Post #30 When Good Food Tries to Kill You!!!
In Podcast Episode #25 We Cover Arsenic, Micro-Plastics, and Mercury...Oh, My!
So, you're trying to eat better & make healthier choices only to find that some of the good stuff isn't really that good for you. Why? Because bad practices at either the agricultural level or the packaging/processing level have really screwed things up!!!
1. Brown Rice & Arsenic
Actually, all rice is polluted with some degree of arsenic. Yes, I mean white, wild, brown, black, jasmine, basmati, organic and conventional. This isn't a new fact, just one we easily forget. Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral, and low levels can be found in soil, water, plants, animals and people. It's been a well-known poison for thousands of years and a popular ingredient in fertilizers and pesticides. It's even been used historically as a beauty treatment and to make commercial chickens grow faster!
The problems are 1) that arsenic gets into the water supply and 2) it can live in the soil for decades...like for 50 years after the last crop it was used on! Now guess which crop absorbs arsenic like no other? That's right, RICE! Water-soaked paddies, often in areas that used to grow cotton, are the ideal conditions for growing rice. Cotton is a crop that absolutely requires pesticides to produce big yields. So, the Southern Central region of the US, where almost 50% of our rice is grown, is saturated with arsenic. Lovely.
High levels of arsenic in the body can cause:
Stomach & Head Aches
Drowsiness & Confusion
Abdominal Pain & Diarrhea
Skin pigmentation and lesions
Type 2 diabetes
High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease
Arsenic Is Also A Known Human Carcinogen
Brown rice will have the highest levels of arsenic simply because it contains more parts of the rice: the bran, the germ, and the seed. With white rice, you're basically eating the polished seed.
Buy rice grown in California, India or Pakistan as these sources have much lower levels
Wash rice multiple times before cooking
Cook rice with extra water, then drain the excess when its done
Soak rice for 48 hours before cooking (keep it in the fridge), changing the water every 8-12hrs.
Cook rice in a coffee maker with a filter...technique here
Blend rice with other grains like quinoa, teff, barley, millet or oat bran
Fancy Tea Bags & Microplastics
Even though we were doing just fine with our regular old paper teabags and metal tea infuser balls & spoons, someone had to go and invent the pyramid-shaped, silky-soft teabag! This cutting edge design offered you the ability to see the fine collection of tea, herbs, and spices gathered within...and you got to pay more for it, too!
Well, the part that they left out was that these fancy pyramids were actually made out of a plastic nylon mesh. This plastic "fabric" has been shown to release billions...yes, billions(!) of microplastic particles when steeped in hot water. This is a significantly higher amount than what's found in bottled water, and, no, you can't see them with the naked eye.
No one truthfully knows the hazards of ingesting microplastics because it hasn't been studied enough or for any real duration. The toxins and chemicals in the plastic, as well as the plastic itself, may be negatively affecting our bodies. Trust me, we already get enough microplastics from the seafood, alcohol, sugar, and honey we eat.
Just stick with the old-fashioned paper teabags! Or use a French Press or metal infusers with loose tea. Your resulting tea will taste great and will probably not try to kill you.
Albacore Tuna & Mercury
Remember when we used to have wallet-sized cards that told us which fish was safe and environmentally-friendly to eat? You would think that in the age of Siri we would't have forgotten about albacore tuna & mercury!
Lately, I've been seeing tuna salad making a hard comeback. Why not, right? It's a cheap, low fat protein that's available everywhere, and can lower your risk of heart disease. Albacore tuna has a more delicate flavor, a brighter color, and a less pungent smell than Chunk Light tuna. And what about easy-access sushi? Spicy Tuna Rolls are still the hot seller in supermarkets everywhere.
Well, albacore, bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna are big fish! Anyone who's gotten caught in the drama that is WICKED TUNA has seen their massive size. The bigger the fish, the higher the mercury levels. That's why skipjack or chunk light tuna is the way to go...they're just smaller fish.
High levels of Mercury in the body can:
Damage the brain & kidneys
Affect the central nervous system
Cause coordination issues
Cause anxiety and irritability
Affect vision & hearing
Cause memory loss
Weaken the immune system.
So if you must have albacore tuna, use no more than half the amount you normally would then mix it with skipjack/chunk light tuna or another smaller-sized, high-benefit fish like sardines or wild caught salmon!