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The Dirty Dozen Food Additives to Avoid at All Costs

 

 

When you consider the 5,000 additives actually added to food along with the additional 5,000 that leech into food from packaging, we are regularly exposed to 10,000 food additives in the US—the bulk of which have never undergone any safety testing. And, almost none have been tested for the way in which they impact the body in combination. Given these factors, it is difficult to choose the 12 worst food additives to avoid, but here are my selections:

ARTIFICIAL COLORS

Since the medical journal the Lancet first published a study on the effects of artificial colors being linked to hyperactivity, groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest—a consumer advocacy group—has called for a ban on the use of artificial dyes in food. Yellow 5 or tartrazine, is derived from coal tar, and blue dye number 1 and 2 have been linked with cancer in animal tests, while red dye number 3 causes thyroid tumors in rats. Green dye number 3 is linked to bladder cancer, and yellow dye number 6 is linked to tumors of the kidneys and adrenal glands. Check out my blog “The Dark Side of Food Colors.”

ASPARTAME

Not only has aspartame been linked to headaches, according to Lynne Melcome, author of Health Hazards of White Sugar, aspartame’s effects can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, Epstein-Barr virus, Huntington’s chorea, hypothyroidism, Lou Gehrig’s disease, lyme disease, Meniere’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-polio syndrome and sensitivity to mercury amalgam fillings. Aspartame is now known as Neotame or NeoTame. It is considered a cancer-causing ingredient that is added to many foods, particularly diet foods. It has also been linked to premature puberty in girls and blood sugar imbalances that lead to obesity.

BHA

BHA is an artificial flavor. It stands for butylated hydroxyanisole and is a suspected carcinogen and hormone disruptor.

CARBOXYMETHYLCELLULOSE

According to research at the Georgia State University Institute for Biomedical Sciences, this emulsifier alters microbes in the gut, which contributes to the risk for colorectal cancer. Dr. Viennois, head of the study identified that a key feature in colorectal cancer is the presence of altered intestinal microbes that create conditions for the tumors to develop.

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HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

While it is difficult to pin our overweight and obesity problem on just one food additive, high fructose corn syrup would be it. That’s because HFCS has been linked a wide variety of serious health concerns, many of which are linked to weight gain, including: diabetesfatty liver diseasereproductive disorderscancerobesity, cellular energy depletion (adequate cellular energy is essential to all bodily functions), chronic inflammationlearning impairment and high blood pressure and heart disease. Check out my blog “9 Reasons to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup like the Plague.”

MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG)

This chemical is a well-established neurotoxin, meaning that it is damaging to the brain and nervous system. Most fast food companies simply list “Spices” in their ingredients as they are not required by law to actually list this harmful ingredient outright. As a result, there is no way of knowing which companies use MSG or not based on their ingredient lists. Because the ingredient is so ubiquitous it is highly likely that most fast food burgers contain MSG. Monosodium glutamate is frequently used in laboratories to create obese animals for testing. Here are two examples of this practice. Additionally, research links MSG consumption to initiating or aggravating fibromyalgia symptoms.

NITRITES AND NITRATES

The World Health Organization classified bacon and other processed meats as “Group 1” carcinogens, along with cigarette smoking and asbestos. Group 1 carcinogens are those that have what the WHO describes as “sufficient evidence” on humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. The common link between bacon and processed meats are the presence of the preservatives known as nitrites and nitrates.

POTASSIUM BROMATE

It sounds like a harmless mineral, but don’t be fooled: this ingredient is added to most of the commercially-prepared baked goods and breads, including many “freshly-baked” breads available in grocery stores and some bakeries. It has been linked to cancer in animal studies.

POTASSIUM SORBATE

Potassium sorbate has been shown in human studies to be both genotoxic and mutagenic, meaning that it damages our genetic material which can lead to genetic mutations that are linked with disease. It is also a suspected carcinogen.

POLYSORBATE 80

These nanoparticles are associated in animal studies with brain cell death and brain inflammation and have been shown to, not only gain access to the brain, but to deposit themselves in the frontal cortex of the brain. It has been linked to liver damage when used in medications.

SODIUM BENZOATE

The Lancet also found that a commonly-used preservative, sodium benzoate, is linked to hyperactivity in children, suggesting the chemical has neurological effects. Sodium benzoate is known to form benzene in the body in the presence of vitamin C. Benzene has been linked to leukemia.

TERT-BUTYLHYDROQUINONE (TBHQ)

TBHQ is a petroleum-based, butane-like (yes, that’s lighter fluid!) ingredient used as a preservative in vegetable oil used for frying. I think it goes without saying that maybe we shouldn’t be eating lighter-fluid-like chemicals.

Keep in mind that there are many other chemicals to avoid but these are my top picks for the dirty dozen to avoid at all costs.

Keep your eating as clean as possible to avoid an over worked liver and immune system. You will lose weight more efficiently, and be healthier overall. Another reason to buy local and eat clean unprocessed foods!

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Rice and Arsenic

I came across this article and found it interesting enough to share…I will watch for results from further studies and keep you posted!

Important to note that if you buy organic rice there will be no pesticide use, therefore less arsenic. Also, rinsing your rice and using alot of water (cooking pasta method) will also help…read on….

 

 

Getting Arsenic out of Your (and Your Kids’) Diet

SEPTEMBER 20, 2012

 By Sonya Lunder, EWG Senior Research Analyst and Dawn Undurraga, EWG Nutritionist

 

Although scientists and government regulators have long known about the ever-present threat of arsenic in our diet and water, it was unsettling when two major reports came out on the same day (Sept. 19) reminding us of the risk and the need to do what we can to minimize it.

