Not losing weight but eating "healthy"? Losing weight but feel terrible? Developed a healthy diet but then were diagnosed with chronic health issues? Experiencing skin issues you never had before? Or what about anxiousness in you or your kids? Chances are, if it's not genetics or your environment, it's YOUR FOOD.
It's not enough anymore to use packaging, branding marks, and appearance to judge whether a food is healthy. You have to read the ingredients label!
Knowledge is power... last time we talked about five common food additives. Go back and read it here after this one if you'd like to get even more insight! In the meantime, here is our next five!
What is it?: No we aren't talking about carrots. What we are referring to here is synthetic beta carotene added into foods. Labels will not call out synthetic, however, and their sources are anything but natural. In fact, synthetic beta-carotene comes from benzene (read below with sodium benzoate about this bad boy), a component of crude oil, which is a carcinogen to the human body. It is used in foods to add color. Manufacturers use the synthetic form of beta carotene often simply because it is cheap.
Why are they dangerous?: While most studies have been done in those who are smokers, synthetic beta carotene was found to increase the chances of someone obtaining cancer by 8%. That's a pretty large jump!
What is it?: Ever heard of the brand Splenda? That's sucralose! It's a sugar alcohol used to replace real sugar in everything from sauces to sodas that claims to have zero effect on insulin levels.
Why are they dangerous?: In reality, sucralose, like other sugar alcohols, doesn't get broken down by the body (hence why it's zero calories), meaning it just hangs out in your intestines. While it's there, it throws a street party having nothing to do and nowhere to go, which can cause gas build up in the short term, and more long-term, damage to the lining of your intestinal tract. Sugar alcohols also don't provide our body ANY energy at all, but our blood sugar does rise in anticipation of what it thinks is sugar coming down the pipe. Your taste buds get that hit of sweetness, and receptors in your tonsils analyze it, telling your brain, "Somethin' sweet is comin'!! Get ready! This is gonna be good!". But the energy never arrives. In disappointment, your brain will fire off hormones telling you to eat more of the sweet stuff, so it can get the energy it was promised. This is called CRAVINGS! The more you eat, the more at risk you are of not just sugar fixations, but long-term damage to your intestines, and even shrinkage of the liver, kidneys and thymus gland (part of your immune system), which are all designed to protect you from toxins and harmful invaders! Sounds suspicious to me!
What is it?: Thickening agent used to provide silky texture to dairy-free milks, sauces, dressings, and soups.
Why are they dangerous?: Guar gum is designed to change the texture of a food by swelling. It can swell 10-20 times in size. And that reaction can occur within your intestinal tract. This means, it can interfere with digestion and movement of food through the bowels, generating gas, cramping and intestinal discomfort. Small amounts of this food may be okay, but recurring, anything that interferes with normal bowel function like this can create compounded issues overtime like Leaky Gut and IBS.
What is it?: A common man-made preservative used in those things that take forever to go bad, such as salad dressings (check your Walden Farms!), condiments, carbonated beverages, and even medications. It works by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.
Why are they dangerous?: When stored for long periods, exposed to light or heat, or combined with sugar-substitutes or Vitamin C, sodium benzoate can convert to benzene. Benzene is a carcinogen that breaks down our DNA and can eventually lead to cancer.
What is it?: Another food preservative that prevents the growth of mold and yeast. Also used in cosmetics!
Why is it dangerous?: This additive is linked to skin conditions such as eczema, so if you're experiencing break-outs, dermatitis, or rashes you've never traced the source of, check your foods such as hummus, cheese, carbonated beverages, dried fruit, yogurt, and canned fruits or veggies. Also, check your bathroom. Cosmetics, shampoos, and even contact solution can possibly use this.
Knowledge is meaningless until you do something with it. So just like last time, I am going to give you some homework! Check your food, check your kids food, or anyone you love. And if you do see some ingredients from this list, throw it out if it's a commonly used item. Find a healthier alternative. If it's something only used sparingly, then by all means use your best judgement. The less of this stuff we consume, the better! More additive information to come in our final Part III.