What is Aluminium foil?
Aluminium foil is a paper thin/shiny sheet of aluminium metal. In North America aluminium foil is known as aluminum foil. In the united kingdom it is widely called tin foil. In Australia it is widely called alfoil.
Q .) Is using aluminium foil unsafe?
Ans: Almost every third home in India uses aluminium foil to wrap food and many use it for cooking especially during baking and roasting. According to research some of the foil used in baking and grilling leaches into your food which can pose health problems over time. It is found that the migration of aluminium into food during the cooking process of food wrapped in aluminium foil is above the permissible limit set by the World Health Organisation(WHO).
Q.) How aluminium is bad for our health?
The food we eat has traces of aluminium. These however get expelled from the body as part of the natural digestion process. By feces and urine it expelled through our body. The problem arises when the amount that gets ingested is more than the amount get expelled.In simple terms this causes toxicity that may have long term ill effects on one’s health. It reduces the growth rate of human brain cells also.
Aluminium competes with calcium in our body .Thus excess of aluminium makes our bones week.
Q.) Where does all aluminium hide?
Ans : It is present in different quantities in salt, spices, tea and even in water, medicines like antacid etc. The popular pressure cooker is usually made of aluminium. It is found in the air also. Some of the aluminium you eat from the processed food like in the form of preservatives, coloring agents, anti caking agents, thickness etc.
Now again the question arises - How to minimize your exposure to aluminium?
It is impossible to completely remove aluminium from your diet but you can work to minimize it.
1) Avoid very high heat while cooking in Aluminium.
2)Reduce your use of aluminium for cooking especially if cooking with acidic foods like tomatoes or lemons.
3)Use non aluminium utensils to cook your food such as glass or porcelain utensils. High chromium stainless steel utensils are best.Copper utensils too are good for cooking. Ceramic coated pans are good for cooking as well but they are slightly costlier if you can afford them,then go for it.
4)Commercially processed foods can be packaged in aluminium thus they may have higher levels of aluminium. Thus eating mostly home cooked foods and reducing your intake of commercially processed foods may help to reduce your aluminium intake.
5)Use wooden spoon to cook or take the food out.
6) Cooking food wrapped in aluminums should be avoided. If you are baking vegetables, fish or chicken etc wrap in aluminum foil, what you may not realize is that some of the foil will leach into your meal and this could be very bad for your health.
7) It is safe to wrap cold food in foil, though not for a long time.
So if you are concerned about your intake of aluminium, reserve foil for food storage only instead of cooking.
8) Try to replace foil with banana leaves when wrapping foods for baking or use a stainless steel cookie sheet while baking or grilling.
9) Avoid storing tomatoes, citrus fruits,pickles in aluminium foil.
10) Do not use utensils of aluminium which have scratches or cuts in their body.
Dr. Suman Setia BAMS DNHE PGDHHM
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