When you wander through a grocery store, do you ever wonder how long those energy bars or your favorite breakfast cereal can sit there on the shelf?
Food additives are big business in the food manufacturing world, and they are used to do everything from coloring food to making it safe to sit on a shelf for weeks. Food scientists are well educated and well paid to make sure food looks and tastes terrific long after it would naturally decompose.
The FDA approves these additives because the testing is done in very small quantities. The problem is that we don’t just eat in small quantities. Today, 80% of food sold in the grocery store is genetically modified, pre packaged and contains chemicals to preserve the appearance of freshness and taste. Today, our national food supply is better suited to a nation of plastic mannequins than a nation of real humans.
Marketers claim that additives have improved the world’s food landscape by bringing you increased convenience and lower food costs. Unfortunately, those claims are lies. The only truth is that food additives come with a major price: Your health. Here are the top food additives, their dangers, and how to avoid them.
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
BHT is commonly added to processed foods to prevent oxidation. In 2005, it was listed by the National Toxicology Program as ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’ and it’s used in embalming fluid, jet fuels, transmission fluid and rubber petroleum products. BHA is added to oils and food stuffs to prevent spoiling. Research shows that the additive may be responsible for the growth of cancerous tumors in rats.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Most popular breakfast cereals and prepackaged treats are loaded with HFCS. Tissue damage that may lead to diabetes, obesity and heart disease has been linked to the reactive carbonyl molecules in HFCS. To make matters worse, HFCS is made from genetically modified corn, is processed with genetically modified enzymes, and many samples have also tested positive for mercury. The argument that “eaten in moderation” HFCS is safe, is also a lie. Here’s why. High Fructose Corn Syrup shuts down the brain’s ability to discern fullness and increases the desire to eat. It would be great if we only ate HFCS in moderation, but in the real world, that’s not possible. Once you start eating that stuff, you just want more and more. That’s one reason people who drink diet soda actually gain more weight.
- Soybean Oil
Aside from the fact this is a partitioned food which causes cravings and weight gain, chances are, the soybean oil in the next processed food you eat was made from genetically-modified soybeans. In fact, more than half of US grown soybean crops are now genetically modified. GMOs are dangerous for the environment and scientific evidence is now proving that GMOs are dangerously bad for humans. With the dangers of GMOs still largely unanticipated, consumers are unwitting guinea pigs.
This is not unlike the times when cigarettes were thought to be safe. No one wanted to believe the corporate manipulation and the biological dangers, but now we have a nation of addicted people who are dying because they are unable to quit smoking. Genetically Modified Foods are doing the exact same thing. Our nation is filled with Americans who are sick and dying and unable to give up the “foods” they crave. Real foods don’t cause cravings. Only the plastic foods that are full of chemicals create that sense of “I gotta have it.” The next time you feel like you just gotta have something, write it down. Make a list of those things. Check the ingredients on the back of the label. Then make a plan to eat only real food.
- Propylene Glycol Alginate (E405)
This additive is used as a stabilizer, thickener and emulsifier in many processed foods. Outside of the food world, it’s included in many industrial substances such as automotive antifreezes and airport runway de-icers. There are plenty of natural thickeners available instead.
- Polysorbate 60
Polysorbates are a group of emulsifiers used in processed foods as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. Polysorbate 60 refers to monostearate, or the fatty acid that is chemically associated with the polyoxyethylene sorbitan component of the molecule. Sound a little confusing? The main thing you need to know is that polysorbate 60 is commonly used in imitation cream, frozen desserts and baked goods and, startlingly, it can’t spoil. We all know that real food spoils. If you are holding something that has a shelf-life longer than a growing season, don’t eat it.
