What are the top sources of fluoride? I was surprised to find out! In this post, I list the top 5 sources of fluoride. And it's not toothpaste or drinking water.
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Why Avoid Fluoride?
Fluoride is harmful to human health. Recent studies show that fluoride may not prevent cavities and that in fact, fluoride causes many health problems, from bone loss to breast cancer to hormonal problems including hypothyroidism and ovarian cysts.
But how do we avoid the biggest sources of fluoride? I did a lot of research on this and found that the biggest sources of fluoride are not drinking water and toothpaste. Read on to find out where the vast majority of fluoride that you are consuming is coming from.
Top 5 Sources of Fluoride: Watch the Video
If you're more of visual learner, this video has the same information as this post. In this Facebook livestream video, I walk you through the top 5 sources of fluoride.
In the video, I talk about a fluoride spreadsheet that I am working on that you can use to calculate how much fluoride you're consuming each day. The fluoride spreadsheet and accompanying video that explains how to use the spreadsheet will be going up today or tomorrow at the latest… Check my Facebook page for updates.
Top 5 Sources of Fluoride
#1 Source of Fluoride: Tea and Kombucha
Many of us have switched from coffee to green tea and switched from soda to kombucha in an effort to be healthy. But unfortunately, tea and kombucha are very high in fluoride. According to the USDA National Fluoride Database of Selected Beverages and Foods, tea has 5-10 times more fluoride than a can of soda.
This includes any kind of tea in the camellia sinensis family: black tea, oolong, white, or green tea. It doesn't matter if the tea is organic or not, and fermenting tea into kombucha has no impact on the fluoride.
According to a recent study, tea probably has much higher levels of fluoride than we thought:
Most published reports show 1 to 5 milligrams of fluoride per liter of black tea, but a new study shows that number could be as high as 9 milligrams.
Most published studies about black tea traditionally have used a method of measuring fluoride that doesn't account for the amount that combines with aluminum to form insoluble aluminum fluoride, which is not detected by the fluoride electrode. Whitford compared that method with a diffusion method, which breaks the aluminum-fluoride bond so that all fluoride in the tea samples can be extracted and measured.
He tested seven brands of store-bought black tea, steeping each for five minutes in deionized water, which contains no fluoride. The amount of fluoride in each sample was 1.4 to 3.3 times higher using the diffusion method than the traditional method.
9 milligrams per liter is anywhere from 1.5 to 13 times the fluoride in fluoridated water. In other words, you would have to drink over 3 quarts of fluoridated water to get the same amount of fluoride as you get in one 8-ounce glass of iced tea.
If you want to learn more, I go into great detail about this in my post on fluoride in kombucha and tea.
How To Avoid Fluoride From Tea and Kombucha:
This is one of the easiest ways to reduce fluoride in your diet. Just stop drinking tea and kombucha. A cup every once in a while won't hurt you but this is not something you want to drink on any kind of regular basis. Herbal tea, like chamomile or mint, is fine.
#2 Source of Fluoride: Teflon & Aluminum Cookware and Bakeware
Teflon, or non-stick, or aluminum pots and pans increase the fluoride in your food. According to a study from 1975 published in the Journal of Dental Research, cooking with teflon increased the fluoride in the food by 3 times.
It's interesting in the chart that the fluoride appears to be reduced in water boiled in the aluminum pan… but I wonder if that's caused by the fluoride bonding with the aluminum and becoming undetectable, as we saw in tea in the the 2010 study from the Medical College of Georgia (see above).
How To Avoid Fluoride From Teflon and Aluminum:
Ditch the Teflon and aluminum cookware as soon as possible. Switch to cast iron, enameled cast iron, stainless steel, or glass.
I recommend using any of the following healthy cookware options:
Enameled cast iron – Le Creuset is my absolute favorite. I'm slowly collecting it over the years.
Stainless Steel Pots and Pans – Here's a basic 11-piece set of pots and pans from Cuisinart that is very affordable and high quality, similar to the set I have.
Cast Iron Pans – I have four or five cast iron skillets like this one in different sizes. I use them daily for eggs and breakfast sausage and bacon, and all kinds of stuff.
