Have you ever wondered why a box of mac and cheese has such a long shelf life? It probably has something to do with all those unpronounceable words you find in the ingredient list. Unless your food comes straight out of a pesticide-free garden, most of the foods we purchase at the local market contain additives and preservatives. Food additives add color and shelf life to food, while enhancing taste and appearance.1 While this may be appealing to consumers, it poses some major health risks.
Centuries ago, in order to preserve food, people would use salt, vinegar (pickling), boiling and refrigeration. In more recent times, artificial preservatives became the common approach to food preservation. However, it has been discovered that many food additives once considered safe for human consumption are toxic, with serious ramifications to health such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, trouble breathing, eventually leading to cancer and death.2
A typical American household spends 90% of their food budget on processed food, exposing their bodies to an exorbitant amount of chemicals.3 Some additives are worse than others. The top 4 to avoid are:
1. Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners used today. It is found in foods labeled “diet” or “sugar-free” such as diet or sugar-free sodas, gelatins, cereal, breath mints, iced tea, chewable vitamins, baking goods, various desserts, and even in toothpaste. Aspartame is believed to be carcinogenic and to cause neurological problems such as hallucinations.4
2. Mono-Sodium Glutamate (MSG): This popular but lethal flavor enhancer and preservative is regularly found in potato chips, salad dressings, canned or packaged meat, and even in frozen entrees. Be aware as it is not always listed as MSG, and can often disguise its label as “natural flavoring” or “glutamic acid.”5 MSG is commonly known to elicit severe headaches, nausea, and even vomiting to sensitive individuals. Studies suggest that long-term consumption of MSG can lead to obesity, eye damage, depression, sudden cardiac death, and should be avoided at all cost.6
3. Trans Fat: Found in deep-fried fast foods; a common food enhancer and preservative. Its upside is being inexpensive and giving food a desirable taste and texture. However, it is also considered one of the most dangerous substances that you can consume. Multiple studies are showing that trans fats increase LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and heart disease.7
4. Food coloring and dyes: Primarily found in soda, fruit juices, and salad dressings. Studies show a strong link between dyes and hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children as well as a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have correlated some food colorings to cancer. Food colorings, such as Blue #1 and Blue #2, regularly found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods, can lead to chromosomal damage. Yellow #6, found in American cheese, mac and cheese, candy, and lemonade, has increased the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, and also has the ability to cause chromosomal damage. Long term consumption of Red #3, found in sodas, candy, fruit cocktail, cherry pie mix, ice cream and other such products is correlated with thyroid cancer and a possible interfere with brain-nerve transmission.8
The long list of questionable ingredients found on the back of a package may seem overwhelming, but there’s a very simple way to avoid these chemicals from entering your body: stop eating processed foods. Avoid anything that comes in a sealed package or a can. Familiarize yourself with other harmful additives and learn to substitute processed foods with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and organic whole grains.
“Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have time for illness.” –Edward Stanley.
References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_additive  http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/dangers-of-food-additives.htm  http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-10-food-additives-to-avoid  http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-10-food-additives-to-avoid  http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-10-food-additives-to-avoid  http://naturalhealthezine.com/the-dangers-of-food-additives-and-preservatives/  http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-10-food-additives-to-avoid  http://www.livestrong.com/article/22015-dangerous-additives/ and http://peopleforethicalliving.com/health-and-fitness/food-choices-nutrition/dangerous-food-additives/