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9 Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food

food, toxins, chemicalsYour grocery store is plentifully stocked with wolves in sheep’s clothing. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of hidden toxins that masquerade as safe products.

1. Stay away from processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and sausage. Sodium nitrate can also cause the formation of nitrosamines in your system, which can lead to cancer.

2. Reduce the amount of canned food you consume. Cans are commonly lined with bisphenol-A, an organic compound that may be associated with diabetes and heart disease.

3. Skip the diet soda and artificial sweeteners. Prolonged exposure to aspartame, a neurotoxic chemical additive in these products, can lead to nerve cell damage, dizziness, and headaches.

4. Opt for organic chicken. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy discovered traces of arsenic in non-organic chickens. Exposure to this dangerous chemical can lead to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Another study also found numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria in conventional poultry.

5. Avoid manufactured snacks. Hydrogenated oils are used to lengthen the shelf life of products like crackers and cookies, but they are also associated with diabetes and heart disease. Snack foods are also generally loaded with salt, corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients.

6. Stay away from artificially-colored foods like candy, maraschino cherries, and gelatin. Mice and rats exposed to blue 1 and 2, red 3 and yellow 6 suffered from brain, adrenal gland, thyroid, and kidney tumors.

7. Always buy organic produce. Lingering pesticides can lead to nervous and reproductive system damage, not to mention cancer.

8. Avoid Teflon cookware. The Teflon used to create nonstick surfaces can release noxious gases when exposed to high temperatures, which puts you at risk for a large variety of diseases, many of which are not even well documented at this time.

9. Never microwave food in plastic bowls, containers, or dishes. Exposure to heat causes the bisphenol-A found in plastics to break down and potentially contaminate your food.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Every day my team and I go through more than 1,000 articles to find the best to insert into the newsletter for you. I can’t tell you how many lists like this I have previously seen that were written by conventional medical authors who were beyond clueless as to what the real risks were. This is one of the first ones I have seen that was really enlightened.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more difficult to avoid toxins. They’re in everything from personal care products to furniture and building materials. Babies are actually born toxic nowadays due to the toxic load of their mothers. One study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that blood samples from newborns contained an average of 287 toxins, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides, and Teflon chemicals!

But there’s still plenty you can do, and one of the ways to significantly reduce your toxic load is to pay careful attention to what you eat. And, as an added bonus, when you eat right, you’re also optimizing your body’s natural detoxification system, which can help eliminate toxins your body encounters from other sources.

Keep in mind, organically-grown, biodynamic whole foods are really the key to success here, as pesticide residues have been detected in 50 percent to 95 percent of all commercially-grown U.S. foods.

Surprisingly, one of the worst offenders for pesticide contamination is commercially-raised beef. A major risk factor of pesticides is cancer, but they also block the absorption of nutrients, which adds to all the other damage a poor diet can create.

The list above is a good resource on several of the hidden sources of toxins lurking in your food supply.

In addition to these nine, the original article also included four more, which I’ll review in greater detail here, as I believe the general recommendations offered could be improved upon.

Be Particularly Cautious With Fish

Nearly all fish stocks of the world have now become contaminated to some degree or other. Toxic metal contamination is of particular concern, as metals like arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium easily accumulate in soft tissues, both in fish and in your own body.

Health problems linked to metal toxicity include:

  • Cancer

  • Neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease

  • Fatigue and fuzzy thinking

  • Decreased production of red and white blood cells

  • Abnormal heart rhythm

  • Damage to your blood vessels

Generally speaking, the larger the fish, the higher its toxic potential. These are some of the ones you’ll definitely want to avoid, especially if you are pregnant, as they’re known to be more contaminated than other species.

Tuna steaks Canned tuna
Sea bass Oysters (Gulf of Mexico)
Marlin Halibut
Pike Walleye
White croaker Largemouth bass
Shark Swordfish

In a perfect world, fish would be a near-perfect food -- high in protein and full of essential nutrients and fats. But our world is far from perfect, and today the toxic load of most fish makes their hazards greater than their benefits.

In fact, I do not recommend eating fish anymore, unless you can verify its purity.

After years of research I found one company that offers the level of purity I was personally looking for. Vital Choice sells salmon with virtually no harmful mercury or other toxin levels, and they work closely with a native Alaskan tribe to ensure the salmon are sustainably harvested during their migration.

