Controversial Ingredients – A Guide to Better Health

“Peace begins in kitchens and pantries, gardens and backyards, where our food is grown and prepared. The energies of nature and the infinite universe are absorbed through the foods we eat and transmuted into our thoughts and actions.”

Michio Kushi – One Peaceful World

“Cook like your life depends on it, because it does.” The food we take into our mouth goes into the bloodstream. Our blood is what creates our cells, our tissues, our organs, our skin, our hair, our brains, and even our thoughts and feelings. Learning to cook high-quality foods for yourself and those you love changes everything, The three most important aspects of cooking are that the food be homemade, freshly made, and lovingly made.

A simple definition of ecology is the relationship of man, beast, fish, fowl, vegetation, and all other forms of life to each other, to the living soil, and to the total environment. Over the centuries the relatively simple life of primitive man and beast has gradually changed to a complex, artificial and chemicalized civilization posing new and difficult problems of adaptation. Food, fresh from fertile soil or the sea, has been replaced, for the most part, by refined, processed, and preserved produce of far different nutritional qualities.

The modern farmer has been forced to use mono culture, artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and mechanization in order to keep ahead of ruinous taxation, inflation, and ever-increasing costs of production. The result has been production for “quantity” rather than “quality” and the gradual destruction of our precious topsoil and mineral reserves, in or beneath the soil.

Moreover, in this day and age, human beings are increasingly exposed to thousands of chemicals in air, food, and water. They are also dosing themselves – or being dosed – with a multitude of drugs. Chemical contacts include food additives, pesticides, herbicides, nitrates, and effluents from modern industry. Many of these are coal tar products or their derivatives and other synthetic compounds foreign to the experience of man’s biochemical makeup.

At last we are faced with the inevitable consequences of our profligate use and abuse of natural resources. The laws of God and nature are immutable. They cannot long be broken without retribution.

Excerpted from the forward of the book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS.

As Weston A Price, DDS has aptly stated: “Life in all its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed.”

Has every generation felt like they were on the brink of greatness or self destruction or is that feeling unique to this time in history? These days it is a full-time job staying healthy. With all of the issues we are facing, we spend so much time and effort just trying to stay alive, I wonder how many of us are really “living”.

There is a wonderful documentary that addresses this subject in great detail. It is called “THRIVE, What on Earth Will It Take.” THRIVE is an unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what’s REALLY going on in our world by following the money upstream. (See here for more information.) Do yourself and your family a favor and watch this important documentary.

As I gaze out my windows at the trees below and bear witness to the brilliance of the Autumn colors that are beginning to show, I wonder how could anything be wrong on a day like today.

In search of the leaves,

Liesha

 

leaves

Below find a list of controversial ingredients and a guide to reading labels to help you navigate your way through the supermarket.

Controversial Ingredients

Quick and portable foods are now the norm in modern society. Whether it’s a toaster pastry, a tube of yogurt, a can of cola, or an individually wrapped slice of cheese, chances are that the product is heavily processed and contains various additives and chemicals to preserve its shelf life.

Did you know that these convenient foods, which commonly come with unpronounceable ingredients, may come at a dangerous price? Various food additives and chemicals have shown side effects which range from nausea and headaches to more serious conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Multiple Sclerosis. Be sure to read ingredient labels carefully, and consume more whole foods!

Below is a list of the 12 most pervasive and detrimental additives and substances commonly found in processed foods.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are a combination of chemicals that exist to make our foods sweeter without the calories of sugar. Artificial sweeteners have been exposed in the media for a long list of related side effects, such as headaches, nausea, anxiety, depression, dementia, skin rashes, and more.

Refined Sugar

People in the U.S. consume 130 to 160 pounds of sugar per year. In other words, we are consuming half a cup of sugar a day and most of us aren’t even aware of it. High consumption of sugar and the corresponding elevated insulin levels can cause weight gain, bloating, fatigue, arthritis, migraines, lowered immune function, obesity, cavities, and cardiovascular disease. It can also disrupt absorption of nutrients, possibly leading to osteoporosis, depression, PMS symptoms, and stress.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is a common food additive used to enhance flavor in a variety of foods. Canned vegetables, frozen entrees, fast foods, and soups are just a few products that contain MSG. Many people have experienced a variety of side effects which range from headaches, itchy skin, and dizziness to respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and coronary disease.

