Aluminum, A Toxic Metal you should Avoid in your Food & Kitchen

by Pankaj Kotak, M.Sc., N.D.


Aluminum is a toxic heavy metal that is pervasive in our modern life. Over the past few years, increasing amounts of scientific data have shown that Aluminum which enters our body via various sources, acts as a toxin and causes brain related diseases, various stomach ailments, cancer, weak immune system, skin problems, liver and kidney damage, to name a few. Most common sources through which Aluminum enters and affects our body are: aluminum utensils, food additives, baking powder, deodorants (antiperspirants), aerosols, antacid medications, shampoo and municipal tap water. As part of food additives, it is found in processed cheese, white flour, common table salt, cake mixes, prepared doughs, self-rising flour, non-dairy creamer, and pickles, among others.

Scientific research has shown that Aluminum absorbed by the body gets poorly excreted and accumulates in the body tissue. It is a neurotoxin that accumulates in the brain tissue which leads to the Alzheimer's Disease (1). It's accumulation in the body tissue leads to impaired kidney function, bone disease and tissue damage (2). It is a dangerous neurotoxin for children. A scientific study on preterm infants receiving intravenous-feeding solutions containing Aluminium found that these children had impaired neurological development (3). Pregnant women should make every effort to avoid this toxic metal in their food and kitchen.

Aluminum cutlery and utensils have been found to leach this toxic metal into the food (4). It also leaches from packaging material and food containers, depending on the type of food being packed or stored. Acidic food (having lower pH value) is found to cause more leaching. If fluoridated water, such as tap water, is used in cooking, dangerous amounts of this toxic metal have been found to leach from Aluminum cooking utensils (5). Scientific experiments on Rats have found that regular drinking of Soft drinks and beverages packed in Aluminum cans significantly increase the accumulation of this toxic metal in the body (6). Colas and fruit juices, which are highly acidic in nature, cause heavy leaching of metal from the cans, posing a great health risk. Consumers should consider safer alternatives such as iron, stainless steel, copper and glass for their cutlery and utensils. Since it provides no health benefits, foods and cosmetics containing Aluminium must be avoided by checking the labels of food packages and cosmetics. Also, drinking water must be filtered using a filter that removes heavy metals.

Reference

  1. Perl DP., et al. Alzheimer's disease: X-ray spectrometric evidence of aluminum accumulation in neurofibrillary tangle-bearing neurons. Science. April 1980;208 (4441):297-299.
  2. Jeffery EH., et al. Systemic aluminum toxicity: effects on bone, hematopoietic tissue, and kidney.Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Aug 1996;48(6):649-65.
  3. Bishop NJ., et al. Aluminum Neurotoxicity in Preterm Infants Receiving Intravenous-Feeding Solutions. New England Journal of Medicine. May 1997;336:1557-1562.
  4. Veríssimo MIS., et al. Leaching of aluminium from cooking pans and food containers. Sensors & Actuators: B. Chemical. 2006.
  5. Tennakone K., et al. Aluminium contamination from fluoride assisted dissolution of metallic aluminium. Environmental Pollution. 1988;49(2):133-43.
  6. Kandiah J., et al. Aluminum concentrations in tissues of rats: effect of soft drink packaging. BioMetals. January 1994;7(1):57-60.

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