What’s the Best Solution to Toxic Fish Supplies?

Although fish farming is believed by many to be the solution to dwindling fish supplies and contamination of waterways, studies have consistently found levels of PCBs, dioxins, toxaphene, dieldrin, and mercury to be higher in farm-raised fish than wild fish.

In fact, farm-raised salmon is a MAJOR source of PCB exposure.

In addition to that, farm-raised fish, like factory-farmed meat, is pumped full of antibiotics, hormones and even chemicals to change their color (such as to make salmon appear pink).

Sea lice have also become a significant problem within fish farming in recent years. To combat the problem, salmon farms are now regularly using chemicals that have not been tested for safety on other species of crustaceans.

Overall, farmed fish may actually be worse for your health than wild-caught contaminated fish.

However, keep in mind that you can still get the main health benefits of fish through other means.

Alternative sources like krill oil will supply you with the healthy omega-3 fats your body needs for optimal health, without the risk of toxic contaminations.

Krill are also one of the most easily renewable food resources available, making them an excellent nutritional source from an environmental perspective.

The Case Against Pasteurized Milk -- With or Without rBGH

Naturally, choosing milk labeled “non-rBGH” is a far better choice than milk that contains this cancer-causing growth-hormone. However, there are many reasons to consider opting out of pasteurized milk entirely, including so-called organic milk.


Because the pasteurization process itself creates a product that is no longer in your body’s best interest. If you want to protect your health, raw milk from grass-fed, pastured cows is the only real choice.

Certainly do not fall for the idea that soy milk is a good substitute for regular milk, like the article above suggests.

If you were to review the thousands of studies published on soy, I believe you too would reach the conclusion that any possible benefits of consuming non-fermented soy are FAR outweighed by its well documented risks.

For example, common health problems linked to a high-soy diet include:

In addition to that, most soy, perhaps about 80 percent or more, is also genetically modified, which adds its own batch of health concerns.

Not All Meat is Created Equal

The author of this article completely ignores the difference between commercially-raised meats, and meats derived from grass-fed, free-range cattle. And there’s a vast difference.

Few people realize that over 95 percent of their exposure to dioxins comes from eating commercial animal fats. The health risks of dioxins include:

  • Cancer

  • Reproductive and developmental disorders

  • Chloracne (a severe skin disease with acne-like lesions)

  • Skin discoloration

  • Excessive body hair

  • Mild liver damage

Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, is vastly superior to grain-fed, commercially-raised beef. Not only is it raised in a more sustainable way for the environment, and a more humane way for the animal, but it’s also the superior choice for your health.

Not only is it lower in fat than regular beef, but more importantly, it also contains three to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid, than grain-fed animals.

CLA is known for its excellent health benefits, which include:

  • Fighting cancer and diabetes

  • Helping you lose weight

  • Increasing your metabolic rate, a positive benefit for promoting normal thyroid function

  • Helping you maintain normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels

  • Enhancing your immune system

So the recommendation to simply avoid meat is not the healthiest choice. There are many health benefits to eating beef, as long as you make sure it’s been raised right.

The article “Better Beef,” written by California rancher Dave Evans, gives a great in-depth view of the many benefits of grass-fed beef, from environmental sustainability to the sheer difference in taste and nutrient content of the beef.

Keep in mind that grass-fed meat is almost always preferable to “certified organic” meat as most organic beef is still fed corn (albeit organic corn), which is what causes the myriad of health problems associated with eating beef.

The Bottom Line

In order to reduce, or in large part eliminate much of the toxins in your food supply, you need to focus on eating as non-processed a diet as possible. You can turbo-charge the health benefits of such a diet by also paying eating the types of food suitable for your nutritional type.

You know, when it comes down to it, it’s a lot easier to remember what to do, than remembering all the things to avoid. The list of foods to eliminate from your diet keeps growing by the day, whereas what to add remains constant.

Just memorize these five simple guidelines, originally written by Weston A. Price in 1920, and you’ll be eating healthy and consuming as few toxins as possible:

  1. Eat foods that are natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contain no added sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup).

  2. Eat foods that grow in your native environment. In other words, eat locally grown, seasonal foods.

  3. Eat unpasteurized dairy products (such as raw milk) and fermented foods.

  4. Eat at least one-third of your food raw.

  5. Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils.

+ Sources and References