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Dr. Manik Hiranandani's guide to eating safely and staying healthy.

(revised 13th August  2013)

You are what you eat!

We live in a world full of hazards, which can, and do seriously affect our health.
This article deals with some of the common hazards we face in our everyday lives and some ways for you to protect your health and stay healthy.
Your awareness of the hazards around you is your best protection against illness.

In this guide I will enlighten you about the common hazards in our food. Be careful, eat wisely and you will stay healthy.
Like a car needs good fuel & additives to run well, so too our body needs the right foods to thrive, heal and maintain itself.
Eating ecologically grown foods, also called organic or biological food are the best and safest way for us to maintain and improve our health and promote good health for our families.

The food we eat, builds and nourishes our bodies, gives us the energy for our daily activities and influences our health in many ways. A correct diet is the most important factor in helping us to achieve and maintain optimum health. Our bodies are capable of processing a wide variety of foods to provide us with nutrition. All foods contain many elements of nutrition in various quantities. Eating a varied and balanced diet, allows our bodies to choose from each food the nutritive elements it needs in the required quantities.

Our body requires many minerals, vitamins and trace elements for optimum functioning. Eating a variety of vegetables, herbs, nuts, sprouts, fruits, spices and a range of grains allows our body to select and absorb those nutrients which it needs. Eating only processed foods (usually processed to remove the fibre and improve the taste) predisposes to Mal (bad) nutrition. People who have a restricted diet, often develop malnutrition leading to chronic ill health as a result of shortage of minerals, vitamins, trace elements or amino acids. Correction of health can often take place just by correcting and expanding the range of foods you eat.

We need to avoid excess in our diets, adjusting our calorie intake as well as intake of protein, carbohydrate, fat, minerals, vitamin, water and fibre, so they are matched with our daily needs. Any excess eaten, has either to be stored by the body or eliminated through the liver, kidneys or skin. A balanced diet containing adequate amounts of all these elements including water and fibre promotes good health. A shortfall in any of these elements in our daily diet leads to health problems. A low protein diet leads to the body digesting itself. Low fat diets can lead to hormone abnormalities, an increased predisposition to heart attacks and nerve damage leading to tingling, numbness and loss of sensation in various areas of the body. Low carbohydrate diets lead to acidosis & ketosis which in turn lead to many health problems.

A guideline to follow is that Carbohydrates, mostly in the form of complex carbohydrates like rice, wheat, bread, other cereals and potatoes should constitute 50-60% of your daily calorie intake, 15-25 % of the daily calorie intake should be in the form of protein & the balance as fat. People doing hard manual labor need more fat in their diet as fats are a rich source of calories. Conversely people with a sedentary life style & job need to restrict their fat intake to 2 tablespoons per day.

The elimination of the waste products from our bodies is an equally important part of recovering health and staying healthy. Drinking at least 3 liters of water a day and eating foods rich in fibre help the body to remove toxins (poisons) from the body and help recover and maintain good health.

Proper chewing of the food helps to break it down, mixing it with saliva, allowing quick and easy digestion of the food.

Eating Healthy food can help you lead a long healthy life. Good health allows us to maintain  our health and to utilize our lives in the way we desire. Unfortunately chronic illness now affects many people in their thirties and forties affecting their quality of life for decades.
Eating junk foods will lead to you suffering poor health and chronic illnesses like cavities (holes) in your teeth, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease, depression  and even Cancer.

The choice is yours!

The first and most important measure to eating safely is to wash your hands, utensils, cleaning and drying cloths, aprons, preparation and cooking surfaces, frequently with soap and water. Always wash your hands thoroughly before eating and also after using the toilet. Your nails should be cut short, or if they are long the area under the nails should be cleaned with soap and a nail brush. Food handlers should regularly be checked for worms and parasitic diseases and if present these should treated before they are allowed to handle food again.

Be aware of what you eat and the effects on your body.

Every person is different and their food requirements are also different. 

What is good for person may be bad for another.

If you feel unwell after eating, try and identify which of the foods you ate made you feel unwell.

Try and find out why that food made you feel ill by going through the article below and see if you can identify the cause.

It is best to avoid those foods which cause you trouble. Your body will guide you as to what foods agree with you. Try and identify what foods agree with you at what time of day.
By identifying what is causing you trouble you can avoid it and stay healthy.

Peter was an active, successful 40 year old executive, in a high pressure job. His meal times were irregular, he usually heated up his food in a microwave, and bought whatever food he could from the local supermarket. One morning, while evacuating himself he discovered that there was blood in the toilet bowl. Panicking, he went to see his doctor, who after examining and investigating him, delivered some grim news. Peter had Colon Cancer. Peter was operated for the cancer, the bleeding stopped but Peter found he was very tired. A few months later he was discovered to have Liver Cancer. Peter was given a few months to live.

Peter's cousin advised him to seek out other means of treatment. Peter saw an iridologist who advised him that his problems were due to microwave residues irritating his intestine & the build up of pesticides in the tissues of his body. Peter was placed on a detoxifying regime to remove the pesticides and microwave residues .He was advised about the importance of food in maintaining his health and advised to avoid microwaving food, to eat organic food & regular detoxification to remove the toxins and allow his body to heal. With this he recovered his health.