Glass Baking Dishes – I have several Pyrex Glass Baking Dishes with Lids for Easy Storage that we use for everything from lasagna to enchiladas to shepherd's pie.
Granite Ware – Granite Ware is a good, very affordable choice. You have to make sure it's real Granite Ware made in the USA, not the cheap knock-off kind. I bought this Granite Ware roaster — you can get it for only $12 on Amazon. I love it. Great for roasting chickens and turkeys; very lightweight.
Instant Pot Pressure Cooker – I own two Instant Pot pressure cookers. This is the only electric pressure cooker I recommend because it has a stainless steel bowl, not Teflon.
VitaClay Rice Cooker – The VitaClay rice cooker has a clay bowl instead of Teflon. It makes perfect rice!
#3 Source of Fluoride: Non-organic Fruits, Vegetables, Juices and Wine
Fruits and vegetables, if they are not organic, are one of the biggest sources of fluoride in our diet. It's ironic because when we try to eat healthier and start eating more salads and drinking more fruit juice, and we end up getting a lot more fluoride as a result.
The reason for this is fruits and vegetables that are grown conventionally (not organic) are sprayed with fluoride-based pesticides.
According to the Fluoride Action Network:
In 2004, the US Department of Agriculture published the National Fluoride Database of Selected Beverages and Foods – but this was before the US gave the green light for sulfuryl fluoride as a food fumigant and approved extremely high levels of fluoride on food.
FAN has not been able to locate any US EPA-approved laboratory that will test foods for their fluoride content. In fact, the director of one laboratory told us, “It’s easier to test hazardous waste for fluoride than it is to test fluoride levels in corn flakes.”
Cryolite is the main fluoride-based pesticide that is used on fruits and vegetables. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cryolite is predominantly used on grapes, potatoes and citrus fruit (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangelo, tangerine). In addition, according to FAN, cryolite is also used on apricot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, eggplant, kale, kiwifruit, kohlrabi, lettuce, melon, nectarine, peach, pepper, plum, pumpkin, squash (summer & winter), tomato, and a number of berries.
So, yeah, that's kind of like almost everything, isn't it?
Wine that is made with grapes that are not organic is very high in fluoride. This is why your best bet is to use this to buy organic wine. Most imported wines are also not going to be high in fluoride.
Melissa Gardner, who wrote the book, The End of Acne (which I highly recommend; read my review here), is an interesting case study. She would get acne breakouts whenever she was exposed to fluoride. Melissa said that she could safely drink wine most European wine with no problems. And she said that she could drink most wine from the United States except for wine made with grapes from the Fresno/ San Joaquin/Central Valley region of California.
How To Avoid Fluoride From Fruits, Vegetables and Wine:
Buy only organic fruits and vegetables. Buy wine that is organic, made with organic grapes, or imported. I drink organic wine from California and wines from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. I will be writing more about wine in future posts.
#4 Source of Fluoride: Non-organic Meat and Bone Broth, Canned Seafood and Processed Foods
Fluoride is stored in the bones of animals, so animal bones contain the highest amounts of fluoride. Animals that are fed conventional (non-organic) feed are eating a lot of grains (mostly soy and corn) that are sprayed heavily with fluoride-based pesticides.
Mechanically deboned or mechanically separated meats like chicken nuggets and bologna and Slim Jims are made from a slurry of meat and other animal byproducts. Bones, skin and cartilage are included in the slurry when they process the meat. Those bones are very high in fluoride.
Non-organic meat that is sold and cooked on the bone is also higher in fluoride. This also includes bone broth and soups and stews if they are made from the bones of animals that were fed conventional feed.
In the book, The End of Acne, Melissa Gardner said one of the biggest acne breakouts she had was after she went to a Chinese restaurant and ordered wonton soup. It was in an area of the country that was not fluoridated, so she couldn't figure out why she reacted to the soup. She called them and found out that they made the soup with broth made from simmering bones. The bones they were using were not organic and so they were high in fluoride.
