The health food industry is getting more confusing than ever. "Healthier" foods are touted as "high protein", "made with organic ingredients", have little green leaves on their packaging, claim "zero added sugar", are gluten-free, keto this and keto that, cauliflower crust (low carb! yay?!), veggie tots (also low carb and hey, veggies!! So it must be good!), and the list goes on.
It's getting harder and harder to spot what's actually healthy versus what's just another altered form of convenience food.
Manufacturers know that the majority of their foods get sold off of marketing, their "appearance", and they know the key words that grab the average consumer's attention. They HAVE to know this, after all, they need to make MONEY to survive. Manufacturer's rely on the ignorance of the consumer to make majority of their product sales. It's only when the consumer market puts pressure on the manufacturing industry demanding some responsibility that changes actually take place. And again, they react to the consumer to make sure they don't lose their base, and can KEEP making money.
The common denominator here is MONEY. Remember this every time you shop...asking, "what's in it for the manufacturer?" Another thing we should all practice is READING INGREDIENTS LABELS, because this is where the real health of a food is determined. Often-times you will find manufacturers using less than healthy CHEMICAL & CHEAP ingredients to make their food TASTE BETTER & LAST LONGER, at the expense of the consumer's long-term health.
Not losing weight but eating "healthy"? Losing weight but feel terrible? Developed a healthy diet but then were diagnosed with chronic health issues? Chances are, if it's not genetics or your environment, it's YOUR FOOD. So I am starting a series to explain some of the most popular food additives to watch out for.
Knowledge is power... so let's start with our first five!
Artificial Food Coloring (usually with a # next to it)
What is it?: Quite simply, these are used just to make food look prettier...........(you should see my face as write this).
Why are they dangerous?: Banned in Europe, these guys are linked to hyperactivity in children suggesting they can affect our neurological state over time or during key phases of development. These are also some of the worst carcinogens ingested by humans that are linked to health issues such as asthma and cancer.
Sodium Nitrate or Nitrite
What is it?: Intended to prevent bacterial growth, this guy is commonly found in lunch meat, cured meat, and packaged meats like hot dogs.
Why are they dangerous?: This ingredient is one of the worst culprits with the strongest ties to cancer development than any other food-related offender. Sodium nitrate and nitrite react with amino acids under certain conditions to create cancer-causing nitrosamines.
BHT + BHA
What is it?: Derived from petroleum, these guys are designed to extend shelf life by preserving fats.
Why are they dangerous?: Linked to cancer and abnormal cell growth (tumors) in rats and a "reasonably anticipated human carcinogen" according to the Department of Health and Human Services. BHA has been studied to be the more dangerous of the two.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) + Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, and Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (hidden MSG)
What is it?: Used the enhance flavor! Typically you'll also just want to keep eating these foods because of how it overexcites your palette and throws off hunger hormones.
Why are they dangerous?: Links to nerve damage, common health ailments like nausea, diarrhea, and headaches, and even severe health occurrences like seizures.
What is it?: A food additive that derives from red algae used to thicken and stabilize liquids, such as milk and milk substitute products (looking at you nut milk lovers!), or items that become liquids (like protein powders),or other dairy products like ice cream and yogurt.
Why is it dangerous?: Very strong links to ulcers, glucose intolerance, IBD, and more long-term, diabetes and cancer development. This guy reeks havoc on the digestive tract building inflammation in the body which can compound over time. The reason for this reaction is the mechanical process of incorporating undegraded carageenan into our foods begins to break down carageenan, thus it is slightly degraded once it enters our body. Degraded carageenan has always been known to be dangerous for consumption, but science never caught up to the fact that the manufacturing and digesting processes could degrade this ingredient reducing it's state to that of the toxic version. Acid digestion then further breaks down that carageenan. It's advised to stay away from all forms of carageenan. Today, you'll actually begin seeing certain manufacturers calling this out "carageenan-free" on their labels now due to this recent enlightenment.
So what are you going to do now? Perhaps check the labels of your foods, anything that doesn't come from a plant or the ground. 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, but this is a great place to start.