And it’s SCARY
“Food additives” is a blanket term for the countless chemical concoctions designed to mimic natural flavors. A single artificial flavoring can be created from hundreds of individual chemicals, and since the 1950s, the number of food additives allowed in food has grown from hundreds to thousands here in the US.
GRAS (generally recognized as safe) is a term that was coined in 1958 and became the standard for how the FDA recognized and regulated food production. The standard before GRAS required food companies to submit all ingredients of a product to the FDA for review. Since it seemed to Congress that that would be wasting the FDA’s time to review every ingredient, they added a loophole allowing companies to determine that their ingredients were GRAS, therefore not needing FDA approval. In other words, a company can hire an industry insider to evaluate a chemical, determine if it meets safety standards, and deem it GRAS. Now there is no need to inform the FDA of all the ingredients. Many of the companies making the additives are headquartered overseas where food regulations are vastly different than that of the United States. What could go wrong?
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There are so many additives it would take forever to cover them all. Let’s hit on a few of the most well-known and common ones.
Artificial colors: There are 10 different colors used in food processing. The food industry adds millions of pounds of artificial food dyes into our food supply every year. (Source) …. Our food is so colorful that we pay little attention to what makes cola brown, why our cereals have so many brightly colored marshmallows, or even why our red meat is so, well, red.
You may have noticed some of those colors on ingredient labels like Blue No. 1, Green No. 3, Red No. 3, Yellow No. 5, and so on. These color additives contain various chemicals and are commonly derived from petroleum products. Reported reactions to artificial dyes include: ADHD, confusion, ear infections, eczema, hyperactivity, itchiness, mood swings, and sleep disturbance, just to name a few.
Aspartame: This sugar substitute is popular with dieters as is it is a common ingredient in many of the artificial sweeteners that we may put in our morning coffee or tea. Some proven side effects of consuming aspartame are headaches, mood changes, dizziness, and skin and gastrointestinal issues. There are a lot more reported side effects like vision issues and weight gain, and it is a highly controversial additive. Dr. Mercola has extensive articles on the subject. (source)
MSG (monosodium glutamate): MSG is everywhere and goes by a variety of different names such as monopotassium glutamate, calcium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, yeast extract, yeast food, yeast nutrient, autolyzed yeast, gelatin, textured protein, and soy protein isolate. MSG is also in anything labeled as hydrolyzed or hydrolyzed protein.
MSG is not just in your Chinese takeout. It’s in many salty processed meats, salad dressings, bouillon cubes, barbecue sauce, broths, gelatin, some spice mixes, many baby formulas, and more. When you see the term “natural flavors,” then you can bet that MSG is generally in there.
MSG is an excitotoxin and reportedly linked to a host of health issues, including fibromyalgia, obesity, fatty liver, high insulin and blood sugar, high cholesterol, liver toxicity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, disturbance to the gut-brain connection, and neurological and brain damage.
NOTE: The Medical Definition of excitotoxic is being, involving, or resulting from the action of an agent that binds to a nerve cell receptor, stimulates the cell, and damages it or causes its death. (source)
Hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oil: Also known as trans fats, hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils increase our risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and have an unhealthy effect on our cholesterol. Many doctors will tell you that trans fat is the worst type of fat you can eat. The FDA has determined that partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil is no longer “generally recognized as safe” and should be phased out of the production of food.
Most trans fat is formed through the industrial process of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil that then causes the oil to become solid at room temperatures. This is done because it’s cheaper to produce than butter and has a longer shelf life. Many restaurants use partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil in their deep fryers due to cost and because it doesn’t have to be changed as often as other oils.
The manufactured variety of trans fat that is found in partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil has no known health benefit. This is why so many people are using alternatives such as olive oil and coconut oil in their cooking. If you think that canola oil is okay, you might want to read the label because canola oil comes both fully hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated.
High-fructose corn syrup: Manufactured mostly from genetically-modified corn, high-fructose corn syrup is definitely not natural despite what you might hear. To begin with, it’s metabolized differently than glucose. Glucose can be stored in the liver as a carbohydrate for later conversion to energy. Fructose, not so much. It is rapidly metabolized in the liver, flooding metabolic pathways and leading to increased triglyceride synthesis and fat storage in the liver. Increased fat storage in the liver may contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The quantity of “hidden” fructose in processed foods is startling, and there are several links between the consumption of HFCS and obesity. It may increase your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, leaky gut, and heart disease. Research found that the fructose in HFCS may promote cancer growth, specifically pancreatic cancer. (source)…
While that was the short list, it does give us a good idea about the general health risks that are possible from consuming just some of the chemicals that we commonly find our food. Not to mention the synergistic effect of mixing them all up and consuming many all at once.
Trying to avoid these chemicals is impossible if we are eating from packages, cans, boxes and bottles, which is why it is so important to eat organically as much as possible.
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Author: Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background. Medical Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. All content available on or through this website are for general informational purposes only…… The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The owner of this website is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or products that you obtain through this site.