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Still Cooking with Aluminum Foil? You’ll Want to Read This

Cooking and baking with aluminum foil is fast and convenient, and makes cleanup a cinch, but it’s not without health risks.

A lot has changed since aluminum arrived on the scene back in 1910, after the first aluminum foil rolling plant, Dr. Lauber, Neher & Cie, opened in Emmishofen, Switzerland. The first use of foil in the United States came about in 1913, when it was used to wrap Life Savers, candy bars, and gum. Eventually, aluminum foil made its way into American kitchens as a way to bake fish or roast vegetables on the barbecue, to line baking pans, and to trap steam when cooking.

And we’re using tons of it—so much that experts are getting concerned. Because according to research, some of the foil used in cooking, baking, and grilling leaches into your food, which can pose health problems over time.

According to the World Health Organization, human bodies are capable of properly releasing small amounts of aluminum efficiently, so it’s considered safe to ingest 40mg per kilogram of body weight of aluminum per day. Unfortunately, most people are ingesting far more than this.

Scientists have been looking at the potential threat that overexposure to aluminum may have on human health for years, and have found some disturbing results. For example, researchers have found high concentrations of aluminum in the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also found that high aluminum intake may be linked to a reduction in the growth rate of human cells, and may be potentially harmful for patients with bone diseases or renal impairment.

A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science investigated the amount of aluminum that leaches into food cooked with foil. The amount varied based on factors such as temperature and acidity (fish and tomatoes are highly acidic), but the findings showed conclusively that aluminum foil does leach into food cooked in foil. “Aluminum foil used in cooking provides an easy channel for the metal to enter the human body,” the study authors wrote. “The increase in cooking temperature causes more leaching. The leaching is also highly dependent on the pH value of the food solution, salt, and spices added to the food solutions.”

Ghada Bassioni, Associate Professor and Head of the Chemistry Division at Ain Shams University, conducted research with a group of colleagues that explored the use of aluminum for cooking and preparing food particularly at high temperatures. “The acidity of the food would enhance further leaching of aluminum into the meal,” she said, adding: “How aluminum will actually harm your body depends on many factors like your overall well-being and consequently how much your body can handle accumulation of it in relation to the allowable dosages set by the World Health Organization.”

So should you stop cooking with aluminum foil? It seems the general consensus is that we should, at the very least, cut way back.

For grilling veggies, you can get a stainless steel grilling basket, or even reusable skewers. Use a glass pan when roasting veggies in the oven; use a stainless steel cookie sheet under baking potatoes as opposed to aluminum foil to catch the mess; and even try replacing foil with banana leaves when wrapping foods for baking!

BY ALEXA ERICKSON
 
source: www.rd.com
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Dangers of Aluminum

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM      Published on December 27, 2012

Aluminum is the most widely distributed metal on the planet and it’s used in the production of many every-day products. Cookware is made from aluminum, soda cans are aluminum, and aluminum foil is found in most kitchens. Aluminum is also in antacids, aspirin, vaccines, and even flour. This overwhelming infestation of aluminum means that your risk of exposure is through the roof, which is also made of aluminum. Unlike vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, the body does not need aluminum. And aluminum is no innocent or benign participant. Aluminum accumulates in the kidneys, brain, lungs, liver and thyroid where it competes with calcium for absorption and can affect skeletal mineralization. In infants, this can slow growth. Animal models have linked aluminum exposure to mental impairments. [1]

Why is Aluminum Exposure Harmful?

Just as cigarette smoke damages lung function and overexposure to UV rays will degrade your skin, aluminum is an attacker and its target is your central nervous system. [2] Studies show that toxic metals contribute to brain diseases by producing oxidative stress and aluminum is one of the worst offenders. [1] The prevailing belief around the world is that aluminum is linked to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Aluminum: Bad for Your Brain

According to Washington DC’s Department of the Planet Earth, United States and Canadian regulatory agencies are interested in aluminum as a potential risk factor in elderly cognitive impairment. It makes sense, research shows aluminum can produce toxic, oxidative stress in the brain and a brain autopsy study of elderly persons found them to have aluminum levels 20+ times higher than a middle-aged group. [3] [4] The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recognizes aluminum as one of several metals known to affect the neurological system. [5] As far as aluminum is concerned, the supreme brain-health concern is Alzheimer’s disease.

Aluminum and Alzheimer’s

Many of the formal inquiries into aluminum toxicity are specifically concerned with its association to Alzheimer’s. Consistently, experts agree that aluminum exposure is something to worry about.

