There are a number of processed foods on the market that should be avoided, many contain ingredients, preservatives and additives that contain toxic ingredients and could be dangerous to your health when consumed consistently over time.
Many of these foods include ingredients that have been found to cause cancer.
Low-Calorie soft drinks, sodas and sports drinks are full of artificial flavorings such as saccharin, aspartame or sucralose. While these sweet-tasting additives might keep some weight off, consumption of diet drinks has been linked to higher incidents of Type II Diabetes. Initial cancer risk studies in the 70’s and 80’s for these flavorings were for consumption of under 24 ounces and did not test the high levels of additives we now consume daily due to their inclusion in thousands of products.
Finally, use of artificial sweeteners drives a behavior to continue consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value, thereby reducing the reward produced by eating less-sweet whole foods, such as berries and vegetables.
Consuming high amounts of all types of sugars can overload your primary sugar-processing plant: the liver. Although consuming lots of fructose is certainly less dangerous, elevated levels of HFCS (High Frustose Corn Syrup) have been linked to excessively quick weight gain, elevated insulin levels, and more severe liver damage.
Ideally, we should all eat under 12 tb of sugar daily, which is the amount found in a single breakfast cereal or most ‘heatlh’ bars.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Since overly processed food has a tendency to lose its flavor, MSG is used to create artificial flavors instead. While MSG, chemicals and pesticides are a harmful concoction that can destroy your brain’s nerve cells, it is still found in infant formula, low fat milk, gum, drinks, candy, medication, yogurts and vaccines.
MSG can also promote irreversible obesity, due to the fact it affects the body’s natural growth hormones. It can also cause headaches, nausea, lethargy, difficulty breathing, changes to your heart rate and heart palpitations.
MSG is listed on products under the labels ‘monosodium glutamate’, ‘free glutamate’, ‘hydrolyzed proteins’, ‘autolyzed yeast’, ‘yeast extract’, ‘caseinate’ or ‘natural’ or ‘artificial flavors’ (unfortunately the FDA does not regulate what is in “natural or artificial flavors”),
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
If animal or plant based produce is listed as a GMO, this means that changes have been made to their DNA through genetic modification. This is not an uncommon concept, especially when we consider the fact the majority of corn, soybeans, canola and cotton crops in the United States are genetically modified, one of which is sure to be found in almost any processed food on the market.
Adding GMO ingredients to a product can increase toxicity and susceptibility to allergies and put consumers at a higher risk of cancer.
While there are a number of worries relating to the use of GMOs, there is also a risk of food shortage if they were to be banned.
Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate
These are preservatives, commonly added to processed or canned foods, specifically meat, such as corned beef, ham, hot dogs, lunch meat, bacon and sausage. They have been linked to cancers of the stomach and pancreas.
Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)
This oil is used to keep the oil based flavorings in soft drinks suspended. Bromate is a poison, of which just two ounces of a 2% solution could dangerously poison a child.
In adults, BVO can lower the immune system and diminish histamines, making the individual more susceptible to allergic reactions.
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
When vegetable oil reacts with hydrogen, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is the result, causing the level of polyunsaturated oils to reduce and creating unhealthy trans fats in their place. These trans fats are found in snack foods, fried foods, baked goods and other processed foods. They are linked to obesity, heart disease, certain cancers, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Many claim that high fructose corn syrup is no worse than consuming sugar, however the fact it contains free form monosaccharides in the form of fructose and glucose, it is not the biological equivalent of sugar and cannot be compared. Sugar has a glycosidic bond, allowing the body to break it down. HFCS on the other hand, does not have the same attribute.
Due to the taxing effects high fructose corn syrup can have on the liver, it can be just as damaging as alcohol and other toxins. It is suggested you keep your total consumption of HFCS to under 25 grams daily.
Although it can seem worrying upon learning the effects of the ingredients found in our everyday staples, they can be easily avoided. Plan your meals in advance and take a look at the ingredients you’ll need to create them. Spend some time looking up each product online, finding alternatives that will allow you to successfully create delicious recipes without putting your family’s health at risk.