The Importance of a Varied Diet: Avoiding Natural Toxins in Food

This is a really great article, by the FDA, about arsenic in baby food:

For Consumers: Seven Things Pregnant Women and Parents Need to Know About Arsenic in Rice and Rice Cereal

I’m not going to paraphrase the article and make you, essentially, read the same information twice. But what I want to point out is that a lot of people tend to have a really bad reaction when it comes out that a poison is in certain foods, like arsenic in apple juice, as if the food industry is adding ingredients that contain poisons. What’s really happening, though, is that this poison exists naturally in the foods in the first place, processed or not. Instead of being appalled by the food industry and afraid to eat the foods that are outed, what we really need to do is remember that the healthiest, safest diet is well-balanced.

Many foods have natural components that can become toxic if too much is consumed. Many teas and dark, leafy vegetables contain oxalates, which can be toxic if overconsumed. *Whole grains have anti-nutrients (phytic acid) that reduce the absorption of nutrients; blueberries, Brussels sprouts, and red cabbage contain thiamanase, which can cause thiamine deficiency; cyanide (Prussic acid) is present in cherry and peach pits (used for flavorings), as well as apple seeds (think twice about not coring an apple for your Vitamix!) and cassava, which, if not handled properly, can cause chronic cyanide poisoning.

The list goes on…and on…and on. The point is, we can’t just avoid eating all foods and we can’t blindly assume the food industry is planting these poisons. Human beings were meant to have a very varied diet; our bodies function best not only by eating from every food group, but eating many different types of foods within those groups.

So before you look at your Facebook sidebar and see the headline “Food and Drug Administration: US Agency Proposes Reduction of Arsenic in Baby Rice Cereals” and start to gasp, appalled, keep in mind that much of what we eat contains toxins naturally (in such a low amount that it more than likely won’t affect us) and that the best way to avoid actually being affected by these toxins is to always fill your plate (and your children’s) with variety.

Remember, babies should have a varied diet too! It’s no longer recommended that rice cereal is the best first food for a baby. In fact, that’s a very American concept. In other countries, the emphasis is on introducing babies to all sorts of flavors as early as possible so that they enjoy foods. Let’s get out of this rut of having to feed our children all the “right” foods to ensure they don’t get poisoned or have an allergic reaction, and remember that eating should be enjoyable. So keep giving your little one that rice cereal, but don’t forget to switch up his meals with fruits, vegetables, and herbs and spices! You’ll have so much more fun with it and feel more at ease 🙂

*Naturally Occurring Food Toxins by Laurie C. Dolan,* Ray A. Matulka, and George A. Burdock

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