Modern kitchens are filled to the brim with neat gadgets and designed to increase the convenience of cooking. That convenience has come at a cost, though. We introduced new materials that didn’t exist 100 years ago into our daily lives. We’ve been told it’s all safe and nothing to worry about. But what if I told you three of the most common materials in kitchens today are actually hidden sources of toxicity?
Plastic leaches xenoestrogens into food, especially if it’s heated. Never, never, never heat plastic, especially if it’s touching food. The chemicals in the plastic will off-gas and be absorbed by your food.
Xenoestrogens are hormone look-a-likes that tamper with how estrogen is processed in the body. They compete with estrogen for receptors but don’t fulfill the same chemical roll in your body’s biochemical reactions. On top of messing with your natural estrogen levels — which is bad for both men and women — it creates toxicity in the body with its own metabolic pathways.
The effects of exposure to plastic are just not worth it when there are other options! Plus, plastic is a major pollution problem, so ditching plastic in favor of more eco-friendly materials does a solid for the environment, too.
Non-stick coatings have a similar problem to plastic. They are made of chemicals that inevitably leach into your food. A common chemical used for non-stick coatings are per-and polyfluorinated substances, or PFAS. Teflon is a type of PFAS. When heated, PFAS releases a cancer causing chemical PFOA which then, of course, gets into your food.
Also over time, the coating itself on your pots and pans wears off into your food. This problem gets worse as the pan gets scratched. When this happens, you aren’t just getting residual leakage from the chemical coating, but you’re actually consuming the coating in your food. That’s just gross.
Styrofoam is made of toxic chemical components like styrene and benzene. Both are known carcinogens and can cause neurodegenerative damage. Benzene is stored in bone marrow and metabolized into other dangerous compounds in the body. Styrene is a genotoxin that, once oxidized, binds to DNA and causes mutations.
When your food or drink comes in contact with styrofoam, trace amounts of these chemicals leak out into your food or drink. Over time, the buildup of these chemicals can wreak major havoc on your health. Even though the FDA has put limitations in place on the levels of chemicals allowed to seep out of styrofoam over time, we should never be quick to assume the FDA has done its complete due diligence. Many safety tests are done internally by companies who stand to profit from a good report.
Then there’s the waste issue. Not only does Styrofoam look like the opposite of nature, but it doesn’t decompose and is a major pollution problem. Just recycle it? Not so easy. Read this article to learn about why most styrofoam doesn’t get recycled.