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Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Chicago has been bit by a cold bug – merciless cold has crippled the whole city, with temperatures as low as -25F.  We were all instructed to stay inside and stay warm so today was the perfect day to enjoy one of my favorite soups – Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup.

This soup is delicious, hearty and so nutritious.  Red bell pepper has the highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper and contains  phytochemicals and carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, providing the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Tomatoes are also a rich source of antioxidants Tomatoes are also very high in vitamin C, another antioxidant that fights free radicals. Plus addition of ginger and garlic make it therapeutic as they help fight infections and reduce inflammation in the body.

Also, this soup is so easy to make as the oven and the blender does most of the work for you. There is very little stirring the pot or cooking on the stove required.

Here is the recipe for you to try this simple immunity boosting soup:

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 long celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1-2 green chilies
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper  to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 4 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Set the oven to broil
  • Chop all the vegetables ( Red peppers – deseeded, onions, tomatoes, carrots, celery) into medium size chunks
  • Take a baking tray and spread all the vegetables, ginger, garlic, green chilies and sprinkle lightly with olive oil
  • Broil for 15-20 minutes until they are toasted and nice aroma is coming
  • Let it cool for few minutes
  • Add the vegetables and water in a blender and blend for smooth, creamy  consistency
  • Transfer the soup in a pan and add basil, coconut milk, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and tomato paste
  • Cook for 5-10 minutes on low-medium heat until it starts to boil
  • Serve warm

Chronic Constipation: The Scoop on Poop

Did you know in United States alone about 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive diseases and chronic constipation is the leading cause of all digestive issues?

While it may seem harmless problem at first but recent studies have linked chronic constipation to problems like weight gain, hormonal imbalances, low immunity to more serious diseases like cancer.

Dehydration, poor diet, medications, illness, lifestyle and stress are the primary causes of chronic constipation.

If you are one of the people suffering from chronic constipation the good news is that it can be cured naturally. Here are 10 simple strategies to treat this condition without medication:

