Toxic Chemicals in Your Food:
A List of Key Ingredients to Avoid Eating
While some foods are promoted as being healthy, that is frequently far from the truth. Below is a list of some of these foods that you may have been led to believe are good for you, but are best avoided and replaced with healthier options.
1. Canned tomatoes
Many chemicals in food today are harmful to one’s health. Many food packaging items contain a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA), which has been found to be toxic at certain levels. BPA, a toxic chemical linked to reproductive abnormalities and many other serious conditions, is just one. It has been found to act as a hormone disrupter as it acts like the hormone estrogen (as well as other hormones) in the body. It has also been linked to neurological disorders, risk of prostate and breast cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
BPA is also found in water bottles, baby bottles and it is also used to coat food and drinks cans. According to a popular consumer journal, just a few servings of most canned foods can quickly exceed the daily safety limits for BPA in children. The high acidity found in tomatoes allows BPA to leach into the food.
Healthier option: Stick to fresh vegetables and fruits, or change to food manufacturers that use glass containers instead of cans or plastics. This is particularly important for acidic foods such as tomatoes.
If you prefer not to use glass containers then consider using plastic food containers that are BPA and pthalate free.
2. Processed meats
Certain processed meats found in delis (such as ham, salami, and roast beef) usually come from animals that were raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This typically means the animals were given antibiotics, growth hormones and other drugs. They can be raised in conditions that give rise to disease, and are filled with dyes and chemical flavorings such as sodium nitrate. Nitrites can be converted in the body into nitrosamines, or cancer-promoting chemicals created during the cooking process. Deli meats can also contain some ingredients that may promote cancer. In a 2011 review that included more than 7,000 clinical studies, a connection was examined between diet and cancer. The conclusion: No amount of processed meats can be considered safe.
Healthier option: Choose meat from organically-grown animals or fish such as wild salmon.
One result of the low-fat diet phenomenon is that people have turned away from healthy fats such as butter. Butter imposters such as margarine can contain:
- Transfats – The unnatural fats that can be found in margarine, spreads and shortenings are formed during the hydrogenation process, when liquid vegetable oils are turned into a solid fat. They can lead to cancer, bone problems, heart disease, skin disease, infertility, hormonal imbalance, low birth weight, problems during pregnancy and lactation, growth disorders and learning disabilities in young children.
- Free radicals – These and other toxic products are the result of the breakdown occurring during high temperature industrial processing of vegetable oils. Free radicals are known to contribute to several different types of health issues, including heart disease and cancer.
4. Vegetable oils
Although it seems to be an unlikely source of destructive foods, those which are made with heated vegetable oils are among the very worst. This is mainly because they are highly-processed and distort the omega-6 to omega-3 ratios. When food is cooked, the oils chosen for cooking the food should be able to resist the chemical changes that can occur. Vegetable oils when heated convert good cholesterol into bad cholesterol by oxidizing it. Cooking with polyunsaturated oils such as corn, soy, and canola, introduces oxidized cholesterol into the body.
Healthier option: The best oil to cook with? Organic cold pressed coconut oil. It is almost completely saturated fat, meaning it is less susceptible to heat damage. This oil is one of the most beneficial and unique fats for the human body. Olive oil is also an option when cooking on a low -moderate heat.
5. Microwave popcorn
A popular diet item is microwave popcorn. However, the chemicals used to keep the grease from leaking through fast food wrappers, is being consumed by thousands of people through foods such as popcorn and is showing up in their bloodstreams as contaminants. When heated, the toxic compounds leach onto the popcorn. These chemicals belong to a group that are commonly called “gender benders” chemicals because they may disrupt the endocrine system and thereby affect an individual’s sex hormones. They can contribute to other conditions such as infertility, thyroid disease, cancer, and immune system problems.
Healthier option: natural air popped corn made from a pop corn maker or sauce pan.
