A typical American household spends about 90 percent of their food budget on processed foods, and are in doing so exposed to a plethora of artificial food additives, many of which can cause dire consequences to your health. Food additives are now a main ingredient of the American diet.
Additives, which were developed to help preserve food freshness, have become a health hazard to millions.
1. Artificial Sweeteners:
Aspartame, or many of the other high intensity sweeteners that are hitting the market at an alarming rate are primarily found in food items that are entitled “diet or sugar free”. Aspartame is actually classified as a carcinogen, which is responsible for more adverse reaction reports than all other foods and food additives combined. Aspartame and related substances are highly neurotoxic; they produce effects such as dizziness, headaches, mental confusion, migraines, and seizures. Avoid if you suffer from asthma, rhinitis (including hayfever), or urticaria (hives). Acesulfame-K, neotame, sucralose, and the like are relatively new to the market, and have not been thoroughly tested. It is believed that some of these new sweeteners can be linked to kidney tumours. If you’re interested in learning more about artificial sweeteners, and their behavioral effects, make sure to check-out the documentary Sweet World: A Poisoned World at the end of this article.
Found in the following: 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, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste.
2. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG):
MSG is an amino acid which is primarily used as a flavour enhancer in soups salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and many restaurant foods. It is known as an excitotoxin, whereby the substance overexcites the cells to the point of damage or even death. Studies have shown that the regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects including depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. Interestingly, MSG has the ability to also affect the neurological pathways of the brain and neutralize leptin’s ability (hormone that controls appetite) to essentially tell our bodies to stop eating. In effect, it may be hard for many whom are exposed to this substance, to control the amount they eat.
Found in the following: Chinese food ( Chinese Restaurant Syndrome ) many snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners , lunch meats
3. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS):
HFCS is a highly refined sugar that is derived from the processing of corn. Corn, one the primary monocultures grown in both Canada and the USA, is grown (along with soy) mainly for the purpose of filling pre-packaged foods. It has become the primary source of calories for Americans as it is present in almost all processed foods on the market today. HFCS contributes to weight gain more than any other substance. It increases LDL cholesterol beyond its normal ratio to HDL, and contributes to the development of type II diabetes and tissue damage.
Found in the following: most processed foods, breads, candy, flavoured yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals
4. Food Coloring:
Studies have recently shown that food coloring, which can be found in meats, soda, juices, and salad dressing, may contribute to behavioural problems, particularly in children and may also lead to a significant reduction in the child’s ability to learn. Other studies have linked food colouring to cancer. Some colours of particular interest to avoid are the following:
– Blue #1 and Blue #2: Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage
Found in the following: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods
– Red dye # 3 (also Red #40)
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 the following: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more.
– Yellow #6 and Yellow Tartrazine: Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumours in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.
Found in the following: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more.
5. Trans fat:
One of the most dangerous substances to consume, trans fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products. Numerous studies show that trans fat increases LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes and other health problems.
Found in the following: margarine, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods.
In order for our bodies to heal, it is essential that we first eliminate the foods that are causing the damage. By sticking to a mainly plant based, whole foods diet, you won’t have to worry as much about food additives in your food. Wherever possible, always try to purchase local organic produce or search an worldwide database of where to pick your own fruit and veg. This way you’re helping the environment as well as supporting local agriculture.