Safe food, better health
The availability of safe food is essential for health and well-being. However, only when food is safe can we make the most of its nutritional value, enabling us to absorb and utilise all of the essential nutrients needed to support good health.
The consumption of unsafe food is a contributing factor to many common diseases. Additionally, it can contribute to other complications such as growth and development problems, micronutrient deficiencies, diseases and mental illness. Globally, one in ten people is affected by foodborne illness every year. The good news is that this can be avoided by implementing strategies around food preparation and consumption.
To be considered a safe food, it must be free from toxic substances, microbial pathogens (bacteria, viruses and parasites), chemical residues, biotoxins and other harmful or dangerous substances that reach our plates. Here are some tips to help keep your food safe for consumption:
- Wash fresh produce in cold water.
- Wash your hands well before preparing and cooking food.
- Clean countertops and cooking utensils to prevent cross-contamination.
- Keep raw foods to themselves; germs can spread from one food to another.
- Temperature control: store food at either 5°C or colder, or 60°C or hotter.
- Organic NO panic! It doesn’t have harmful pesticides.
- Purchase local, fresh produce – your local farmers will know exactly how it was grown.
Let’s talk about the impact of pesticides used on produce:
Pesticides generate several health impacts, which are already well established in the current literature. For example, some studies have shown a correlation between this exposure and respiratory diseases, with observed changes in lung function. These factors contribute to the increased risk of asthma – one of the most prevalent respiratory diseases in the world.
In reproductive health, the impact of pesticides is well established. As a justification, it is suggested that pesticides increase oxidative stress, which consequently affects the physiological capacity of sperm. There is also evidence correlating exposure to pesticides and the risk of undesirable outcomes during pregnancy, such as increased blood pressure and testicular tumour.
The central nervous system can also be affected by pesticides, given that studies show a positive association between exposure to these toxins and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and autism.
Metabolic problems, which have high rates of morbidity and mortality globally, are primary targets of the negative impacts of pesticides, with changes in lipid and glucose metabolism being observed with increased exposure. Pesticides can also reduce the physiological capacity of many hormones, such as those produced by the thyroid, which is essential for metabolic processes.
Therefore, we have numerous reasons to encourage the consumption of organic foods in our food routine. With this habit, we can preserve our health and contribute to our biodiversity, which also suffers from the abusive use of these substances.