When we moved on from cooking in clay, to metals, we realized that food was far less nutritious and less tasty. 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 biochemical entity. So with heat acting as a catalyst, the metal ions, chemicals & oxides (from the ceramic material, glazes enamel etc.) react with food and leach in.
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 in an enzyme reaction, nickel or chromium may be there. 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 damaged by the end of the cooking process. (more so when heated for too long during slow cooking). What remains is probably an excess of starch and carbohydrates. As a result, we depend so heavily on synthetic or modified supplements to fulfill our nutritional needs.
Thirdly, Steam is lost! 9 out of the 13 essential nutrients and minerals are water-soluble. They are inevitably lost with steam that’s constantly escaping the pot.
Briefly discussed below are some of the commonly used cookware and their effects:
One chemical ingredient most common to non-stick cookware is perfluorooctanoic 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. It has been known to produce serious changes in organs like the brain, prostate, 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.
Aluminum is a reactive soft metal. It easily reacts with the different food and releases the metal into the food. In fact, there is enough evidence today to prove that there is a strong connection between Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease (which on one hand is being masterfully suppressed). 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 school-children 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 therefore is not useful in the body. Although it may show an increase in the iron levels in the blood, it has no value at the cellular level. It remains toxic in the blood. In fact, it is very harmful to people who are allergic to heavy metals and can lead to autoimmune 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 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. 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:
- Steam: Ti(s) + 2H2O(g) → TiO2(s) + 2H2(g)
- Nitrogen: Nitrogen 2Ti(s) + N2(g) = TiN(s)), I
- Water (Ti(s) + 2H2O(g) = TiO2(s) + 2H2(g))
- Halogens: Ti(s) + 2F2(g) → TiF4(s) [white] Ti(s) + 2Cl2(g) → TiCl4(l) [colourless]
- 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 food's nutrients get contaminated with the metal, it becomes harder for the body to break them down, separate or properly utilize them. Without proper utilization, these pseudo-nutrients accumulate in the body--tissues, organs, and cells. And in time, these 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 another issue. In the latter, the metal ions have modified the food's nutrients and these affected nutrients are what support the entire system.
Find more information on metal and chemical reactivity of cookware here.
How about Glass and Ceramic, Glazed or Enamelware?
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. Lead is used to gives it shock resistance and uniformity in color.
Ceramics are made up of many chemicals, metals, and minerals. They are 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. It is a mixture of individually mined and extracted chemicals and oxides. So 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. They include lead and cadmium which can leach into food every time.
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. It tests for metals and chemicals leaching into food from cookware:
Boil 2 glasses of water in any metal/ceramic pot or pan. Add 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the boiling water. Baking soda is high on the pH scale (alkaline), with a pH value of 8. Most of the foods we eat are alkaline too! 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 it's a metal pot, the water will have a foul metallic taste. If it's a ceramic/glazed or enameled pot, the water would have the taste of rubber or paint.
Do you see how much is leaching!
Do the same in the MEC pure-clay pots. You can compare the taste against your control which would be a 1/2 tsp baking soda mixed to one glass of water. The water in your MEC clay pots will taste the same as the water in the glass cup. This proves the inert, non-reactive nature of MEC’s pure clay cookware.
So which is the Healthiest Cookware?
All-Natural pure clay 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. These characteristics unique to clay, like it's elasticity, it's ability to transform into a hard and durable substance when fired, and it's unique combination of nutrients are what make it by far the best raw material to make cookware.
Only Pure Clay Makes Healthy & Non-toxic Cookware. Here’s Why:
It is 100% Natural, Inert & Non-Toxic:
Pure clay is a naturally found ingredient in the surface of the earth. At MEC, it’s used just the way it is in nature -- 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. This means that food cooked in MEC's pure-clay is 100% metal & toxins FREE. It tastes better because now it’s only the taste of the food's ingredients and not the material of the pot.
Unique, Food-Friendly Heat cooks food without damaging the nutrients:
These pots made of pure earth emit a unique and more gentle heat that travels deeper and cooks food without damaging nutritional cells, sometime referred to as far-infrared heat. In our research we found how those who only cook in pure-clay didn't have nutritional deficiencies. Thus did not have to depend on supplements, nor did they suffer from the many forms of chronic illnesses the rest of the world around them did.
- 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. It also reduces the need to add more H2O or other liquids, and fats.
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, uses less electricity or gas – Saves Energy. And it also helps food stay hot longer. No more burnt fingers — all the heat is contained inside the pot.
Among the important factors that influence our health and well being, the food we eat, has by far, the most powerful impact. But that food is only as good as the cookware that it is cooked in. Choosing the healthiest ingredients but cooking in toxic pots is useless. On the other hand, the pure & nutrient-rich earth that grows and nourishes our food can also make the perfect and healthiest pots and pans!
~ Miriam Kattumuri