- Enriched Flour
The term ‘enriched’ makes one think that enriched flour must be enhanced with nutrients. Unfortunately, the only enrichments that are added to enriched flour are toxic chemicals such as a metallic form of iron that your body is unable to absorb. Naturally, your body will be faced with the work of cleansing out those heavy metals. Remember, food cannot get any more enriched than the soil it’s grown in. The word “enriched” is a marketing tool to sell you something so a company makes money. The purpose of “enriched” is not to make you healthier.
This additive is often used in bags of fat-free potato chips. This fat substitute may not add fat, calories or cholesterol to food products but it does make you more prone to cancer by binding to fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. When they aren’t being suffocated by olestra, those vitamins are essential nutrients that help to protect the body from cancer and boost immunity. In the real world, there are no short-cuts. If it isn’t real food then it’s a toxin. It’s that simple. And toxins should not be put in your body. And if it is, your body must use its preciously scarce resources to rid itself of the poison. And while it’s doing that, it can’t be doing more important things, like protecting you from the latest flu virus going around.
- Propyl Gallate
Propyl Gallate is used as a preservative in meat products, vegetable oils, chewing gum and soup mixes to prevent spoiling. Studies show that regular consumption of products containing this additive may cause stomach and colon cancer. The simple solution to this is to take personal responsibility for your family’s food. We must stop buying industrialized animal products, processed and partitioned oils and begin to make our own soups with real vegetables and real herbs. Within a short time, we will regain the use of our tastebuds. By eating processed foods, we over-stimulate our taste-buds to the point of not being able to enjoy the natural tastes of real foods. Real foods taste bland initially, but soon enough, our bodies will cleanse itself of all the excite-toxins and we will heal and regain our appreciation of real foods again.
- Potassium Bromate
Enjoy a piece of toast with your breakfast? Consider this: Potassium bromate is an oxidizing agent commonly used in the bread-making process. The additive has carcinogenic effects and is toxic to the kidneys. Rats fed bread with this additive developed thyroid and kidney tumors. We struggle with the idea of giving up bread. But remember, it’s the commercially processed “bread-like” substance that we should be giving up. Giving up the white flour is an excellent first step.
- Monosodium Glutamate
Otherwise known as MSG, monosodium glutamate is known as one of the most dangerous additives and is linked to skin rashes, migraines, nausea, seizures and heart irregularities. The following names are often included in ingredient lists in an effort to hide MSG as an additive: Textured soy protein concentrate, citric acid, carrageenan, maltodextrin, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate and modified cornstarch. MSG is a toxin with the power to break through the blood-brain barrier. That’s reason enough to give it up; however, if you need more reason, consider this: The brain scans of methamphetamine users are compared to MSG brain scans for the purpose of comparing the size of the holes left in the brain tissue. I don’t want any holes in my brain tissue and I certainly expect that you don’t either.
- Aspartame, Acesulfame-K and other Artificial Sweeteners
Concerned by the calories included in regular sodas, many consumers reach for sugar-free or diet versions. Unfortunately, they’re reaching for drinks loaded with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. When consumed, aspartame converts to formaldehyde and causes vision loss, migraine, seizures, MS and Parkinson’s disease. Acesulfame-K is a new artificial sweetener currently being used in many soft drinks and baked foods. It has been shown to cause cancer in mice and affects the thyroid gland. Bottom line, soft drinks are a dangerous replacement for pure drinking water. There simply is no substitute for the clean water our bodies need to flush toxins and satisfy thirst.
- Food Colorings
Ever wonder how jelly beans and other treats get their bright colors? Well, the colors certainly don’t come from natural food sources. Nearly all food colorants such as Yellow #5 are derived from coal tar, which may cause cancer, and can be loaded with up to 10ppm of lead and arsenic.
