Friday, February 15, 2008

Are Food Additives Really Dangerous?

Many years ago, as I began expanding my education in health and nutrition, I considered getting a degree as a dietitian. After studying the community college curriculum and classes offered, what convinced me that this was not the education I needed was the praising of our food additives and unhealthy food processes such as pasteurization, microwave cooking, etc.

There are all kinds of reasons for food additives in much of what is in our markets and restaurants today. Many of them are added to prolong shelf life or preserve foods, enhance flavors, enhance or make colorful, stimulate, etc. However, much of this really has to do with increasing the profits of the producer, without the consideration of the health of the consumer. Most of us eat these food additives blindly, not knowing or understanding the long term consequences or effects on our state of health. Here are some examples of many common additives with their possible harmful side effects listed.

· Sweeteners - Even though sugar is void of nutrients and considered a drug because it only causes chemical reactions in the body, our much worse choices are the unhealthy sugar substitutes, or artificial sweeteners. Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Neotame, etc.) can cause brain damage, central nervous system disturbances, menstrual difficulties, and brain damage in an unborn fetus. Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low) is proven to cause cancer.

Suggestions: The biggest problem is in the processed foods. If you prepare your foods with wholesome ingredients, you will avoid these additives totally. Good sweeteners include: raw honey, stevia, date sugar (or just pure dates), brown rice syrup, agave nectar, and fructose to some degree. These are sweeteners that are have some nutritional benefits and work with the body.

· Preservatives - BHA & BHT can cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, behavioral problems, infertility, birth defects, weaken the immune system and more. Nitrites and nitrates, though considered dangerous by the FDA are added to prevent botulism in meats. However they form powerful cancer causing agents in the stomach and can cause headaches, migraines, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
· FD&C Colors - most of the colors are derived from coal tar and contain small amount of lead and arsenic. They are potential carcinogenic contaminants and can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, schizophrenia, as well as other attention deficit disorders.

Suggestions: Avoid ready made processed foods and meats, and you will be able to avoid these harmful additives. There are many healthy brands with more wholesome ingredients that do not contain these additives

· Food enhancers - free glutamates are found in bouillon, broths, flavorings of all sorts, soy protein seasonings, whey proteins, and in a multiple of foods that even advertise NO MSG. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is found in a large variety of processed foods as well such as chewing gum, drinks, medications, infant formula, low fat milk, drinks, and much more. These enhancers can cause headaches, nausea, brain and nervous disorders, high blood pressure, allergic reactions, and reproductive disorders.
· Caffeine - psychoactive, addictive drug which can cause fertility problems, birth defects, heart disease, depression, behavioral changes, insomnia, and nervousness.

Remember: the more processing a food goes through, the lower the nutritional content and the higher the additives to preserve, enhance, and get you addicted. Foods are meant to nourish and heal the body, not create sickness - and additives are doing just that. Read labels and choose foods and products that have minimal processing, but are wholesome and nutritious to the body.

Avoiding unhealthy foods can sometimes be a challenge as it usually means changing some habits. If you would like to know how to make this transition easier for yourself as well as your family in an easy step by step, hands-on experience, then register for one of the upcoming Health Retreats now at:
Women's Health Retreat:
Couple's Health Retreat:

For your best health,
Erleen Tilton

Resource: FOOD ADDITIVES: A Shopper's Guide To What's Safe & What's Not, Christine Hoza Farlow