Food has been consumed from as far back as we can remember (well, because we need it) and while it does a whole lot of good for both the body and the soul, it can also wreak havoc… and it has nothing to do with having a high salt or sugar content. Some of our favorite foods contain toxins and other harmful chemicals that can take us to our graves faster than we would hope. We eat some of these foods so often that we have no clue that we may be slowly poisoning ourselves. Here’s a list of items you should be mindful of the next time you walk into a supermarket.
Mushrooms, also known as toadstool, are spore-bearing bodies of fungus that grow in a variety of habitats. They come in many shapes and sizes and what were once considered delicacies, can now be found in supermarkets across the country. When eating mushrooms, it’s always better to use fresh ones, however, every now and then, you hear stories of people accidentally consuming mushrooms that have been improperly stored and contracting Clostridium botulinum. Commonly found in the intestinal tract of many animals, C. botulinum is a potentially deadly bacteria that produces a neurotoxin that stops the nervous system from working properly. It can lead to muscle paralysis, difficulty breathing, and death.
Nutmeg is a commonly used spice that can be found in everything from eggnog and pumpkin spice lattes to oatmeal and chicken curry. Additionally, nutmeg has been used in traditional medicine as an anesthetic as well as a treatment for various stomach issues. Sadly, nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin, which if consumed in large quantities, can be deadly. Overdose of the toxin can cause “acute nutmeg poisoning” and symptoms include drowsiness, hallucination, and delirium. Nutmeg has also been known to cause an unpleasant “peyote-like” high.
3. Alfalfa Sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts, so named by the Arabs because they believe them to be the “father of all foods”, are small wispy sprouts of an immature alfalfa plant. Regarded by nutritionists as a “superfood”, alfalfa sprouts are often eaten in salads, sandwiches, and stir fries. As healthy as they are, these sprouts should come with a warning label. Not only are they likely to be contaminated with E. coli, but they also contain a toxin known as L-canavanine. Found in many plants as one of their many defense mechanisms against insects, L-canavanine can do some serious damage to people with autoimmune conditions. Studies have shown that the substance causes an increase in flare-ups and while they are still ongoing, it is recommended that immunocompromised people stay away from these sprouts.
Cassava, also known as yuca or manioc, is a starchy root of vegetable found throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean. Despite only growing in a few places, cassava is used by many around the world. There are several ways to eat cassava, some more deadly than others. This is because it contains a toxin called linamarin in its raw state. When ingested, our bodies convert it to the poison cyanide which is often found in various pesticides. Cyanide prevents the cells in our bodies from using oxygen which results in cell death. When cooked properly the linamarin is no longer found in the cassava root.
Quail is not the kind of bird you’d find being served at your average 3-star restaurant. In fact, many people who eat the bird often hunt it down first, and the problem with birds is that they are scavenging fowl that consume a wide variety of food from grains to insects to the poisonous plant, hemlock. Despite its high level of toxicity, quail show resistance to the plant, but the animals who eat the quail do not. Ingestion of these tainted fowl results in a condition called quail poisoning or coturnism. Most people suffer from vomiting, generalized weakness, severe muscle pain, and lower limb paralysis.
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