- Trans Fats
Found in various types of processed foods, partially hydrogenated oil or trans fat has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and liver dysfunction. It is also known to cause infertility in women and is linked to the current obesity epidemic. The secret to avoiding Trans Fats goes beyond avoiding processed foods. Trans Fats are created when heat is applied to oil. Remember oil is a partitioned food, that is, not a whole food. Whole foods have built-in protections, but once a part is separated from the whole, we get problems. Get your fats from nuts, seeds, olives and avocados. Besides, all whole, raw foods contain traces of fat anyway. But once we separate the oil from the source and then add high heat, we create Trans Fats. Eat your fats in their natural state. Don’t eat processed foods and don’t heat oil and you won’t get Trans Fats. Simple as that.
Banned in many countries, substances in this family of drugs are directly linked to many types of cancer. Chloropropanols are typically found in Asian food sauces such as black bean, soy and oyster sauces. Remember, not all countries have safety laws in their food supplies. The laws don’t all match and they can’t be trusted anyway. But there are ways to enjoy foods of ethnic varieties by learning to prepare them naturally. Eating in restaurants of any kind, ethnic or otherwise, is putting your health in the hands of uneducated strangers whose motives are making a profit and getting off work. Your motives are to protect your health and the health of your family. This means adopting a lifestyle less dependent on restaurants.
- Sodium Sulfite (E221)
Sodium sulfite is used as a preservative in the wine-making process and is also used in other processed foods. According to the FDA, one in 100 people is sensitive to sulfites in food and those with the sensitivity may experience breathing problems, headaches and rashes. Severe complications include death by cardiac arrest. And that’s a pretty severe side-effect of enjoying a glass of wine with dinner. Be very careful. Alcohol is not healthy, but many people simply do not want to believe that. Any nourishment you can get from a glass of wine, you can also get from the raw fruit from which it was made. Avoid Sulfites at every turn.
- Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite
This additive is used as a flavoring agent, coloring and preservative for processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs and others. It also prevents the growth of the botulism-causing bacteria, clostridium botulinium. Health effects linked to this additive include cancer causing agents, lung disease, headaches, vomiting, migraines, cardiovascular problems and respiratory problems. There are many other way to create lasting memories at ball games than by encouraging your youngster to eat hot dogs. I remember the process of giving up processed meats and I know it was a sharp learning curve. But when I compare that learning curve to learning how to cope with the effects of the poisons, hands-down, there is no better decision than to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- Sulfur Dioxide (E220)
Found in beer, soft drinks, wine, dried fruit, juices, vinegar and cordials, sulfur dioxide has been linked to bronchial problems, low blood pressure and anaphylactic shock. Not surprisingly, it’s not recommended for consumption by children. The best juices are made at home and enjoyed immediately. Find a quality juicer that you can afford and enjoy the taste of real juice. Avoiding a Sulfer-Dioxide-free lifestyle is fun and easy and delicious.
Now that you’re aware of the dangerous additives that food manufacturers are putting into common foods and how manufacturers are marketing those food stuffs, you’re likely feeling betrayed, dismayed and angered. Yet, understanding the dangers of common food additives is only the start of the battle. Anger only gets you so far.
The hard part is avoiding those processed foods, especially when you’ve eaten them for years. Keep faith, though, because the switch to real foods is easier than you may think. It just takes a little education and preparation. Here are the action steps you must take to avoid the processed foods that put dangerous chemicals into your body, that prematurely age you and that cause painful degenerative diseases.
- Make Nutrition a Priority
Now that you understand the dangers of food additives, you’ve also likely realized that, despite even the best of marketing claims, processed foods don’t offer the nutrients your body needs. Not even close. In fact, they spend your precious nutrition ridding your body of the toxins they insert. The only way to obtain the nutrition your body needs and can absorb is from whole foods. The further from the earth your food gets, the less valuable and more dangerous it is to you. The main focus of each daily meal must remain on nutrition. Never take a bite without first considering which nutrients the food source will offer your body. If any questions arise regarding the safety of that food or what may have been added to it, these are your first clues that you aren’t eating real food.