  • Eat more fiber : I think we have all heard it many times that a diet high in fiber helps add bulk and weight to stools, soften them and stimulate bowel movements. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both are important for maintaining normal bowel movements. Soluble fiber absorbs and binds to toxins so they can be excreted out of the body and also keeps stool soft because it absorbs water. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and also acts like a broom, helping to sweep things out of the intestine. Eating fruits such as figs provides a significant dose of fiber that can help your bowels begin to operate correctly. Dried figs are loaded with fiber — as little as 4 figs can do the magic! Another option is taking Psyllium Husk (Isabagol), which is rich in soluble fiber and some insoluble fiber. In patients with chronic constipation, taking 5 g of psyllium twice daily improved stool consistency and frequency. Other great sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.
  • Drink Water: This is a no-brainer but unfortunately still a lot of people are not drinking enough water in a day. When your body is properly hydrated, less water will be withdrawn from the colon. This will keep your stool soft and easy to pass. Make it a habit to drink 8-10 cups of warm water throughout the day. Please remember to not drink water WITH your meals. 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after the meal is the ideal time to drink water.
  • Add fermented foods to your diet/Probiotics: Improve your gut health to treat constipation at the root. Fermented foods have been a well-established part of the human diet for thousands of years but its benefits have been well researched only recently. Adding fermented foods to your diet have shown to alleviate many gastrointestinal issues, including constipation. Here are some examples of fermented foods – Yogurt (preferably homemade), Kefir, Kimchi, Khamboucha, Sauerkraut, Miso, Dosa, Kanji, some cheeses, pickle (achar). With so many options to pick from, I am sure you can find one that meet your taste preferences. Another option is to supplement with Probiotic over the counter supplements until you find a way to add more fermented foods in your diet.
  • Triphala:  Triphala is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal formula made from the dried fruits of haritaki, bibhitaki, and amalaki. It’s not habit-forming and it doesn’t irritate the bowels, making it a great formula for treating constipation. Triphala tend to be gentler than over-the-counter laxatives, nourish the digestive tract and help produce regular bowel movements. It can help to naturally cleanse the colon.
  • Diet: As you know your diet plays a critical part in your overall health, make sure you are eating more unprocessed foods and avoiding junk carb and sugar laden foods which can trigger constipation. Have more vegetables soups and add soft foods like khichdi and dahi. Some people have adverse effects of eating too many raw vegetables. If that is the case, make sure you lightly cook or steam the veggies before consuming. It is easier for your stomach and digestion.
  • Exercise : Make sure you are moving and not spending your whole day sitting when you are constipated. According to WebMD- Exercise helps constipation by lowering the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. This limits the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool. Hard, dry stools are harder to pass. Plus, aerobic exercise speeds up your breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural squeezing (or contractions) of muscles in your intestines. Intestinal muscles that squeeze better will help move stools out quickly. Find any exercise you like to do and incorporate it in your lifestyle. The benefits you gain will improve your overall health, not just constipation.
  • Good fat/Omega-3s: Are you following a low fat diet or eliminating any food groups completely? Fat is not only needed for our hormones, cell walls but also a key enabler of good digestive. Make sure you are eating healthy fats with all meals which includes Ghee, coconut oil, Avocados, Nuts, Fish etc. Supplementing with high-quality Fish oil which is high in Omega-3 also boosts digestion and relieves constipation.
  • Sleep/ Stress: Your bowel movements can be affected by stress that you experience during the day. Everyone has stress that is unavoidable in their lives, but when it is excessive, it can negatively impact your whole body, including your gut health. Try meditation, relaxation and improve your sleep quality to reduce constipation. Believe it or not your sleep position can also impact your digestive and gastrointestinal health. Sleeping on the left side aids digestion and lets food waste easily move from the large intestine into the lower colon, meaning you’re more likely to have a bowel movement when you wake up.
  • Squatty potty: It is no secret that squatting is the best position for complete elimination. Western toilets do not aid in the bowel movement and can often restrict and put strain on the excretion process. The footstool helps sitters assume a squat-like position while conducting their business. And that position appears to alter an individual’s anatomical angle in a positive way. Squatty potty is footstool for that particular purpose and is available at all major retailers.

Hope some of these work for you but whatever it takes please make curing chronic constipation a priority before it leads to any major illness.

Feel free to comment or reach out if you have any specific questions.

The Magic Elixir: Bone Broth

Bone broth has been part of various ancient cultures for more than thousand years. Recently, it has started to gain the trendy status of a superfood because studies have shown its numerous and extensive health benefits.

What is Bone broth: Bone broth is a simple drink made by slowly simmering animal bones with herbs, vegetables, and spices for more than 10 hours .

Why is it so good for you: Bones and connective tissues are packed with essential amino acids, protein, collagen, gelatin . It is also rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals,  which we usually lack in our diets today. 

Here are the top health benefits of bone broth:

1. Heals your gut : The collagen found in bone broth helps to improve and maintain healthy digestion by ensuring that the stomach lining is healthy. It contains collagen, which nourishes the intestinal lining and reduces inflammation. Plus, it’s easy to digest and is loaded with beneficial protein and minerals.

2. Improves immunity: Amino acids and minerals in bone broth have been shown to boost immunity in humans in various studies.

3. Cleans out toxins: The amino acids in the bone broth aid your liver in removing toxins from your body. In addition, glycine is a building block of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful detoxifying agents.

4. Good for skin and hair: Bone broth is loaded with the building blocks of collagen, the protein that  is required to make your skin strong and smooth.

5. Good for joint health:  When the broth simmers, it pulls gelatin out of the bones.  As we get older, our joints become less flexible. When you drink the broth, your body absorbs all of that gelatin. It strengthens your bones and promotes joint health by providing a cushion-like coating for your joints.

