Healthier Kitchen for a Healthier Life

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The food we eat has direct impact on our bodies and its effect, whether negative or positive, can sometimes be felt in as little as minutes from the time of consumption.

According to a 2003 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 40% of reported food poisoning cases occur right in the home! Now that’s for food poisoning alone: what of other negative effects that have long term impact on our lives?

Let’s look at 3 categories of improvements that will help you keep your kitchen healthy and ultimately enhance quality of life in the long and short term: kitchen furniture, kitchen gadgets and utensils, and indoor air quality.

Kitchen Furniture.

- Choose Ecofriendly Cabinets. When looking for healthy kitchen improvements, 1 of the places to start from would be the material used in making the kitchen cabinets. Many common materials used over the years have now been confirmed to be carcinogenic. High on the list is Formaldehyde due to the emissions it releases. Formaldehyde is a binder or glue most commonly used in making the interior shelves of cabinets. You can avoid this substance in your kitchen by choosing alternatives like agrifiber boards and FSC certified plywood.

- Renewable Wood. Use natural (renewable), rather than synthetic wood. Bamboo is an example of renewable wood. It’s strong, durable and grows quickly in dense clumps. In fact, it’s stronger than most other hardwood and will give your kitchen a more exotic and different look.

- Kitchen sink. The National Health Service (NHS) UK, states that the kitchen sink will typically contain 100,000 times more germs than a bathroom or toilet. This is as bad as living close to a toxic dump. Quite alarming. Getting a kitchen sink upgrade is a smart choice especially if you are living in an old building. If the space permits always go for a double bowl sink and have it installed at height that will be convenient for use without having to bend forward too much.

Kitchen Gadgets and Utensils.

- Cutting Boards and Knives. Have just 1 cutting board? Quickly add another. The cutting board is a major culprit for harboring germs, even carrying more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat. It’s advisable to have at least 2 boards: 1 for meat and poultry and another 1 for fruit and vegetables especially if you are fond of salads. Bacteria from uncooked meat can easily transfer to your salad ingredients no matter how much you wash the cutting board. The same applies to knives. Use separate knives for cutting meat and vegetables.

- Food Thermometer. The best way to tell if your food has been cooked enough to kill bacteria is by using a food thermometer. For example, poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F, beef and pork should be cooked to 145 degrees F. Unfortunately, many American homes lack this device.

Kitchen Air Quality.

- Install an Extractor fan . Cooking in a poorly ventilated kitchen with stagnant air can affect you as badly or even more than inhaling vehicular smoke on busy streets especially if you are using a gas cooker. Aim to reduce air borne toxins by improving circulation and keeping air moving quickly. Simply opening your windows can help, if not, have an extractor fan installed as close as possible to the cooker.

- Volatile organic compound . When shopping for finishes, cabinets and other furniture look for materials labelled “low-VOC” or even better “no-VOC”. This guarantees these items do not contain volatile organic chemicals. VOCs are chemical fumes released from some types of materials.

Other little things you can do in addition to the above tips include frequent washing and heating of kitchen napkins, disinfecting of fridges and replacement of sponges. Some of these improvements can be done right away at relatively low cost but others (e.g. cabinet remodeling), will require planning and funds but if you start today, you should begin to see and feel the improvement to your health soon.


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