By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
The words toxic and food should never really be in the same sentence but unfortunately due to quick and fast foods that are not being made in our own kitchens this has become a partial reality for many of us. And we shared this with you when we talked about 5 food ingredients you should never eat. Well, here are 7 more. Okay, 2 are repeats, but that’s how bad they are!
The truth is many people do not see or understand that many food chemicals and additives combined with the act of food processing changes the composition and can turn something natural and healthy into a chemicalized food that can act as a toxin in the body! Many foods that are highly processed behave like a cellular toxin and are very unhealthy for us. Rather than just being an unhealthy empty calorie they can then become disastrous to our metabolism, health and well-being causing cell destruction, inflammation, hormonal imbalances and general poor health.
What does toxic mean? The truest meaning of the word is a substance that is produced within a cell or an organism but here, we are using the word to describe external toxins that act to injure cell health. It’s a favorite term of many but it can also be said that these food ingredients can act as a cellular insult while food is supposed to nourish us, not insult us. Learn more on toxins and your health!
Feeling sluggish, tired, overweight and overburdened by our environment? This can be largely put down to the foods that we choose to eat! Eating perfectly is not something you need to do to enjoy good health but making healthy clean choices most of the time is paramount for your well-being.
So here are some foods that I highly recommend to avoid as much as you possibly can, particularly for your kids. Unfortunately, many foods that are marketed at children are the most processed foods of all on the market.
Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), Saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and Sucralose (Splenda) are believed to be more destructive for your metabolism then plain old sugar. Often artificial sweeteners are listed as numbers to avoid the association (950-952, 954-956, 959, 961-962, 969s). Artificial sweeteners add a great burden onto the liver and rather than supporting people to lose weight they have been shown in studies to actually accelerate weight gain and it may explain partially why obesity has risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners.
I’ve said this before but it’s imperative that foods containing these ingredients are thrown straight into the bin. Trans-fats are correlated with liver disease, cardiovascular damage, increased risk of stroke, increased LDL and reduced HDL and has been correlated to an increase in death from any cause. These are listed as partially or complete hydrogenated vegetable oils or vegetable fat; when vegetable oil is saturated in hydrogen it makes the oil solid at room temperature and extends the shelf life considerably.
The amount of refined sugar has declined in the USA while high fructose corn syrup has increased and according to researchers at Tufts University, Americans consume more calories from HFCS than any other source. The reason that HFCS is so potentially harmful is the way it is processed by the body. Fructose goes straight to the liver and triggers lipogenesis thus increasing the risk of fatty liver disease if consumed too frequently. It also can trigger big spikes in insulin (our body’s major fat storage hormone) which can lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, poor memory, dementia and more.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Heterocyclic Amines and Acrylamide are produced from cooking at high temperatures. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons are produced when fat is burned at high temperatures, compounds in meat and fish when cooked at high temperatures produce a carcinogenic substance called Heterocyclic amines, while browning starches such as breads and potatoes produce acrylamide, another potential carcinogen. These substances can be avoided or reduced with healthy marinades that include olive oil, garlic, spices, herbs, and antioxidants added in the cooking process.
This is a synthetic man-made hormone that is marketed to dairy farmers to increase milk production in cows. It is not permitted in Europe, Canada and many other countries. rGBH produces elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 in dairy products. Insulin-like growth factor is recognized as a significant factor in weight gain, breast, prostate and colon cancers and may have a negative effect on humans. Choose organic or rBGH-free dairy products.
These preservatives are deemed safe by the FDA and are used to prevent food spoilage and oxidation. These common processed food preservatives have been declared carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They’re also accused of disrupting hormones and impacting male fertility. Long-term exposure to high doses of BHT is toxic in mice and rats, causing liver, thyroid and kidney problems and affecting lung function and blood coagulation.
It is commonly found in cereal, biscuits, nut mixes, vegetable oils, butter, gum and lots of other packaged foods.
I’m frequently surprised how many people are giving their kids these horrible chemical colors in their foods. Artificial colors, particularly blue, green, red, and yellow, have been linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, and brain cancers and are particularly potentially harmful for children. Its best to use food as a natural coloring agent such as beets, turmeric or spirulina or purchase foods that are not so brightly colored or products that use natural colors.
For each of these food compounds so much can be written on the potential health problems that can be implicated with these unnecessary compounds, here in this article I’ve really only touched on them lightly.
The best way to have a positive impact on your own health and that of your family is to make as much food from scratch as you can, consuming simply made meals with the help of our great recipe collection or becoming very familiar with reading the labels on your foods regularly and knowing that food without labels are the best of all.