- Know the Difference between Marketing and Education
Marketing is not education. You must educate yourself on food safety and nutrition, not from a product label, but from credible, educational sources. Food marketers will say and do anything to make you purchase and consume their products. Dangerous food additives are commonly disguised in marketing by catch phrases like “low fat” and ‘to preserve freshness’, ‘added flavoring’ and others.
Understand that the challenge to avoid marketing exists at every turn. Everyone, including family and friends, are marketing for you to eat what they’re serving. However, no pill, drink, powder or processed food compares to real, whole foods, despite what the label or marketer says. Anything that has been taken away from the earth and disguised as food isn’t living and it can’t nourish. That’s the cold hard truth and it’s a truth you must carry with you to every meal.
- Plan and Prepare
If you don’t plan and prepare to eat whole foods, you may very well find yourself eating whatever someone offers you or whichever processed food is on the nearest shelf. There’s no healthy or trustworthy substitute for the planning and preparation of eating real food.
When making the switch from processed food stuffs to real food, learn how to make and carry green smoothies with you at all times in a go-box or go-bag. Spend 15 minutes each evening cutting up raw vegetables and fruits, put them in little baggies in the refrigerator, and keep a few in your “go-cooler” with the smoothies. These simple planning and prep steps ensure you always have real food at hand and help you avoid the unexpected hunger pangs that often lead to dangerous eating. On those occasions when you’re forced into restaurants with friends or family, eat before you go and bring along a container of homemade salad dressing. Order a salad and use the dressing you’ve brought. These simple preparation steps will protect you from inadvertently poisoning yourself.
- Learn to Say No
Food is the central element of most social gatherings. As such, well-meaning friends and family put much effort into preparing appetizers, main courses and desserts for holidays and other events and will begin offering the spread to you as soon as you walk in the door. They may even be offended if you refuse. Relationships may hang in the balance. What do you do? Hopefully you have eaten before you showed up so you are not at all tempted by the faire. Prepare to say no and stick to your real food lifestyle by memorizing at least three polite, yet firm refusals. Here are some examples:
- “That looks delicious, but I couldn’t eat another bite.
- “Thanks, but I’m actually on a strict diet from my doctor.
- “That looks divine. You must have made that with me in mind but I know my limits and I have none. If I take one bite, I’ll eat the whole tray.”
- “Oh that certainly looks/smells delicious, but I’m afraid I can’t. Thanks, though.”
- “My doctor says I’m allergic to all cooked foods so I’m following his plan right now. Wish me luck!”
5. Develop New Kitchen Skills
Growing up, most kids are fed the Standard American Diet of meaty main dishes, cooked starches and vegetables, milk to drink and deliciously fatty desserts. Whether from a sense of nostalgia or by simply not knowing any better, most people duplicate this pattern as they age. This has created a recurring cycle of food sickness, and in today’s world of highly processed food stuffs and dangerous additives, most families are literally poisoning themselves with each bite.
Learning to approach mealtimes and the kitchen in a new way is essential when switching to real foods. By learning to change the way you prepare meals, you’re taking control of your health and the health of your family and will no longer be replicating the cycle of food sickness. This learning curve may include investing in new kitchen equipment like a Vita-Mix or a BlendTec, a food processor, a quality juicer, dehydrator and raw food/whole food recipe books. The transition recipes found in most whole food and raw foods recipe books are excellent places to begin. Once the taste-buds have regained their health and sensitivity, eating becomes so much simpler.
6. Join Us
We encourage all people to leave the Standard American Diet in favor of eating the real food that was created to nourish us. At Faithful Palate, you’ll learn how to make nutrient-dense smoothies, filling and satisfying salads and uncompromising desserts. Our readers learn how to cook whole foods and how to utilize raw foods. No poisons and no pre-processing. You don’t have to be a vegetarian, a vegan, a raw-foodist or carry another foodie label. Just come as you are and begin adding nutrient-dense recipes to your daily repertoire. Join the movement of keeping and reclaiming our health one meal at a time.