If you need to enhance the flavour of food using artificial chemicals rather than herbs and spices, there is something seriously wrong about that and it begs to wonder why you would want to put such things into their bodies.
Of course, there are more than five harmful substances that are found in foods but I wanted to concentrate on these five because they are the most common.
In no particular order, my top five are:
HYDROGENATED OR PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS
Out of all the substances, for me personally, this must be the worse. This is not to say that some (additives)) are better than others, but there really is no need for this in food, there really isn’t.
The process of hydrogenation is to heat up liquid oil to high temperatures so it becomes a solid fat. Manufacturers claim this enhances the taste and ‘mouth feel’ of the foods they produce as well as extend shelf life. This very process changes the chemical structure of the oil and turns it into a ‘trans fat’.
I recall reading a newspaper article a while back where a university professor said that there are no health benefits to hydrogenated oils. In fact, he could not even measure how dangerous they would be to the human body so we are better off avoiding them all together.
Indeed, hydrogenated oils have no health benefits whatsoever. It is no better than eating plastic. Your body cannot process plastic so how it is supposed to process hybridized oil is anyone’s guess.
A few years ago, one high street chain made the decision to omit hydrogenated oils from all their own brand label foods. I was very pleased when I heard this and I wish other supermarkets would follow suit.
The main foods to look out for are: burgers, pizzas, fast foods, powdered soup and sauce mixes, cakes, pastries, desserts, cookies, some breakfast cereals, crisps (chips), chips (fries), non-dairy alternatives (cream etc.) and many non organic processed ready meals.
Fast food joints that sell fried food are best avoided because you have no idea how often they change their oil. The more the oil is re-heated and re-used, the more oxidised it gets – basically, more and more free radicals are created. Free radicals is like rust in the body and if you do not consume anti-oxidants (found in fresh whole foods particularly fruits and vegetables) you could be setting yourself up for some serious health problems in the future.
What surprises me about white sugar is that it is found in foods you would not expect it to be in. I have lost count the amount of times I have been shopping, picked up a product, looked and the label only to find sugar as one of the ingredients.
A few years back, one of my favourite snacks was oatcakes. When out shopping, I wanted to buy my usual pack of oatcakes but they were out of stock, so I looked at the supermarkets own label alternative. I could not believe it when I saw sugar as the third (or forth) ingredient. I thought why? Why was it necessary to add sugar to a product when it clearly was not needed? Answer? It is a cheap bulking agent and adds to the taste (supposedly). This is why supermarkets can boast about their produce being cheaper – they add cheaper ingredients and less of the real stuff.
Most mornings, I see kids going to school gorging themselves on sweets (candy), chocolate, cans of fizzy pop, and packets of crisps. What happened to a decent breakfast? These kids must be a nightmare by the time they get to school.
Consuming high amounts of sugar in any form not only depletes minerals in the body (especially) calcium but also causes blood sugar problems. When too much sugar is consumed, calcium is extracted from the skeletal bones to buffer the acidic effects of too much sugar circulating in the blood. This can lead to thinning of the bones, thus leading to osteoporosis.
Blood sugar problems are not the same as diabetes, but if it is not regulated, this is exactly what it can lead to. Constant blood sugar disruptions can cause a number of symptoms including sleepiness, lethargy, tiredness and cravings for sugary products.
White refined sugar can be found in just about every processed food you can think of, even in savoury products such as tinned (and/ or fresh) soups, processed sausages and pies, pizzas, burgers, bread and slimming products! Now you know why you have trouble managing your weight.
Now the market is crowed with decent alternatives such as agave and yacon, you can still get your sweet fix minus the side effects. You can also use fresh and dried fruit as sweeteners for making desserts and in baking.
WHITE REFINED FLOUR
One thing I will never understand is why manufactures spend money stripping all the nutrients away from whole grains, turning it into a pure white substance with no nutrients then fortifying their foods with inorganic vitamins and minerals. It’s baffling!
White flour, like white sugar is found in a countless array of foods – again all processed. I’ve lost count of the number of times clients have come to me and say they are trying to cut out wheat because they are having a hard time digesting it. This really does not surprise me considering it is found in just about everything you can think of, even salads, salad dressings and roast potatoes!