Artificial Colors

The blues, reds, yellows, and greens you commonly see in yogurts, cereals, and juices don’t normally come from natural sources. In fact, food coloring is usually a synthetic chemical produced by scientists to color foods and increase a product’s visual appeal. Many colorings are derived from coal tar and can contain up to 10 parts per million of lead and arsenic but still be generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Artificial colors can cause allergic reactions and increase hyperactivity in children with ADD.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

BHA and BHT are two food additives commonly used in the food industry to prevent oils from going rancid. Studies have shown that BHA has caused stomach-focused carcinogens in trials involving mice, hamsters, and rats. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deemed BHA “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” BHT is slightly less harmful than BHA but should still be replaced with safer alternatives.

Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite

Sodium nitrate and nitrite are preservatives that are added to processed meat products to enhance red color and flavor. These compounds transform into cancer-causing agents called nitrosamines in the stomach. Noticeable side effects include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

Olestra (Brand Name Olean)

Olestra is a synthetic fat created by Proctor & Gamble that does not get absorbed in the digestive tract. Side effects commonly caused by Olestra include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and minerals.

 

artificial-preservativesBrominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Brominated vegetable oil is used to keep flavor oils in soft drinks in suspension. When consumed, it is stored in fat and, over time, can accumulate. This additive can lead to reproductive interference and birth defects. It has been banned in 100 countries. This additive is less used in modern food applications.

Caffeine

Caffeine is an addictive stimulant found in soft drinks, gum, diet pills, and pain relievers; it naturally occurs in coffee, cocoa, and tea. Caffeine causes calcium to be excreted from the bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and increased infertility.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Partially hydrogenated oils are made by reacting different varieties of oil with hydrogen. When this occurs, the level of polyunsaturated oils (good fat) is reduced and trans fats are created. These oils are added to products to enhance appearance and prevent spoiling. They are associated with heart disease, breast and colon cancer, atherosclerosis, and elevated cholesterol.

Pesticides

Every year more than two billion pounds of pesticides are added to our food supply. That’s about 10 pounds per person per year. Many of the pesticides used throughout the world are carcinogenic. Pesticide consumption has been linked to birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.

Genetically Modified Organisms

GMOs are plants or animals that have had their DNA modified. In the U.S. the majority of corn, soybean, cotton, and canola crops are now genetically modified, and one or more of these can be found in nearly every processed food. GMOs have not been proven safe and some studies show GMOs may decrease immunity to diseases in plants as well as humans. They may also cause resistance to antibiotics and could have a negative impact on genetic function. Plants that are genetically modified to be resistant to disease, pesticides, and insecticides could diminish the need to use these strong chemicals. Conversely, they may build up a resistance and therefore require even larger amounts of chemicals than before.

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Food Label Claims

Whether appearing on a package of eggs in your grocery store or listed on a menu in your favorite restaurant, words like “free-range,” “grass-fed,” and “organic” are everywhere these days.

Many food labels can be confusing, so knowing what a food claim truly means is a great way to educate yourself about where your food comes from and how it has been produced. Below is a list and brief description of some common food claims. New food label claims arise regularly, so if you come across a new phrase, be sure to take some time to do your own research and learn what it really means.

Antibiotic-Free

“Antibiotic-free” means that an animal was not given antibiotics during its lifetime. Other phrases to indicate the same approach include “no antibiotics administered” and “raised without antibiotics.”

Cage-Free

“Cage-free” means that the birds are raised without cages. What this doesn’t explain is whether the birds were raised outdoors on pasture or if they were raised indoors in overcrowded conditions. If you are looking to buy eggs, poultry, or meat that was raised outdoors, look for a label that says “pastured” or “pasture raised.”

Fair Trade

The “fair trade” label means that farmers and workers, often in developing countries, have received a fair wage and worked in acceptable conditions while growing and packaging the product.

Free-Range

The use of the terms “free-range” or “free roaming” are only defined by the USDA for egg and poultry production. The label can be used as long as the producers allow the birds access to the outdoors so that they can engage in natural behaviors. It does not necessarily mean that the products are cruelty-free or antibiotic-free, or that the animals spent the majority of their time outdoors. Claims are defined by the USDA, but are not verified by third-party inspectors.

non-gmoGMO-Free, Non-GMO, or No GMOs

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses, or other plants and animals. Products can be labeled “GMO-free” if they are produced without being genetically engineered through the use of GMOs.

