What Cookware Should I be Using?
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CDSP, CNW, CGP
Over the years, clients have asked many questions, but the questions on cookware safety seldom come up. It is generally the clinician interviewing the client that most frequently asks the question about what kind of cookware was in use. Now with the internet and social media, questions like – “Are nonstick pans toxic?” “Can aluminum cookware cause dementia?” “Are my dishes full of lead?” and “Are my scratched pans still safe?” seem to be everywhere. Frequently, the responses and answers are based on outdated information. So if you are shopping for new kitchenware and are uncertain, begin by reading the chapter Gizmos and Gadgets for the Kitchen page 51, in Our Journey with Food Cookery Book 2nd edition, you’ll find there’s a wide range of choices in cookware material; such as cast iron, stainless steel, copper, glass, and ceramic. By and large, they are all safe when purchased in a mindful manner. Keep in mind when it comes to cookware, your experience, comfort, and enjoyment of “all things cooking” is determined by the quality of the tools you use.
What tools are selected will depend on the type of cook you are, your kitchen area, and your level of experience. Not on the health risks from the tools used. As someone who cooks inside, outside, on an electric range, gas stove, barbeque, and wood fire, I can assure you the heat-producing surface determines what pot or pan is used as much as the quality. World over, individuals prepair meals each day in cookware Americans would refuse to use – yet America and other western cultures have skyrocketing dementia numbers.
In 1965, scientists discovered that feeding rabbits very high levels of aluminum produced changes in the rabbits’ brains resembling Alzheimer’s. This was later proven to be incorrect. Aluminum is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, plants, fish, and animals. Aluminum plays a role in cell formation, especially skin cells. Broccoli, a proven health food, also contains aluminum. So what about the argument over organic and inorganic aluminum? To be honest, most of us are guessing and relying on theory and interpretation. Aluminum cookware has been in use since 1807. Just like cast iron; aluminum is released from pans when acidic foods are cooked. The acidic properties of food interact with the metal affecting the protective coating or finish on the cookware. Lightweight aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and highly reactive with acidic foods like tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus juice. Such items can cause aluminum to leach into food, imparting a metallic taste and leaving the cookware with a pitted surface. These are the same foods that leach iron from cast iron and can damage poor-quality stainless steel.
There have also been reports aluminum is present in the brains of people with dementia and Alzheimers. This can be found in the early work done on Alzheimer’s when an autopsy was the sole avenue of determining Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Now with the availability of CAT and MRI scans, the location, development, and the “cause” is far more complex than one thing. Overall health plays a role, including diet, diabetes, the microbiome of the mouth, the environment and genetics. A groundbreaking text by Russell L. Blaylock, MD, in 1997 called Excitotoxins, revealed the damage to brain cells when MSG and Aspartame, along with naturally occurring glutamates in high levels, are present in the diet. These chemicals affect the cell’s ability to regulate fluid, resulting in the cells bursting and leaving behind trace minerals like aluminum. While this research has been pushed to the shadows in favor of designer therapies, it still has value. Over the last 3 decades, research on Alzheimer’s has linked a wide range of causes, only to be disproved and only looking at the brain as a single organ, not part of an amazingly complex life form. Today we face a new paradigm in Alzheimer’s research linking oral bacteria and its effect on tao proteins. Now the question has changed to a different “what if”.
Lifestyle may be your biggest protector.
The tools we use for the preparation of food are important, but they are only one element of our lifestyle that supports well-being and longevity. When we narrow our focus to one thing as a cause, we also miss dozens, if not thousands, of other elements contributing to health. A narrow point of view assumes everyone is affected by a potential toxin or gene expression in the same way. Yet, as our technology opens the window to more information, research finds our bodies are capable of achieving homeostasis even under extreme challenges. Our bodies have been living with heavy metals and naturally occurring toxins from the beginning. When an individual cultivates well-being from a broader perspective, incorporating all aspects of nourishment- risks diminish along with the burden, confusion, and fear over what kind of food, cookware, water, air, or medicine to use.
In our book Empty Plate: Food~Sustainability~Mindfulness; Kathleen Bell and I share volumes of science supporting how our daily lifestyle choices make the difference in disease rates and longevity. A literature review expands the concept of nourishment and how more than food is necessary for health.
Expanding the definition of nourishment to include lifestyle and environmental sources beyond diet.
Tammera Karr, PhD, BCHN™, CNW®, and Kathleen Bell, RN, MSN, CNM, AHN-BC™
National Association of Nutrition Professionals and American Holistic Nurses Association
Published February 13, 2022
The purpose of this literature review is to expand the limitations of the common scientific definition of Nourishment to a broader holistic understanding relating to health. Is Nourishment limited to nutrients extracted through digestion? Or does Nourishment also include elements ingested from exposures to environment, culture, beliefs, social, connections, wavelengths, and smells as well as calories? To Nourish is to provide food or other substances necessary for growth, health and well-being. Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and society. The authors demonstrate evidence that food alone is not sufficient to sustain human health and vitality.
Nutrients in food become information and control aspects of human biology and physiology, but Nourishment is not derived solely from food, Nourishment enters the body through multiple pathways. For example: Research shows that taste develops in the womb before birth as the fetus is introduced to foods the mother consumes. Fetal growth and development proceeds without the physical ingestion of foodstuffs; Nourishment is provided through the mother. Additional research illustrates health of both mother and child are affected by multi-faceted environmental, cultural, and biochemical factors.
Wellness can be viewed as an active process of becoming aware of (mindfulness) and making choices that support the dynamism required to maintain homeostasis. Holistic health and well-being are outcomes of constant interaction between and among many dimensions of human life. Balance is achieved via devoting significant attention to each of the interrelated elements that comprise Nourishment. Lack of attention to one or more of these elements results in imbalances that may lead to deterioration and disease. By redefining the concept of Nourishment the reviewers’ intention is to illuminate the deficiencies of remaining within the confines of a reductionist paradigm, and to highlight possibilities available in the quantum era for persons to develop and regenerate health.
From this abstract, we have now written a full paper due to be published in the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine Newspaper through Pacific College of Health and Science.