When we as a civilization moved on from cooking in clay to cooking in shiny metals we realized that food was far less nutritious and had less taste. More recently we’re finding out all about metal and chemical contamination from unhealthy & toxic cookware and the damage it can cause to our health.
By their innate nature all metals are reactive, from surgical steel to aluminum to titanium, if it’s not reactive it’s not metal -- and food is a bio-chemical entity -- so with heat acting as a cyclist, the metal ions, chemicals & oxides (from the ceramic material, glazes enamel etc) react with food and leach in.
But Is It Really Toxic, What Do These Metals/Chemicals Do In The Body?
First, they accumulate and thereby disrupt functions in vital organs and glands such as the heart, brain, kidneys, bone, liver, etc. Second, they replace vital nutritional minerals in the cells and tissues. For example, enzymes are catalysts for virtually every biochemical reaction in all life-sustaining processes. But instead of calcium being present in an enzyme reaction, nickel or chromium may be there in its place. Toxic metals cannot fulfill the same role as the nutritional minerals, thus their presence becomes critically disruptive to enzyme activity. Their action in the body is so fundamental that they are seen to cause and /or aid many diseases.
The other notably destructive factor is the heat from the walls of metal/ceramic pot is harsh and destructive. More than half the nutrients are dead and damaged by the end of the cooking process what remains is probably an excess of starch and carbohydrates. Making us the 1st people to depend so heavily on synthetic and so called natural pills and supplements to fulfill our nutritional needs.
Thirdly, Steam is lost! 9 out of the 13 essential nutrients and minerals are water soluble and are inevitably lost with steam that’s constantly escaping the pot.
Briefly discussed below are some of the commonly used cookware and their effects:
- Non-stick Cookware:
One chemical ingredient most common to non-stick cookware is perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA). This is a synthetic chemical that creates a soap-like slipperiness and the non-stick finish. When heated, the PFOA quickly reaches temperatures high enough to release toxic flames into the air and food and has been known to produce serious changes in organs like the brain, prostrate, liver, thymus kidney showing toxicity. It is also seen to cause changes in the pituitary glands, which is the organ that controls growth, reproduction and many metabolic functions, as observed in lab tests and animal studies.
- Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum is a reactive soft metal. It easily reacts with the different food and releases the metal into the food. In fact, there is today enough evidence to prove that there is a strong connection between Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic aluminum exposure has contributed directly to hepatic failure, renal failure and dementia (Arieff et al., 1979). Other symptoms that have been observed in individuals with high internal concentrations of aluminum are colic, convulsions, esophagitis, gastroenteritis, kidney damage, liver dysfunction, loss of appetite, loss of balance, muscle pain, psychosis, shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue (ATSDR 1990). Behavioral difficulties among schoolchildren have also been correlated with elevated levels of aluminum and other neuro-toxic heavy metals (Goyer 1991). What is still more alarming is the fact that aluminum toxicity can even cause birth defects in newborns.
- Cast Iron Cookware
Iron occurs in its ferric and ferrous form. Our bodies can assimilate iron from food -- plants and meat which is in the ferrous form. The metal or ferric form of iron from cast iron cannot be assimilated or digested by our bodies. Although it may show an increase in the iron levels in blood, it has no value in the cellular level, and remains toxic in the blood. In fact, it is very harmful to people who are allergic to heavy metals, and can lead to auto immune problems. This ferric form of iron when combined with the oxygen in the body, can release oxygen-free radicals, which are unstable molecules. And studies now show that the damage caused by these unstable molecules known as free radicals may be the cause for many forms of cancer (National Cancer Institute).
- Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel is made up of a combination of various metals like iron, nickel, chromium, molybdenum, carbon etc. But it is no consolation that these metals are in smaller quantities because even small amounts of these metals can prove extremely toxic. For instance, a very small amount of concentration of nickel can cause kidney dysfunction, low blood pressure, muscle tremors, oral cancer, skin problems etc. And this is just from one of the metals.
5. Titanium Cookware
Titanium is a soft metal and reactive to food while cooking. Nutrients in food are in the form of oxygen, hydrogen, halogens, acids and bases, here are some of the reactions that happen between the titanium metal and food when these nutrients are breaking down:
With steam: Ti(s) + 2H2O(g) → TiO2(s) + 2H2(g)
With nitrogen: Nitrogen 2Ti(s) + N2(g) = TiN(s)), I
With water (Ti(s) + 2H2O(g) = TiO2(s) + 2H2(g))
With halogens: Ti(s) + 2F2(g) → TiF4(s) [white] Ti(s) + 2Cl2(g) → TiCl4(l) [colourless]
With acids & bases: 2Ti(s) + 12HF(aq) → 2[TiF6]3-(aq) + 3H2(g) + 6H+(aq) Ti(s) + 2Br2(g) → TiBr4(s) [orange]
Ti(s) + 2I2(g) → TiI4(s) [dark brown]
When the foods nutrients get contaminated with the metal, it becomes harder for the body to break them down, separate or properly use these nutrients. Without proper utilization these pseudo-nutrients accumulate in the body--tissues, organs and cells and in time make them dysfunctional. Some people assume titanium is safe because some have implants made from this metal. Having a titanium implant in the body is one thing but eating food contaminated with titanium ions is a different one. In the latter, the metal is mixed with food and is in the gut system from where it is broken down to provide nutrition for the whole body.
