Controversies In Nutrition

Chemical food additives: there are over 14,000 food additives found in processed foods, and my business is to educate you about the most harmful ones. In this article, I list some of the most "popular" food additives found in thousands - THOUSANDS - of foods and medicines on the market today.

A good question to ask is what is the underlying motive for the creation of toxic food additives, chemical flavor enhancers and artificial sweeteners? Why do we consider it safe to go against nature by altering growth hormones and genetically modifying plant and food sources? Are these products created for the true health and wellness of people or primarily for profit?

Most large corporations responsible for creating and marketing these controversial products are totally committed to their multi-billion dollar industries. For financial (and legal reasons), they see no harm in these chemicals, and stand behind the safety of their products. But people are getting more and more ill from these toxic food additives. So who does the consumer believe, and what is a truly safe food product?

Our society is bombarded with mixed messages about food and nutrition often with very conflicting views. MSG, mad cow disease caused by hormones and toxins, refined sugars and chemical sugar substitutes, high fructose corn syrup, salt, and genetically modified foods are just some of the various food additives and food enhancers we must question as safe for human consumption.

According to the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, food additives are substances added to our food to preserve flavor and improve taste and appearance, thus enhancing the "quality" of our food supply. Food additives are supposed to maintain product consistency (thickeners, stabilizers), maintain nutrition value (vitamins, minerals, artificially added enrichment), maintain wholesomeness (preserve freshness), and enhance flavor or desired color (spices are added to enhance taste of foods; color is maintained to meet consumer expectations).

The following is a list of the most controversial food additives on the market today:

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is one of the most controversial additives used to enhance the flavor of food. MSG is added to a variety of foods such as:

  • Canned soups

  • Potato chips

  • Prepared snacks

  • Prepared meals

  • Chinese food

  • Diet foods/Weight-loss products

  • Sauces (tomato, barbecue)

  • Salad dressing

  • Mayonnaise

  • Cured meats (luncheon)

According to research scientists Drs. John Olney and Russell Blaylock, MSG is harmful to human health because the body uses it as a nerve impulse transmitter in the brain, and this is a dangerous proposition for long-term mind/body health.

Side effects typically include:

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach cramps

  • IBS

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Depression/Mood swings

  • Migraines

  • Dizziness

  • Panic attacks

Aspartame (originally Equal/NutraSweet®) is an artificial sugar substitute 200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame is composed of isolated forms of aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Aspartame is found in over 5,000 food and medical products such as the following common foods:

  • Instant breakfast foods

  • Breath mints

  • Cereals

  • Gums

  • Beverages

  • Frozen deserts

  • Juice beverages

  • Vitamins

  • OTC and prescription medications

  • Soft drinks

  • Yogurt

  • Diet and/or sugar-free foods

  • Tabletop sweeteners

Like MSG, aspartame is a neurotoxin, exciting nerve impulses within the brain, which can lead to a variety of neurophysiological problems proven in laboratory research to cause permanent health damage.

Side effects typically include:

  • Migraines

  • Weight gain

  • Dizziness/Vertigo

  • Brain tumors

  • Multiple Sclerosis symptoms

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Parkinson's symptoms

  • Lymphoma

  • Leukemia

  • Other Cancers

  • Death

Olestra (Olean®) is a "nondigestible" fat substitute originally used in processed foods such as potato chips. In theory, Olestra helps people reduce their intake of calories and fat, reducing obesity and heart disease. However, the main ingredient in Olestra is polyester - a man made nonedible synthetic. The primary health reaction to Olestra is gastrointestinal symptoms, specifically diarrhea and cramping, shortly after ingesting.

Food irradiation is used to prevent food poisoning and is a popular manufacturing method used to improve the safety of food by treating it with radiation. Common targeted food diseases include: E-coli, salmonella, and campylobacter. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that every year between 6 and 33 million people in the U.S. experience a food borne disease in which 9,000 people die (on average 200 people a week). Yet, is "nuking" our food the answer to this problem, or can a safer solution be found elsewhere?

Food irradiation changes the molecular structure of the food. It can create new and potentially dangerous compounds and by-products, it reduces the nutritional value of food by destroying natural vitamins and minerals, resulting in a loss of live nutrients. Animal studies show irradiated foods increase tumors, result in reproductive failures, and kidney damage.

Animal growth hormones are used by the food industry to increase the production of meat products and milk such as rBGH. Cows injected with rBGH do produce more milk, although they have negative side effects. Concerns over the use of animal growth hormones in cows include:

  • Premature sexual development of young girls

  • Prostate cancer in men

  • Increased risk for colorectal cancer

  • Increased risk for breast cancer

GMOs (genetically modified foods) were created to enable plants to grow quicker and produce a greater yield/harvest for the production of food while using fewer pesticides. Approximately 70% of processed foods have genetically modified ingredients, yet most are not labeled as genetically modified. For the first time in human history, corporate scientists are using technology to introduce the genes of one type of food into another. Some of the GMOs to watch out for are:

  • Soybeans

  • A third of Corn (maize, cornmeal)

  • Ketchup

  • Cake mixes

  • Potatoes

  • Squash

  • Tomatoes

  • Corn flakes

  • Crispy tacos

  • Cheese pizzas

Organic foods and unprocessed, whole food items are less likely to be genetically modified. Convenience foods, snack foods, and highly processed foods are more likely to contain genetically modified ingredients.

What can you, the consumer, do about these controversial foods and chemical additives? After all, it is your health and money at stake. Research the many nutrition books and alternative magazine articles, and Internet sites for the "other" side of manufactured foods. Don't believe everything you see and hear on mainstream television and media channels. Remember that corporate marketers are not nutritionists. Sign up for an on-line college course in holistic nutrition; find anything available that presents both sides of these modern food issues, and you decide if these fake foods are healthy for you. Don't forget that corporate marketers are merely selling you their products. Pass down to your children the knowledge you discover about processed food safety, so the next generation will be healthier than we are today.

Bon appetite!

Posted November 2006 | Permanent Link

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