If you are like most people, processed foods are a part of your daily life. Most people can hardly survive without them because of their convenience and ease of preparation.
For any working parent of young children, it is an impossibility to stay away from packaged and processed food products and anyone who says that they do, is probably just kidding themselves.
Processed foods are not only fast to make, they are also easy to carry from place to place, and don’t go bad as quickly as fresh produce, meaning for many people, less waste. But how does processed food stay good for so long? It isn’t magic- it is due to the additives and preservatives! These additional ingredients make the food last longer and look better, but they also make us fatter, have higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure and other significant side effects. If you stop and think about it, these conveniences can’t come without a downside.
Our kids are basically addicted to this kind of food, and most of them include tons of salt, sugar and fat. Nothing that we would WANT our kids to be putting in their bodies, but rarely does anyone stop to think about the ingredients.
While there are dozens of additives that, in a perfect world, you would scratch from your diet, here are the ten worst of the worst that you should try to avoid.
Warning Extreme View – Can Only Jack Lalanne and Marilu Henner Eat This Strict?
1. Artificial Sweeteners. One of the worst additives we will discuss are the artificial sweeteners and fake sugar that are in so many of our products today. While people seem to believe that if they are drinking “diet” soda they are going to lose weight, unfortunately, artificial sweeteners are chemicals that we are putting in our food to make it sweeter, that is going into our bodies to cause problems. We think of them as good for us because there are no calories like sugar, but Americans are getting more and more obese- how is that even possible? Basically, if you are eating something sweet but not ingesting calories, your body wants more calories. So you crave more sweet things. Artificial sweeteners have the exact opposite effect of what people want, people gain weight instead of losing it, and feel hungrier. The chemicals in artificial sweeteners can be toxic in high doses, and these chemicals have been proven as a carcinogen in multiple studies. It is surprising that they are not banned by the FDA.
2. Sodium Nitrate. Sodium Nitrate and Nitrate itself are two additives that producers add to meat products to keep them edible for longer periods of time. These two terrible additives are put in hot dogs, lunch meat, sausage, and bacon. They are meant to control the growth of mold and bacteria. They also, not surprisingly, make the meat look pink and healthy. Instead of actually being healthy though, nitrates are also a carcinogen and are extremely dangerous. While the FDA admits they are dangerous, this isn’t widely publicized because they keep meat safe for longer periods of time. Nitrates have disturbing side effects like nausea, headaches, and dizziness.
3. Caffeine. Probably the one on this list that will upset you the most since each of us incorporates caffeine into our daily diets- caffeine is not only addictive, but it can cause birth related issues, heart problems, depression, insomnia, just to name a few. Caffeine is added to just about everything like soda, weight loss products, and even gum. People who try to cut caffeine entirely out of their lives experience pretty serious side effects as well, showing that it can’t be good for you.
4. Refined Sugar. Most people in the United States eat about a half a cup of sugar per day! Refined sugar is in just about every food you eat, and sneaks into your body whether you realize it or not. Diabetes instances have tripled in the last two decades, and no wonder, with this astounding level of sugar intake. Eating too much sugar can cause a laundry list of health problems like headaches, diabetes, obesity, several forms of cancer, heart disease, and naturally, obesity. If you’re looking for ‘refined sugar’ on labels and not finding it- that is because it is hidden under a variety of other names, like dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, and about a dozen more.
5. MSG. MSG, or monosodium glutamate is an additive used in cooking to help bring out strong flavors in our food. This allows food producers to use less real flavor in cooking if they increase the level of MSG in their products. MSG is most often known to be in Chinese food and the food of other Asian cultures. MSG is also on the radar of the FDA, because some studies have shown that it can cause nerve damage in the brain in test animals. Many people suffer severe headaches when consuming food with MSG in it, which has caused many companies in the United States to stop using it in their foods. Some people are more sensitive to this additive than others, and children are shown to be significantly more affected by it. Shockingly, it is still used in many products where you may never expect it, in milk, candy, gum, and even in baby formula!
6. BVO. BVO, or brominated vegetable oil, is another additive that you should steer clear of. It is meant to keep the oils in our soft drinks suspended. Bromate is actually poison, and even a small consumption of this poison could cause sickness, especially in children. It can deplete your immunity, cause allergic reactions, cause organ failure, birth defects, and more. While the FDA, again, knows that there is an issue with BVO and has it on their radar, it has not required companies to take products made with BVO off the market and it is still being used legally. What is most terrifying is that most people don’t even know it exists due to the fact that there is no publicity and the beverage manufacturers like to suppress this information. It doesn’t even need to be listed on the labels of the foods and beverages that it is in!
8. Olean. Olean, or Olestra, is an additive that is used in snack foods. It is meant to make snacks less caloric, and is a substitute used in chips and other snacks to make their food less fattening. The additive is basically flushed right out of your body because your vitamins see it as fat, so they grab on to the additive to push it out of the body. There is a required warning on these foods to let you know that products with Olean may cause abdominal issues, but even more importantly, it depletes your body of its needed vitamins and nutrients.
9. GMO. GMO’s, or genetically modified organisms, are actually animals and plants that have been genetically altered. While it probably sounds like science fiction, in all actuality, things you can’t even imagine are being genetically altered. This ranges from cotton to meat, and even our produce. Corn and other vegetables are genetically altered and their natural DNA has been adjusted. The FDA does not even test for GMO’s because it is a new problem and only small groups of people are raising the red flag, but some testing has shown that GMO’s cause food allergies, a depleted immune system, and higher cancer levels.
10. Pesticides. As most of us know, pesticides are applied to products while farming to keep bugs and rodents from ruining the farmer’s products. The amounts of pesticides used annually is astounding, and most of them are proven to be carcinogens. The only way to avoid pesticides is to eat organic foods- but pesticides also have invaded our water supply, so it is impossible to fully get away from them. We use pesticides on our grass, in parks, and in public gardens. Every time it rains, all the pesticides are washed into the water supply, as well as natural resources like lakes and rivers. Pesticides are responsible for 90% of water pollution. All of these pesticides find their way into our bodies, and almost all people, when measured, have levels of dangerous chemicals in their bloodstream. Our bodies are unable to get rid of these harmful, manmade chemicals, so instead, they cause disease. They weaken our immune systems and increase the likelihood of many diseases, especially cancers.
If you are as disgusted as I am by this information, there are things that you can do to eliminate these additives from your family meals. First, make sure you buy 100% organic food. There are no pesticides on organic food, and you are much safer buying organic. You also want to drink as much water as possible, because water can help to get rid of additives from your body.
Also, it is recommended to avoid packaged foods, processed foods, and even television, so that you are not tempted by those incredible food commercials. Stay away from food advertising to decrease your cravings.
Read the labels on your food. While everything isn’t listed there, often you will see signs that a specific food isn’t for you. Don’t take it for granted though- if you have questions, do your research before going to the grocery store so you are making the best decisions. If you notice that a food you’re buying in the store has a long list of ingredients, beware. The more that must be added to the food to taste good, the worse are your changes that it is healthy. If in doubt, just stay away from these foods as a precaution.
You can also keep track of the food your family is eating by using a food journal. While we all may sneak is some processed food now and again, you will know when you see it if it is becoming too much of a routine or habit for your family.
You obviously can’t depend on the FDA to protect you from these harmful additives, so take care of yourself and your family by educating yourself on these, and the many other harmful additives out there in our food products today. One thing about Jack Lalanne and Marilu Henner… They both lived Long, Healthy lives!