Category Archives: Food

Food Additives – Are You Playing Russian Roulette With Your Health?

Would you believe that the average American family spends a staggering 90 percent of its food budget on processed foods? And if you check the label of most processed foods you’ll find an array of preservatives, artificial food additives, flavor enhancers, and food colorings. Now instead of farm-fresh foods, chemical additives from processed foods have become a significant part of the American diet.

Food manufactures include these additives to make their products taste and look more appealing and to increase the product’s shelf life. After all, when you buy strawberry yogurt or ice cream, you expect it to have a reddish color and not a bland color. What we are not told is that some of the common food additives in everyday products can have long-term negative consequences on our health.

Below is a list of thirteen food additives that should be avoided whenever possible:

> Acesulfame K (potassium) – This artificial sweetener (200 times sweeter than sugar) is typically found in gelatin deserts, chewing gum, diet sodas, and baked goods. The testing for this relatively new additive has not been very extensive, but early indications are that it may cause cancer in laboratory rats.

> Artificial Food Colorings: Blue 1,2; Green 3; Red 3; Yellow 6 – These food coloring are commonly found in many of the foods on the supermarket shelves. Blue 1 and 2 have been linked to a small risk of cancer in mice. These are found in baked goods, candy, beverages, and even pet food. Green 3 has been linked to bladder cancer. It can be found in beverages and candy. Red 3 has been found to promote growth of thyroid tumors in rats. It is generally found in baked goods, candy, and fruit cocktail. Yellow 6 has been linked to tumors in the kidneys and adrenal glands. It is found in baked goods, candy, beverages, gelatin, and sausage.

> Aspartame – This sweetener is typically found in no sugar diet foods such as diet sodas, drink mixes, gelatins, and low-calorie desserts. It is also sold under the brand names of Nutrasweet and Equal. The compounds in aspartame can break down into a highly reactive chemical that damages cells. Some possible side effects include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and breathing problems.

> BHA and BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene) – These are preservatives typically found in everyday household foods such as vegetable oils, potato chips, cereals, and chewing gum. They help retard fats and oils from becoming rancid. They have an oxidizing affect, which can produce potentially cancer causing reactions in the cells.

> Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – MSG is an amino acid used to enhance the flavor in such items as chips, salad dressings, frozen entrees, and soups. MSG allows manufacturers to reduce the amount of real ingredients they put in their products. It has been found to cause brain nerve cell damage in animal studies. In humans, nausea and headaches are possible side effects.

> Olestra – This synthetic fat can be found in some brands of potato chips. It is not absorbed by the digestive system, so it has no calories. Possible side effects include abdominal cramps, gas, and diarrhea and loose bowels. Olestra has been shown to inhibit the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble carotenoids from vegetable and fruits.

> Potassium Bromate – This additive is used to increase the volume in breads and rolls. Animal studies have linked it to cancer and it may pose a potential risk for humans.

> Propyl Gallate – This preservative is sometimes found in chewing gum, meat products, vegetable oils, potato sticks, and chicken soup base. It helps slow down spoilage in oils and fats. Results from animal studies suggest that it may cause cancer.

> Saccharin – This artificial sweetener is 350 times sweeter than sugar and is found in sweetener packs, soft drinks, diet and “no sugar added” products. Animal studies have shown that it is linked to urinary bladder cancer. The diet-food industry acknowledges that saccharin may be linked to cancer in rats, but believes that the same results would not occur in humans.

> Sodium Chloride – Commonly know as salt, this additive is used to enhance the flavor of food. But excessive use of salt or consuming foods high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure, kidney problems, heart attack and stroke.

> Sodium Nitrate (or Sodium Nitrite) – This additive is used to preserve, enhance color, and improve the flavor of ham, lunch meat, hotdogs, corn beef, and smoked fish. Meat processors use nitrate and nitrite because they stabilize the red color in meat (otherwise it would look gray) and help prevent the growth of botulism causing bacteria. Studies have suggested these additives may cause certain types of cancer.

> Trans Fat – This additive is typically found in food served at fast food restaurants and certain crackers, icing, and microwave popcorn. Trans fats may cause heart problems.

> White Sugar – Sugar is a common ingredient in baked goods, crackers, cereals, desserts, sauces, and many other processed foods. The average person consumes about 65 pounds of sugar per year. Excessive sugar can lead to obesity and other harmful health conditions.

Unfortunately, these food additives are present in many of the foods on the supermarket shelves. Check the labels and if you see one or more of these are present. If so, a health-conscious shopper should consider other alternative products. If you see other additives that concern you, do a search for them on the internet and you likely find a description of the additive along with any possible harmful side effects.

What Are Organic Foods: What’s the Difference?

If you are just beginning to enjoy healthy living and transforming your life by making as many healthy lifestyle choices as possible you may be wondering what are organic foods. What’s the difference between conventionally raised foods and organic foods? What makes them so special and worth more money?

The answers are varied, and when you find out what makes organic foods better than conventionally raised products, you may find yourself hurrying to make the transition to healthier food choices. Here is an easy to understand guide to what are organic foods, that explains how they are different, and why they are better.

What are Organic Foods? – Raised Without Chemical Pesticides and Herbicides
Harsh chemical pesticides and herbicides are designed to do one thing: They have been created to kill. Farmers who use conventional methods spray their crops in order to increase yield, not to make the foods they grow healthier. When you choose organic foods, you are assured that these chemicals so not find their way into your own personal food chain. Best of all, you can feel good knowing that the healthy food choices you are making are not having a negative effect on the environment.

What are Organic Foods? – Raised Without Genetic Modification
GMO’s, or Genetically Modified Organisms, have been altered by scientists to display certain traits. For instance some plants, especially corn, which is a component in most conventional processed foods, is commonly engineered to resist pesticides and to tolerate unhealthy soil conditions. In some cases, these plants have been engineered to act as pesticides themselves. Is this something you really want to eat? The only way you can be sure you are not eating something made with GMO’s is to eat organic foods, including meat, eggs, and dairy.

Conventional Foods Are Often Harmful to the Environment
Chemical fertilizers sourced from petroleum are often used to augment soil which has been weakened by cycle after cycle of growing the exact same thing. These chemical fertilizers not only increase dependence on petroleum and affect the prices we pay for everything, they also end up leaching into the soil and groundwater. Major fish kills in rivers like the Shenandoah have been blamed on toxic fertilizers.

What are Organic Foods? – Animal Products That Do Not Contain Hormones and Antibiotics
Animals living in close proximity to one another on factory farms are often fed antibiotics in order to prevent them from contracting illnesses that don’t occur when they live in normal, uncrowded and natural conditions. These antibiotics can make their way into your food, and into your bloodstream. The medical community is concerned that this overuse of antibiotics may cause your own resistance to the drugs to be increased, so that if you need to take a course of antibiotics for an illness, they may not work as they were designed to.

Some animals are given hormones to make them produce more food faster – for instance, dairy cattle are often given hormones to cause them to produce greater quantities of milk. In addition, they are fed food that contains non-organic elements. In many cases, they are given food that contains animal proteins, even though they are not designed to eat these substances. These drugs and hormones, as well as the GMOs and other harmful substances fed to factory farm animals can find their way into your body, and the only way to avoid them is to choose organic foods.

If you are concerned about your health, and want to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, then all these things can stand in the way. Now that you know what are organic foods, you can take a proactive role in your own health, by limiting your exposure to harmful chemicals – and you’ll be helping the planet, too.