What You Should Know About Food Additives and Preservatives

Make it a habit to always check the label of anything you buy. (photo credits from http://www.diyhealth.com)

In today’s busy world, we all seem to be in a hurry – we  all want to get things done at the soonest possible time and everyday, it seems that we’re rushing from one appointment to another. We look for what’s convenience but at the same time, we also go for what’s affordable, although, most of the time,  the cheap and instant ones may not always be the right choice, especially when it comes to foods. Unfortunately, all food products except for the ones growing in our own gardens has food preservatives in them. Most manufacturers add food preservative to their product during processing to generally avoid spoilage during the transportation time.

Food preservations is a natural process, in fact, there are lots of naturally occurring substance like rosemary extract, hops, salt, sugar, vinegar, alcohol, and castor oil are also used as traditional preservatives. Naturally occurring citric and ascorbic acids can also act as preservatives. Try sprinkling small amounts of lemon or other citrus juice in surfaces of cut apples and potatoes. The  juice will inhibit the action of the enzyme phenolase which turns the surfaces brown  when exposed. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are also sometimes used as preservatives. Another group of preservatives targets enzymes in fruits and vegetables that start to metabolize after they are cut.

Food processing and preservation is all a natural process, and there’s nothing wrong with processing and preserving foods, but some processed foods contain artificial preservatives and food additives that may be harmful to our health.

Check out food additives that you’ll find in some processed foods and the health risks that they pose:

Artificial food colors. Before, food coloring could only be obtained from what people found in nature. Saffron, paprika, turmeric, beet extract and other spices were used to put rich colors into various foods. During the ancient times, even petals from various flowers were used; but newer technology created a new kind of dye derived from coal tars and by the beginning of the 20th century, some 695 of these had been synthesized, and over  80 were on the market. While they were generally a safer alternative to metal  salts and used in less quantity, they were still unregulated.

Studies have shown that artificial colorings which are found in soda, fruit juices and salad dressings may contribute to behavioral problems in children and can lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have linked other food colorings to cancer. They may also cause asthma, hypercativity, hives, swelling of lips and tongue, tumors and birth defects in animals;

Watch out  for the following:

Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133) – Found in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods .

Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)  are found in : fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more.

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102) found in American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more.

Monosodium glutamate (msg) found in many snacks, chips cookies, seasonings and frozen meat. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, thyroid disorders, allergies and behavioral issues like depression and mood swings

MSG also affects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengages the “I’m full” function which explains the constant eating which results to weight gain.

Aspastame(in food labels, it is known as E951), an artificial sweetener, is believed to be carcinogenic  and is reported to be responsible for most adverse reactions from food additives compared to other additives.  Aspartame is a neurotoxic and carcinogenic. It is known to erode intelligence and has an effect on short-term memory. The components of this sweeterner  sweetener can  lead to various ailments including brain tumor,  lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures.

Make it a habit to always check the label of anything you buy. (photo credits from http://www.diyhealth.com)

Preservatives like BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) and  BHT (butylated hydrozyttoluene ) found in potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello can cause  estrogen imbalance, behavioral issues, allergies, asthma and cancer.

Sodium Sulfite (E221) can trigger a asthma to some  and can boosts recurrences of  headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death by closing down the airway altogether, leading to cardiac arrest.

Hydrogenated  fats  will increase your  level of  cholesterol  which puts you at  risk of heart diseases . This is highly abundant  in deep-fried fast foods and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Refined flour (such as bleached or bromated flour) Provides low-nutrient calories and may cause carbohydrate imbalances  and altered insulin production.  Potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals and  even small amounts in bread can create problems for humans.

The best way to go, of course, is to go natural, but it would be difficult to avoid consumption of processed foods. If it can’t be avoided,  at least check the labels  of what  you’re buying so you would know what you’d  be taking in.

 

Web references:

http://www.foodadditivesworld.com/preservatives.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preservative

http://gulnazahmad.hubpages.com/hub/Food-Additives-and-their-Health-Effects

http://allergies.about.com/od/foodallergies/a/foodadditives.htm

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-10-food-additives-to-avoid

http://www.understandingfoodadditives.org/pages/Ch2p5-3.htm