What constitutes a Toxin?

In my previous post, I mentioned how the liver filters out toxins as well as unwanted fat from our bodies. It’ll focus on toxins first, and then work on fat with its left over capacity. That’s great since we don’t eat much toxins right? I figured toxins were like rat poison, paint chips, stuff in syringes out of mystery novels? Hmm… maybe I should research it… “What does our body consider toxic anyway?” My understanding was about to change…

Uh oh: Anything that your body does not recognize as a food source is a toxin. Artificial sweeteners, for example, have 0 calories because the body does not recognize them as food sources, but they still have to pass through the liver.  Reading the ingredients on many packaged foods has line after line of things I can’t even pronounce. Most of those so called ingredients would be considered a toxin.  And then the light bulb went off in my head, “my poor liver can’t throw fat out, because I’m giving it too much work filtering out toxins!”

So to give my liver a break, I had to learn how to find food with less toxins. I worked really hard not to eat anything that was processed and could not be found in the natural world. That sometimes meant that I had to shop organic.  I have to admit that 3 years ago I found it hard to find things that had organic or all natural ingredients.  Because of a higher demand to go natural, it seems that today it is a bit easier to come by natural/organic foods, even in your local Walmart/Albertsons.

I began to shop on the outer aisles and tried to avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store. I started looking for meats, cheeses, milks and eggs that were free range or expressed that they were hormone free.  I tried to eliminate as many toxins as I could from my diet and that meant staying out of the “middle aisles of the grocery store where all the processed foods are sold. It was a hard sacrifice, but I wanted my liver to focus on ridding my body of unwanted fat and to not get bogged down with filtering toxins. Come on liver! You can do it!

One of the troubling things I learned when it came to toxins was related to oil, especially canola, vegetable, safflower, and corn. I discovered that most of those oils are processed. You may ask, “So, its processed, why is that important?”. Apparently processed oils are extracted by high heat and pressure and then they add solvents to the oils. (Yikes) Through the processing of the oils the fats are exposed to light and air, which oxidizes the fat. And when we oxidize the fat we are turning the oil rancid. (Toxins big time!) 

(I’m so sorry little liver of mine! Please go back to getting rid of chubby fat, instead of processing toxins! I didn’t mean to be giving you double duty all of those years!)

But back to the oil story…

The oil is then boiled to remove most of the solvent. The high heat and pressure then destroys the antioxidants and alters the chemical nature of the fat, creating lots of dangerous free radicals. They then add BHA and BHT, which are dangerous preservatives, to extend the shelf life of the oil. (more toxins, hang in there liver!) So basically most of the oils you purchase on the shelf are already rancid and are filled with a lot of free radicals. Dang it! but really important to know!

Another oil you may have in your kitchen, I know I did, is hydrogenated oil. This would be things like Crisco. Hydrogenation is the use of agitation and pressure to create creaminess in foods and prevent separation. It involves the addition of a hydrogen atom.  During hydrogenation, oils are turned into solid form for ease of use. Extracted oils are mixed with metal particles and treated with high-heat and pressure along with hydrogen gas. Emulsifiers are added to the mixture which is then cleaned to remove the rancid odors.   It is then bleached and artificial dyes and flavorings are added. So not only are hydrogenated oils rancid, they also have trans fats that are dangerous to the body. Trans fats interfere with normal cell metabolism and other chemical reactions. (Yikes!)

With that knowledge, I began to research what kind of oils are good to use.  I discovered that grapeseed oil, unrefined coconut oil and cold pressed/unprocessed olive oil are good oils to have.  Just keep in mind is that you don’t want to cook with olive oil because of its low heat threshold. It becomes rancid when heated at high temperatures, so it is best to use olive oil as a dressing or in a dish that requires no heat.  Whereas grapeseed oil and coconut oil have a higher heat threshold and so you can cook with them without it going rancid on you.

Grape Seed oil, Coconut Oils, Olive Oil

Grape Seed oil, Coconut Oils, Olive Oil

So with this new knowledge about toxins, I began to purge my shelves and started shopping natural/organic.  I mainly use coconut oil and grapeseed oil for cooking and I use olive oil for my salad dressing and other non-heated meals.

