Walking down the grocery isle looking for a healthy snack can make your head spin. So many products with seemingly legit health claims lure us into deception. Some great examples include terms like Whole Grains, Heart Healthy, All Natural, and the, oh so out of style, Low fat. How’s a healthy snack seeker supposed chose?
For starters, READ THE INGREDIENT LIST! I can’t stress this enough. Don’t be fooled by a well-written and beautifully designed sales package. That Heart Healthy granola bar isn’t all that awesome when you see the very commonly used carcinogenic neurotoxic preservative Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydrozytoluene (BHT) in the ingredient list. I know what your thinking. “What the heck is that and how do you pronounce it and why in the world would they put this harmful stuff in my healthy snack?” Well, the short answer, to increase the shelf life in order to make more money. Yep, I said it, MONEY. . It’s disappointing that our food is being poisoned for the sake of profit, but that’s the pretty simple explanation as to how and why many of the toxic chemicals we find in our food supply get there.
But lets not start bashing the food companies just yet. I mean, in their defense, they are a business trying to sell their product and make a profit, right? They wouldn’t be making it, if we weren’t buying, so lets start reading our labels and stop purchasing the foods that are poisoning us, and our children. Of course, its going to take a whole other conversation to sift through the ways that ingredients can be masked by labeling them under a different name or are just not labeled honestly, but for now lets take a look at some of the worst of the worst so we can make some informed choices. Here is a list of my top 8 “shouldn’t be in food” ingredients.
You know the stuff, the artificial sweetener that comes in the little blue packets. Aspartame, AKA NutraSweet and Equal, is commonly found in “diet” foods. In fact, it is found in over 6,000 products, such as diet sodas, sugar-free desserts and snacks foods, yogurts, energy drinks, coffee flavorings, and well, you get the picture. Aspartame is also commonly used in toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewing gum. Okay, now for the scary part. What effects does aspartame have on the body, you ask?
Aspartame is a neurotoxin (toxic to the brain and nervous system) and a carcinogen (causes cancer). The components of this artificial sweetener have been linked to a wide variety of conditions like fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety, headaches, migraines, seizures, and IBS.
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
I think the cat is out of the bag already on this one. I don’t think its new news, but we do have a little more of the specifics on why this natural sweetener is on my top 10 list. I find it interesting that this sugar, that was chemically altered to have higher concentration of fructose, is labeled as natural. We find this sweetener is used in a vast number of products. It can also sneak into the label as corn syrup, corn sugar, or corn syrup.
So we know that high fructose corn syrup is in so many products that I can’t possibly list them all, so what’s the deal? Why is it so much worse than regular table sugar? HFCS is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and more according to Dr Mark Hyman. Without getting too far into the science here, this sugar has been chemically altered to have far more fructose than glucose, which results in a rapid absorption rate. It also doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion or leptin production, which controls appetite. Since these two hormones contribute to regulation of food intake and body weight, this suggests that HFCS may contribute to increased calorie intake and weight gain. Another key point to make here is that fructose is not metabolized the same way as glucose. Fructose gets a VIP pass straight to the liver where it is transformed into triglycerides far more efficiently than any other sugar. In other words, it makes you FAT. And to top it off, high fructose corn syrup contains contaminants, including mercury, that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.
3. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
These oils are also called trans fats and are absolutely the worst kind of fat for you. It’s hidden in most processed packaged foods. What is super scary is that a product can say that it has no trans fats as long as it has less than half a gram per serving. So again, READ YOUR INGREDIENT LIST. If it has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients, it has trans fats.
Trans fats slow your metabolism, cause weight gain, increase inflammation, lowers your good cholesterol and raises your bad, contributes to obesity, diabetes, dementia, strokes, cancer, and heart attacks. The presence of hydrogenated oils in the cell walls actually prevents nutrients from entering the cell, but at the same time allowing pathogens, microbes, and viruses to pass through.
4. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
We touched on this one in the intro a bit, but lets refresh your memory. BHA and BHT are preservatives that have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. They have been banned in just about every other country, except ours. They are found it highly processed packaged foods, such as, potato chips, cereal, and baked goods.
5. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
This chemical is a flavor enhancer that has been most often associated with Chinese food, but it is an additive in many processed foods. If you see this in the ingredient list, it’s time to choose another product. MSG is an excitotoxin and causes your cells to get overexcited to the point that it causes damage or even death to the cells. I don’t know about you, but I need all the brain cells I can keep and I want them functioning optimally, so I’ll pass on this food additive.
6. Sodium Nitrates and Nitrites
These are a common preservative, coloring, and flavoring added to processed deli meats, including the beloved bacon. The issue with nitrates is that they have been linked to various types of cancer. The World Cancer Research concluded that no amount of processed meat is safe. These added preservatives are not worth the increase in your risk for cancer. Chose organic meats that are grass-fed or free-range and look for uncured varieties that contain no nitrites
7. Sodium Sulfites
This is another preservative that can be found in processed foods. It is also commonly found in wine and also dried fruits. Sensitivities to sulfites vary among people, but some can experience symptoms such as headaches, breathing problems, and rashes.
8. Artificial colors and Sweeteners
I know this is a broad category and includes many different names, but the main point here is that chemicals added to food make the body very unhappy and it lets us know that by having nasty symptoms including headaches, nausea, hyperactivity, mental disorders, skin disorders, and organ malfunction. When we let these chemicals become part of our staple food supply, we quite literally poison our cells.
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