Most people do not give their cookware a second thought and up until the last few years, I didn’t either. Six years ago my wife was diagnosed with Parkinson ‘s disease.
Parkinson’s disease or PD is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that impairs motor skills, cognitive processes, and other functions. PD is characterized by tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability. Among the non motor symptoms are autonomic dysfunction and sensory and sleep difficulties. Other symptoms can develop as the disease progresses.
A diagnosis like that can cause you to rethink your priorities. As of today, there is no cure for Parkinson’s and the treatment is one of masking or limiting the symptoms as much as possible. It is also a very progressive disease that moves at different rates in each person.
Parkinson’s is still in many ways a mystery. The general feeling is that some people are just more genetically prone to get the disease than others and that the environment is the trigger. As they say, “Genetics loads the gun and the environment pulls the trigger.”
Possible environmental causes or triggers tend to skew towards the absorption of metals and pesticides in the body. Is this the cause? No probably not, but it may be factor worth considering. At this stage of the game, I am looking for ways to slow the problem, not compound it. So when I heard that aluminum cookware may leach aluminum into the food I took notice and did a little research.
I found that the first aluminum cookware was manufactured in 1892 in Pittsburgh. Believe it or not, it was not a big hit. In fact it was not really a flop because of quality concerns. I was surprised to learn that it took over almost 50 years before aluminum pots and pans actually gained acceptance with the general public.
Of course today, the concerns raised are not about quality, they are medical concerns. The main worry is that toxic levels of aluminum could be absorbed into the body when cooking with the metal, possibly even causing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
That’s a pretty strong thought to have and my research shows that cookware is not our only contact with aluminum that we have on a daily basis. In fact to be fair, it’s almost impossible to avoid it in the environment. To start with, it’s third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and can be found in our air and water. It is also found in medicines, deodorants and, of course, in aluminum cookware. Scientists that measure these things tell us that the average person absorbs anywhere from 3 to 50 mg of aluminum each day. Wow that’s comforting. Those of us that also use aluminum cookware can expect to ingest an additional 3 to 6 mg each time they cook with the pots and pans.
So exactly what do we know about metals and the human body? Well obviously the aluminum is toxic in excessive amounts. For example, the intake of too much aluminum might impair the kidneys, which excrete the metal. Toxic levels of aluminum have also been linked to anemia, decreased liver function, poor coordination, calcium deficiency and memory loss among other health issues.
Although both are serious neurological diseases, one of the biggest worries of our aging population is that using aluminum pots and pans might cause Alzheimer’s. The facts are, that researchers conducting autopsies on many, but not all, Alzheimer’s patients discovered higher levels of aluminum in their brains. Well that’s not good.
The facts are that there is no definitive proof that aluminum is the the trigger or even a contributor to Alzehimer’s or Parkinson’s. The FDA says it’s safe and how often are they wrong. Okay maybe to often but how often are they wrong about cookware. I mean its got a lot going for it, it’s lightweight, low-priced and a great heat conductor. No wonder Aluminum can be found in about half of manufactured cookware today.
So why have I decided to get rid of my aluminum cookware? Here are my reasons:
1. There is no argument that Aluminum is a highly reactive metal. This means that cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes or tomato sauce can cause leaching. This means that the food actually absorbs the aluminum from the pot or pan, which in turn means you will be swallowing aluminum particles traced back to the cookware. In addition to avoiding cooking acidic foods in aluminum cookware, it is also advisable not to store them in aluminum products. Today I even avoid using aluminum foil. 2. Feel brave, try this experiment. Take a clean aluminum pot and put a half glass of water in the pan and use a clean scouring (soap-less) pad to scrub the inside of the pan. Now pour the water into the glass and look at the residue in the water. Frightening isn’t it. Try the same experiment with stainless steel cookware and you will find no residue. 3. I do not really trust the FDA. It’s not that they are lying to me on purpose, but they sometimes don’t know what they don’t know. How many times have you heard them tell you something is safe or good for you only to find it pulled off the market later because they were wrong. How many things are said to be bad for you and then found to be good? Right now, they do not think adding another 3-6 mg of aluminum to your body each time you cook is bad for you. Really! They also do not think that overtime it could build up and present a problem. But here’ the thing, they do not know this for sure. It’s not personal to them, its just data. It is certainly personal to me. As they say in the south, “They don’t have a dog in this hunt but I do”. 4. There are a lot of alternatives to aluminum cookware in the marketplace, so why gamble. I mean should I risk using it because it’s cheaper or some bureaucrat says, “they think it’s safe enough to use”. Should I use it until someone proves it’s linked to a disease? No, it’s easier, smarter and safer to buy an alternative cookware set. It may not be the complete answer, but it is a proactive thing that I can do with the knowledge and the facts that I have today.
I chose to go with the waterless cookware type for a variety of reasons such as, low heat cooking, higher nutrition retention, low energy usage and lifetime guarantee, surgical stainless steel construction and more. There are many waterless cookware companies selling sets for a variety of prices ranging from the reasonable to the absurd. I have found no real difference in the high priced ones except that their advertising costs are higher and you seem to be covering that. If you want a good set of waterless cookware, you can buy direct on the Internet and get some great deals. I recommend that you check out Vapo-Seal Cookware I did and love the set we got.
Aluminum contamination causes dementia and death i
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