Organic Food. Food grown using natural fertilizers like cow dung, leaves or compost, and  using crop rotation to enrich the soil, without pesticides or using natural pesticides like neem oil   is called organically grown food. Organically grown food does not irritate our bodies, often has much better flavor and can actively promote good health. A perfect looking vegetable, grain or fruit, may be the result of too much pesticide being used during its growth, transportation and storage. It is wiser whenever possible, to eat organically grown food, thus preventing cancer, allergies and auto-immune disorders. Organically grown food does not have a long shelf life and should be consumed as early as possible as it does not contain pesticides and preservatives.

One way to identify organically grown vegetables or fruit is to see whether it shows signs of being decayed or eaten by insects. If it is safe for an insect to eat, it is likely to be safe for you to eat it too. A question I am often asked is how do can you be sure that food is organic? There is no easy way to be sure but a person who says food is organic is more likely to give you organic food than a person who is not making that claim.  The supply chain is short with organic food, and it is easily possible for you to trace back where it comes from and how is it grown. Organic food tends to decay faster and has a short shelf life.

Foods grown in far away countries, and not native to the country in which you live are more likely to contain preservatives and pesticides to enable them to be transported to your country. Similarly fruit and vegetables available out of season, are likely to have been preserved, often with the most economical but not necessarily the safest method.

All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed in running water before eating or cooking. Raw vegetables and fruit can cause parasitic infections if not properly washed. Hydrogen Peroxide is a safe disinfectant which destroys bacteria & viruses with great efficacy and does not leave any toxic residues or bad taste. Washing vegetables with Vinegar and water may help remove the pesticides on the surface of the vegetable fruit or grain. Soap or detergents should never be used to wash vegetables or fruit. Potatoes, carrots and other vegetables grown under the ground can be scrubbed clean with a brush. Cut away any damaged, over ripe or bruised areas in fruits and vegetables as bacteria thrive in such places.

Vegetables, fruits and grain which are eaten without removing the skin, should first be washed in a solution containing a tablespoon of vinegar and 1 table spoon of hydrogen peroxide in a litre of water. Vinegar can remove some pesticides present on the surface of fruits and vegetables. It does not however remove the pesticides inside fruit and vegetables. Apples & table grapes are two fruits which are often dipped in pesticide after harvesting to preserve them. Such fruit are best avoided or if eaten should be peeled before eating.

Present day techniques of growing food, use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, and genetically modified seeds to maximize the crop yield.

Eating food grown with the help of these methods greatly increases your risk of getting indigestion, food allergies and diseases like asthma, migraine, auto immune diseases, obesity, heart disease and cancer. This little movie sums up this message nicely

Pesticides are substances used to poison and kill insects or other small animals. Insecticides are poisons used to kill insects. These are usually sprayed on plants, both while they are growing and on fruit, vegetable and grain to prevent them from being eaten. These poisons also affect and poison our bodies when we eat food sprayed with pesticides. Unfortunately many of us are blind to this obvious fact. The biotech industry is fond of saying that they offer genetically modified (GM) crops that resist pests. This might conjure up the image of insects staying away from GM crop fields. But "resisting pests" is just a euphemism for saying the food contains   its own built-in pesticide. When bugs take a bite of the GM plant, the toxin splits open their stomach and kills them. This equally has toxic effects on us when we eat these foods.  The seeds of these plants are also sterile.

Spraying and using pesticides in our homes, offices & gardens also carries a high risk of giving us pesticide poisoning. I have seen several cases of breast and brain cancer following the spraying of pesticides in homes and gardens to kill pests like cockroaches. Neem based pesticides are a better and safer alternative. Some pesticides are similar to estrogens and mimic their effects on the body causing breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Detoxification of the body to remove the pesticide can allow  the body to heal and destroy the tumor.

Pesticides persist in the soil and in our bodies for many years. They attach themselves to protein molecules and are a significant cause of food allergies as well as cancer. The great increase in food allergies seen in the last half of the 20th century is largely due to the widespread use of pesticides. Pesticides attach themselves to many of the enzymes which carry out vital functions in our body including mitochondria and lead to a loss of energy and efficiency. Pesticide poisoning is a significant cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, candidiasis and cancer.

Pesticides are also called POPs or Persistent organic pollutants. Some commonly used pesticides, commonly called the dirty dozen are DDT, lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, heptachlor, mirex, toxaphene, hexa chlorobenzene, poly chlorinated biphenyles, dioxins and furanes.

These pesticides poison the soil and water for many years and enter our food chain through fruits, vegetables and grains as well as through meats and fish. These pesticides have a half life of between 40-150 years and hence will persist to even poison our great grand children. This is why most of the world's population have pesticide levels in their bodies which are 20-1000 times more than what the World health organization considers to be safe. As a result the incidence of Cancer, allergies and auto immune diseases has sky rocketed world wide.

Fertilizers are artificial nutrients added to the soil to increase the yield of food. If applied carefully in the correct dosage they have few adverse effects on health but if applied indiscriminately in the wrong doses they affect the soil, the water, our health and our bodies. Compost & cow dung are two commonly used fertilizers which are safe and organic.

Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), also called autolysed yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, Ajinomoto, flavoring, natural meat tenderizer etc.

MSG is a common ingredient in fast foods, Chinese foods, canned food, frozen food, prepared meals, sauces, salad dressing, cheeses chips and a multitude of other foods. It is an addictive substance associated with increasing appetite by stimulating insulin production, thus causing obesity and diabetes mellitus. It is also a common trigger for headaches, migraine and elevated blood pressure. Consumption of MSG has a strong link with stomach and colon cancer.

Artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives

Artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives used in processed foods cause irritation of the intestines, and can cause obesity, cancer of the liver, stomach, lymphatic system and intestines. Preservatives are poisons which are added to food to stop bacteria from growing on the food. Research shows that most preservatives used in foods are dangerous and suppress the bodies immunity and predispose to the development of cancer. They also poison the mitochondria and enzymes in the body leading to fatigue and loss of energy. People who eat a lot of food with preservatives are prone to chronic fatigue syndrome, candidiasis and cancer. Eating food made from fresh ingredients will help you live a long and healthy life.

Canned food

If you are going to eat canned food ensure that the can is a steel can (commonly coated with tin and called a tin can and has a golden finish) which should be free of dents, cracks and bulges. Once a can of food is opened it should be eaten immediately. If it has to be stored, transfer it to a sterile container and refrigerate. Canned foods are usually acidic in nature. Preserved food should always be consumed before the expiry date. If food sprays out of a can on opening it, do not eat it, as it is probably decayed and poisonous. Throw it away! Many canned foods contain MSG. Cheaper cans of tinned food are usually packaged in aluminium cans which can be toxic.

Irradiated Food.

Food is often treated with radiation to reduce the number of bacteria, and to kill the growing part of the food so it does not germinate or sprout. This helps to prolong its shelf life. However irradiation (treating with radiation) also destroys vitamins and other nutrients in the food and creates URP's (unique radiolytic products) some of which are carcinogenic (cause cancer). Foods which are commonly irradiated are wheat, flour, potatoes, red meats, poultry, pork, apples, eggs, spices and vegetables. In some countries irradiated food is labeled but in many countries, such labeling is not mandatory.

Dangers of eating meat grown using hormones and antibiotics.

The association of hormones used in foods, with cancer and hormonal imbalances is very well known, yet poorly understood by most people. Cattle, poultry, pigs, turkey, eggs, salmon, eel, carp and other animals raised for use as food, are often given hormones to increase their rate of growth and to promote rapid weight gain. Hormones are commonly used to promote quick weight gain in chicken, turkey, quail, pork, beef, salmon and other meats. They are also used to stimulate production of eggs and to increase the yield of milk. Drinking large amounts of milk on a regular basis contributes to weight gain & obesity.

A chicken which usually takes 9-12 months to grow to a weight of 1 kg when left to roam freely in a garden, can be forced to reach a weight of 1 kg in 42-47 days with the use of hormones, (with newer hormones, in 17-20 days from the day the chicken hatches from the egg). The hormones and the lack of activity (the chicken stays in a tiny cage for all of it's short life) result in a chicken with a high fat content and soft tender meat. These chickens may be identified by looking at the whole chicken. Chicken grown in cages usually have legs which are small in proportion to the rest of the chicken. Animals grown in this unnatural way, also have a high content of fat and hormones, which, when eaten by you lead to weight gain, obesity, hormonal problems and an increase in cholesterol which in turn can cause heart disease. This is a leading cause for obesity and the increase in height and weight in the American population.

Hormone residues in meats significantly increase the risk of getting cancer of the breast, thyroid, vagina, uterus and prostate. It also causes hormonal imbalances including menstrual irregularities, weight gain and hair growth in ladies. In men it can cause impotence, a feminine voice, enlargement of the breasts, hypertension, prostate cancer, weight gain and obesity. An excellent book which describes in detail how cattle are cultivated for meat, and the health problems which affect those people who work in this horrendous industry is titled "My year of Meat" by Ruth Ozeki. Hormones, pesticides and some antibiotics accumulate in the liver, kidneys, skin and fat, so eating these parts are more likely to cause problems. Eating chicken liver pate (paste), liver sausages and other preparations from liver are often a sure recipe for disaster.

Animals raised in closed and confined spaces like poultry (chicken, turkey etc.), salmon & cattle, are routinely administered antibiotics to prevent infection. These antibiotics pass into their eggs, milk and in their meat. When we eat these eggs, meat or drink milk from these animals we also absorb these antibiotics.

Antibiotics kill the friendly bacteria in the intestine which produce vitamin B, so eating food containing antibiotics leads a deficiency of Vitamin B. This problem can manifest as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which responds well to a vegetarian diet, vitamin B supplements and replacement of the bacteria by administering acidophilus & lactobacillus. This alteration in the bacterial distribution in our intestines, mouth, skin & genital tract makes the body more susceptible to candidiasis. This is a fungal infection which flourishes in the absence of the normal friendly bacteria which normally live in these areas. Some common symptoms associated with candidiasis & antibiotic use are flatulence, indigestion, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, a white membrane with ulcers in the mouth, tiredness, vaginal discharge, diarrhea, constipation, and skin infections.