How to make Chicken bone broth at home:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of chicken bones ( I used it from the leftover organic chicken drumsticks)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 handful of cilantro leaves (with stems)
  • 1.5 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 cups water

Steps

  • Add all ingredients in a slow cooker
  • Let it cook for 20-24 hours
  • Strain and use

What if you are vegetarian: If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you can still make this by using different vegetables like zucchini, mushroom, turnip, beetroot and eliminating the bones part.  By making this without bones, you won’t be getting the collagen and gelatin  but you will still be getting high doses of minerals that leads to bone and connective tissue healing and also carry similar anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Fermented vegetables for a healthy gut

Did you know there are more bacteria in our body than cells so can say that we are more bacteria than we are humans! These colony of bacteria living in our gut makes up our microbiome and they govern many of our body’s key functions so they are critical to our overall health. A balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports mood and brain function, produces crucial vitamins and nutrients, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.
So how do we make our microbiome healthy – Eating Fermented foods is the key!
Fermented foods are part of every cuisine across the world. Fermentation was the technique used to preserve foods and drinks long before the refrigeration was availble. During the process of fermentation, bacteria convert sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. The environment for fermentation boosts the growth of healthy bacteria. Even a small portion of fermented foods provides trillions of good beneficial bacteria. As a side benefit, the bacteria in fermented foods produce vitamins (like B vitamins and K) and other important nutrients as they digest the starches and sugars.
The good news is fermentation is a simple process and there is a variety of fermented foods to pick from. Some of the most popular fermented foods from around the world are yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut.
Most of us are already familiar with making yogurt at home but I recently tried fermenting cabbage/carrots (Sauerkraut) and the outcome was amazing. This probiotic rich food not only improves digestion and immunity but also helps lose weight.
Here is a simple recipe for vegetable fermentation.
Cabbage, Carrot and Ginger Sauerkraut
Half medium size cabbage finely shredded
2 medium carrots grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1.5 teaspoons fine-ground sea salt (Do not use a regular iodized table salt)
1 cup brine (1 teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in 1 cup of filtered water)
STEPS 
1. Shred the cabbage and grate ginger and carrots in a food processor. Sprinkle half teaspoon salt over.
2. Start pounding the mixture with a wooden spoon or mix it well with your hands. This will release the juice from the vegetables. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Pack the vegetables into a glass jar tightly to remove as many air pockets as possible. Cover the vegetables with the brine so the vegetables are completely immersed in liquid.
4. Place the outer leaf from the cabbage on top  to cover the mixture. The leaf will make sure the contents stay in place and are submerged. If you have a small weight like cooker whistle or small glass cup, place it on top of the leaf before closing the lid.
I used fermentation lids but you can use any cheesecloth with rubber band to secure.
5.  Leave it at room temperature for the fermentation to happen. Make sure the room temperature is between 67-72 degrees.
6. Let it ferment for week to three weeks depending upon the season. It will be faster in summer than the cold winters. You could tell if it ready when it has a nice crisp, tangy smell to it and no signs of mold or discoloration.
Once ready, put it in the fridge and enjoy your healthy, delicious probiotic right vegetables.
You can use any vegetable for fermentation. My next batch includes beetroot and purple cabbage. Play with it, experiment with different vegetables and discover the unique taste of fermented foods!

Chewing : The most underrated medicine for good health

Most of the moms will agree that we are always in a “rush”, running from one activity to other, often multitasking. I don’t know how and when this rushed lifestyle has become a habit and have impacted multiple aspects of my life, including meal time. When I started learning about our digestion in more detail and understanding how important chewing is for the overall process, I realized how little I chew my food compared to the recommended guidelines of turning it into a liquefied state.

The chewing process is the first step in our digestion, and is one of the most important aspects of digestion. How long you chew, can significantly impact your health.

Most common benefits of chewing well:

More nutrients and energy absorption from your food: When food is in smaller pieces, it is easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles. 

Aids digestion: As you know that digestion starts with chewing. When we chew our food, the saliva is secreted from our gland. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer we chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on our stomach and small intestine. The enzyme lipase helps break down fats and enzyme amylase begin to digest starches so the digestion of food starts in your mouth itself.

Reduce digestive problems: If you don’t chew well or long enough, the enzymes in the saliva that break down food cannot do their job and you could end up with poorly digestive foods in your stomach.  When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach and intestines – the bacteria and yeast will feast on them, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.

