Are Industrial Seed Oils Sabotaging Your Health?
Have you ever wondered about the quality of the oils you consume and how they can play a part in your overall health? I first began to wonder about cooking and baking oils when I was diagnosed with celiac disease and started to investigate everything I was consuming. I spent a lot of time researching different types of oils, and learned a lot more about them while studying at my nutrition school. I have ultimately come to the conclusion that everyone with a gluten related disorder should reduce or eliminate industrial seed oils from their diet, wherever possible. These include: canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil. These oils are highly processed from genetically modified crops, and have only been introduced into the Western diet in the last one hundred years. Industrial seed oils contain harmful additives, are nutrient-poor, energy-dense and contain chemical residues from heavy processing. Importantly, they raise the omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio in our bodies which leads to significant harmful health consequences including (but not limited to): increased inflammation, leaky gut, cardio vascular disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and cancer. For those of us with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, our intestinal lining is already damaged from gluten exposure (prior to diagnosis and from accidental gluten exposure while on a gluten free diet), so it is really important to avoid these oils wherever possible since they irritate the intestinal lining and cause inflammation, both of which our gluten-free diets aim to prevent.
Thankfully, there are wonderful healthy alternatives for cooking and baking. I highly encourage my clients to take the time to go through their pantry/cabinets and replace any industrial seed oils and those found in packaged foods with the following: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, grass fed butter or ghee (if you consume dairy).
To eliminate industrial seed oils from your diet, I recommend the following steps:
1. Discard: Go through your pantry/cabinets and discard any bottles of canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and/or peanut oil that you find. If this step seems overwhelming, or wasteful, you can try eliminating them one at a time, or using them for something other than cooking/baking: try coating snow shovels with industrial seed oil to prevent snow from sticking; canola oil can be used to repel mosquitos when rubbed on outdoor furniture; industrial seed oils make great cleaning products for outdoor furniture and can easily remove dust, dirt, bugs or pollen; finally, they can be used to unstick zippers, clean jewelry, and loosen sticky keyholes.
2. Replace: Replace industrial seed oils with healthy alternatives (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, grass fed butter or ghee). If this step seems overwhelming, start with just one and see how you like using it for cooking and/or baking. Different types of healthy oils lend a different flavor to your food, and work better at different temperatures, so have fun exploring and experimenting and see what works for you.
3. Educate Yourself: Spend some time looking through your pantry/cabinets at the packaged food items you have, and notice where you see industrial seed oils in the ingredient lists. Chances are, when it comes to packaged foods, you will notice them a lot! Don't worry, I am not suggesting you immediately discard every packaged food item in your pantry/cabinets. Rather, I encourage you to take notice of those products which contain industrial seed oils, and make an effort not to repurchase them in the future. Commit to trying to find healthier alternatives in your local market, wherever possible. Take this a step further and research for yourself the negative health effects of the various industrial seed oils, which should help you want to eliminate them wherever possible, even if you have to avoid repurchasing a favorite snack item, or replace it with a healthier alternative.
4. Eating Outside The Home: When you eat out, ask the restaurant staff or manager about the oils used to cook your food. It is highly likely your food is being cooked with industrial seed oils. However, you can request to have your food cooked with alternative oils, such as extra virgin olive oil which is pressed, rather than processed. (As with all gluten-free food requests in restaurants, the more we speak up and make requests for how our food is prepared, the more we help educate restaurant staff and management, which can hopefully lead to changes in their practices over time).
5. Progress Over Perfection: Realize that what we hope to accomplish by reducing or eliminating industrial seed oils from our diet is progress, not perfection. By simply taking the time to learn about the different types of oils and their potentially negative health consequences, we are taking the first steps toward better overall health. If you can make one small change in the right direction, such as replacing a bottle of corn oil with a bottle of avocado oil, you are making progress, and your future self will thank you.