Low level ingestion of antibiotics through meats, over a prolonged period, causes the bacteria which live in the body to become immune to those antibiotics. Hence when our immune system is suppressed by factors like lack of sleep, stress, malnutrition due to a deficiency of vitamin B complex or zinc, we fall prey to infections from these bacteria, to which the body is normally resistant. At this time, primary antibiotics are usually unable to cure these infections and the physician is forced to prescribe more toxic and expensive antibiotics. To safely eat eggs, meat or drink milk it is wise to eat eggs from free range chickens, to eat free range or organic meats and to drink organic milk and milk products.

Preserved and packaged meats

like sausages, hams, bacon etc. usually contain Sodium nitrite, to preserve the color of the meat & stop it from putrefying and turning gray. This is usually mentioned on the label and in the body is converted into substances called nitrosamines which are highly carcinogenic and lead to leukemia in children, colon and pancreatic cancer. When you take sodium nitrite in the food you get a characteristic smell in the urine of the nitrosamines.

Heavy metal Poisoning

Shellfish like shrimp, prawns, crabs, clams, lobsters, oysters, mussels etc. live on the shallow sea bed and act as scavengers for the waste products which pour into the sea from rivers and industries. They selectively take up heavy metal residues, mostly mercury, but also nickel, arsenic, zinc, cadmium and lead. Shellfish specially oysters are rich in zinc and cholesterol. Zinc helps boost the immune system, increase libido & performance. However the high cholesterol content, predisposes to arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Eating shellfish caught in waters near industrialized areas often causes food poisoning and allergic reactions.

Eating shellfish and fish contaminated with mercury can cause mental disorders (like the well described mad hatter in Lewis Carrol's classic book "Alice in Wonderland"). Hatters in the late 19th century used mercuric chloride to stiffen hat bands and in the process absorbed mercury. This lead to mercury poisoning which often manifested as mental disease. Mercury poisoning, either from food or from improperly made amalgam (solution of silver in mercury) used to fill cavities in teeth can also cause neurological illnesses like multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and loss of vision. Dentists, workers in gold mining, in manufacturing & disposal facilities for fluorescent tubes and CFL bulbs, in paper and pesticide industries are some occupations specially prone to mercury poisoning and as a result to mental illness and neurological illnesses like multiple sclerosis and loss of vision.

The famous outbreak of Minimata disease in Japan, where hundreds of people went blind & suffered other neurological problems, was the result of the fisher folk eating fish contaminated with mercury. Similarly mercury poisoning can cause Vitiligo, headaches, depression, eczema, chronic fatigue, and hair loss as the sulfur in the hair binds the mercury. Hair loss is often an early sign of heavy metal poisoning. ‘Minimata’ is the Japanese name for a neurological disorder that arises from severe mercury poisoning, symptoms of which can include numbness in the extremities, loss of balance, damage to speech, sound and sight, paralysis and death. The condition itself is named after the Kyushu Island city which suffered a severe outbreak in 1956 from untreated chemical factory wastewater.

Large fish, high up in the food chain like tuna, swordfish, marlin, shark, king fish (surmai), lady fish, barracuda, etc. eat smaller fish and concentrate heavy metals in their bodies. These fish, specially those caught in coastal waters near industrialized countries can contain significant amounts of mercury, lead, cadmium and other heavy metals. Such fish are best avoided. Small fish like sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies etc. which live in shoals in open seas are safer to eat. They are also rich in Omega 3 oils which help prevent, and reverse heart and vascular disease.

Fish eating birds like ducks also concentrate mercury in their bodies and should be avoided. Due to large scale use of mercury based pesticides in Africa & the USA (now banned), fish caught in the Atlantic ocean & along the Pacific coast of America  contains dangerous levels of heavy metals as well as Poly-chlorinated Biphenyles (PCB s).  These PCB are very well known to cause cancer & are now banned for use in the US but not for export to other countries. The infamous Kennedy Hatch bill allows US based companies to export to other countries those substances which are not permitted in the US. As we live in one ecosystem on this earth these poisons are now returning to haunt North America & Europe with a sky rocketing incidence of cancer. My recommendation is to not to eat fish caught in these waters.

Mercuric salts are also widely used to fumigate grain, to kill pests, and mercuric tablets are often scattered in grain like wheat & rice to prevent infestations with pests. If these tablets are not carefully removed prior to grinding the grain they can cause mercury poisoning.

Mercury can be released into the environment from power plants which burn coal, paper & pulp making plants, gold extraction & refining plants, vaccine and other pharmaceutical industries, municipal waste facilities and medical incinerators. A common, often overlooked source of mercury poisoning, is excessive use of toilet paper and face tissues which contain residues of mercury from the processing of the paper. The disposal of this waste paper is a problem as the mercury leaches into the soil.  It is advisable to use water instead of toilet paper after defecation, and handkerchiefs instead of face tissues.

