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‘Fashion food’ consumption in excess can be toxic, warns OCU
EXCESSIVE consumption of ‘trendy’ foods, ‘green’ supplements and ‘detox’ products can be harmful to health, warns on of Spain’s main consumer organisations.
The OCU says aloin, one of the main components of aloe vera, can be toxic above a certain dosage, the exact amount of which is ‘under investigation’ and that safe levels for humans have not been determined.
‘Many European countries’ do not have ‘adequate monitoring systems’ for this plant-based substance, the OCU warns.
The milder downside is that aloin can create a laxative effect; if this is noticed, consumption of aloe vera juice or supplements should be cut down considerably.
Taking green tea supplements or drinking it in massive quantities can also be associated with liver damage, according to the OCU.
Catechins are abundant in green tea, and these are the elements associated with the natural antioxidant effect which helps prevent cell damage, although consuming more than 800 milligrams a day is harmful to the liver.
This quantity would not come from three or four cups of green tea a day, but in the case of green-tea extract supplements – often taken by those who want the benefits but are not keen on the bitter taste of the drink – where these are very highly-concentrated, exceeding the daily catechin maximum is a significant risk.
‘Detox’ smoothies, such as ‘green juice’ – which is popular in the USA and is made from a combination of green vegetables and fruit – are not scientifically proven to clear the system of toxins; in fact, nutritionists point out that humans do not need to ‘detox’, since their kidneys, liver, lymph glands and other bodily functions do so quite adequately.
Oxalic acid, naturally present in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, can cause extremely painful kidney stones if more than 180 milligrams a day is consumed.
High doses of oxalic acid are also associated with the body’s failure to absorb other necessary minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium.
Nitrate content in these types of drink are of particular concern, since green leafy vegetables contain much higher concentrations of this type of chemical than other plant-based products.
Many types of processed meat have nitrates added to them to improve their colour and preserve them, but high levels of nitrates and nitrites can create nitrosamines in the human body, increasing the risk of cancer.
Also, nitrates have been associated with migraines.
Unless cooked thoroughly, fresh greens also carry the risk of passing on bacteria or certain types of virus, since they have not been subjected to any type of preservation treatment.
Raw shiitake mushrooms, another ‘fashionable food’ of which consumption has rocketed in recent years, has been associated with a much higher incidence of dermatitis – especially in France – due to its high content of lentinan, a natural sugar found in these vegetables which is killed off when exposed to the heat of cooking.
Symptoms can last for between three and 21 days, and patients end up having to be treated with cortico-steroids or antihistamines, or both.
Seaweed in excessive amounts can lead to an iodine overdose, the OCU says.
It also contains a high content of heavy metals such as arsenic and can be carriers of chemical and microbiological pollutants.
Used as feed for livestock or in arable farming, seaweed can be toxic for the animals and contaminate the soil, the OCU explains.
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