Despite all of the information available at our fingertips today, most people still don’t seem to understand, or care, that there are many toxic ingredients in our food today. Food additives and chemicals, combined with heavy processing, actually changes the composition of a food from something natural, to one that is nowhere near its original state.
A chemical-filled food acts like a toxin in the body – and, it’s not just empty calories – those foods wreak havoc on our metabolism and general health and well-being by causing issues like a hormonal imbalance, inflammation, cell damage and poor health in general
It’s rather frightening that the words food and toxic have to be used in the same sentence, but unfortunately, due to the plethora of fast foods and packaged, processed foods, it’s become a reality for far too many.
There are over 3,000 food additives, like flavorings, colors, preservatives and other ingredients, that are added to foods in the U.S., and the large majority of items on grocery store shelves are loaded with chemicals and other unhealthy, nutrition-less ingredients that are killing us one bite at a time. Of course, in order to make money, marketers are cunningly creative with their advertising, often misleading consumers into believing that they’re doing something good for their health by pulling that product off the shelf and feeding it to themselves, and their families.
Don’t get sucked into these clever schemes – be sure to look carefully at the ingredients in any food before you purchase it unless it’s a whole food like fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
Remember, you have complete control over what you put into your body – if you see any of these five ingredients that should never be in a food, put it back on the shelf and walk away.
1. Artificial Colors
When multiple studies started pointing out the potential dangers of artificial colors, the United Kingdom took action, requiring food manufacturers to replace chemical food dyes with natural additives, such as paprika extract and beetroot powder. As of July 2010, nearly all foods throughout the European Union that contained artificial food colors were labeled with a warning that states: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
But shockingly, the brands that made changes overseas, took no action at all with products made in the U.S. In fact, nine of the foods dyes currently approved for use in the United States, are linked to health issues. Blue, green, red and yellow in particular, have been associated with adrenal, kidney, thyroid, bladder and brain cancer, and are considered to be potentially harmful to children.
Red No. 40, the most widely used and consumed artificial color in the U.S., may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice, as well as trigger hyperactivity in children.
Yellow No. 5 is used in baked goods, candies, cereal and other products in the U.S., but six of 11 studies conducted on this artificial dye revealed that it caused genotoxicity, which is a deterioration of a cell’s genetic material with potential to mutate healthy DNA, according to the book Rich Food, Poor Food, a guide to help consumers make the best decisions at the grocery store.
There are a number of natural coloring agents available today that can be used instead of artificial colors, like turmeric and beets – be sure to use them when cooking or baking, and when you purchase foods from the grocery store, choose items that use natural colors only.
2. Chemical Preservatives like BHA & BHT
The National Institute of Health states that butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), are “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.” Still, BHA and BHT are ingredients often found in foods like cereal, potato chips, instant mashed potatoes, dry beverage mixes, preserved meats and even beer.
Most chemical preservatives, which lengthen the shelf-life of foods, have been linked to health problems from allergies to cancer. BHA and BHT in particular, are associated with damaging effects on the brain’s neurological system, altering behavior, and a higher cancer risk.
3. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame and sucralose are believed to be more damaging to the metabolism than plain sugar. They place a huge burden on the liver, causing it to work harder than it should, and though many people believe drinking beverages with artificial sweeteners like diet soda will help them lose weight, they’ve actually been shown in scientific studies to increase weight gain.
Research also strongly suggests that artificial sweeteners have been contributing not only to the world’s obesity epidemic but to the skyrocketing rates of type 2 diabetes.
4. High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is a highly processed, refined sugar extracted from corn. Americans are said to ingest more calories from this one ingredient than any other source. It’s found in snack bars, candy, sodas, processed cereals, frosting, condiments and many other so-called foods. HFCS is known to significantly contribute to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.
5. Trans fats and hydrogenated oils
Trans fats are made through an industrial process which adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils, making them more solid. They’re used by food manufacturers as they’re inexpensive and easy to create, as well as lasting a long time. Lots of restaurants use oils that contain trans fats to deep-fry foods, as they can be used over and over in a commercial fryer.
Trans fat is considered by the majority of health experts to be the worst type of fat you can eat. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fat raises your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol and lowers HDL or “good” cholesterol. But trans fats don’t just harm your heart health, they have numerous potential other damaging effects on health, including increasing the risk of prostate and breast cancer, and a 2003 study, published in Archives of Neurology, associated the regular consumption of trans fats to promoting the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating trans fats is also linked to obesity and type-2 diabetes.
And, unlike other dietary fats, there is no safe level of trans fats that one can consume. They’re completely unnecessary for body functions, and can result in significant potential harm, with no benefit, according to a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine scientific review.