Staying near a power plant which burns coal is a serious health hazard because of the mercury released into the environment by the burning of coal. People who live near coal burning plants & steel industry should use ionizers in all rooms in their houses, and consume adequate amounts of coriander, garlic & vitamins.

The disposal of fluorescent tubes & CFL bulbs poses a serious health hazard as this releases mercury. Try and ensure that these are sent for recycling to a proper facility and are not just dumped into a landfill.

Arsenic Poisoning is increasingly common in the eastern states of India due to the increasing concentration of fertilizers like nitrates and sulfates in the ground water. When this acidic water passes through arsenic containing soil, it releases the arsenic into the water. If you are living in areas where heavy metals are present, it is worthwhile to process the drinking and cooking water through a reverse osmosis filter.

Mercury poisoning is associated with mental disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, accelerated heart disease and reduced immunity.

Vaccinations with vaccines which contain thiomersol as a preservative and to inactivate the vaccine have been implicated in autism in children and should be used with caution. Avoid excessive vaccinations for your children. Read the ingredients on the vaccine vials and if they contain Thiomersol, ask for a vaccine which does not contain thiomersol. Before giving a vaccine, consider if the risk of the illness you are vaccinating your child against is high enough to justify taking the risk of giving the vaccine. Let the treatment to prevent an illness not be worse than the illness itself!

Heavy metal poisoning is also associated with heart disease, with poor circulation as a result of endothelial damage to the blood vessels causing accelerated early arteriosclerosis leading to ischemic heart disease and vascular disease. Most cigarettes contain significant amounts of cadmium (about 1 micro-gram each) and hence predispose to arteriosclerosis. Lead is released into the environment from automobile pollution both from leaded petrol and from the wear and tear on automobile tires.

Eating garlic, coriander leaves (Cilantro), apples & foods rich in vitamin C can help remove mercury from the body. Chelation treatment with Calcium EDTA, Malic acid, Quercetin, DMSA are used in severe cases to remove the mercury from the body.

More information on mercury poisoning can be found at

Hazards of Plastic & of Cooking food in microwave ovens.

Cooking food in microwave ovens, alters the food by causing cross linkages between protein and carbohydrate molecules to form synthetic glycoproteins. In a significant percentage (about 30%) of people, the body is unable to break down these synthetic glycoproteins. These glycoproteins can accumulate on the absorbing surface of the intestine forming an impermeable plastic-like layer. This layer can interfere with the absorption of carbohydrate and water soluble vitamins like Vitamin B & C leading to indigestion, malabsorption, irritable bowels, malnutrition and fatigue. This also interferes with the absorption of Iodine and can lead to hypothyroidism.

This glycoprotein sticks to the lining of the colon irritating it. This chronic irritation can lead to polyps in the colon & colon cancer. The rise in colon cancer in western countries has coincided with the increasing use of microwave ovens to cook & heat food.

Fats can be absorbed through this layer so the person develops a craving for fatty foods resulting in weight gain and obesity. This layer can be removed by eating foods rich in fibre like raw vegetables, fruit, whole grain flours, oats,  beans or psyllium husk.

Microwave radiation also converts amino acids into forms not found in nature and some of these are carcinogenic.

Microwaving food in plastic containers releases cancer causing substances called dioxins which often cause breast cancer. Instant noodles, soups, foods covered with cling wrap all release dioxin when heated in a microwave oven. If the foods contain fat, the dioxin is absorbed by the fat and easily absorbed in the body as dioxins are fat soluble.

A similar layer of plastic can be formed in the intestine by eating food, or drinking milk & water packed in plastic bags or bottles which are not food grade. This indigestible plastic-like residue irritates the intestine and predisposes to colon cancer, anemia and shortage of fat soluble vitamins.

Similarly the plasticizer used in Cling wrap film is carcinogenic. Hence cling wrap film should never be used in direct contact with food. The use of this film to wrap sandwiches, cut fruit and vegetables is a bad idea. If it is to be used put the food in a glass container and wrap it with the film in a way that there is no possibility for the food to touch the film.

Bottled water sold in PET bottles is generally assumed to be safer than drinking water straight from the tap. This is not necessarily true as some research has shown that water kept in PET bottles acquires antimony from the bottles. This is greatly accelerated when the PET bottles are exposed to sunlight. Antimony is used in the manufacture of the PET. To avoid this hazard, buy fresh bottled water with a manufacturing date as close as possible to the current date. This contamination with antimony increases with the length of storage and is usually significant when bottled water is stored for 3 months or more. Antimony can cause depression and a feeling of being ill.

Re-using your disposable mineral water or cola bottles, (PET bottles meant for single use) can also be dangerous. Reusing these bottles is not a good idea as the plastic (called poly ethylene tetraphthalate or PET) used to make these bottles may contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called di-ethyl hydroxyl amine or DEHA.

Bottles marked as #1 or #7 PETE contain BPA (Bis-phenol A a chemical which affects the reproductive system and predisposes to cancers of the breast, ovary and prostate. These bottles are designed for one-time use. They should not be repeatedly reused for more than a few days and should be kept away from heat. Repeated washing, rinsing and deformation of the bottle can cause the plastic to break down and the carcinogens (cancer-causing chemical agents) can contaminate the water that YOU are drinking.

