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This topic covers
Introduction of toxins.
Types of toxins.
Nature of occurrence.
Effects caused by toxins.
Methods to deactivate or prevent them.
A toxin (Greek: τοξικόν, toxikon) is a poisonous
substance produced by living cells or organisms organic
chemist Ludwig Brieger (1849–1919) first used the term
Toxins can be small molecules, peptides, or proteins that
are capable of causing disease on contact with or
absorption by body tissues interacting with biological
macromolecules such as enzymes or cellular receptors.
Toxins vary greatly in their severity, ranging from
usually minor and acute.
Goitrogens: substances that cause goiters, i.e., an
enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Tannins: complex plant compounds that are often bitter or
Phytoestrogens: plant analogues of the hormone estrogen.
Flatus-producing oligosaccharides: carbohydrates of
small molecular weight that cause flatulence (gas).
Phytates: which bind minerals preventing absorption.
Saponins: Secondary metabolites.
Antivitamins: Ex: Dicoumarin is chemically related to
vitamin K. Dicoumarin acts as an antagonist to vitamin
Flavonoids :inhibit enzyme systems in mammals.
Lead: It is found in newsprint, dyes, inks, plastics,
glazing of ceramics, petro products . If ingested it
is stored in Bones. It can be released into our
bloodstream and can cause gastro-intenstinal, renal,
neurological symptoms and anaemia. It is a long-term
Dioxin: It is found in plastics and stored in body tissues.
It is a known carcinogenic and can cause cancer in the
lung, liver and stomach as well as non- Hodgkin’s
Cadmium: It is found in glaze, enamel, plastics. It is
stored in the liver, the kidneys and can cause kidney
damage, anaemia, lung disorders, hypertension, bile
diseases. It is a long-term carcinogenic.
Benzene: It is found in Plastics, rubber, glues,
cigarettes. It is stored in body tissues, bone marrow. It
can cause blood disorders, including leukemia.
Pthalates: It is found in plastics and stored in body
tissues. It can cause liver and lung damage.
Some toxins are produced while processing of food
products and affects consumer in many ways. some of
them are listed below;
Drink beverages such as apple, grape or orange juice
that are high in vitamin C to counteract the effects of
Do not cook with aluminum cookware. Aluminum is a
poison to the system. Aluminum from the cookware
gradually melts into the food you are cooking and goes
into your body.
Don't use plastic food storage containers or bottles
as they can put phthalates into your food and cause
health issues with pituitary glands, thyroid, adrenal
glands, and gonads, especially in children.
Avoid drinks and foods that have bright colors,
strong flavors or odors because they typically have
the toxin coal tar in them. Bright colors are extracted
from coal tar and used for food dye in products.
Meat that can be kept in the refrigerator for long periods of
time contain the toxin sodium nitrate which prevents
bacteria from growing in the meat. Sodium nitrate mixes
with stomach acid to form nitrosamines in the human body
and this substance is known to cause many forms of cancer
in our organs. Ex : salami, bologna and other meats.
Processing is transforming raw ingredients into food in a
factory. Most foods are processed with chemicals.
A hormone called diethylstilbestrol is found in 85% of all
meats sold in the United States. This hormone has been
proven to cause breast cancer and cancer of the
Conclusion: By all these information we can
conclude that food must be processed to
inactivate naturally present toxins and should
process in a scientific way that avoid evolution of
Text book of NIN.