I hope this information is as helpful to you as it was to me! May it help you further on your road to eating and living healthier.

Here are some helpful resources that you may like to read:

  1. http://www.ehow.com/info_8409462_dangers-rancid-oil.html
  2. http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html
  3. http://www.foodrenegade.com/why-canola-oil-not-health-food/
  4. http://www.naturalnews.com/026630_oil_canola.html
  5. http://www.seedguides.info/grapeseed-oil/

7 thoughts on “What constitutes a Toxin?

  1. And here’s the “other side of the story” from the “rest” of Deanna’s family!

    When Deanna started wanting to eat healthy, the family was a little rebellious, including me. We complained about loosing our white bread to “grainy” brown bread. We complained about loosing our favorite pasta to brown looking pasta that tasted “different”. We complained about less desert and “organic” milk. We definitely complained about vegetables and rice we hadn’t ever seen or tasted before masquerading as little pasta noodles. One time she made califlower into what “looked like” mashed potatoes!

    But I’ll tell you honestly, after the initial shock and complaining from our side, we don’t really mind, and we’ve stopped complaining. (Mostly) Sure we know the “difference”, but our taste buds don’t protest anymore. We like the new food as much or more than the old food now that we’ve “practiced” eating it. Our tastes quickly adapted and if it helps the health of the family, then we can live with that.

    Thanks Deanna for pushing through our protests! 🙂 You not only helped yourself eat healthier, you’ve brought along your family of 4 kids and chubby husband too. (sometimes dragged us, but we do appreciate you!)

    Your loving husband Greg

  2. Tami

    Deanna, this is a very “powerful” blog….convicting. I have always prided myself on being a pretty good cook and brushing off really healthy living because of having to give up certain methods. This blog certainly has got me thinking! I have a question about the grapeseed oil, unrefined coconut oil and cold pressed/unprocessed olive oil. What are the “name brands” of these oils and where do you purchase them? Do you buy them in bulk?….and are they more expensive? Thanks for doing this blog =)

    • dsteele

      Hi Tami,
      When it comes to oil, there are many out there. I currently using nutiva: organic extra virgin coconut oil which I purchased from Amazon in two 54oz contaniners. Now Costco is selling coconut oil which is Carrington Farms and it is pure, unrefined, cold pressed 100% coconut oil. It is cheaper than what I paid for from Amazon. As far as grapeseed oil, I pick it up at Costco and the name brand is Bel’Olio. The extra virgin olive oil I use is also from Costco and it is the Kirkland brand also first cold pressed.
      As far as expense goes, it is probably a bit more than what you pay for canola/vegetable oil but it lasts a long time because you don’t use as much. A small amount goes a long way. My 54oz coconut oil lasts maybe 6-8 months before I need a new one. I never pay too much attention to price only because it is hard to put a price on health. 🙂
      Hope this helps. Let me know if I can help in any other way and thanks for reading.


  3. Lupe Hammer

    Dear Deanna:
    I’ve known for some time that my eating habits need to change, but have not known where to start. And now, thanks to your blog, I can start with the cooking/salad oils. Looks like my shelves need to be re-organized with “healthy” oils that won ‘t stress my liver, which is already showing signs of becoming a “fatty liver”. Thank you! and God bless your many hours of research and your commitment to a healthier you/family. Lupe

    • dsteele

      Thanks Lupe for the encouraging words. This is why I am doing this website. I want to be a help to my friends and family. I have become really passionate about health and exercise. 🙂 Let me know if I can help out or if you have any questions. Take Care!

  4. Carrie Ham

    Hey Deanna…

    This is great… love the simplicity of it! I have been trying to tell people for years about this… but sadly, most don’t listen, don’t believe it, don’t care, enjoy the simplicity of processed “food”, or are afraid because it is something that is new and they don’t know where to start… it hurts my heart to see so many people so miserable and unhappy with themselves! I want people to feel good and pass on good habits to their families. Thanks for caring enough to share in such a clear and personal way! I’m so happy for you!

    • dsteele

      Thanks Carrie!

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