It is healthier to use glass bottles or invest in  bottles that are really meant for multiple use, like  poly carbonate bottles. Pet bottles should also not be frozen as freezing the bottles releases dioxins which are cancer causing. Bottles made labeled at the bottom with #2 HDPE ( high density polyethylene), #4 LDPE(low density polyethylene) or #5 PP (Polypropylene) are safer alternatives to use than PET bottles.

The disposal of these plastic bottles of drinking water is a huge problem as these accumulate in the environment causing huge quantities of waste and as they degrade in sunlight and over time they release dioxins into the environment which eventually contaminates the water you are drinking. Unfortunately most methods of water purification do not remove dioxins. I recommend only use bottled water when traveling or when a clean source of drinking water is not available. I personally use a stainless steel water bottle while traveling. It is safe & reusable and does not contaminate the environment.

The great increase of colon and other cancers in "developed countries" is directly related to the increasing use of plastic, carcinogenic substances like pesticides, preservatives, colorings & microwave ovens. Fifty years ago colon cancer in the US was 0.5% of all cancers. Today it is estimated that one in seven Americans will get colon cancer. The increasing consumption of highly processed foods, and the lack of fibre in western diets with more consumption of junk foods has contributed to this trend. Eating organically grown foods and eating more high fibre foods like unrefined cereal, raw or semi cooked vegetables and fruit can help reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Artificial sweeteners:

Saccharine, aspartame (brand names are Sweet & low, Nutrasweet, equal etc.), Sucralose, (splenda) are all substitutes for sugar with more side effects on health than natural sugars. Saccharine is associated with a significantly greater risk of liver and bladder cancer. Aspartame use can cause neurological ailments, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, insomnia etc. Aspartame is the sweetener commonly used in diet cokes and other diet drinks.

You are wise to avoid them and stick to natural sugars in small to moderate quantities (less than 30 grams (2 tablespoons full) per day in divided quantities) except if you have diabetes when you should avoid them totally. Stevia is a natural sugar substitute with greater safety than the artificial sweeteners.

Soft drinks

Soft drinks contain many harmful substances, which when taken in excess, cause health problems described below. These substances include phosphoric & citric acids which attack your teeth and bones removing the calcium and causing osteoporosis. They also contain Caffeine which makes children and adults more excitable and hyperactive and make it harder to sleep leading to insomnia. The sugar content is soft drinks is also high around 10 grams per 100 ml so having half a litre of a soft drink gives you 50-60 grams of sugar! This can predispose to Diabetes! Diet soft drinks, use aspartame as a sweetener, with all the side effects described above. In fact a BBC article recently described the use of Colas as pesticides. If it can kill pests surely it can kill you too!

Cooked food should be eaten fresh. Stale food causes gas, indigestion & illness!

Cooked food provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and so, should be eaten, as soon as possible after preparation. Cooking food, makes it easier to digest, and kills viruses and bacteria in the food. It also destroys the natural protective enzymes called lysozymes which are present in raw food and help prevent bacterial growth.

Bacterial growth and subsequent decomposition of food occurs at all temperatures between 4 degrees Centigrade and 60 degrees Centigrade with maximum growth between 30 and 40 degrees Centigrade (80-110 degrees Fahrenheit). Cooked food kept at temperatures between 30-40 degrees Centigrade, allow rapid bacterial growth and decomposition of food. These temperatures are common in kitchens and dining rooms, both in warm & cold countries. This temperature range is also suitable for viruses to thrive. Left over food, stale food and any food eaten many hours after cooking can cause indigestion and flatulence as bacteria, viruses and fungus's like yeast are able to grow and multiply in this food. Their waste products contain toxins and cause these digestive disorders.

To maintain your health do not eat left over food. Eating freshly made food is a luxury for many people today because of time pressure. The taste & health properties of freshly made food are far superior to that of left overs. This luxury is more easily available to poorer people who cannot afford refrigerators & thus do not eat stale food!

Freshly cooked food is both healthier and tastier than food which has been prepared, kept & reheated. To maintain your health always insist on having freshly cooked food. In the West eating freshly made food is a Luxury. For those of us who are able to afford it, fresh food is a luxury which does not require wealth, but time, love and care which reflects in better health. In so called undeveloped countries where food refrigeration and other means of preservation are not available, many more people are able to enjoy the simple pleasures of freshly cooked food which is often a hard to attain luxury, in more developed countries.

Eating food which has been cooked and kept, leads to the common symptom of diarrhea and flatulence which often afflicts travelers to the tropics. Cooked food kept at tropical temperatures allows bacterial growth, which occurs more readily in liquid foods than in solid and dry foods. Decomposition is slower in foods which are deep fried in oil, than in foods cooked in water. Eating food in restaurants which are pre- cooked and kept, often leads to indigestion. In Chinese restaurants in the west this is often the case where food is cooked in the morning and displayed in show cases for days  for you to choose.

