Three “Healthier Options” in Your Kitchen That May Actually Be Harming You
I often get asked for help with healthier alternatives in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, there are three things I commonly find in homes that, at first glance may seem like healthier options, but in reality, can actually be harming your health.
These often take people by surprise because, in most cases, they thought they were choosing a healthier option.
So I wanted to share not only what they are, but why they’re problematic, and most importantly, what you can actually do about it.
1. Nonstick Cookware
In an effort to cook more often and to use less oil, you may have switched to non-stick cookware. Unfortunately, the chemical used for the nonstick coating (PFOA) can have some serious consequences for your health.
When the PFOA coating is scratched or compromised, as happens with regular use, it breaks apart and finds it way into the food you’re preparing. PFOA can be found in 98% of the human population, and has been linked to a whole host of health concerns including thyroid disorders, developmental problems, numerous cancers, chronic kidney disease, hormone disruption, low-birth weight, and immune system toxicity.
Even more concerning, within 2-5 minutes of heating nonstick cookware on a stovetop, the coating starts releasing a toxic, odorless gas that has been linked to hundreds of pet bird deaths each year and an unknown number of human illnesses. This is the epitome of a “canary in a coalmine”.
So what can you do?
If any of your nonstick cookware is scratched or damaged, toss it out, and limit the use of any remaining nonstick cookware. Certainly don’t use them above a low heat. Then start replacing your nonstick cookware with high quality stainless steel, cast iron or enameled cast iron cookware.
2. BPA-Free Plastics
Most consumers are now aware of the dangers of BPA in plastic containers, plastic bottles and more. Unfortunately, just because something says it’s BPA-free doesn’t mean it’s safe. In most cases, the companies have simply replaced BPA with another bisphenol (BP) like BPS or BPF. The other bisphenols haven’t been studied nearly as much as BPA, but recent research suggests they may be as harmful or more harmful than BPA.
The danger is really when the chemicals in the plastics leach into your food or drink, and there are four circumstances that compromise the plastic, increasing the likelihood of the chemicals leaching out: heat, oil, acid, and abrasion. Unfortunately, regular washing of these containers exposes them to at least two of these circumstances at once.
So what can you do?
Use glass or ceramic containers whenever possible. Personally, I have a collection of several different sizes of Ball jars and use those for just about everything. They’re great for storing dry goods, leftovers, liquids, and more.
If you do need to use plastic for something, treat it with care. Don’t expose it to the four environments that increase the likelihood of these chemicals leaching out.
3. Anti-Bacterial Hand Soap
You want to make sure your kitchen is clean, so you use anti-bacterial products to kill the germs, right? Here’s the problem. We are bombarded with anti-bacterial agents that don’t discriminate between the bacteria that naturally coat your skin (or gut lining) to protect you, and the harmful bacteria that can make you sick. So when you wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap regularly, you’re actually removing the bacteria that protect your skin and keep it healthy so that harmful pathogens don’t get through.
What’s more, the most common anti-microbial agent used is Triclosan, which on its own has already been linked to numerous health concerns. The greater concern, is that when Triclosan is mixed with chlorine (commonly found in tap water), the chemical reaction produces chloroform which was once widely used as an anesthetic and even as a way for criminals to knock out or daze their victims. Chloroform has also been linked to liver and kidney damage, reproductive disorders, and birth defects.
So what can you do?
Avoid the anti-bacterial hand soaps and other products. There’s no need. They actually haven’t been shown to be any more effective at killing pathogens than regular soap. My favorite soap is Mrs. Meyer’s liquid hand soap, though there are plenty of natural options out there without the nasty chemicals.
So what did you learn? Do you have any of these in your kitchen? If so, no need to panic, just take what you’ve learned and do what you can from what I’ve suggested above to protect your health.
And please share this information with your friends. This is such an important topic, and one that often gets overlooked.
Thank you for being part of this community. I am so appreciative.