When we think about living a greener, healthier lifestyle, one of the most important places to start is your kitchen. In fact, many of the environmental toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis are found in the kitchen. These measures will help guide you on how to make your kitchen a healthier place for you and your family.
Whether it’s chlorine, fluoride or heavy metals in your water, or drug metabolites that were not removed by a water treatment plant, the water that comes from the tap is far from clean. Drug metabolites have even been found in pristine lakes in the Swiss Alps!
Here are my recommendations on the types of water you should consider drinking:
1. Carbon-filtered water – removes chlorine and fluoride in water, giving it a cleaner taste. This is the easiest to implement, and can be purchased as my favorite water filter, a Brita filter.
2. Distilled – can be purchased in plastic containers, but then you have to worry about BPA (bisphenal-A) and other toxins in plastic. Drinking distilled water may benefit those that are undergoing a heavy metal detox, but not without properly replenishing trace and essential minerals.
3. Reverse Osmosis System – this system removes drug metabolites from water, along with any heavy metal ions and chlorine. It is a great system to install as a separate water spout at the kitchen sink, thus providing unlimited water for drinking and cooking.
4. Water Alkalizer – also removes heavy metals and drug metabolites from the water, along with the added benefit of alkalinizing the pH of the water. Alkaline water has anti-cancer properties, helping our bodies detoxify down to the cellular level. One great example is Kangen Water®, which has a slightly alkaline pH of 8.5 – 9.5, with anti-oxidant properties that also helps to restore hydration to a dehydrated body.
Have you given much thought to what you prepare your food in? With non-stick pans, and non-stick cooking utensils, our lives were made convenient but at what price? PFOAs (perfluoro-octanoic acid), an ingredient in non-stick surfaces, such as Teflon, have been implicated as a causative environmental toxin in Autism spectrum disorders. These persistent organic pollutants enter our bodies through the food we eat prepared on these surfaces, then have no easy way out. Over time, they slowly poison our cellular machinery, causing diseases that are not easily traced back to the exposure.
So, where do you start? Clean out your kitchen! Watch out for PFOA and PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) in non-stick surfaces.
For pots and pans, choose ones that are made from:
1. Ceramic-coated nonstick, such as Bialetti’s aeternum collection
2. Porcelain-enameled cast iron, such as Le Creuset
3. Stainless steel (great for making rice, soups and steaming vegetables), such as 360 Cookware with its Vapor Technology that offers a healthier alternative to cooking with oils.
And use utensils made from:
1. Bamboo (a renewable non-toxic resource)
2. Stainless steel
We all appreciate the convenience, environmentally consciousness and anti-wasting influence of food storage containers. However, stay away from plastic ones, which contain BPA, and endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen in the body. Instead, use ones made from glass or pyrex.
If you are so inclined to use plastic wrap, avoid ones that use polyvinylidine chloride (such as Saran Wrap), and choose wrap that is made from polyethylene (less evil). Of course if you can avoid them completely that is always the best option.
Dish Washing Soup
Avoid triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent, and just use regular plant-based detergent, such as Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid.
How about Electromagnetic Forces? The Problem with Microwaves
Microwave ovens are just that – small-focused microwave generators, that often leak microwaves through the door. Avoid heating food in microwaves, because it reduces the nutrient value of the food. Never microwave food in plastic containers, so that the BPA leaches onto the food. Microwave popcorn is probably the worst. Use a hot air popcorn popper instead to make a fresh batch of popcorn. If you do have a microwave oven, never stand in front of it while it is on.
In summary, a greening of your kitchen to remove the sources of environmental toxin exposures from your daily life will go a long way in improving your overall health. I hope this motivates you to analyze what you drink, what you cook on, what you clean with, and how you store your food. Here’s to a greener, healthier kitchen!
Our resident Physician, Vincent Pedre, M.D., is an integrative, Holistic General Practitioner and Board-Certified Internist in private practice in New York City. Follow Dr. Pedre on Facebook and Twitter
 Harmon, G. New federal data shows autism rates are booming. Local researchers are finding industrial chemicals may play a role, Current Online, published May 2, 2012, at http://sacurrent.com/news/new-federal-data-shows-autism-rates-are-booming-local-researchers-are-finding-industrial-chemicals-may-play-a-role-1.1309009?pgno=1, accessed on June 13, 2012.