If science fiction movies have taught us one thing, it’s this: don’t mess with Mother Nature. Of course, being humans, we are extremely curious and like to test our boundaries, discovering what we can and cannot do. With all the wonderful advances we’ve made thanks to science, we’ve also brought into the world some pretty harmful toxins that have no place in nature, and therefore should have no place in our bodies.
In recent years, more and more people have been advocating for an organic lifestyle; one without additives, processed ingredients, and harmful chemicals. In addition, the FDA keeps track of what goes into our food and alerts the public to any potentially harmful products. With these protections in place, you’d think we’re all perfectly safe – but we’re not. These sneaky additives make their way into our homes and stomachs, doing the damage we can’t see until it’s too late.
Protect yourself by avoiding these ingredients, all of which are found in every grocery store in the U.S :
MSG has a pretty bad rap, and some say it’s undeserved. MSG stands for Monosodium glutamate, and many argue that because naturally occurring glutamate isn’t dangerous, MSG isn’t either. However, this ingredient isn’t naturally occurring. Found most often in canned veggies, soups, and processed meats, MSG is made by fermenting starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses. It’s been known to cause adverse reactions like headaches, upset stomach, weak limbs, burning mouth, muscle tightness, and flushing. In addition, it overstimulates the nervous system, causing inflammation – the root of most health problems. Research into the effects of MSG found that this overstimulation can kill cells.
The FDA describes MSG as “Generally Recognized as Safe.” Not very reassuring terminology, is it?
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Ah, the infamous HFCS! It’s a common sweetener made from corn starch and is found most often in soda and fruity drinks. The reason it is used so much is that it’s cheaper than regular sugar. Of course, cheaper doesn’t translate to safer. No sugar is very good for you, but the “fructose” part leads to the production of fat in the liver, which in turn leads to diabetes. In addition, since HFCS is found in so many products, Americans consume an astonishing amount – almost more than other types of sugar. Higher consumption of anything unhealthy will lead to an increased risk of health problems. In general, use the presence of high fructose corn syrup as a tip-off that what you’re looking at is low quality, highly processed junk. Grab yourself an apple instead.
Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite
There’s quite a bit of debate about sodium nitrates and nitrites. Used as preservatives in cured meats, they’ve been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. When heated above a certain temperature, sodium nitrate creates nitrosamines – a known carcinogen. The FDA has ordered that Vitamin D be added to any product containing sodium nitrate in order to avoid this.
While nitrites are naturally occurring and even found in vegetables, it is recommended you limit your intake due to growing research showing a link between high amounts of nitrites and cancer. Remember, even natural substances can be lethal in high doses.
Yet another ingredient created in a lab! Sodium Benzoate is found in fermented foods, carbonated sodas, salad dressing, and most acidic products. In small amounts, it isn’t terrible, but the real concern is in how much of it is added to our foods, and how much of what it’s added to we consume. According to the FDA, the amount used to preserve foods is low and thus safe, but it should never be combined with vitamin C or E. This combination causes benzene, a known carcinogen, to form. So, in order to avoid a carcinogen, all you have to do is avoid mixing vitamin C with salad dressing, condiments, jams, salsa, shredded cheese, pickles, soda, toothpaste, mouthwash…you get the picture. Instead of worrying about every mouthful, just get rid of it.
Besides cancer, sodium benzoate also triggers allergic reactions, deprives cells of oxygen, and worsens the symptoms of ADHD in kids.
Food dyes make all the pretty colors you hardly ever find in nature that are in/on foods like baked goods, cereals, fruity drinks, etc. On ingredient labels, these dyes appear as Red #3, Yellow #5, Blue #40 and so on. Many of the treats containing food dyes are marketed towards children, who frighteningly enough are more susceptible to the side effects. The three most widely used dyes (Yellow #5, Yellow #6, and Red #40) contain benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, which have both been linked to cancer. In addition, studies have shown that dyes make kids hyperactive and reduce their ability to focus. Oh, and did you know it’s also derived from petroleum?
There may be some debate still going on about some of these ingredients, but the side effects are real. In many cases, it’s the accumulated detrimental effects that kill you. The FDA may say, “Safe in small amounts,” but what are these small amounts? What about when you have more than one soda, eat more than one hot dog, or go out for Chinese food twice a month? Small doses are for labs. This is the real world where we aren’t measuring the number of chemicals in each bite. The best thing you can do for your health is to eat whole, natural, organic foods and read labels religiously. Your body will thank you a few years down the road.