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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?