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Tips for Preventing Arsenic Toxicity From Your Food

rice bowlAs I stated in my previous post, worrisome levels of arsenic have been found in rice as well as grape and apple juice.  If this concerns you, like it does me, here are a few tips to limit your risk of arsenic poisoning:

First of all, test your water.  If your home is not on a public water system, have your have your water tested for arsenic and lead. To find a certified lab, contact your local health department or call the Federal Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.  If you are on public water, check your municipal water report for arsenic.

Secondly, change the way you cook rice.  You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking – make sure the water runs clean.  Use a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward. That is a traditional method of cooking rice in Asia. The modern technique of cooking rice in water that is entirely absorbed by the grains has been promoted because it allows rice to retain more of its vitamins and other nutrients. But even though you may sacrifice some of the rice’s nutritional value, research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic contents.  And children should not drink rice milk & serve infant rice cereal no more than once a day.

Thirdly, be picky about what rice you eat.  Eat more aromatic rice such as basmati and jasmine since they have been shown to have the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic.  Limit brown rice consumption, even though it is healthy for you, because bran holds on to higher levels of arsenic.  Choose California rice over other states because their arsenic levels were lower.

Also, experiment with other grains.  Vary your grains, especially if you eat more than two or three servings of rice per week. Though not arsenic-free, wheat and oats tend to have lower levels than rice. And quinoa, millet, and amaranth are among other options for those on a gluten-free diet, though they have not been studied as much

Finally, eat a varied diet.  Some vegetables can accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil.  Make sure you clean vegetables thoroughly, especially potato skins.  Some fruit juices such as apple and grape juice are high in arsenic, as our previous post discussed. To prevent obesity and tooth decay, pediatricians advise that infants younger than 6 months shouldn’t drink juice, children up to age 6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces a day and older children no more than 8 to 12 ounces. Like grape juice, wine also can be a source of exposure, according to data collected in the FDA’s Total Diet Study, which provides more complete information about arsenic content in a variety of goods. Go to fda.gov and search for “total diet study analytical results.

If you eat a lot of rice and are concerned about arsenic toxicity, here are some symptoms to watch out for:  dermatitis, respiratory tract infection, muscle aches, headaches, weakness, convulsions, neuropathy, anemia, pigmentation of nails, drowsiness and confusion.  If you have any of these symptoms, make sure you contact your healthcare provider.

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Could You Be Getting Arsenic Poisoning From Your Food?

rice-bowlIn November 2012 Consumer Reports published an article of their findings of worrisome levels of arsenic found in rice products (to read their article, you can click on this link:  Arsenic in Your Foods).  Before this, they published another article (to read, click link:  Arsenic in Your Juice) in January 2012 revealing arsenic in apple and grape juice.  Most of you probably know that arsenic is a potent human carcinogen and can cause health problems in children later in life.  This finding is very disturbing, but are we really surprised by it?  We know that the excessive amounts of pesticides and herbicides that are used have to have some effect on our biological system.  Arsenic is used as a neurological agent against bugs.  It then ends up in our waterways and since rice is grown in water, it tends to accumulate in rice more than other grains. 

It is my hope that the Consumer Reports findings as well as others like it will open up serious discussions about our approach to the food we eat and our long term health.  For years alternative healthcare providers have preached to our patients about the need to eat clean food, increase their consumption of plants and do periodic detoxification to remove some of the toxins which accumulate in our system over time.  And now an independent organization is sounding an alarm that certain foods we eat or drink may cause serious health problems. 

I believe that we should have serious concerns about our food supply:  Roundup-ready corn, soy and alfalfa; mercury in the fish; bad fats; hormones and antibiotics in beef and chicken; and 70% of the processed foods in the grocery store which have been estimated to contain GMO derivatives.  Because of these things, our diets and the supplements we use to support our diet should be geared to repairing the damage done by the chemicals and heavy metals that we are unknowingly ingesting.  Heavy metals inactivate enzymes in the body and increase free radical damage which can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and some forms of cancer.  So it’s important to get rid of any excess heavy metals.  Doing a regular detox can help you with this. 

My next post will discuss tips for lessening your chances to get arsenic in your food.

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