Seafood is also high in fluoride, but most especially canned fish that includes the bones, like anchovies and sardines. But see, I don't worry as much about seafood because (1) it's high in iodine and (2) you're not likely to eat 16 ounces of seafood (but you can easily drink that much tea every day).
Also, any processed food is going to be higher in fluoride. The more processed the food is, the more fluoride it contains because the fluoride becomes more concentrated due to the processing. Cereal contains anywhere from 2-10 mg per kg of fluoride, which is extremely high.
How To Avoid Fluoride from Non-organic Meat and Bone Broth, Canned Seafood and Processed Foods:
Limit the following foods:
Processed meats like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and bologna unless they are organic.
Soups and bone broth unless it is made from the bones of animals that were raised organically.
Canned seafood that includes bones like sardines and anchovies.
Processed foods like cereal, chips and crackers, pastries, etc.
#5 Source of Fluoride: Water That You Cook With and In the Foods You Eat
When people think about fluoride, they think of the fluoride in their tap water or the bottled water they are drinking. But that pales in comparison to the fluoride you get from fluoride-based pesticides and tea.
That said, fluoride in the water that is used to make your food is still part of the mix of fluoride you consume every day. And it's not just an issue whether the water in your city is fluoridated. This is because you are eating processed and prepared food made with fluoridated water. Everything from canned beans to bread to salsa to soup may (and most likely does) contain fluoridated water. It doesn't matter if it's organic either.
This is the main reason you need to cook from scratch as much as possible, using water that is filtered for fluoride.
Also, if you have well water, that doesn't mean you don't need to filter the fluoride out. You need to get your water tested for fluoride because many parts of the country have naturally occurring fluoride in the ground and naturally occurring fluoride has the same negative health impacts as added fluoride.
How To Avoid Fluoride from the Water You Drink and Cook With:
Cook From Scratch As Much As Possible – Use dried beans instead of canned, make your own soups and salsa, etc.
Buy a Water Filter (see below)
Water Filters That Remove Fluoride:
Not all water filters remove fluoride. Brita or other pitcher-style filters, for example, will not remove fluoride.
You need a Reverse Osmosis Filter or a Berkey water filter to remove fluoride. While it is an investment, it pays for itself when you add up how much you spend buying spring water.
Here are the ones I recommend:
Reverse Osmosis Filter – A reverse osmosis filtration system like this one can be easily installed under your kitchen sink. This one is similar to the one I have and is available on Amazon for less than $200.
If you are not handy, you can hire a handyman to install this for you. Also, you can set it up so that your reverse osmosis filter goes to your fridge and ice maker so you have fluoride-free cold water and ice. (That's how it is in our kitchen.)
Berkey Filter – If you are not able to install a reverse osmosis filter under your sink (for example, if you are renting), I highly recommend the Berkey gravity filter. When we lived in an apartment, I used a Royal Berkey (good for a family of 2-4) like this one which you can get on Amazon for a little over $300.
Other Sources of Fluoride
There are many other sources of fluoride, including pharmaceutical drugs including fluorinated anesthetics, Cipro, Niflumic acid, Flecainide, and Voriconazole ((Source), cigarettes, toothpaste and fluoride treatments, and soft drinks and beer.
However, as I said above, a soda contains 5-10 times less fluoride than iced tea or kombucha. So you're better off going with a Coke if you have to choose (yes, I really mean that). If you want to drink beer, I'd go with beer imported from Germany or Holland (the only countries that fluoridate their water in Europe are England, Ireland, Spain and Serbia).
Babies and Children and Fluoride
Children and babies are especially vulnerable to fluoride because their upper limit of fluoride is much lower than adults.
Baby formula is very high in fluoride. Formula-fed infants receive 50–100 times more fluoride than exclusively breast-fed infants. (Source)
Breast milk contains no fluoride. Milk from cows, sheep and goats also contains no fluoride. Is this nature's way of protecting babies from fluoride?
Also, in my mind, this is the main reason juice boxes are so bad for kids. It's not the sugar — it's the fluoride. If you're going to give kids juice boxes, it needs to be organic. Or just give them milk. And don't give them kombucha or tea or hot dogs or chicken nuggets.
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Photo credits: Iced Tea