Refrigerating foods

Refrigerating foods reduces bacterial growth by lowering the temperature of the foods. Unfortunately most refrigerators are designed in a vertical format which allows the cold air to flow out of the bottom, when the refrigerator is opened and thus raise the temperature of the food as hot air flows in to replace this cold air. In households where refrigerators are opened frequently, the temperature of the food fluctuates, leading to bacterial growth and consequent deterioration in the flavor and quality. You should periodically check the temperature in your refrigerator which should be at 4 degrees Centigrade when you open it and at -10 to -15 degrees Centigrade in the freezer.

Frequent use refrigerators and freezers should be the horizontal chest type which open from the top, where the cold air does not flow out on opening the refrigerator or freezer. In large households or institutions several small refrigerators are a better idea than one large refrigerator, as it allows better maintenance of food temperatures. Food should be placed in a refrigerator so there is place for the air to circulate and cool the food. Foods for long term storage should be stored in the freezer or in the lower part of the refrigerator as these are cooler. The longer the food stays in the refrigerator the greater the chance of bacterial decomposition of the food. Food kept in the refrigerator tends to get dehydrated, with a change in taste and flavor unless stored in airtight containers.

Freezing foods destroys the cellular structure of the food due to the formation of ice crystals and leads to change in the flavor of the food. Food frozen quickly has less cellular damage, as the size of the ice crystals which form are smaller. If food is to be frozen it should be frozen quickly in sterile, small sized shallow containers immediately after cooking which enables you to defrost only what you need for one meal. Food for freezing should be frozen flat, so it freezes quickly preventing bacterial growth and also defrosts quickly. To eat frozen food, slowly defrost it in the refrigerator for a few hours to minimize cellular damage. Repeated defrosting & freezing of foods should not be done as it leads to deterioration in the quality and flavor of the food and promotes bacterial decomposition.

Foods like unprocessed honey, turmeric, raw onions, and garlic have natural antibiotic qualities to prevent infection, and should be taken with food. In many places like North India, Turkey & Mexico, food is classically served with raw onions (a natural antibiotic to prevent infection) which is avoided by Westerners who are afraid to eat raw vegetables. Raw vegetables are often safer to eat, because they contain lysozymes which are natural antibacterial substances which reduce bacterial growth. In warm European countries like Italy, garlic is an integral part of the food for the same reason. Turmeric is used in most Indian cooking to prevent bacterial decomposition.

Fat and Cooking Oils

Fat should constitute 10-20% of your daily calorie intake. If you are physically active and live in cold climate your fat intake should be higher. In warm climates and with a sedentary lifestyle you need less fat in your diet. Your daily requirements thus range between 15 -60 grams a day of fat in your diet. (1-4 tablespoons).

The body needs a mix of different types of oils for it to function adequately. This should be a mix of saturated oils like coconut oil, mono and di-unsaturated oils like olive oil, peanut oil, mustard oil, sesame oil and polyunsaturated oils like safflower or sunflower oil. Eating only a single type of oil can lead to abnormalities in the levels of different blood fats in the blood.

Unrefined cooking oils are safer for health and should be used in preference to refined cooking oils. However unrefined oils and food cooked in them, tend to go rancid (decompose) faster when stored. Rancid oils have a stale soapy smell. If the oil is rancid return it to the shop from which you bought it or throw it away. Buy oils as close to the date of manufacture as possible and store in a tin or a cool dark place. Consuming rancid oil leads to increased free radical production which causes heart disease and cancer. If any oil or fried food is not being used immediately it should be stored in the refrigerator. Most vegetable oils (both refined and unrefined) decompose in four to eight months at room temperature. Common unrefined oils available are corn, olive, coconut, ground nut (peanut), sesame, sunflower and safflower.

Refined oils are unbalanced oils purified by removing lecithin (which makes it easier to digest absorb & utilize fats), antioxidants like vitamin E & beta carotene (which prevent cancer), phytosterols (which protect the immune system, heart and arteries) and chlorophyll (which contains magnesium necessary for heart, muscle & nerve function). The refining process uses corrosive bases, bleaching acids and clays which may leave residues in the oil. Hydrogenated oils like margarine and dalda (commonly used in India as a substitute for ghee) should be used sparingly as they contribute to raising blood cholesterol when used in large quantities.

Oils made from nuts decompose faster than other oils. However, they can be used a few times for deep frying. Poly unsaturated oils like sunflower, safflower and corn should not be reused for frying. Saturated oils like ghee, coconut oil, animal tallow and palm oil, may be reused a few times for frying. Frying food specially potatoes & reusing the oil leads to formation of acrylamides (a cancer causing substance) in the oil and also in   fried foods. High oliec sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, canola oil and olive oil (in that order) decompose less during cooking. Animal fat like tallow often contains large amounts of hormones and pesticides. Cotton seed oil(BT), rice bran oil, and soya bean oil from Genetically modified seeds contain significant amounts of pesticides which are associated with increased incidence of allergies and cancer and are best avoided. Soya bean oil oil also has a mildly estrogenic effect which can upset your hormone balance! For more information on the properties of Different oils see the chapter called properties of foods.

Cooking food in aluminium vessels & Nonstick is dangerous.

