What food additives are in your daily diet and should you be rethinking eating foods that contain them?
When it comes to food additives they are generally anything but natural in both their make up as well as why they are used. Food additives are usually added to help with processing, packaging and preserving foods. When you are at the grocery store, have you ever realize there are quite a few foods that can sit on the shelf for quite a while? Even things like processed meats seem to last for quite a while in the store and then your fridge, seems a little unnatural doesn’t it? What is tough to swallow is the average north american family spends about 80% of their food budget on processed foods! The worst part of this statistic is the health consequences.
Let’ have a look at some of the top food additives to avoid:
1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG / E621)
We have all heard of this one before, MSG is an amino acid used to enhance flavors in salad dressings, chips, soups, noodle bowls, and many restaurant foods. MSG is known as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. A number of studies have revealed that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. Another important factor when it comes to MSG is that it effects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengages the “I’m full” function. This is why there can often be weight gain in those consuming MSG.
MSG can be found in: Chinese food (Chinese Restaurant Syndrome ) many snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners, alot of noodle bowls, cold cuts (sandwich meat)
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup or Glucose/Fructose
In the US it is known as High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and in Canada Glucose/Fructose. In both countries it is a highly-refined artificial sweetener which has become the number one ingredient to help sweeten foods and beverages. It also is the number one source of calories in north american diets. You can find HFCS (G/F) in almost all processed foods. HFCS packs on the pounds faster than any other ingredient, increases your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects. Not only that, the chemical mixtures used in HFCS introduce mercury into the mix which has been proven to cause brain damage in those who consume it.
HFCS or G/f can be found in: most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals
3. Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, (E951) also known as Nutrasweet and Equal, is often found in foods labeled “diet” or “sugar free”. Aspartame is not only carcinogenic but is a serious neurotoxin. Aspartame produces Methanol when in the body which then converts into formaldehyde. While it is often believed that formic acid is the issue with Aspartame, it is actually formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a serious neurotoxin and carcinogen. According to the EPA, Methanol is considered a cumulative poison which means is accumulates in the body and very little is excreted each time it is consumed. and accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined. Known to erode intelligence and affect short-term memory, the components of this toxic sweetener may lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor, diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression and anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures. Acesulfame-K, a relatively new artificial sweetener found in baking goods, gum and gelatin, has not been thoroughly tested and has been linked to kidney tumors. Read more about the dangers of Aspartame here.
Aspartame can be found in: diet or sugar free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello (and over gelatins), desserts, sugar free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breathmints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste
4. Common Food Dyes
Common food dyes are not only found in foods but also other products we put on our bodies. Studies show that artificial colorings contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Alternate studies have also linked food colorings to cancer. Watch out for these ones:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)
Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage
Found in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods
Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)
Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission
Found in: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!
Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)
Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.
Found in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more!
5. Trans Fat
While it can be naturally occurring in animals, trans fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products and is among the most dangerous substances that you can consume. Trans fats can most often found in deep-fried fast foods and processed foods. Trans fats are created from the process of hydrogenation which is why foods like margarine or products that contain other hydrogenated oils are not a good choice for consumption. A number of studies have shown that trans fat increases LDL(“bad) cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. This increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes and other health problems. Oils and fat are now forbidden on the Danish market if they contain trans fatty acids exceeding 2 per cent, a move that effectively bans partially hydrogenated oils.
Trans fats can be found in: margarine, other hydrogenated oils, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods
6. BHA and BHT (E320)
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. They both effect the neurological system of the brain, contribute to altering behavior and increase the risk of cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.
Both can be found in: Potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello
7. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is used as a preservative, coloring and flavoring founds in favorites such as bacon and hot dogs. Pretty much any processed meat or sandwich meat you buy at the deli will contain Sodium Nitrate. While it sounds harmless, it is actually highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. Once there, it forms a variety of nitrosamine compounds that find their way into the bloodstream and cause a number of issues with internal organs- the liver and pancreas being most affected. Interestingly enough, this product was motioned to be banned by the FDA but was vetoed by food manufacturers who complained they had no alternative for preserving packaged meat products. It is interesting to note that we destroy health simply to allow industry to flourish.Other than preservation this chemical just happens to turn meats bright red. It helps to make old, dead meats look fresh and pleasing to eat.
Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite can be found in: hotdogs, bacon, ham, luncheon meat, cured meats, corned beef, smoked fish or any other type of processed meat
8. Potassium Bromate
Another one on the list that we are probably all subject to given it is household staple- Potassium Bromate. It is an additive used to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls, potassium bromate is known to cause cancer. Even small amounts in bread can create quite serious problems for humans. It is important to note that glutenous bread blocks nutrient receptors in the intestines which hinders the bodies ability to intake nutrients from other foods.
Potassium Bromate can be found in: breads
9. Sodium Sulfite (E221)
This additive is often why many people have trouble drinking store bought wine. It can also be found in other processed foods. According to the FDA, approximately 1 in 100 people is sensitive to sulfites in food and wine. Individuals who are sulfite sensitive may experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death by closing down the airway altogether, leading to cardiac arrest.
Sodium sulfite can be found in: Wine, processed foods and dried fruit
10. Sulfur Dioxide (E220)
Sulfur additives are toxic and in the United States of America, the Federal Drugs Administration have prohibited their use on raw fruit and vegetables. Adverse reactions include: bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. It also destroys vitamins B1 and E. Not recommended for consumption by children. The International Labour Organization says to avoid E220 if you suffer from conjunctivitis, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, or cardiovascular disease.
Found in: beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, cordials, wine, vinegar, and potato products.
Something to Think About
When we look at the majority of the health problems we experience today, is it not true that the majority, if not all, can be linked directly to the foods we eat? Is it worth debating whether these substances are good or bad when they aren’t natural or naturally occurring in the foods to begin with? Is it possible that maybe our food system has become more about convenience and not about health whatsoever? I think it is important to think about these things as what we eat does in fact affect what happens in our bodies in a HUGE way. Whether or not these substances will heavily affect you in the next 5 or 10 years, one thing is certain, they are not helping out your health in any way and considering most of this stuff is found in processed foods or HIGHLY acidic foods, we shouldn’t be consuming them anyway if good health is our goal.
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