In today's world, people are becoming increasingly more aware of their health and wellbeing. That said, chemicals, additives, and harmful preservatives have invaded our agriculture more than ever! So what gives? How is it that our awareness of health has grown, and so has our consumption of toxic chemicals?
One thought is that big food corporations use additives for preservation, flavor, and coloring but do not consider (or in some cases don't care to) investigate the long-term effects on the human body. Did you know in America, we consume several known harmful chemicals that are banned in other countries? Below you will uncover five known chemicals to watch out for to protect your health and wellbeing.
Carrageenan is a thickening agent found in nut milk, ice cream, dairy-free ice cream, salad dressings, some meat products, toothpaste, yogurts, and more. It's also found in a lot of vegan products and low or fat-free products. The original form of carrageen is known as degraded carrageen or poligeenan, which is dangerous for human consumption and has caused cancer, tumor, and other health complications in animals.
It is officially listed as a potential human carcinogen. However, food-grade carrageen has been modified (simply by mixing poligeenan with acid) from its original form and deemed safe for consumption by the FDA despite the lack of human testing. Some health experts believe carrageenan is not safe because a few observational studies suggest that food-grade carrageenan may become toxic when mixed with stomach acid. Other informal studies suggest that carrageen can cause or irritate IBS and other digestive issues. Many people have testified that when cutting carrageen out of their diets, they experience digestive relief.
Consider limiting or eliminating carrageen as it provides no nutritional value and is relatively easy to avoid. Especially consider eliminating it if you experience digestive issues or have a family history of colon or stomach cancer.
Sodium nitrate is known on the streets as simply as nitrates, with the function being to preserve the color and flavor of deli meats and certain fishes. It is also an anti-microbial intended to increase the shelf life of particular canned food, packaged foods, and cured meats. Although sodium nitrate is not the worst on our list, it's one to be aware of due to its link with heart disease and hypertension. Additionally, If you experience bloating regularly, limiting your sodium intake will help.
Be mindful about your sodium nitrate consumption as it can hinder your overall heart health. When it comes to meat, grass-fed and organic is the way to go. If that is not possible, consider preparing meats fresh instead then buying them from the packages.
Potassium Bromate is used in flours to help strengthen the dough and allows the bread to rise quickly to help with production output. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, P.B. can affect the body when inhaled or in contact with the skin. It's recommended to be treated with extreme care and be handled as a carcinogen. When inhaled, it can irritate the nose, cause cough, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and shortness of breath. On the skin it can cause rashes, irritation, and inflammation. Long-term exposure to potassium bromate in its "raw" form has been linked to kidney issues, reproductive issues, and lung issues.
Potassium bromate is illegal in the European Union, Canada, Brazil, and elsewhere because it causes cancer in rats and mice. However, in the United States, it has remained legal since it was first patented for its use in bread. The FDA did not ban it because the amount of potassium bromate that remains in bread after baking is considered minimal (less than 20 parts per billion). The concern is that when the bread is not cooked correctly and the potassium bromate remains in its chemical form, it is potentially dangerous for human consumption.
Find a cute local bakery and commit to getting all your delicious bread and baked goodies from there! Most of the time, mom-and-pop shops avoid additives and tend towards organic and fresh ingredients. Plus, shopping locally supports your community's economy!
"What? It says natural; it should be healthy, right?" "Wrong!" Sorry to burst your bubble, but according to the FDA, "natural" does not mean what we think it does. Up until recently, there was no quality control for foods labeled "natural." That, however, has changed since the FDA received three civilian complaints insisting that they do something about it.
As of now, the FDA has considered the term "natural" to mean 'that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) have been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.' "Seems legit. What is the problem?"
Nobody tells us that we enter into a whole other world when we start to talk about natural flavors. The only difference between artificial flavors and natural flavors is that natural flavors once came from a natural source. Meaning you can take a vanilla pod mixed with hundreds of harmful chemicals, additives, additional sugars, and preservatives and still call it a "natural flavor" because, at one point, it was a vanilla pod.
Read your labels! If you see natural flavors, it does not always mean your snack is tainted; the taste may be a simple combination of various natural sources, and it's perfectly safe. Keep your eyes peeled for foods that are unnatural colors, have alien-like consistencies, or leave you feeling less than awesome after you've eaten them.
Remember the '80s and '90s when everything was fat-free this and fat-free that? The trend took the nation by storm, and the next thing we knew, people were filling their carts with "healthy" snacks that had magically had the fat removed from them. It was too good to be true then, and it's too good to be true now.
Olestra was approved in 1996 by the FDA as a food additive with its sole mission to make fat-free food taste good. The FDA failed to mention that olestra is completely indigestible; therefore, it causes a whole host of digestive issues when used in excess. Tummy aches aside, this substance has shown to be suspect in pancreas issues hindering proper fat absorption. In the long term, this can lead to a whole host of problems like vitamin deficiency, malabsorption, and weight gain (how ironic). The U.K. and Canada have banned olestra from their food packages; however, the U.S. continues to use it.
Jump into this decade and look around, baby, because fat is back! Good, healthy, yummy, satisfying fat is all the rage. New studies show that eating fat does not translate to fat on the body. Having enough lubrication in our bodies helps the nervous system, which triggers the body into homeostasis, and from this place, one's weight will normalize.
Unfortunately, our nation's food and drug regulators are more interested in gaining money and power than protecting the people's general wellbeing. The good news is that knowledge is power, and by simply looking at food labels and being mindful about your choices, you can significantly impact your health.
Cooking, shopping locally, buying organic, and understanding your food labels are excellent ways to ensure you aren't ingesting unwanted harmful chemicals into your body.
As you continue on your journey to holistic health, let one of our incredible Body Healers guide you! Choose from nutritionists to movement coaches to massage therapists and more.