Saturday, August 18, 2012

Read the Ingredients !!!!!!!

Several months ago I was buying a couple stickers for my kids from our local food co-op-- they love to put them on their bikes/helmets and skateboards. Avery got a funky tree of life, Ethan got one that said "Stop Wars" in the Star Wars emblem (he loved it) and I picked one up for myself that said "Read the Ingredients" (C'mon! Anyone that knows me knows I couldn't leave that sticker there!!!) It's not on my car it just floats around the house-- but it's what I want to shout from the rooftops everyday when I see people (many unknowingly) buying absolute food crap!! We were in the car on our way camping and I pulled out the stickers for the kids. Then I showed them mine- I held it up, let them read it, and Ethan immediately laughed and said, "Oh, Mom that is SOOOOOOOO you!!!" (In his 7 going on 14 yr old boy voice)

So here's the deal-- I'm keeping this post limited to chemicals/artificial ingredients and preservatives that you should absolutely A-VOID!!! And seriously, it's not that hard once you learn to shop differently. You may have to hit up 2 different stores and try brands you've never tried before. And you may also have to make the conscience effort to understand you will need to shift a small portion of money from say...oh, I don't know...getting your nails done, and extra dinner out, or a pair of new shoes on a monthly/bimonthly basis. You will not go's about shifting priorities. And NO, you cannot buy all your food from Costco (pre-made, packaged, or frozen food) and consider it health food. (although they do have some nice new additions of healthy food over the last couple years!)

Warning: You may experience some razzing by family and friends for viewing this as food OCD, and some might be afraid to feed your kids (or tell you what they are feeding your kids) but once you have made a name for yourself around town people will follow suit. Why? Because we should!!! Because the evidence is there proving these harmful!!! And because we have a choice--there are alternatives! So Goodbye Kellog's with BHT (Whad'you call me??)
and hello Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls with 6 ingredients and 5 grams of sugar!! (Thank you Katharine for telling me about Kellog's!!! I haven't bought a conventional Kellog's product in 7 years and had NO idea they are poisoning kids!)

So let's go- I'll start with the things you've probably heard of or seen and end with Chemistry 101. Just kidding...I'll keep it simple. What to look for and AVOID.

Preservatives/Additives are put into food for a few reasons- to prevent oxidation (using mostly synthetic antioxidants), prevent bacteria/molds/yeasts (using anti-microbials), to inhibit ripening, and increase their profits with colorful food to market to kids!! Common preservatives are nitrites, sulphites, benzoates and sorbates.

My list of absolutes:

Benzoates: BHT/BHA/TBHQ - VERY common. Can be found in cereal, chips, cookies, crackers even gum! It preserves the stability of a fat. It can even found in dog food,petroleum products, cosmetics, jet fuel, and embalming fluid!!!! For the love....seriously!!! This tumor inducing chemical is banned in Japan, Australia and Sweden (among other countries). Although in the 70's it was found to be "safe" in low levels, we need to logically think that it's so common and in so many foods it is pretty certain we are consuming well above the "safe" levels.

Food Coloring! (Red 3/40, Yellow 5/6, Blue 1/2, Green 3) Linked to cancer, a host of allergies and ADHD/ADD. Banned in the UK and most of Europe. (Yes, your Kraft Mac/cheese has yellow dye, but those Kraft boxes sold in Europe--nope, no Yellow #5/6-- see? it can be done on big scale) Remember in the 70's when red M&M's suddenly disappeared? That's because the red dye, amaranth was finally proven to be a carcinogen. Well, surprise!!! Red #3 is considered a carcinogen by the FDA-- but no ban-- not yet. Yellow #5 and Blue #2 are derived from the manufacturing of coal tars. Be on guard for sneaky, dirty tricks too... here's some of the AKA's they go by:

Allura Red AC (aka Red 40)
Erythrosine (aka Red 3)
Indigotine (aka Blue 2)
Tartrazine (aka Yellow 5)

Should be an obvious one, right? It just sounds baaaaaad. Like the name of a villain the superheros need to take out. It's found in lots of sugar free foods. Gum, soda etc. There has been much controversary over the years about this one-- cancer causing or not ? (brain tumors up for grabs!!!). I say why not err on the side of caution and not consume it!! Especially when it's side effects (all 92 of them) are serious enough without the potential for a tumor! In the FDA's words, side effects are listed as "headaches, dizziness, severe anxiety, extreme depression, decreased vision, memory loss, irritability, palpitations, tachycardia (high heart rate), nausea"... and the list goes on and on. OH!! And BTW-- MONSANTO uses a genetically modified bacteria to produce aspartame in their US plants. just gets better, don't it?!?! Anywho.... that's enough for me to listen to my logical voice-- hmmm...a lab created chemical 100 sweeter than sugar with all these potential side effects?!??!?! I'll stick with the real deal of unrefined, unbleached good ol' sugar in moderation, thank you very much.

Trans Fat-
Now I'm sure this is not a foreign term for well, anyone these days. These are industrial created fats created by adding hydrogen to an unsaturated fat to make it more stable.(other words for it are "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated")It's usually made from palm oil or soybean oil. These fats contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. There is no conflicting evidence on this... these fats are detrimental to your health. Enough said.

Potassium Nitrate-
Other wise known as nitrites or nitrates. These are added to most luncheon meats, hot dogs and the like to preserve color, flavor and freshness. They combine with chemicals in the stomach to produce nitrosamine-- a straight up carcinogen.

To quickly give you a list of a few other preservative offenders without going into gory detail here they are- (many go by numbers as well):

~Dimethyl Dicarbonate or 242
~Calcium Disodium or 385 (found in fish, canned soft drinks, salad dressing, sandwich spreads)
~Propylene glycol or 1520 It's obtained from petroleum and it can be in tooth paste, cosmetics, chocolates, pastry and chewing gum! It's neurotoxic and cardiotoxic (it will kill the brain and heart)

And lets throw in --
High fructose Corn Syrup-- Do not believe the commercials stating, "sugar is sugar". Nope, no it's not. (I mean the corn industry has just a tad of money and a small influence in our food market and government, no?) While it's true sugar in any form is not good for the body, for your health in general-- this highly processed, refined product is much more dangerous. It affects the liver by triggering it to produce fats (triglycerides and cholesterol) and it causes big spikes in insulin. It eventually leads to increases in appetite, diabetes, weight gain, heart disease and even cancer. Independent doctors and unbiased studies have proved HFCS unhealthy. If you're going have sugar have a small amount of the real deal!!!

Let's just end with
MSG (in lots of soup box mixes still!) It can affect the nervous system and cause migraines.
rBGH- genetically modified bovine growth hormone to stimulate milk production in cows. It's been linked to prostate, colon and breast cancer.

Let's also to remember to tap into our logical brain here. Some might argue some of these things haven't been proven to be harmful in the levels/doses in the particular product-- what we need to remember is that harmful chemicals act in a compounding and synergistic effect. Maybe a small dose of nitrates from a hot dog once month won't harm you. But if your kid (smaller body mass) is eating hot dogs or normal deli lunch meat (please NO Lunchables!) every day...on top of lots food coloring in various candy/treats/snacks and then throw in some rBGH hormone in their milk and some trans fats in their cookies at night and ,well, yeah...that's a recipe for disaster day in and day out for years!!!!

Like Oprah says, "When you know better, you do better."

For the COMPLETE, complete list of crap added to food, you can print this list!

Happy ingredient reading!

In Health~