White wheat flour has become a staple in the Western world and people will consume it several times per day without even realising. They may think they have a varied diet but if you break it down into a list of ingredients, the main items on the list will be white flour, white sugar, fat and salt.
Like white sugar, white flour will deplete our body of nutrients. Why? Because it contains no nutrients your body then has to draw on its own reserves and if those reserves are in short supply, you are heading for trouble.
Your body need nutrients to function at an optimal level. If these nutrients are not there that is when we start having health problems. Over time these (health problems) become more chronic especially if we continue to eat the same suboptimal foods. You wouldn’t put diesel in your car if it takes unleaded petrol would you? Of course not! Your car would splutter to a halt in a very short period of time. But that is what you are doing to your body when you consume white flour products. The only difference is that your body will start showing signs of ill health.
Another thing you will notice about white flour is how sticky it is. Now just imagine that sticking to your insides, because that is what happens. Gluten is the substance responsible for this and the first three letters says it all – GLU add an E and we have glue!
Just imagine, for breakfast you kick start the day with toasted glue, add a good spread of hydrogenated fat and perhaps some sugar (jam)…hummm, nice! That will keep you fighting fit and performing at your peak won’t it?
There are plenty of alternatives out there so there it is possible to avoid foods that contain white refined flour. The best whole grains to go for are those that are stoned ground e.g. wholemeal, spelt, rye and kamut. Further, you can replace whole grains with non gluten alternatives such as millet, coconut, potato, rice and hemp flour. With whole grains, the nutrients stay intact. Alternatively, you can sprout most of these grains and eat them as they are or homogenise them, mix with herbs and spices and turn them into delicious nutrient dense crackers.
I have never been a big fan of fizzy drinks. My mum never bought any home when she went shopping so this translated over to me when I moved away and started doing my own shopping. Before I knew any better, the only time I consumed fizzy drinks was when I went out for a meal (I didn’t drink alcohol much) or some other special occasion, so it was no big deal to stop drinking it all together when I started studying nutrition.
Fizzy drinks are not only high in sugar (everyone knows that) but they are also high in phosphorus. Phosphorus is a substance that is very good at leaching calcium from bones because calcium is required to maintain the blood pH homeostasis. Phosphorus is also highly acidic and upsets the balance with potassium. This along with a high intake of dairy is what probably contributes to the highest levels of osteoporosis in the Western World.
Fizzy drinks again are empty calories. They contribute nothing to your health except extra calories. No wonder the rates of childhood obesity are reaching epidemic levels. Further, more and more children are being diagnosed with type two diabetes. Up until a few years ago, this was an adult onset health issue – not any more.
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS & OTHER ARTIFICIAL ADDITIVES
Let’s make this really simple – the word artificial says it all. If it isn’t natural, why put it in your body?
A 1970s study showed that aspartame caused brain tumours in rats and life long consumption increases the risk of cancer. Aspartame has also been shown as having a direct effect on brain chemistry. It can pass through the blood brain barrier and cause all sort of problems and has even been linked to food cravings. So if you are on a diet and consume ‘low fat’ foods that contain aspartame but you have cravings all the time, this perhaps could be the reason why.
Food colourings, emulsifiers, flavourings, thickeners and preservatives – what benefit do any of these have to your health? The only reason so many foods contain these unnecessary chemicals is for preservation, to extend shelf life and enhance taste but this can be easily done with herbs and spices. Most people ignore what they cannot understand and buy it anyway. Also, many may not question the extra additives in the food they buy because either they are unaware or if they are aware, they don’t care. If someone doesn’t care, it tells me they don’t think much of themselves…they don’t think they are worth it and that’s a shame.
If a substance is not from the earth, then it is man made and if it is man made, then it has no place in the food we eat.
The upshot of all this is that these substances do not contribute anything to your health because they are devoid of nutrients.
I am hoping for a world that eventually rejects what food manufacturers are producing and go back to how we used to live many years ago – producing our own food and relying on each other for support and resources.
When this will happen (if ever) is anyone’s guess, but I would like to think it will one day.