What Am I Really Eating?

By now, most of you probably know that my mom is the reason I got into this health and wellness kick. She LOVED researching and educating others on how to live a healthier lifestyle and I am so fortunate for all she taught me. She paved an extraordinary path for so many and I plan to carry on what she started.

As much as I love educating people on the importance of throwing out products that contain toxic chemicals, what’s equally as important is fueling your body with good nutrition. Yes, obviously getting in more fruits and veggies is a big one but unless you are only eating fruits and veggies, you are most likely consuming foods with some ingredients are probably doing more harm than good. It’s no coincidence that in the past 20+ years there has been a sharp increase in the prevalence of illness and disease and, at the same time, the amount of chemicals found in our food and products dramatically increased.

Here is a list of just of the some ingredients to steer clear from in your food.

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): HFCS is a highly refined sweetener found in a large amount of processed foods. HFCS is a major contributor to obesity, can raise LDL levels, may lead to diabetes, and promotes cancer growth.

2. Artificial Sweeteners: If you’re going to consume sugar, you are better off consuming organic cane sugar than artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are made with chemicals that are known neurotoxins and carcinogens. These chemicals can affect your weight by triggering the hormone that instructs your body to store fats and decrease levels of serotonin (which regulates your mood, sleep cycle, and digestion).

Better alternatives: Coconut sugar, whole-leaf stevia, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup (preferably organic for all of these)

3. Artificial Colors: Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1 & 2. Artificial food coloring has been linked to ADHD, chromosomal damage, numerous cancers, and many other conditions. These are found in a large amount of processed foods, especially children’s food.

4. Artificial Flavors & Natural: Synthetic flavor made from proprietary chemicals. These are used to make fake food taste real and can contain up to 100 ingredients including preservatives (MSG, BHA, parabens, etc.), solvents, synthetic chemicals, and more. Flavor (natural or artificial) is the ‘fragrance’ ingredient of food. Who knows what’s really in there?

5. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA): A preservative found in cereals, gum, and potato chips. When consumed in large quantities, BHA can disrupt your endocrine system and produce cancer-causing compounds.

6. Sodium nitrates and nitrites: Food additives used to preserve, flavor, and add color to processed meats like bacon, ham, and hot dogs. They are carcinogenic and can have negative affects on the liver and pancreas.

7. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): A processed flavor enhancer found in soups, seasonings, frozen entrees and many restaurant foods. MSG has been shown to overexcite brain cells which may increase hunger and trigger strong food cravings leading to overeating.

8. Trans fats (hydrogenated oils): Used in food as a flavor enhancer and to extend the shelf life. Trans fats increase the body’s LDL cholesterol while decreasing HDL. Trans fats can also increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and multiple other health problems. Trans fats have been banned but some foods may still contain them so make sure to read your labels.

9. Growth hormones (rBST and rBGH): Growth hormones are given to conventionally raised cattle and have been linked to early puberty and obesity.

10. Antibiotics: Eating animals that have been administered antibiotics allows these antibiotics to be passed to our bodies. Steady doses of antibiotics can affect our ability to break down carbs, absorb vitamins and minerals, and synthesize hormones.

11. Pesticides: Consuming products doused in pesticides have been linked to childhood obesity, endocrine disrupting, and can cause the metabolic system to malfunction.

12. Refined Vegetable Oils: This includes soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. High in omega-6 fats, which are thought to cause heart disease and cancer.

Better alternatives: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, walnut oil, sesame oil

12. Carrageenan: Stabilizer and thickening agent used in many prepared foods – helps low-fat foods taste ‘fuller’ with no nutritional value. Known to cause digestive problems and intestinal inflammation. It is also contaminated with “degraded carrageenan”. Degraded carrageenan is classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Commonly found in:
Almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, dairy-free milks, ice cream, deli meat, cottage cheese, coffee creamers.

13. Enriched and Bleached Flour: Heavily processed flour with synthetic vitamins and minerals added commonly found in breads, buns, rolls, and baked goods. Flour can be treated with any of the 60 different chemicals approved by the FDA before it ends up on store shelves – including chemical bleach. The industrial processing destroys nutrients, such as Vitamin E and fiber. It has no nutritional value and is essentially dead food, so they “enrich” it with synthetic vitamins (niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid) that are not from nature. Wheat has been heavily hybridized to make it easier for the food industry, is believed to be contributing to an increase in celiac disease, and is often sprayed directly with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Better alternatives: Einkorn, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, almond flour, coconut flour

This is just scratching the surface of ingredients we should avoid that have found their way into the foods we eat. Below are some tips to help you stay away from these ingredients:

– Cook at home

– Avoid processed foods

– Eat more fruits and veggies

– Read your ingredient labels

Know better AND do better.

To learn more about ingredients to avoid in your products, check out this post.