Indian households are a rarity, when it comes to regular cooking, in fact, twice a day. In the West, cooking is not an everyday routine and people tend to either ‘meal prep’ or depend on easy meal options. While practically every joint claims to deliver ‘healthy’ food, one can’t really be sure. On World Obesity Day, it’s pertinent to remember that cooking and eating homemade meals may keep harmful chemicals at bay and keep one healthier.
Obesity is a major healthcare problem and among the most frequent causes of preventable death in the 21st century. It is recognised as a global pandemic that causes a metabolic syndrome, which refers to a cluster of problems centering on abdominal obesity and insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome includes Type 2 DM, Hypertension and Dyslipidemia, Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Obstructive sleep apnea and Polycystic ovary syndrome.
There is no doubt that junk food or meals from restaurants tend to increase body weight, while our sedentary lifestyles contribute to the problem as well. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), research has found links between PFAS and reproductive and developmental problems, liver and kidney disease, adverse effects on the immune system, and carcinogenic effects in rodents.
A new study explains why eating more homemade meals could be better for people’s health. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of manmade chemicals, are linked with high cholesterol, across several studies. These are found in packaged foods, household products, kitchen appliances and contaminated water, among other sources. They do not break down and, therefore, build up with time.
“Firstly, in homemade food, we are aware of the ingredients along with their quality and quantity that go into it. When it comes to outside food, people are totally clueless as to what is being used to prepare the meal. Secondly, outside food, containing high-fat content may taste delicious and thus be more tempting. But, these are generally high in empty calories. At home, since the food is prepared in limited quantity, the consumption is also kept within limits. Thus, home-cooked meals, prepared with moderate amounts of fat and good quality ingredients are any day a better option to lead a healthier life,” commented chief nutritionist Mita Sukla from Fortis Hospital Anandapur.
New research in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives supports these findings, suggesting that people who eat out more often are more likely to have higher PFAS levels in their blood. The findings fall in line with recent research that found PFAS to be very common in fast food packaging. Researchers at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, MA, conducted both this previous study and the new one.
“Calories of food eaten at home in the past 24 hours had significant inverse associations with serum levels of all five PFAS; these associations were stronger in women. Consumption of meals from fast food/pizza restaurants and other restaurants was generally associated with higher serum PFAS concentrations, based on 24-hours and 7-day recall, with limited statistical significance,” informed the study.