Weight loss: If you are eating all the right foods, exercising and still not losing weight – have a look at your chewing habit. Research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less which ultimately leads to weight loss. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full, and if you are chewing well and eating slowly then you will receive the right signal to stop eating at the right time and prevent overeating.

Now that you understand how important is chewing to your overall health, I hope you will be more mindful during eating, paying attention to the state of the food when you swallow. I can tell you from my experience, this is one of the most difficult habit to change because it is so easy to fall back to old habits, especially when you are in a hurry.

Here are some helpful tips to incorporate this change:

  • Dedicate enough time for your meals. When you sit down for meals make sure you have assigned atleast 20-30 minutes to finish your meal.
  • Don’t eat on the go. Usually when we are distracted, we tend to chew less and quickly gobble up big chunks of food.
  • Be prepared to be the last one at the table – when you are chewing well, you might end up to be the last one to finish the meal at a social setting. Don’t be embarrassed, just remember you are doing a favor to your body in the long run.
  • Take deep breaths before the start of your meals because when you breathing allows your body to relax, focus on digestion and utilize the nutrients in your food.
  • Take smaller bites of food as it’s easier to chew smaller morsels. It becomes easier with practice. You can initially start by counting how many times you chew. 30- 50 is an ideal number that works for most people.
  • Keep your spoon down between bites as a reminder and signal for your body to chew well first before putting next bite in your mouth.

I hope you try this simple lifestyle tip to improve your overall health.

Nutrition: Planning is the key

One of my friends just completed an Iron Man!! For those who don’t know what an Iron Man is:

An Ironman is a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

I am still in awe of her achievement but more so of her hard work, dedication and grit that made her succeed this year, after one unsuccessful attempt two years ago.

When I asked her what made the difference this time, her answer was clear and simple – NUTRITION PLANNING.  She said last time she trained hard and was physically ready to triumph the challenge but what she lacked was the nutrition planning for the day of the event.  Unfortunately, she felt a lack of energy halfway through her cycling event and had to leave unfinished and disheartened.

This time she meticulously planned her food not just during training but for the day of the race.  Eating a nutritious, high energy food throughout the race provided her constant supply of energy to finish strong.

The biggest lesson to learn from her experience is in life also we all are so busy running around, preparing for our work, assignments, activities without giving much thought on nutrition, what we are eating, are we getting a balanced mix of nutrients to keep us going for the long run.

Eating healthy is a “full-time job”. It requires a lot of planning, commitment, and execution. If you are not planning ahead of time, you end up making some wrong food choices.

Here are some of the primary reasons why you should plan your meals:

  • You make healthier choices
  • Improved nutrition
  • Saves time and money
  • Reduces Stress

If you are struggling to eat healthy in order to lose weight or just stay active, reach out to us. We can assist with the weight loss consulting, food substitutes, pantry makeover, and customized meal planning.

We help YOU become your healthiest YOU!

What is hiding in your toothpaste?

You might be super careful about what food you put in your mouth but have you ever thought about the ingredients in your toothpaste?  Commercial kinds of toothpaste are loaded with ingredients you wouldn’t think of putting in your mouth ever.

Your mouth is highly absorbent so even if you are not ingesting your toothpaste, the chemicals in your toothpaste still get absorbed in your bloodstream.

Here are some of the most common harmful ingredients found in commercial toothpaste. : Triclosan, Titanium dioxide, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Artificial Sweeteners, Diethanolamine (DEA) and Flouride.

All of these chemicals have been linked to various health problems like hormone disruptions, gastrointestinal disturbances, behavioral disturbances, and even cancer.

The good news is it is really simple and cheap to make toothpaste at home with only FOUR ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons raw virgin coconut oil
  • 2–4 tablespoons baking soda
  • Few  drops of essential oils (I have used  cinnamon clove and peppermint – both works)
  • 1 tablespoon  turmeric powder
  • small glass jar

Directions:

  1. Place coconut oil container in a bowl of hot water to liquefy it
  2. Measure all ingredients into a bowl and stir until completely blended.
  3. Store the finished product in a lidded glass jar.