6. Non-organic potatoes and produce with high pesticide contamination
When selecting fruits and vegetables, try to buy only organic products. Potatoes in particular seem to be subjected to a lot of pesticides and other chemicals that are present in the soil. Some fresh products that be especially worrisome when not organically grown include:
Healthier option: Buy organic fruit and vegetables (which have certified) or use a natural pesticide removing product, which can bind to the chemicals when the produced is sprayed or soaked for a few minutes. The product and toxins can then be washed away.
7. Table salt
Although salt is essential for life, “table salt” and the salt that is put into processed foods has very little in common with natural salt. The natural version contains many trace elements that are also needed by the body. Table salt also contains man-made chemicals that can harm one’s health.
Healthier option: organic sea salt or organic pink Himalayan salt.
8. Soy Protein Isolate and other unfermented soy products
Most of what we believe about soy is untrue. The worst problem with soy is that between 90 and 95 percent of the soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered and are used to create soy protein isolate. These products are engineered to withstand otherwise lethal amounts of herbicides.
The active ingredient in one such herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption in a female reproductive cycle. Glyphosate is toxic to the placenta and is now known to cause disruption in cellular function, possibly leading to disorders such as autism. This substance is found in some protein bars, meal replacement shakes, soups and sauces, bottled fruit drinks, baked goods, breakfast cereals and some dietary supplements. Other disorders can include thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, and more.
Healthier options: Avoid foods containing soy and soy products unless they have been organically grown and fermented. Healthier soya based foods include tempeh and natto – they foods have been fermented.
9. Artificial sweeteners
Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) can cause the appetite to be stimulated, increase carbohydrate cravings, stimulate fat storage and weight gain. In fact, one study concluded saccharin and aspartame caused a greater amount of weight gain than sugar. While some people claim aspartame is safe because it leads to the formation of methanol, which is also found in fruits and vegetables. However, the methanol found in fruits and vegetables is firmly bonded to pectin, thus allowing it to safely pass through the digestive tract. The methanol created by aspartame is not bonded to anything that can aid in eliminating it from the body.
It is also very important to avoid food products which contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is found in huge variety of foods including: cakes, cookies, chocolate bars, candy, baby foods, drinks and ready made meals. HFCS has been found to have serious implications on health – the most significant have been found to be:
- Increases fat deposits in the liver
- Increases weight gain
- Affects the heart by increasing plaque build up and the narrowing of arteries
- Worsens diabetes
- Damages the immune system
- Many HFCS products have been found to contain the toxin mercury
Healthier options: Avoid foods that contain HFCS. Use natural sugars with a lower glycemic index (GI) such as Stevia and Xylitol . It is important to buy these products in the pure form i.e. cheaper and low quality options may have sugar and artificial sweeteners added in.
10. Artificial preservatives
There are may artificial preservatives in the market but the most common ones, which have been found to have adverse affects of health, include:
- Sodium benzoate: often found in drinks, salad dressing and pickles.
- Sodium nitrate and other nitrates: often found in deli and processed meat and meat products
- Azodicarbonamide: often found in baked goods.
- Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ): often found in savoury foods and commercial pizzas
- Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHA and BHT): often found in cereals, breads, and snacks
A few of the negative health associations of preservatives include: cancer, asthma, allergies,neurological development, liver toxicity, metabolic dysfunction, tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, behaviour issues and Parkinson’s disease.
Healthier options: Avoid foods that contain artificial preservatives and opt for fresh foods. Frozen foods are also a good option as some do not always contain preservatives, however it is always important to always check the ingredients.
How to Choose High Quality Foods to EatWhen choosing any organic or locally-grown foods, make sure the products show the signs of high-quality, healthy foods. Some things to look for include:
- The food is grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides
- It is not genetically engineered or modified
- The food contains nothing artificial, including preservatives, sweeteners or flavour enhancers
- It is fresh and locally grown
- Animal foods are grown with native diets, free of antibiotics and other drugs
- The food was grown with thoughts of soil preservation, using no environmental pollutants
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