Aluminium is an element that people have considered harmless to the human body for a long time. But if you use aluminium products in a wrong way, it can actually be really harmful to you.
What is aluminium?
It’s a beautifully silvery metal that is very popular across the whole world. It is present in water, in soil, and even in air. Since aluminium products are light, and because aluminium alloys are durable, people use aluminium in a broad range of industries.
Can aluminium be harmful?
Unfortunately, it turns out that it can. For some time now, scientists have been interested in aluminium because of its discovered neurotoxicity. It gets accumulated in the body throughout our entire life, especially in the brain. Research shows that there is more aluminium in the brains of people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to recent studies, aluminium may contribute to the development of those diseases. Scientists have actually associated aluminium with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease for a long time. Furthermore, it is said to play a part in breast cancer, bone diseases, and problems with memory and concentration.
So where can we find aluminium?
Everywhere, in fact. The first things I can think of are aluminium foil and cans, but also aluminium wheels. But car and plane parts made of aluminium don’t pose a direct threat to our health. As long as we don’t turn them into pans for example 🙂
1. Contact through food
- Well, pots. Our grandmas used to cook in aluminium pots until it was proven that aluminium made its way to the food cooked in them. Especially if you cook sour food. Now we have pots made of stainless steel and featuring aluminium cores. Such core distributes heat well and so aluminium should not penetrate through the stainless-steel layer. That’s at least what manufacturers claim. There are also some new type aluminium pots, said to be safe. The manufactures claim that this pots do not react with the cooked food. But it’s probably a matter of years until we find out if it’s true.
- Aluminium foil, bakeware and takeaway food packaging. Baking food in an oven or roasting it in an open fire in aluminium foil and grilling food on aluminium trays is bound to make your food ‘seasoned’ with the metal in question. And when there is increased temperature and salt or acidic reaction, the rate of penetration of aluminium into food increases. Try using glass bakeware (like pyrex) instead. It’s much easier to clean them than standard roasting tins. Some of them come with lids, which are very useful. You can use glass containers with lids to store your food.
- Aluminium cans for beverages. It’s better to drink beer, cider or lemonade from a glass bottle.
- Coffee machines, but also stovetop espresso makers. They’re often made of aluminium. The coffee they make tastes absolutely delicious! I recommend models made of stainless steel because coffee is acidic too.
- Water bottles. Most of such bottles are made of stainless steel, but there are also ones made of aluminium. I think that there should be no problem if we use them to keep water only. It’s better for water not to be hot or contain lemon.
- Food additives. Yes, our beloved E’s. E520, E521, E523, those contain aluminium. And these are just a few among many. It’s much better to read labels if you don’t want to feed on the E family.
2. Contact through skin
- Aluminium salts are very common in all types of cosmetics. If you see anything with ‘aluminium’ in the name, it’s better to leave it on the shop shelf. Strangely enough, aluminium is also added to some organic cosmetics. Let’s remember about the popular clay face masks; they contain aluminium too.
- Antiperspirants contain aluminium as well. Fortunately, nowadays cosmetic manufacturers offer products without this element, but you better read the label to be sure. This category includes also antiperspirants, used once every few days.
- Aluminium has an effect on our immunological system in that it extends and improves the effects of vaccines.
- Some antacids medicines which neutralising stomach acid contain aluminium salts.
Should we be concerned about aluminium?
I think we should avoid it if we can. The above mentioned can be potential sources of aluminium in our bodies. The element in question is also present in water, in food, and in the air we breathe. We “consume” more of it with food than we absorb through our skin. We are exposed to it from so many sources that it’s really important not to ignore it. Of course, most of the aluminium we ingest is excreted in urine, faeces, and sweat. But some of it stays in our bodies and becomes accumulated in our tissues. Like many other things, aluminium will not poison us instantly. That’s why it’s important to make conscious choices. Maybe it’s good to change some of our habits a bit. Let’s keep that in mind because old age doesn’t have to be a heavy burden after all.