Toxicity in Common Foods: Understanding the Risks and Precautions
Food is an essential part of our lives, providing us with the nourishment and energy we need to thrive. However, it's not just about what we eat, but also how we prepare and consume our food that matters. There are certain foods that, if not handled or cooked properly, can have adverse effects on our health, ranging from discomfort to serious illness. In this exploration, we'll delve into these foods and examine the potential risks they pose.
While the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" holds true for the fruit itself, the same cannot be said for its seeds. Apple seeds contain a natural compound called Amygdalin, which is a cyanogenic glycoside that can be broken down into cyanide in the body when exposed to the gut's enzymes. Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) prevents the blood from carrying oxygen, leading to hypoxemia and could lead to death. Anyways, your body can break down little bit of cyanide, so it would take lots of seed to poison a human.
Another fruit of concern is Elderberry. Elderberries themselves are not inherently poisonous when properly cooked, but other parts of the elderberry tree contain bitter alkaloids that produce hydrocyanic acid. If the fruit isn't properly ripe, they can lead to poison that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
I saw a video where people were eating a puffer fish, and they were even scared of eating the fish because if not prepared well can become poison. The intestines, ovaries, and liver of the puffer fish contain a potent neurotoxin called Tetrodotoxin, which is extremely lethal. If not prepared meticulously, ingesting puffer fish can result in paralysis of respiratory muscles and the shutdown of the nervous system, potentially leading to death.
Red Kidney beans is another food that can lead to stomach upset, thanks to its excessive amount of Lectin (Phytohaemagglutinin) which can cause Abdominal pain, Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea. This is possible if the beans isn't properly prepared but then, just cooking dry kidney beans without soaking them can increase the toxicity of the beans.
Lychee is another delicious fruit if eaten correctly as in when it is ripe, but if the unripe fruit is eaten, it can be dangerous to the health.Unripe lychees contain Hypoglycin, an amino acid derivative that can lead to seizures and coma due to brain swelling.
Another fruit is the spice Nutmeg, which is delicious when added in moderate quantity but can be fetal when eaten in excess, it can be fatal as Nutmeg possesses psychoactive substance known as Myristicin which can lead to organ failure as a result of asking the cells in the body to auto-destroy. Overindulging in nutmeg can result in irregular heartbeat, seizures, dizziness, dry mouth, pain, and hallucinations. Currently, treatment primarily focuses on symptom management, as there is no known cure for Myristicin poisoning.
Cashew is another fruit that can be poisonous, I mean the nuts. Heating raw cashews help to remove Urushiol which is a poison that causes itchy, red and blistering skin rashes. When eaten raw they can be very bad, leading to dermal problems as well as other allergies.
The food we consume is not just a source of sustenance; it can also be a potential source of harm if not handled and prepared correctly. Let me state that these food toxicity and hazards do not happen regularly, but they remind us of the importance of understanding what we eat and how it affects our health. Eating food goes beyond having a oversight knowledge of its nutritional value, not having the proper knowledge of its preparation can cause unintended health risk.