Time to Cook More…
It’s been about a month now since I started taking classes at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). During this time I’ve been inspired by my fellow classmate’s Facebook posts showing photos of the different healthy dishes they cook.
I admit, that I am not really a cook. My husband has fulfilled this role for much of our relationship, up until a couple of years ago when I dropped gluten and dairy from my diet. During this transition, our meals have sort of split — in that I make things for myself and he makes things for himself.
Since I don’t really cook, I’ve naturally transitioned to more of a raw diet — juices, smoothies, salads, raw veggies… etc.
Of late, we’ve really been slacking in the kitchen — eating out way more than we should. It doesn’t take long for my body to recognize the effects of eating away from home. I know that we need to cook more…. but there’s been a crucial component keeping me out of the kitchen — the non stick pans we use.
I’ve been wanting to replace our very old, chipping non-stick pans for awhile now, especially as I got word about the dangers of Teflon. And studying at IIN has made me even more mindful of this problem.
After ditching our old pans, I looked deeper to see why exactly Teflon is bad. I wish that I’d looked into this sooner. We have been using these pans for over eight years!
Meet the Disgraceful Chemical – PFOA
Teflon is the material used on non-stick pans. It is made up of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) a chemical created by Du-Pont. When Teflon pans are heated to certain levels (easily hit when pre-heating) then PFOA is released. Once oil smokes in these pans then PFOA is released.
High heat and rapid changes in temperature breaks down this Teflon coating which easily chips and peels, further contaminating our food.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared PFOA a likely human carcinogen. In lab studies, PFOA lead to cancer and birth defects on rat subjects. These rats got tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands and pancreas.
Factory workers exposed to PFOA inside Teflon plants showed high levels of this indestructible chemical in their blood. Among these were seven pregnant women, whose fetuses also showed elevated levels of PFOA. Out of these seven women, two had babies with birth defects.
The high exposure shown in Teflon workers is not likely among those who have not had such direct contact, however the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 95% of Americans have PFOA in their blood. This chemical stays in the body’s fatty tissue for years, as it is unable to break it down.
Higher PFOA levels have been linked to high cholesterol, thyroid disease and reduced fertility. PFOA causes toxic effects on the liver, immune system and reproductive organs — They are hormone disruptors.
Studies done in Denmark and at UCLA uncovered a strong association between higher levels of PFOA in the blood and infertility. It is said that higher rates of PFOA increases infertility by 60-154%.
There is an additional correlation with PFOA and low birth rates and mothers with higher levels of PFOA in their blood tend to have babies and toddlers who are less likely to reach developmental milestones early.
These studies and statistics are frightening. I’ve been consuming food on our old, chipping Teflon pans for way too long…. Makes me wonder if this is playing into my infertility?
On the Positive Side?
In studying to be a health coach, I know that I must step away from my juicer and blender and cook more 🙂
And the good news is there are safe pans to cook in. The best, safest materials to cook with are pans and bakeware made out of stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron and glass.
So after consulting my fellow classmates on their suggested cookware choice, my husband and I treated ourselves to a new shiny set of stainless steel pans that arrived in the mail today 🙂
I am excited to try out my new stainless steel cookware — and even more excited to try out my new cast iron Wok that is set to deliver next week 🙂
As I become more aware of the toxicities in our environment, I realize more and more that I must take responsibility and cook healthier meals at home — on safe, clean cookware. Who knows what the restaurants are using?
One thing that IIN has taught me thus far is that food tastes much better when you prepare it for yourself, or when it is prepared by someone who loves you. IIN calls it — Vitamin L 🙂