harmful heavy metals and toxins from the body.
A phase two detox can further reduce toxins in your system. For this purpose, I recommend a blend of detoxifying botanicals and nutrients, including cilantro, zinc, selenium, MSM, alpha-lipoic acid, L-carnitine, dandelion, milk thistle seed extract, gingko, Oregon grape root, and other targeted natural ingredients. This formula works to increase vital energy, enhance antioxidant activity, provide more in-depth detoxification, and support the organs of elimination.
The combination of these two formulas, when used over three to six months, provides clinically proven, gentle detoxification of health-robbing heavy metals and environmental toxins from the body.
By choosing healthier eating and better cooking alternatives, and by making a health commitment to detoxify your body’s systems, you’ll set a foundation for optimal wellness and vibrancy that can last a lifetime. For more practical holistic health information, visit dreliaz.org.
About the Author
Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc, integrates Western medicine with his extensive knowledge of traditional Chinese, Tibetan, ayurvedic, homeopathic, and complementary medical systems. With more than 25 years of clinical experience and research, Dr. Eliaz offers a unique holistic approach to the relationship between health and disease, immune enhancement, detoxification, and cancer prevention and treatment. For more information about his work, visit dreliaz.org.