Did you ever think that there might be harmful chemicals in your food? I am not talking about contaminants like pesticides. I am talking about natural compounds made harmful by the food processing or cooking methods we use?
There are harmful compounds in raw foods as well as cooked foods. For example; many foods (mostly dairy, beans and grains) contain lectins and cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens and oxalic acid (cooking will neutralize most of the oxalic acid) and there are others as well. However, most people never have a problem from consuming these compounds in moderation. Cooked foods, as long as they are healthy foods also give us detoxing nutrients. However, unhealthy foods like those that are refined and processed give us different challenges and little nutrition to help remove the unhealthy compounds.
What I want to discuss today is cooking or processing methods that create unhealthy and damaging compounds in our foods.
I do not want to make you paranoid about eating the foods you like. That’s not my intent. If you practice the 80/20 rule, eat and live healthy 80% of the time, you can have an occasional indulgence. When you eat healthy, your body will have the nutrition to detox and function optimally.
Because of the rapid advancement in technology in the last century, we are faced with new discoveries alerting us to the hidden dangers in our foods. We commonly hear about mercury, aluminum, fluoride, BPA’s and PCB’s. Now we need to pay attention to acrylamides and glycation. You may have never heard of them, however, it is important you know about them. Acrylamides and glycation have been around since man started cooking foods.
I am sure you are wondering acrylamides and AGE’s are now an issue. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is why!! The SAD is nutrient bankrupt. If you eat healthy, the body can detox the acrylamide and AGE’s made from glycation. When your total body stores of nutrition are high, your immune system and detoxing ability can function at a high level. This ability reduces your risk of adverse effects from the harmful compounds caused from different methods of food preparation. When most of your diet is from a box, bag or plastic container you will end up with a fast food body.
Refined and processed foods didn’t exist until the late 1800’s. The decline in our health as Americans has a lot to do with the absence of nutrients in the diet. The body cannot detox naturally occurring or man-made substances without adequate nutrition. Refined and processed foods give very little nutritional value. They are in fact junk foods.
Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s) are harmful by-products of cooking with sugar, proteins and fat. The body also makes some AGE’s as part of normal metabolic function however the amount of damage from this is small. Most of the harm to our bodies comes from the AGE’s in the foods we eat and these add to our aging process and disease formation. Because of chronically elevated blood sugar levels, diabetics have consistently faced the challenge of AGEs. Unfortunately, this problem has now become an issue for the American public. Over the past 30 years sugar consumption has increased dramatically.
The Standard American Diet is full of simple sugars like sucrose, fructose and galactose (milk sugar). Many of the natural sweeteners available today are at least 50% fructose or a fructose derivative, think high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, agave nectar and agave syrup. These simple sugars undergo glycation at about 10 times a higher rate than glucose (blood sugar). Fructose (list of fructose content in foods)seems to have the highest negative health impact because it tends to make many more AGE’s in the diet. This means we are accelerating disease and illness due to our nutrient poor diet of convenience.
When cooking foods, the higher the temperature, the longer the time and the type of heat determine the amount of AGE’s produced. Dry heat produces substantially more AGE’s than wet heat. Boiling, poaching, steaming and stewing are the cooking methods that produce the least amount of AGE’s and cooking, grilling, frying, baking, and broiling produces the most AGE’s.
AGE’s accelerate our aging at the cellular level. Research performed over the past several years has shown that about 30% of the AGEs in food are absorbed into the body and remain in various tissues for considerable periods of time. In animal studies, restriction of dietary AGEs slowed the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetes. A study in humans found that a low-AGE diet reduced blood levels of C-reactive protein, which is a measure of inflammation and a known risk factor for heart disease.
AGEs form as food browns during cooking, primarily when foods high in protein or fat are subjected to high temperatures. Cooking at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time creates more AGEs than cooking at lower temperatures for longer periods of time. Also, exposure to dry heat produces more AGEs than cooking in liquid. Thus, broiling, frying, or grilling of meats creates more AGEs than boiling, poaching, or stewing. For example, a chicken breast broiled for 15 minutes contains more than five times as many AGEs as the same food boiled for one hour. If you barbecue or allow meats to char ,not only do you have AGE’s you also have other cancer causing compounds. .
Research over the last 20 years has implicated AGEs in most of the diseases associated with aging like:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Type II diabetes
- Kidney disorders
- High blood pressure
- Visual impairment
- Skin disorders
The amount of AGE’s in food varies. In the list provided in this link you can see the foods with the highest AGE content are animal foods and a few roasted nuts. Eat the nuts raw for the best health. There are very few AGE’s in plant based foods like vegetables and fruits, You can see the complete article and AGE content list at this link.
If you eat nutritious foods and prepare your foods in different ways, you will reduce the risk of health issues from harmful chemicals and compound present in everyday foods.
Enjoy your food but eat healthy to minimize your risk of disease and illness promoted through refined and processed foods. Avoid as much sugar as possible particularly those foods high in fructose sugars. This does not mean avoid fruits. It means all things in moderation. You should consume three (3) times more vegetables than fruits. You should reduce your intake of all sugars and avoid any foods with high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar and agave syrup.
Wally Bishop C.N.C.
The contents of this blog is not and should not be considered medical advice. This blog is for informational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Never quit taking prescription medications unless advised to do so by your doctor.
- Acrylamide ? (2012patriot.wordpress.com)
- How Many Things Can You Think of That Rhyme With “Gross”? (healthheralds.wordpress.com)
- Aging and lifestyle: You really are what you eat (infinitizera.wordpress.com)