The position of the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at Saint Louis University is that aluminum may cause liver toxicity and lead to degenerative symptoms, including Alzheimer’s. [6]
Researchers at The School of Studies in Zoology at Jiwaji University in India describe aluminum as a potent neurotoxin associated with Alzheimer’s. [7]

The University of California, Irvine’s Department of Medicine has reported that aluminum causes inflammation in the brain. No surprise, Alzheimer’s disease is often associated with elevated inflammation. [8]

The University School of Medicine in Belgrade published information showing that drinking water with a high aluminum and low fluoride concentration is associated with Alzheimer’s risk. [9] Unfortunately, this is evident in New Guinea and Papua Islands where drinking water contains aluminum ions and ALS or Parkinson’s disease is collectively found. [10] The concern about aluminum pollution in drinking water has even reached as far away as Egypt. [11]

aluminum-foil

Aluminum as an Occupational Hazard

Exposure to aluminum, unfortunately, is common with some occupations like mining, factory work, and welding. Welding can be especially worrisome because it produces vapors that, when inhaled, send aluminum directly into the lungs in a “super absorption” status where it is released to the blood and distributed to the bones and brain. Researchers have repeatedly examined the consequence of inhaling aluminum vapors and the results are grim. Effects on memory and concentration have been cited. [12] An Italian study that compared 64 aluminum dust exposed workers with 32 unexposed controls found significantly higher levels of aluminum in the exposed employees and findings suggested aluminum to be to blame for early neurotoxic effects. [13]

Reduce Your Aluminum Exposure

Aluminum is one of the most abundant metals on earth and it has permeated mainstream products to the degree that it’s virtually impossible to completely avoid exposure. However, you can take certain measures to reduce your exposure. Use glass cookware instead of aluminum. Avoid hygiene products (antacids, deodorant) with aluminum hydroxide, natural substitutes are available. Avoid processed and frozen foods, their containers can contain aluminum. Instead opt for fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and foods with responsible packaging. If toxic metal exposure is of concern to you, consider performing a toxic metal cleanse.

References:

  1. Kumar V, Gill KD. Aluminium neurotoxicity: neurobehavioural and oxidative aspects. Arch Toxicol. 2009 Nov;83(11):965-78. doi: 10.1007/s00204-009-0455-6. Epub 2009 Jul 1. Review.
  2. Michalke B, Halbach S, Nischwitz V. JEM spotlight: metal speciation related to neurotoxicity in humans. J Environ Monit. 2009 May;11(5):939-54. doi: 10.1039/b817817h. Epub 2009 Mar 19. Review.
  3. Fernández-Dávila ML, Razo-Estrada AC, García-Medina S, Gómez-Oliván LM, Piñón-López MJ, Ibarra RG, Galar-Martínez M. Aluminum-induced oxidative stress and neurotoxicity in grass carp (Cyprinidae–Ctenopharingodon idella). Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2012 Feb;76(2):87-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2011.09.012. Epub 2011 Oct 10.
  4. Jansson ET. Aluminum exposure and Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2001 Dec;3(6):541-549.
  5. Pohl HR, Roney N, Abadin HG. Metal ions affecting the neurological system. Met Ions Life Sci. 2011;8:247-62.
  6. Brenner S. Aluminum may mediate Alzheimer’s disease through liver toxicity, with aberrant hepatic synthesis of ceruloplasmin and ATPase7B, the resultant excess free copper causing brain oxidation, beta-amyloid aggregation and Alzheimer disease. Med Hypotheses. 2013 Mar;80(3):326-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.11.036. Epub 2012 Dec 20.
  7. Shrivastava S. Combined effect of HEDTA and selenium against aluminum induced oxidative stress in rat brain. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2012 Jun;26(2-3):210-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2012.04.014. Epub 2012 May 8.
  8. Bondy SC. The neurotoxicity of environmental aluminum is still an issue. Neurotoxicology. 2010 Sep;31(5):575-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2010.05.009. Epub 2010 May 27. Review.
  9. Belojević G, Jakovljević B. [Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease]. Srp Arh Celok Lek. 1998 Jul-Aug;126(7-8):283-9. Review. Serbian.
  10. Nishida Y. Elucidation of endemic neurodegenerative diseases–a commentary. Z Naturforsch C. 2003 Sep-Oct;58(9-10):752-8. Review.
  11. Mandour RA, Azab YA. The prospective toxic effects of some heavy metals overload in surface drinking water of Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Oct;2(4):245-53.
  12. Riihimäki V, Aitio A. Occupational exposure to aluminum and its biomonitoring in perspective. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2012 Nov;42(10):827-53. doi: 10.3109/10408444.2012.725027. Epub 2012 Sep 27. Review.
  13. Polizzi S, Pira E, Ferrara M, Bugiani M, Papaleo A, Albera R, Palmi S. Neurotoxic effects of aluminium among foundry workers and Alzheimer’s disease. Neurotoxicology. 2002 Dec;23(6):761-74.