How does this toothpaste work?

Coconut oil is antibacterial, so it reduces inflammation and fights bad bacteria in the mouth

Baking soda discourages the formation of plaque and helps to prevent gum disease. It has also been found to effectively remove surface stains on teeth

Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and contains antioxidants. It helps in treating gum disease.

Use this toothpaste in place of your regular toothpaste to experience whiter, cleaner, healthier teeth and gums!!

Intermittent Fasting – Key to a healthy body

Fasting has been part of human lifestyle for centuries, mostly for religious and medical purposes.  More recently there are a large number of researches to support the health benefits of fasting which includes improved disease state, reduced oxidative stress and preserved learning and memory functioning.

Here are some of the top benefits of fasting:

  • Promote longevity and reduce aging.
  • Increase autophaghy, which is your body’s way to recycle old and worn cells. It’s linked to many health benefits including reduced risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Increase human growth hormone, which helps increase energy, increase bone density, and increase/retain muscle.
  • Fasting can help you get into a state of ketosis, where you’re running on fat instead of glucose.
  • Reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
  • Fasting can help with weight loss.

Fasting, though, is not for everyone. If you are like me, staying without food for a whole day will make you anxious but there is a better solution – Intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. The good news is that you get the same health benefits as regular fasting without stressing your body too much.

There are many ways to “intermittently fast” but the approach I liked best is the 16:8 rule, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window. The good news is that you will be sleeping for part of your “fasting” 16 hours window so it is not that hard to follow.

There are some rules to follow before you start intermittent fasting

  • Reduce the intake of processed foods
  • Increase raw foods in your diet – fruits, vegetables and nuts
  • Eat balanced meals – Protein, complex carbs, and fats
  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water every day
  • Reduce the amount of sugar, especially processed sugar, from your diet.

Once you believe you are ready to start Intermittent Fasting, start small. Start with 12-hour fasting window and see how your body reacts. Gradually increase it to 16 hours. During fasting window, drink only plain water – no lemon, honey or any other additives. No tea, coffee!

Have a combination of fruit and nuts to break the fast. I usually have banana and walnuts as my first meal. Here are some other good options – Dates/Almonds/Raisins.

It is very important to listen to your body when eating and fasting. Women, especially should not starve and stress their body too much as it impacts the hormonal balance so it is highly recommended to start slow on your fasting. Try incorporating intermittent fasting once or twice a week.

I have experienced many health benefits by incorporating intermittent fasting so I assure you that it is not a fad but a tried and tested recipe to improve health, increase energy and eventually weight loss.

Remember Intermittent Fasting is not a Diet but a Lifestyle change. It is a tool for healthy living.

Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.

<Please consult with your doctor before starting Intermittent Fasting if you have any medical conditions that might get aggravated from prolonged starvation>

 

 

 

Morning Kickstart Smoothie

Smoothie is an integral part of my everyday diet.  My morning starts with the whirl of my favorite blender that results in a drink that I carry around all morning, slowly sipping and enjoying.  Smoothies are your best friend if you are trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet. It is the simplest change you can make to start a healthy lifestyle.

I change my smoothie recipe depending on what is available at hand but this is my go-to recipe for the days I don’t want to experiment.

This smoothie will help kick-start your busy day with a burst of energy!

Ingredients:

2 cups Spinach or Kale

½ cup water, ½ cup ice

1.5 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I get it from my local grocery store)

1 cup pineapple

1 cup blueberries

½ cup beetroot

A slice of ginger

1 tsp flax seeds

Blend the liquid and greens first. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend more until you have no chunks left.

Sip along!!