Food cooked in aluminium vessels or in aluminium foil, can absorb aluminium because aluminium dissolves into food and water during the cooking process. This absorbed aluminium goes into the bloodstream and accumulates in different organs in different people causing a multitude of effects. Some unpleasant effects of eating food cooked in aluminium are hyper-acidity, peptic ulcers, indigestion, flatulence, skin problems like pigmentation, eczema, dandruff and chronic inflammation of the intestine, which may be diagnosed or misdiagnosed as Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or as chronic amoebic dysentery. Aluminium reduces growth of bone and predisposes to osteoporosis.

The simple measure of replacing aluminium cooking vessels with stainless steel or cast iron vessels is often effective in curing these ailments.

The poisonous properties of aluminium have been well known for over a hundred years. In developed countries aluminium cook ware usually has a non stick or Teflon coating on it to prevent the aluminium from dissolving in the food. Unfortunately in developing countries this protection is available at a price which makes it unaffordable to large sections of the population.

Most non stick cook ware is made from aluminium or its alloys covered with a Teflon coating to prevent aluminium from dissolving in the food. Over time, this coating gets scratched and the aluminium is able to come into contact with the food and dissolve into your food. If you are using non stick cook ware they should be washed with soft soap and a soft sponge. Abrasive scourers should never be used to clean Teflon coated vessels. Scratching can be prevented by using plastic or wooden spoons to stir food in non-stick utensils. These spoons unfortunately also constitute a health hazard as bacteria thrive in the pores on the wood & plastic spoons which can rarely be properly cleaned. Wooden spoons should be sterilized frequently with a solution of bleaching powder in water. Plastic spoons may be sterilized with hydrogen peroxide in water by soaking in a 1:6 mixture for 20 minutes. In view of this, my recommendation for good health & hygiene is to use cast iron or stainless steel cookware & spoons. Heating Teflon pans on a high fire releases substances called Per-fluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA or C8) which are dangerous to human health and can kill a bird kept in the kitchen in a matter of minutes! Even 5 minutes of heating a non stick pan on a high fire can cause this problem which in humans is called polymer fume fever. If you are using non-stick cookware always use a low fire.

Recent evidence shows that the use of Teflon coated non stick utensils, suppresses immunity and increases the risk of kidney & testicular cancer, cancers of the blood like leukemia especially in children. It has also been linked with autism and changes in level of sex hormones DuPont, the worlds largest manufacturer of Teflon and non stick vessels is presently facing law suits from people who have developed cancer and have quoted studies showing that Teflon does indeed poison the immune system. DuPont has committed in 2012 to phase out PFOA from non stick cookware by 2015.

Drinking water in some cities may contain significant quantities of aluminium as Alum is used in the water purification process to precipitate suspended impurities. A report of the aluminium content of the water is usually available at your water supply authority and is worth asking for. Aluminium is also often present in dental fillings, so when you see your dentist ask him to use non aluminium containing composite or glass polymer fillings.

Other sources of aluminium poisoning may be drinks (like colas & beer) in aluminium cans, draft beer packaged in aluminium kegs, foods packed in aluminium cans (sardines, tuna, soups, baked beans etc.); toothpaste, mayonnaise, mustard & sauces packed in aluminium tubes; poor quality tetra packs, pre-cut vegetables & chips and other snacks packed in Aluminium foil bags; processed cheese slices, deodorants, lipstick, water filters, free flowing salt where aluminium salts are added as an anti-caking agent, some baking powder brands and food cooked in aluminium foil. Baby foods & infant formulas often contain significant amounts of aluminium.

Aluminium dissolves faster into acidic foods than into basic foods. It is always unwise to cook acidic foods like tomatoes, tea & coffee in aluminium vessels. Some people with aluminium allergy, may react to medicines packed in aluminium foil especially to acidic medication like aspirin. Many antacids contain aluminium hydroxide and should be substituted by calcium carbonate antacids.

Aluminium is also known to affect the brain causing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The first signs of its toxic effects on the brain, is loss of short term memory. Continued exposure to aluminium over thirty to forty years may cause Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease the patient is unable to recollect recent events, but is able to clearly recollect events which occurred many years earlier. At present there is no effective treatment for this. Consuming unrefined coconut oil 1 tablespoon a day, may help this condition.

It is often claimed that aluminium does not dissolve in the food. This can be disproved by taking some water and boiling it for half an hour in an aluminium vessel. Pour the water into a transparent glass and allow it to stand for a day. You will find a cloudy substance has appeared in the water, which is aluminium hydroxide. Aluminium utensils often show pitting where the aluminium has dissolved away.

Drinking freshly squeezed orange, pineapple, grapefruit or sweet lime juice can help remove aluminium from the body and help mitigate these problems.

This web site of the US agency for toxic substances and disease registry has more information on aluminium & its toxicity,

The Canadian government has a similar site

This article is a beginning which can help you maintain your health in the way you desire. Being aware of these hazards can make it easy to avoid the pitfalls which I have mentioned here. The world and the hazards around us are constantly changing.  This web site is updated periodically and coming back here from time to time will help you  to refresh your memory and help you in your search to maintain your health.