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Natural Toxins : The Less Known Facts

As with other food preservation techniques, the use of chemicals to preserve food has a long history. Perhaps one of the oldest processing practices of smoking and drying foods of course, at that time no one knew the basis of making it as a chemical preservation process. Today it is recognized that the surface drying and the Chemicals in the smoke deposited on the surface of the food, help prevent the growth of deteriorative organisms. Fermentation is another ancient practice that was not well understood by its users. In this process a desirable organism grows. and produces substances such as ands or alcohols which inhibit the growth of undesirable microbes. Thus it is a chemical preservation technique.

MSG, a flavor enhancer, when injected in large doses into the base of the skull of immature rats has caused tissue damage to the brain unfortunately the infant animal does not have full brain development as compared to the infant human so some effect would be expected. MSG was used in baby food, but has been removed however, because the press overplayed this test. The original purpose of MSG was to make the baby food appeal to parents rather than babies, thus its removal was probably justified from that standpoint.

Many food contains natural toxicants Thess can make them inedible, or atleast the foods must first be processed to remove the toxic factor. Other foods are also toxic if too much is consumed at one time.

The Amanita species of mushroom is the best sample of a highly toxic natural plant. Death occurs rapidly after eating this plant. Those who eat wild mushrooms should learn what kind of species to avoid and should be able to identify them.

Alcohol, which is common in the diet of some people, can also be dangerous if consumed to excess. The problem comes partially from the addiction, which results in very poor dietary habits. Moderation is the answer.

Unrefined and seeds naturally contain gastric cancer causing chemicals 3,4-benzopyrene. It is removed in the normal refining process used by the food industry. The level initially is ten milligrams per kilogram. It is interesting to note that red cabbage contains about 13 milligrams per kilogram of this chemical. Lettuce and spinach also has some naturally when one barbecues food over charcoal or wood, the burning fat deposits benzopyrene on the surface of the meat up to 23 milligrams per kilogram Epidemiological ending shows high gastric cancer rates in passes around the world where a lot of barbecued foods are consumed. In Iceland for example 35 percent of all deaths are from gastric cancer.

The caffeine in coffee, ta and cocoa has been found to be a mutagen by the HMA mutagenic test procedure. Perhaps one should moderate intake of these drinks.

Cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts when consumed in large quantities, can suppress the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland because of the chemical they contain.

These same fonds contain oxalic acid which will prevent calcium and iron absorption Rhubarb leaves, some cereals, and spinach also fall into this class

Various kinds of legumes can cause disease. Many of these diseases are found among poor desert populations for example in pants of Africa when drought occurs plants such as chickpeas are the only ones able to survive. Being available these plants may be consumed in large quantities. The chickpeas contain a chemical which causes muscular weakness and can lead to death if over consumed. Uncooked soybeans contain chemicals. that prevent protein digestion and can destroy red blood cells, heat processing in steam however, can destroy these factors.

Nutmeg can also be lethal in a quantity as small as one tablespoon. The same is with green Potatoes. The green color is characteristic of the presence of an alkaloid called solanine that affects the central nervous system. It has been responsible for the death of several people consuming an excess of green potatoes or making potato sprout soup.

It should be realized that anything consumed in excess can be harmful. It is not the chemical that is harmful but the dose ingested that cause the harm we must understand the risks involved in eating certain additives and the benefits they give us As an example, much bread produced centrally would mold rapidly if calcium propionate was not added calcium propionate is toxic to humans at some level, that is the risk. The benefit is increased shelf life and reduces waste. Bread would mold in three days without the mold inhibitor as compared to ten days with it. This would be an economic love to the Country as a whole causing chemicals This is not a concern causing chemicals.

The National Cancer Institute (NCD) routinely screens chemicals for carcinogenicity. Based on their evaluation of the relative risk to society. It is an amazing hysteria that has developed about food additives and cancer. While the NCI holds this to be relatively important. Obviously we don't have all the answers but we should at least learn more about the risk versus benefits of good Supply.

It is also amazing that we have not banned cigarettes. The risk of dying from cigarette smoking is about 15 percent, and an increasingly larger percent of the population smokes. Over 95 percent of all lung cancers are the result of smoking. Another risk is dying in a car crash, a chance of one in 4000 over the year. Risk versus benefits must always be considered but Sometimes is blown out of proportion.

Thanks Giving

This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Shrushti Mehta.

We thank her for her research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about health and nutrition being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.

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