Note:

  1. If you are using frozen fruits, feel free to omit the ice
  2. You can use any fruit of your choice like mango, banana, kiwi, strawberries etc
  3. You can replace orange juice with coconut water or any other liquid but that will alter the sweetness so adjust the fruits accordingly

Top 5 food additives to avoid

You don’t just eat what you think you are eating. For eg. If you are eating potato chips, you would think it is potato, oil, and salt. Right? WRONG! Here is the ingredient list on a bag of potato chips I recently found in my grocery store: Potatoes, cottonseed oil, salt, whey, maltodextrin, spices (including black and white pepper), sunflower oil, sugar, dextrose, onion powder, sodium diacetate, buttermilk, garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavors, yeast extract, citric acid, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, malic acid

There are hundreds of additives, added flavors added to our food before it reaches our plate. All packaged products are enhanced, fortified and have added chemicals to increase the shelf life. Even though these additives are approved by FDA and identified as safe when consumed in small quantities but what most people don’t understand is that when we are eating multiple food items /multiple servings of these additives throughout the day, it causes havoc to our body. It makes us SICK!

Multiple studies have shown the impact of these additives on our health and causation of diseases in our bodies.  The simple rule is to eat as much raw, fresh or home cooked meals as possible but it is not always feasible. The sad part is that they are present in the organic foods as well so even if you are buying organic bread or from your trusted brand (See my last post ) it is still advisable to read the ingredient list to make informed decisions.

Here are some of the top food additives I avoid when buying packaged foods.

  1. Artificial Sugars: Some of the most commonly found artificial sweeteners are: Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste Blue), Sucralose (Splenda), Acesulfame K (ACE K, Sunette, Equal Spoonful, Sweet One, Sweet ‘n Safe), Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin), Xylitol, Sorbitol. Artificial Sweeteners are found in diet/sugar-free sodas,  jello (and other gelatins), desserts, sugar-free gum, yogurts, drink mixes, baking goods, tabletop sweeteners, cereal, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins etc..Artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame, are believed to be carcinogenic, make you gain weight and have an impact on memory. These toxic sweeteners may lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor, lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression and anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines, and seizures.
  2. Food Colors: Food colors are one of the most widely used and dangerous additives. In Europe there regulations on labeling food dyes to inform consumers of the health risks, the United States has no such requirement. Some of the common food dyes used today are Blue #1, Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 etc. They are found in baked goods, beverages, desserts, candies, cereal, drugs. Studies have established a strong correlation between the food colors and hyperactivity in kids. They have also shown to cause tumors in lab mice.
  3. BHT: BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are widely used by the food industry as preservatives, mainly to prevent oils in foods from oxidizing and becoming rancid. They are found in many chips, cookies, and cereals. They are also used in used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers, among other cosmetics. According to EWG research: Some data has shown that BHT can cause cancer in animals. Rats fed BHT have developed lung and liver tumors (EFSA 2012). BHT has also been shown to cause developmental effects and thyroid changes in animals, suggesting that it may be able to disrupt endocrine signaling (EFSA 2012). A neurobehavioral study of rats exposed to BHT throughout development described effects on motor skills and coordination before the animals were weaned.
  4. Nitrates or Nitrites: Cold cut meats like Turkey, Ham, Salami are usually treated with nitrates or nitrites which are chemicals commonly used as coloring agents, preservatives and flavoring. They are used to prolong a food’s shelf life but they come with health concerns. Studies have linked nitrites to stomach cancer. There is also evidence that nitrites may be associated with brain and thyroid cancers, but a causal link has not been established.
  5. Carrageenan: Carrageenan is everywhere – in yogurts, nut milk, cold cut meats and a lot of organic products. You can find it in organic yogurt, tofu, coconut milk and the list goes on and on. It has a long and controversial reputation as an emulsifier that damages the digestive system. Even though Carrageenan is derived from red algae or seaweed but it goes through a processing process, which makes it degraded and harmful for consumption. Studies have established that consumption of carrageenan induces inflammation in our body. Various sources claim that individuals experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms (ranging from mild bloating to irritable bowel syndrome to severe inflammatory bowel disease) have noticed that eliminating carrageenan from the diet leads to profound improvements in their gastrointestinal health.

Here are few in the top of my list but there are many more that you should be careful about like Trans Fats and Partially Hydrogenated Oils. Try eliminating or reducing these chemical additives from your diet and observe the difference in your overall health.

What other additives do you avoid when buying packaged foods?