We have all heard of the many things in our lives that can be bad and harm us and I believe that knowledge is the key to good health. Let?s face it; companies are out to make money, as much as they can, so often we don?t hear the whole truth. Here are some facts about aluminum foil you may have not heard about.
Aluminum foil is a neurotoxin
Oxford?s dictionary defines neurotoxin as; neurotoxin (noun)
1.a poison that acts on the nervous system.
Aluminum is a naturally occurring metal in the earth. We are all exposed to small amounts of it from the air, food, water, and soil. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the acceptable dose of aluminum per day should not exceed 1 mg per kg of body weight.2 Many sources show that on average we consume about 9 mg aluminum per day in food.4
Researchers say that, because aluminum has no physiological role in the human body, it has the potential to cause significant detrimental effects when consumed.
Scientists are finding out that increased levels of aluminum can negatively affect brain function. They have said that over-exposure to aluminum can cause memory impairment, learning difficulties, central nervous system disorders, Parkinson?s disease, and Alzheimer?s disease. Sounds like a neurotoxin to me!
The finding from International Journal of Alzheimer?s Disease after looking at the aluminum-Alzheimer link found that people with Alzheimer?s disease have elevated levels of aluminum in brain cells. This journal reports that aluminum can enter the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract and then that same aluminum can enter the brain through the blood. This can cause severe health problems in people, especially infants, the elderly, and people with kidney disease.5
The journal Neurotoxicology also published a study and found that exposure to aluminum does affect brain function and causes ?behavioral, neuropathological, and neurochemical changes.? They recommend that ?avoidance of aluminum exposure, when practical, seems prudent.?6
This theory was also proven when a 2014 study showed that a 66-year-old man who died with Alzheimer?s disease had significantly elevated aluminum content in his brain, following eight years of occupational exposure. While the study noted that it was the respiratory system that was exposed to aluminum dust, we now know that there is a direct link between aluminum ingestion and Alzheimer?s disease.
The author of the (2102)study and Head of the Chemistry Division at Ain Shams University, Ghada Bassioni states, cooking with aluminum foil can cause levels of aluminum in food that are unacceptable according to the values outlined by the WHO.2
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says that aluminum toxicity can affect health. They have linked exposure to aluminum to decreased functions of the central nervous system, Alzheimer?s disease, and bone diseases.4
Aluminum foil is not fully inert meaning it can react. Food cooked or prepared in aluminum foil has been shown to have significantly higher levels of aluminum than if they were prepared in another way.
Aluminum foil can contribute to osteoporosis
Increased levels of aluminum are also linked to brittle bones and osteoporosis. Calcium is needed for strong bones however, it seems from studies that aluminum interferes with how calcium is absorbed by the body.
According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition aluminum present in antacids interfered with the metabolism of calcium and fluoride intake ? both of which are important in preventing osteoporosis. This resulted in a calcium deficiency in the body. The researchers found that aluminum causes calcium loss and prevents the absorption of fluoride and contributes to bone loss.7
Another study from Norway found that in areas where there are high levels of aluminum, lead, and cadmium in drinking water, more people suffered from hip fractures because of brittle bones.8
Another study that examined the effect of hemodialysis, which causes buildup of aluminum in the blood, found that 37 percent of dialysis patients had developed aluminum-associated bone disease. This study concluded that ?long-term oral aluminum intake in hemodialysis patients results in a high prevalence of aluminum-associated bone disease.? It was theorized that aluminum either directly or indirectly impacts osteoblast production, which in turn leads to bone wasting. Remember this is long term, so it would seem that using it in the kitchen every day could contribute.
Despite the reported health risks regarding the dangers of consuming food and drink that contains high levels of aluminum, some websites try to dismiss the allegations. They point to the fact that more research has to be done and that the ingested amounts of aluminum are relatively small.
However, as the author of the study (2102), Ghada Bassioni said pointed out, cooking with aluminum foil is on the rise. Aluminum is found in processed foods, used for heating processed foods, antacids, and is used in purifying drinking water. The body can of course successfully excrete a small amount of aluminum effectively to prevent a harmful buildup in the body.
However, with the rise in the use of aluminum in food and drink preparation ? is it not wise to limit unnecessary exposure to this toxic metal? Many people are now doing that because there are many acceptable alternatives to using aluminum foil in cooking.
Why aluminum may be leaching into the food you eat
The dangers of cooking with aluminum foil occur when it is heated to high temperatures. The heating process causes aluminum leaching which contaminates food. There are a number of factors that cause leaching of aluminum into food.
A study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science found that leaching from aluminum foil can result in unacceptably high levels of aluminum contamination in food. The study showed that the aluminum concentration was connected with the type of meat, the type of cooking involved, cooking temperature, and the addition of fruits and vegetables. 2 For example, red meats that were cooked for 40 minutes at 400F (205C) were found to have up nearly 380% more aluminum contamination than before cooking. Poultry, especially the breast meat, showed levels of just over 200% more aluminum than was present before cooking.
Researchers also found that acidic food increased the dangers of cooking with aluminum cookware. So, more aluminum leaching occurred when the foods contained lemon juice or tomato juice (for example, in a marinade).
Professor Ghada Bassioni said, ?Aluminum foil used in cooking allows the metal to enter the body.? She concluded by saying that ?aluminum foil is not suitable for cooking, especially with acidic food.?2
Similar leaching from aluminum pots and pans has also been reported. Two of the researchers who took part in the study found that food cooked in aluminum pots and pans contained high amounts of the toxic metal. They reported that salt and citric acid increased the aluminum leaching.3 Leaching of harmful aluminum compounds was by far the highest when acidic foods like lemon juice or tomatoes were coming into contact with aluminum foil, and even more so with the use of spices
When aluminum foil exposed to certain foods, it has been shown to leach a portion of its metallic compounds into the food, and then you eat it. It then can build up in the blood, muscles and organs and contribute to all manner of health problems.
What about processed foods?
Processed foods are just bad for you! They take food from a natural state into an unnatural one. Besides that according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, aluminum is used in the production of processed foods which are stored in aluminum containers that are then heated in an oven.1
For example, the ATSDR acknowledges that ?eating large amounts of processed food that contain aluminum or cooking acidic foods in aluminum pots exposes a person to higher levels of aluminum than a person who consumes unprocessed foods and uses pots made from other materials.?1
The good news is that there are healthier alternatives to aluminum foil
Aluminum foil became popular because it is a cheap and easy way to protect food during the cooking process. But to avoid the risks associated with aluminum leaching during cooking here are some things you can do:
Bake your food in heatproof glass or porcelain cookware.
Remove pre-made processed foods from their aluminum containers and heat in stainless steel or iron pans.
Try to change from using aluminum pans to using high-quality stainless steel pans. However, if this is not possible, professor Bassioni suggests boiling new aluminum pans a few times in boiling water until the surface is matt. This oxidation process prevents aluminum leaching.
1. ATSDR. Aluminum.
2. J. Electrochem. Sci., 7 (2012) 4498?4509.
3. J. Electrochem. Sci., 6 (2011) 222?230.
4. ATSDR. ToxFAQ for aluminum.
5. Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2011; 2011: 276393.
6. Neurotoxicology. 2000 Oct;21(5):813?28.
7. J Am Coll Nutr. 1985;4(1):121?8.
8. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2014 Jan;157(1):14?23.