Top 10 Food Ingredients to Avoid Like the Plague
These days, we are hearing more and more about the dangers of the chemical additives which have become all too common not only in the food we eat but in the products we’re using as well. So what are these additives, and which ones should we be avoiding? First of all, you have to get used to actually reading labels verses grab and go, for a little while at least until you’ve switched to wholesome, healthy products that are free from these harmful substances. Be on the look out for….
1. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
MSG (a.k.a. Monosodium Glutamate) is a food additive originally developed to enhance the flavor of Chinese food. Now it’s being used extensively in snack foods – like potato chips, seasonings, stocks and sauces. MSG is an excitotoxin which are designed to “excite” the taste buds on your tongue, thus enhancing the flavor of the food. Unfortunately, it’s also known to cause nerve damage by overexciting not only your taste buds but all your nerves. Symptoms can include numbness or burning on the back of the neck, back and arms, tingling sensations on the face, neck and back, headache, nausea, rapid heart beat and weakness. Some scientists believe that MSG contributes to long-term neurological damage and could be a factor in such diseases as MS and Alzheimer’s. You will rarely see “MSG” on a list of ingredients. It is usually hidden within other common ingredients such as yeast extract, autolyzed vegetable protein or hydrolyzed vegetable protein – which all three of contain MSG! So the next time you grab something “tasty” check the label for MSG (monosodium glutamate).
2. Sodium Nitrite
Sodium Nitrite is a substance added to packaged and deli meat products. It adds that pinkish red hue to meats in effort to make them look fresher and more appealing. The “sodium” in the name misleads many people to think of it as a form of salt, but Sodium Nitrite is, in fact a carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance) that has been linked to brain tumors, leukemia and cancers of the digestive tract. Unfortunately, like so many others, this is an “accepted” ingredient and you will find no warnings on food labels. Beware of Sodium nitrate!
3. Benzoate Preservatives (BHA, BHT and TBHQ)
These preservatives are food additives that function as a preservative and used to prevent oils or fats from going rancid and so no changes occur in taste or color. Despite research from the Department of Health and Human Services they are considered to be “a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen”, and may also result in hyperactivity, asthma, dermatitis and tumor growth, the FDA continues to allow this additive to be used. The nerve of those people!! Oh! And they can also affect estrogen balance as well!
4. Artificial Sweeteners (Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol)
Is it “sugar free”? Then it most likely contains aspartame or one of the other above man made sweeteners. They are chemical sweeteners that are used widely in diet soft drinks and deserts. There has been over 90 health symptoms reported in a variety of studies. Many people from diabetics to weight conscious people to even children consume mass quantities of these chemical sweeteners by drinking supposedly “healthy” sugar-free drinks and eating sugar-free yogurts and snacks. Research has shown that they may be linked to brain tumors, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines, panic attacks, dizziness, irritability, nausea, intestinal discomfort, skin rash, nervousness, depression and male infertility. In other words~ a little bit of the real thing is much sweeter for your health!
Carmine, known as Cochineal, is actually a red coloring found in many food products to turn them a pretty pink color. Strawberry yogurt, pink grapefruit juice and multiple other pink products contain it. Carmine is actually a paste made from the dead husks of female red beetles from the Canary Islands. If you’ve ever taken a microbiology class you know that insects contain countless forms of bacteria and parasites. I think I’d rather wear pink than eat it, thank you very much!
6. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)
BVO is another chemical and it is used to boost flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks. The down side to these tasty citrus-flavored products is that they have been shown to increases triglyceride and cholesterol levels and damage the liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys. No thanks!
7. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
High fructose corn syrup is basically found in everything sweet! It can be identified on the labels of juices, cereals, sauces, cookies, bars, cereals, etc . The reason food manufactures use it is because it’s extremely cheap to produce. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for our bodies to digest and convert it into fuel, and because it’s man-made, our body doesn’t recognize what the heck to do with it, so it causes inflammation in vital organs and ages our skin faster. It also a huge contributing factor when it comes to obesity because it actually makes us hungrier. Good news: Most natural products do not use this cheap, harmful sweetener but don’t assume, check the label!
8. Enriched and bleached flour
Almost all bread and flour products sold today are made from enriched wheat flour or bleached flour. Enriched means that all of the nutrients and the fiber that’s naturally found in wheat have been removed in the process of making these types of flour. These are what we refer to as “bad carbs” because they act just like sugar in the body, causing energy crashes and subsequent weight gain. Just avoid the words “enriched” and “bleached” on the ingredient labels and you’ll be okay. On another note, many types of breads and cereals, etc that say “whole grain” or “wheat” on the package aren’t necessarily made from 100% wheat four. So look for “whole” as the first ingredient. I would also add “organic whole” since most flour, particularly wheat/white flour is created from GMO grains.
In some states (and countries), these types of fats are actually illegal, which shows you just how bad they really are! Another name for trans-fat is partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil. This oil is man-made and manufactures add it into foods to preserve it and make it taste better. This type of fat is extremely toxic to our body causing inflammation, cancer, high cholesterol, mood disorders and heart disease (to name a few). So before you reach for that tub of margarine thinking it’s better than butter, consider this: almost all brands of margarine in the U.S. contain partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils. Fried foods and bakery goods are loaded with trans fats but you’ll be able to actually identify trans-fats on the food labels of products like coffee creamers, crackers, cookies, cake mixes, icings, cool whips, and the list goes on. So if you see partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil on labels, run the other way!
10. Artificial colorings
Artificial colorings may make food look prettier, but how bad these colors and dyes are for our long term health is unknown. There have been reports that link artificial colors to cancer, tumors, and allergic reactions. These substances are found in everything from sodas to snacks and cakes and are next to impossible to avoid, but it would be wise to consume as little of these brightly-colored chemicals as possible, just to be on the safe side.
An overall good rule of thumb when it comes to food is that, if it contains more than ten ingredients, and or you can’t pronounce it~ don’t eat it. The exception would be of course if you’re buying a bag of frozen vegetables that has ten types of vegetables listed on the package. Overall, look for simple foods with simple, natural, wholesome ingredients.
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