I realized that I have been, too...
As a board-certified health and wellness coach, I want to provide accurate and practical information and advice regarding how to nourish and fuel our bodies. I've shared recipes and food strategies with you, as healthful nourishment is an essential element to our overall health.
We put emphasis on what we consume and celebrate being mindful and making healthy choices. Rarely, however, do we think about what we use to cook and serve our meals and its implications on our health. Did you know that the pots and pans that we use to cook our food and the packaging that protects our food are just as critical to our health?
In March 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new guidelines regarding PFAs, dubbed "forever chemicals." These "forever chemicals" are a class of chemicals used to make products waterproof, stain-resistant, and stick-proof and are extremely long-lasting and persistent even in our blood. Visit the link for more information on PFAS from the EPA. And for easy-to-understand information about the chemicals in our environment, and how we can protect ourselves from their harmful effects, you can read A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New World and the Real Promise of Prevention, chapter 10, written by my mom, Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D., a board-certified radiologist, and cancer prevention advocate.
Originally approved by the FDA, PFAS have been used in food and other consumer products since the 1960s because of their effectiveness and durability. PFOA and PFOS are two of these chemicals that have been replaced in recent years. PFAS have been used in nonstick cookware, fast-food packaging, microwave popcorn bags, stain-resistant fabrics, and many other products that we use every day. And don't forget about our drinking water and the soil around us.
So, what's the problem?
Studies have revealed that PFAS can cause harm in a variety of ways, including increased risk of some cancers, developmental effects in children, decreased fertility, increased risk of obesity, affecting the body's immune system, diminishing our ability to fight infections, and more. The harmful effects of these chemicals impact humans, animals, and the environment.
What can we do to minimize our exposure to PFAS and other harmful chemicals?
Starting in the kitchen, look for cookware that is free of PFAS, PTFE, and as many chemicals as you can find listed on the product label. Cast iron and stainless steel cookware are much safer. I followed this advice by removing the non-stick pots and pans I was using and replacing them with safer alternatives like this full set of pots and pans and this copper pan. You can also test your drinking water, and ask your local governmental agency for the data on these chemicals in your area.
Being smart about the harmful chemicals in our homes, and environment, is something we all need to do for our health. We can take the small step of finding safer cookware to lower the risk of cancer and enjoy delicious, healthy meals.
To learn more about products that contain PFAS and what we can do to avoid them and protect ourselves, check out this guide.