Processed food is full of artificial additives. Some of them improve flavor, while others extend shelf life. Most of these food additives are harmful to health. Unless you never touch processed foods, it is very hard to avoid all food additives. This is a list of the ones you should work hard at avoiding, because of how common they are and how damaging to your family’s health they can be.

1. Aspartame 

Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names Equal, NutraSweet, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure.  Aspartame, (E951) is a neurotoxin, which is believed to be carcinogenic. Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, recently published a book, in which he explained the damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Blaylock uses almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory amino acids (such as aspartic acid) in our food supply are causing serious chronic neurological disorders and multiple other acute symptoms. Known to erode intelligence and affect short-term memory, the components of aspartame may lead to a wide variety of ailments, including diseases such as lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures. In combination with other food additives (mainly artificial colorings,) artificial sweeteners can have a much more potent effect on nerve cells.

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup

Today, 55 percent of sweeteners used in food and beverage manufacturing are made from corn, and the number one source of calories in America is soda, which is loaded in HFCS. HFCS is also found in pretty much all processed foods. Everything from tomato sauce, soup, ketchup, bread and pasta dishes as well as bottled beverages is laced with it. HFCS is typically 42-55% fructose. Unlike glucose, fructose is metabolized differently.Dr. Robert Lustig Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. Some of his findings include:• After eating fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.• Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is “burned up” immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.• The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.• Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.• When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat.• The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.• Glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain’s communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.Recently, a Princeton University research team has demonstrated that HFCS is worse than sugar when it comes to weight gain: rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. This difference may also be relevant to how different sugars affect cancer growth as long term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has also been said to cause more insulin resistance than does consumption of regular sugar. Insulin resistance leads to larger peaks of insulin secretion that tend to spur on cell growth, including cancer cell growth. Read my article about hfcs.

3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) 

Most commonly known as the flavour enhancer in Chinese food, MSG is also an ingredient in many packets found on supermarket shelves including soups, salad dressings, frozen entrees and chips. MSG turns off the receptor that tells your brain it’s full, making you want to consume more food. It also over stimulates the brain, causing a drug-like rush as dopamine levels rise. Side effects include headaches, itchy skin, dizziness and respiratory, digestive, circulatory and coronary concerns. Read my article about MSG.

4. Artificial Colors 

Artificial colours are added to our foods and drinks to enhance their appearance. Most artificial colorings are derived from coal tar and can contain up to 10 parts per million of lead and arsenic and still be generally recognised as safe by the FDA. Artificial colours can cause allergic reactions and hyperactivity and ADD in children, and may contribute to visual and learning disorders or cause nerve damage. Read my article about artificial colors.

5. BHA and BHT 

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) block the process of oil rancidity, extending the shelf life of processed foods. BHA and BHT are preservatives ,found in some common foods such as chewing gum, cereals, candy, vegetable oils and potato chips. These additives seem to affect sleep and appetite, and have been associated with issues, like liver and kidney damage, hair loss, behavioral problems, cancer, fetal abnormalities and growth obstruction.

6. Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite 

Bacon, salami and other processed meat products  are laced with dangerous preservatives called sodium nitrate and nitrate. These compounds are transformed into cancer-causing agents called nirosamines in the stomach. Nitrites have been connected to headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Most importantly, research has linked nitrites with cancer.

7. Pesticides

Most conventional foods contain pesticides. Pesticide accumulation  undermines our ability to resist infectious diseases; it may impair fertility and contribute to miscarriages and birth defects. More than two billion pounds of pesticides are added to the food supply every year and many of the pesticides used throughout the world are carcinogenic.

8. Olestra (Olean) 

Olestra is a calorie-free fat substitute used as an ingredient in snacks and chips. This additive inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. It can also cause diarrhea and even anal leakage.

9. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil 

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is made by infusing vegetable oil with hydrogen. When this happens, the level of polyunsaturated oils is reduced and trans fats are created. Trans fats are used to extend shelf life and are among the most dangerous substances you can consume. Trans fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks, breast and colon cancer, atherosclerosis and elevated cholesterol.

About Dr. Anastasia

Dr. Anastasia Halldin holds a Ph.D in holistic nutrition. She is a homeschooling mother of four boys and a girl. Dr. Anastasia starred on a yoga TV show. She also produced and appeared in thirteen yoga DVDs. Dr. Anastasia speaks four languages and loves doing crafts with her children. She adores sharing her easy healthy family recipes with other mothers.

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