Yes, arsenic. It’s a naturally occurring mineral with a long history as a murder weapon, and, paradoxically, as a medicine, too. In some parts of the world, contamination levels are so high in food and water as to cause epidemics of skin, bladder and lung cancer. In the United States the effects might be harder to see, but they are still there. In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that people drinking arsenic-contaminated water at 10 parts per billion would have a 1-in-300 risk of developing cancer over their lifetimes. Recent research suggests that people ingest about that much arsenic in a just a half-cup serving of rice, not an unusual amount for millions of Americans.

The two new reports came from the US Food and Drug Administration and the highly regarded Consumer Reportsmagazine, and both focused on the worrisome amounts of arsenic in rice and popular rice-based processed foods.

Environmental Working Group agrees that there’s reason to be concerned. Many rice-based foods and some fruit juices have arsenic levels much higher than are allowed in drinking water. And contrary to some denials from the food industry, the contamination does include the form of arsenic that poses a serious risk to our health. It’s long overdue for federal agencies to set health-protective limits on arsenic in food, but they are not moving quickly.

In the meantime, here are some easy-to-use tips on how you can reduce your, and your family’s, exposure:

  • Limit rice consumption. Try alternative grains such as quinoa, barley, grits/polenta, couscous or bulgur wheat.

The testing done by Consumer Reports confirmed that rice has much higher concentrations of arsenic than other grains, fruits and vegetables. That’s partly because rice is sometimes grown in fields that have been treated with arsenic-based pesticides in the past, but in many cases it’s because rice plants have a natural tendency to take up and concentrate naturally occurring arsenic in the soil and water. The FDA says it needs to test 1,000 more rice samples to clarify which rice-growing areas present the greatest risk of contamination. But consumers can take protective steps while theFDA collects data and ponders regulation – a process that could take years.

  • If you’re preparing rice, rinse it thoroughly. Boil brown rice in a lot of water (as you do with pasta).

There’s good research indicating that you can lower the amount of arsenic in rice by 30-to-40 percent if you take this simple step (the more water the better). Unfortunately, white rice doesn’t hold up well to this kind of cooking, but you can reduce arsenic levels somewhat by rinsing white rice before you cook it.

  • Vary your diet. Look for alternatives to rice-based processed foods such as breakfast cereals, rice flour, rice pasta, rice cakes and crackers.

Growing awareness that many people are sensitive to the gluten in wheat-based processed foods has led to a proliferation of rice-based products, but they’re not the only option. Good alternatives to Rice Krispies-type breakfast cereals include toasted oats, puffed corn or whole grains such as millet. You can also find flour mixes that contain no rice or gluten for baking.

  • Limit products that list rice syrup as a sweetener.

You don’t think of rice as a component of snack and nutrition bars, but a recent study by scientists at Dartmouth College found high arsenic levels in processed foods sweetened with brown rice syrup, which are often aimed at the “natural” foods market. EWG has concerns about the study and its interpretation in the media, the underlying issue of brown rice syrup remains. Read labels to avoid this sweetener wherever possible.

  • Check your drinking water.

Arsenic taints drinking water in many parts of the United States. Check EWG’s Tap Water Database to see if it’s been detected in your water. If you drink well water, contact your local health department to find out if arsenic could be a problem in your well, or get it tested – it’s not expensive and it’s worth the investment.

What parents can do to protect babies and children:

  • Instead of rice cereal as the first solid food for babies, try orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes and squash, bananas and avocados.

Parents were once advised to start infants with fortified rice cereals, which were touted as non-allergenic and nutritive, butnutritional guidance is shifting. With some exceptions, parents are no longer being encouraged to delay introducing potentially allergenic foods. Soft fruits, vegetables or even meats are great first sources of complementary nutrients for a breast- or formula-fed baby.

  • Switch to non-rice baby cereals such as oatmeal or mixed grains.

Powdered cereals are convenient and often used to thicken baby purees, but Consumer Reports found more than 95 parts per billion of arsenic in every brand of infant rice cereals it tested, nearly ten times the legal limit for drinking water. Look for non-rice whole grain or oat cereals, or make your own by blending oats in a food processor and then cooking them with water.

  • Limit certain fruit juices to a maximum of one-half to one cup a day.

Arsenic-based pesticides were used on fruit orchards in the early 1900s, and soil contamination remains an ongoing source of arsenic in tree fruits and grapes. Testing shows that some samples of apple, grape and pear juices and juice blends have moderate amounts of arsenic. And there’s another reason that pediatricians recommend limiting any and all juice in children’s diets: They’re high in sugar and can crowd out other foods that provide essential nutrients.

  • Avoid brown rice syrup as a sweetener in processed kids’ foods.

The arsenic in rice is concentrated in rice syrup, which is sometimes used as a sweetener in snack bars, non-dairy beverages and one brand of toddler formula. In previous testing, the one toddler formula made with rice syrup, Nature’s Gate toddler formula, had high concentrations of arsenic in its dairy- and soy-based formulas. Consumer Reports noted that the company has recently found a source of rice syrup that is processed to remove arsenicfor its dairy-based formula. (Look for use-by dates of January 2014 for Dairy with DHA & ARA, or July 2015 for Dairy.) Apparently the company has not yet addressed the issue of arsenic in its soy formula.

  • Do not use rice milk as a dairy substitute for cow’s milk.

Britain’s Food Safety Authority cautions parents to avoid rice milk as a dairy alternative for toddlers from age 1 to 4½. Consumer Reports tested two common brands for arsenic and found that all samples exceeded EPA’s drinking water limit of 10 parts per billion. The range in rice milk was 17 to 70 parts per billion.

Look for other non-dairy drinks and make sure they don’t list rice syrup as a sweetener. In many cases, dairy-sensitive children can be given water and other dietary sources of calcium instead of a highly processed dairy substitute.

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