Who wants to read those headlines? Not me. Why? They carry painful truths and I don’t really care to think about them. But that’s pretty irresponsible, isn’t it. It’s time to face facts – the food we are consuming as a whole in this nation is less and less “food” and more and more “food-like”.
All over the media we can see reports of the ways our Americanized diet is doing us harm physically. Our children are becoming unhealthy and obese at early ages and may very well be the first generation to live less long than their parents. So sad.
So the solution is simple really…eat whole foods (as close to their original form as humanly possible), eliminate highly processed foods and artificial additives and get out there and move!
In researching food additives, I have found a list of the 5 worst food additives which all seem to agree upon in the nutrition industry – here they are:
- HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup – This ingredient replaced sugar in sodas and snack foods about 30 years ago. Shortly thereafter, incidences of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes began to rise. The makers of HFCS will tell you that your body cannot recognize the difference between HFCS and regular table sugar, nutritionists tell us otherwise. You will be surprised how many foods in your pantry contain this. Go check.
- Artificial Sweetners – Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose – When we are on a weight loss path, we try to cut calories wherever we can. Many of us turn to diet sodas, sugar-free products, etc. This is not a healthy move. These artificial sweeteners are highly processed chemicals that can actually have a negative effect on your metabolism and have been linked to cases of cancer, tinnitus, headaches and neurological disorders.
- Benzoate Preservatives: We all want to have our food last as long as possible so we don’t throw our money away. Good in theory, not so good nutritionally. Foods have a natural shelf life and when preservatives are added to extend their natural life – they become, well, unnatural. Not good for our bodies. But preservatives like BHT, BHA and TBHQ can throw off estrogen levels in women, lead to behavioral issues, allergies, asthma, cancer and other serious illnesses.
- Hydrogenated Oils: These oils are used by food producers to stabilize products intended to sit on shelves for long periods of time. Trans fats are created in a lab for a fraction of the cost of natural oils or fats. They’re also known to raise bad cholesterol levels while decreasing healthy levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease. I had a nutritionist tell me when we consume these, “It’s like injecting plastic in your veins”. Gross.
- MSG and Artificial Flavors: Monosodium glutamate is found in lots of restaurant food, especially Asian foods. It is also found in snacks, frozen and canned goods and can often be labeled as “natural flavoring” but its effects are anything but natural. Some of the more common side effects are: headaches, nausea, allergies and rapid heart rate. Other artificial flavors are also linked to health risks such as thyroid disorders, allergies and behavioral issues.
Now I’m not claiming to be a scientist or a nutritionist, but after learning these things over and over again from experts, I am convinced and I wanted to share what I had learned. Whole foods are best. Leave the chemicals in the lab, thank you.
Here are few informational sources I recommend:
- ‘Food Rules’ a book by Michael Pollan (An eater’s manual)
- ‘Food Inc.’ a documentary by Michael Pollan (Lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry. Can be found on line and at most libraries.)
- ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ a documentary by Joe Cross (available on Netflix)
- ‘King Corn’ a documentary by Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis (the effect of corn in our diets and on the fast food industry – also at Netflix)
I have learned a lot from these resources and encourage you to check them out. I’m hoping it changes what you eat and what’s eating YOU.