More information on metal and chemical reactivity of cookware, with the chemical reactions can be found here.
How about Glass and Ceramic, Glazed or Enamel ware?
Pure glass which is made from natural sand is also 100% inert but it cannot be used for cooking (pure-glass shatters when heated). In order for glass to be used for cooking it has to be shock resistant and Lead is used to gives these wares shock resistance and uniformity in color.
The ceramic material is made up of many chemicals, metals and minerals obtained by fracking and other environmentally destructive means of mining. These chemicals include but are not limited to barium, cadmium, chrome, cobalt, lead, lithium, nickel, selenium and vanadium, silicon dioxide, feldspar, silicon carbide, magnesium oxide, petalite (an ore of lithium). And all of these raw materials range in toxicity from mild to highly toxic. Because is it a mixture of individually mined chemicals/ metal oxides it has to be fired to very high temperatures to fuse. In order for food to not come in contact with these chemicals, so called ‘food safe’ glazes and enamels are used. These glazes or enamels are a paint like substance with their own set of chemicals/toxins including lead and cadmium which poison food every time it’s cooked in them.
The Baking Soda Test - A Simple & Reliable Method to Test Cookware’s Toxicity in your Kitchen.
Here is an experiment that anyone can try in their kitchens to test for metals and chemicals leaching into food from cookware: Boil 2-4 cups of water in any metal/ceramic pot or pan, add 1 tbsp of baking soda to the boiling water. Baking soda is high on the ph scale (alkaline). Most of the foods we eat are also alkaline. Turn stove off after 5-10 minutes of water coming to a boil and wait for it to cool down just a bit. Now taste the water (take a small sip). If the pot is leaching, and if its a metal pot the water will have a foul metallic taste. If its a ceramic/ glazed or enameled pot the water would have the taste of rubber or paint. Do the same in the MEC Pure-Clay pots. You can compare the taste against your control which would be a 1tbsp baking soda mixed to the same quantity of water in a glass cup. The water in our clay pots will taste the same as the water in the glass cup (slightly salty), proving the inert, non-reactive nature of MEC’s pure clay cookware.
So How is Pure-Clay Different?
All-Natural pure clay is very different: It is a composition of important nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium etc. These elements are bound together in a unique bond that is only possible in nature. The characteristics unique to clay such as its elasticity, its ability to transform into a hard and durable substance when fired, and its unique combination of nutrients is what makes it by far the best raw material to make cookware. Here’s Why:
- It is 100% Natural, Inert & Non-Toxic:
Pure clay is a naturally found ingredient in the surface of the earth, it’s used just the way it’s found, nothing is added, nothing subtracted. It is a superior form of soil nutritionally rich and having elasticity. And although we know pure-clay has no toxins, for the benefit of our customers we also test the complete composition of clay. When made and fired these pots are 100% non-reactive or inert. This means that food cooked in pure-clay is 100% metal & toxins FREE and therefore, definitely better tasting (because now it’s only the taste of the food not the ingredients of the pot).
- Unique, Food-Friendly Heat cooks food without damaging the nutrients:
These pots made of pure earth emit this form of Far-infrared heat that travels deeper and cooks food without damaging nutritional cells. If you have the opportunity of meeting people, families who only cook in pure-clay, and have been doing so for some time, so long as their diet is fairly balanced you will see that they don’t have any nutritional deficiencies and don’t depend on supplements.
- Locks Steam -- Retains all the water Soluble Nutrients:
Once the pot is closed, very little to no steam escapes. The unique double lock design and the lid that stays cooler than the pot, helps condense steam and sends it right back into the food, retaining water-soluble nutrients and reducing the need to add more H2O and other liquids and fats. Heat is transferred from the bottom of the pot and food gets cooking even before the rest of the pot and lid can get very hot.
- A Great Retainer of Heat:
The heat retained in a Pure-clay pot is significantly greater than in any other cookware. This allows the food to cook better, while using less electricity or gas –Saving Energy. And it also helps food stay hot longer. And the exciting news is burnt fingers caused by handling hot pots can now be a thing of the past — all the heat is contained just within the inside of the pot. When cooking on the stove top, the handles stay comfortable warm (not burning hot) while the food inside is almost cooked.
Among the important factors that influence our health and well being, the food we eat has by far the most powerful impact: Food is something that we've been given the right to directly put in our bodies and thus has the most impact on its functioning. But the food, as we've seen here, is only as good as the cookware used. It is therefore important to choose the right one that is both healthy and non-toxic. There is no sense in choosing the healthiest ingredients but cooking in pots that have no way of retaining the healthfulness and are reactive and toxic in itself. On the other hand, using pots made from the same pure & nutrient rich earth that grows and nourishes our food may be the perfect and best choice!
“Those who fail to take the time to be healthy will ultimately have to take the time to be sick.”
~ Dr. James Chappell