Grain-Fed

Animals raised on a grain diet are labeled “grain-fed.” Check the label for a “100% vegetarian diet” claim to ensure the animals were given feed containing no animal by-product.

Grass-Fed

This means the animals were fed grass, their natural diet, rather than grains. In addition to being more humane, grass-fed meat is more lean and lower in fat and calories than grain-fed meat. Grass-fed animals are not fed grain, animal by-products, synthetic hormones, or antibiotics to promote growth or prevent disease – although they may have been given antibiotics to treat disease. A “grass-fed” label doesn’t mean the animals necessarily are fed grass its entire life. Some grass-fed cattle are grain finished, which means they are fed grain from a feedlot prior to slaughter. Look for “grass-fed” and “grass-finished.”

Healthy

Foods labeled “healthy” must be low in saturated fat and contain limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium. Certain foods must also contain at least 10% of the following nutrients: vitamins A or C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber.

Heritage

A “heritage” label describes a rare and endangered breed of livestock or crops. Heritage breeds are traditional livestock that were raised by farmers in the past, before industrial agriculture drastically reduced breed variety. These animals are prized for their rich taste, and they usually contain higher fat content than commercial breeds. Production standards are not required by law, but true heritage farmers use sustainable production methods. This method of production saves animals from extinction and preserves genetic diversity.

Hormone-Free

The USDA has prohibited us from using the term “hormone-free,” but animals that were raised without added growth hormones can be labeled “no hormones administered” or “no added hormones.” By law, hogs and poultry cannot be given any hormones. If the meats you are buying are not clearly labeled, ask your farmer or butcher if they are free from hormones.

Natural

all-naturalCurrently, no standards exist for this label except when used on meat and poultry products. USDA guidelines state that “natural” meat and poultry products can only undergo minimal processing and cannot contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients. However, “natural” foods are not necessarily sustainable, organic, humanely raised, or free of hormones and antibiotics.

Non-Irradiated

This label means that the food has not been exposed to radiation. Meat and vegetables are sometimes irradiated (exposed to radiation energy) to kill disease causing bacteria and reduce the incidence of food borne illness. No thorough testing has been done to know if irradiated food is safe for human consumption.

Pasture-Raised

“Pasture-raised” indicates that the animal was raised on a pasture where it was able to eat nutritious grasses and other plants, rather than being fattened on grain in a feedlot or barn. Pasturing livestock and poultry is a traditional farming technique that allows animals to be raised in a humane manner. Animals are able to move around freely and carry out their natural behaviors. This term is very similar to “grass-fed”, though the term “pasture raised” indicates more clearly that the animal was raised outdoors on pasture.

Organic

All organic agricultural farms and products must meet the following guidelines (verified by a USDA-approved independent agency):

Abstain from the application of prohibited materials (including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and sewage sludge) for three years prior to certification and then continually throughout their organic license.

  • Prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms and irradiation.
  • Employ positive soil building, conservation, manure management, and crop rotation practices.
  • Provide outdoor access and pasture for livestock.
  • Refrain from antibiotic and hormone use in animals.
  • Sustain animals on 100% organic feed.
  • Avoid contamination during the processing of organic products.
  • Keep records of all operations.

If a product contains the “USDA Organic” seal, it means that 85-100% of its ingredients are organic. Products with 70-85% organic ingredients can still advertise “organic ingredients” on the front of the package, and products with less than 70% organic ingredients can identify them on the side panel. Organic foods prohibit the use of hydrogenation and trans fats.

rBGH-Free and rBST-Free

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), is a genetically engineered growth hormone that is injected into dairy cows to artificially increase their milk production. The hormone has not been properly tested for safety, and its use is not permitted in the European Union, Canada, and some other countries. Milk labeled “rBGH-Free” is produced by dairy cows that never received injections of this hormone. Organic milk is rBGH-free.

Institute for Integrative Nutrition


Want to learn more or meet with our Holistic Health Coach? You can contact us at (856) 596-5834.