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Toxic Substances in Food

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  • Toxic Substances in Food

Toxic substances in foods refer to chemicals that can harm human health. These substances can often be found in environmental pollution, pesticides, food processing methods, and even naturally in some foods.

Toxic foods contain additives, genetically modified food (RED 40) and chemicals (MSG and aspartame). Therefore, you should stop yourself before buying or getting these foods. Another source of toxins is alcohol. Beverages containing alcohol contain sulfites, which can be considered toxic. We can also get toxins from vegetables and fruits that have been exposed to pesticides and grown based on conventional agriculture. One of the current toxin debates is mercury, which is found in foods and that we consume with some foods. High levels of mercury can cause illness and even death. Stay away from processed foods to avoid the effects of toxins.

What is a Toxic Substance?

It is important to know what the toxic substance is rather than common foods that contain toxins. Toxic substances are chemicals that disrupt normal physiological and biochemical mechanisms and kill many organisms when they invade the mouth, respiratory, skin, and infectious organisms. Toxic substances can exist in the form of solids, liquids, gasses or sprays. These substances can cause serious organ damage, dysfunction and inflammation in the long term.

Substances or drugs that are harmless or even beneficial to one person may have harmful or toxic effects on another. For example, aspirin alone has a good effect, but an overdose can be fatal. Medicines (including vitamins and supplements), detergents, pesticides, insecticides, chemicals used on plants, animals and food contain toxic substances.

What are the effects of toxic substances?

Nowadays, we are inevitably exposed to a certain amount of toxic substances. However, toxins do not cause rapid and effective negative consequences such as sudden poisoning in healthy people.

The concentrations of harmful elements in daily foods are very low and must be consumed in large amounts over a long period of time to be effective. If your daily diet includes a variety of foods, you should not consume foods containing toxic substances in large quantities. There is no risk of poisoning or chronic disease.

If the diet is rich in very small amounts of harmful elements, the human organism can tolerate it. If the amount of harmful elements entering the body is excessive, they can be dangerous.

There are antagonistic interactions between chemicals. It is possible that one of these toxic effects may be ineffective in the presence of the other in the diet.

For example, the toxic effects of cadmium in the diet are reduced by high zinc content. Similarly, there are antagonistic interactions between magnesium and iron, copper and molybdenum, selenium and mercury, lead and iron. Likewise, iodine inhibits the activity of some goubatrogen compounds, antioxidants, nitrogen and halogens. Therefore, the toxic substance that enters the composition of food in very low concentrations and in various forms does not pose a danger to normally healthy people who follow a balanced diet. Additionally, preparation, cleaning and cooking reduce the effects of some harmful substances.

Causes of Toxic Substances in Food

There are different reasons for the presence of toxic substances in foods. Processed foods, baked goods, and foods packaged in harmful packaging may contain toxic substances. The most common causes of toxic substances in foods are as follows.

Agricultural Pesticides and Chemicals

Pesticides: These are chemicals used to protect agricultural products. These substances can be found as residues in fruits, vegetables and grains.

Herbicides and Fungicides: Used to protect plants or kill pests. They can mix with soil and water and contaminate food.

Food Processing Methods

Trans fats: Produced through the process of hydrogenation, trans fats can be found especially in fast food and processed foods. It has negative effects on heart health.

Nitrates and Nitrites: They are used especially in processed meat products. During processing at high temperatures, it can convert to nitrosamines, which can be carcinogenic.

Natural Toxins

Aflatoxins: It is a toxin produced by fungi. It can be found especially in products such as hazelnuts and peanuts and can cause liver damage.

Solanaceae Alkaloids: These are natural toxins found in some plants belonging to the Solanaceae family, such as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers.

Environmental Pollution

Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and mercury can pass into foods from water sources and environmental pollution. They can cause brain damage and other health problems. Fish, in particular, is among the most common foods affected by environmental pollution and containing heavy metals.

Food Packaging and Containers

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in plastic packaging and interior coatings. It can lead to hormonal imbalances and developmental problems.

Many substances found in foods such as polyethylene (PET), low and high density polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polystyrene, other plastics including acrylic, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cause toxification in our body.

Plastic identification codes on food labels should not be used if there are 3, 6 and 7 in the triangle.

Polyethylene (PET) is the substance mostly used in the packaging of water, soft drinks and oils. It is the most harmless of plastics, but when used repeatedly, it causes the formation of chemicals that negatively affect health.

PVC is harmful to health and is not suitable for packaging because PVC contains the chemical substance Polyvenyl Chloride.

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) symbolizes that the packaging contains low density polyethylene. Although it does not contain chemicals that mix with water, foods in packages with this label should not be consumed as they may cause chemicals to mix with food.

Polypropylene (PP) is the most reliable plastic material. It is used to preserve food, but it is dangerous to use it for a long time.

Polystyrene (PS) is found in disposable forks, knives and glasses, meat and cheese packaging, and some yoghurt containers. These containers contain vinylbenzene (styrene), which is a carcinogenic substance. The presence of 6 in a triangle in food packaging indicates the presence of Polystyrene.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is found in bottled water bottles and feeding bottles. It is a dangerous carcinogen that can pass from the womb to the fetus. A 7 in a triangle on food packaging indicates the presence of BPA.

Being informed about toxic substances in foods is important for adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle. Pesticides, processed foods, natural toxins and environmental pollution can pose potential dangers in our daily diet. Therefore, choosing organic products, avoiding processed foods, being careful in choosing fish, paying attention to the use of clean water and complying with food safety principles are important steps for a healthy nutrition practice. Conscious consumption habits play a critical role in minimizing the negative effects of toxic substances.

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