Food Ingredients You Should Look Out For and Avoid
Being that today’s supermarket shelves are mostly filled with packaged, processed foods, and filled with dangerous chemicals, it’s important, now more than ever, to be aware of what’s being added to these foods and how it affects the body, so that you can be more conscious of what to purchase that will do the least harm to you and your family. These foods no doubt are convenient to use, for today’s busy families, but unfortunately the health risks exist by eating these foods, especially if eaten on a regular basis. Since there are more than 3,000 chemicals used in food processing (yes, that many 🙁 ), this will be a list of some of the biggest and well known offenders.
GMO’s – This can probably be categorized as ‘It’s hidden from the label, but still there’ or ‘It’s not on labels right now but you still need to know’. According to the Non- GMO Project ( http://www.nongmoproject.org/ ), “GMO’s are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.” With that kind of description, it’s pretty clear as to why it would not be beneficial to the human body. There’s countless studies that have been done, that have proven the harmful effects that GMO’s have on the human body (and lab animals as well). There’s so much to say about GMO’s that there’s just not enough space for. Do your research into this and do be aware that labels are not required to disclose if there are GMO’s in your food, although it’s an ongoing battle to make that a law. Also be aware of the most widely used GMO’s in processed foods, such as Corn and Soy (including their derivatives).
Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup – This is a widely used ingredient, derived obviously from corn. Because at least 88 percent of the corn grown in the US is GMO, then that would be the number one reason not to use it. Corn syrup is 100 percent glucose, which can also be another reason to avoid it, because if your glucose level is continually high, your blood sugar will be high (easy to do, if your diet is rich in processed foods) and your pancreas will be overworked. High Fructose Corn Syrup is the more commonly used corn syrup…in fact, it seems to be in almost every processed food and drink (e.g. sodas and juices). The problem with HFCS, besides it being derived from corn, is that it goes straight to your liver, creating a toxic load (again, the more processed food – rich your diet is, the more this will be a problem) and raises your triglycerides, which increases your risk for diseases such as heart disease. Again, the bottom line is to avoid it as much as possible or eat a very minimal amount of it.
Mono Sodium Glutamate – MSG is added to lots of processed foods to give it a salty taste. Glutamate is an amino acid and also a neurotransmitter, which simply means that it is a chemical messenger that can cause confusion within the body, including the hormones, and cause nerve cells to react improperly. Besides that, even though amino acids are good, consumption of MSG, which is found in so many foods, can cause an excess of glutamate and when that happens, it can convert to another neurotransmitter called GABA. The body then wants to fight off the excess of those neurotransmitters. This can be a factor in the formation of diseases. It tricks our brain and other organs into initiating certain processes. For example, it triggers the pancreas from releasing insulin when there’s no sugar for insulin to process, resulting in a flood of insulin and a drop in blood sugar. Then you’re hungry an hour later, eating more.
Maltodextrin – Maltodextrin is rarely given the bad press that HFCS or GMO’s are given. It’s made from rice or corn starch. It’s also classified as Corn Syrup Solids. It gives a fat like body to foods, and increases the shelf life of foods. It’s a high glycemic additive, and it gets absorbed by the body quickly, which means that if you don’t use that energy up fast, it will convert to fat, so in that regard, it acts very much like sugar.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils – Also known as Trans Fats, raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol. When that happens, your risk for heart disease increases. Hydrogenation, which is the process of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, helps prolong shelf life. Even though a package says ‘No Trans Fats’, beware. The US doesn’t require it to be labeled containing Trans Fats if the amount is .5 grams per serving. Even though that’s a small amount, again, like all of the other ingredients listed here, the more you eat them, the greater the risk of your health being harmed.
Food Coloring – One of the most disturbing of the bunch, food dyes and colorings are rampant in processed foods. They’re not only in the obvious, like kids cereals (Fruity Pebbles, for example) but even in meats and oranges dipped in dye to make them look more vibrant. Food dyes have been known to cause disturbances in behavior in children, making them hyper and causing disorders like ADHD. They also can cause allergic reactions, cancer, and birth defects. Beware of any colors with a number next to it, in the ingredients label (Red 40 for instance).
There are so many more food ingredients that can be listed here, but these are a good starting point to become educated and aware of the chemicals that are in processed foods these days. It’s our intention that you take this and make it a mission to study the ingredients that are in the foods you buy and its effect on the human body. Awareness is key and leads to education. Being conscious of your food consumption is a huge factor in improving your health and taking control. The plethora of additives that manufacturers use to prolong shelf life, or appeal to the eyes and taste buds is shocking but ultimately, it’s the consumer who has the last say on whether a product fails or succeeds. On the other side of the coin, being educated about all of this can make one feel overwhelmed and left thinking, ‘What can I eat, then? There’s nothing left!’, and with that, we’d like to remind you and encourage you that there’s so many options left…there are a growing list of food manufacturers that don’t use chemicals or very little of them. It takes research and investigation. There’s also the option of making things from scratch, the way it used to be, and what is proving to be one of the safest ways of eating nowadays.