Monday, December 22, 2008

Food Additives

Our ancestors didn’t have the luxury of refrigeration until the ice box (left) was invented, and they’d probably faint at the idea of taking food out of a box and eating it. Food preservation was limited to salting things down or drying them out. We are blessed to have ways to keep food on our shelves for months and years, and I don’t know a single person who doesn’t own at least one refrigerator, while there are many who own two.

But with this advance in food preservation comes a price to be paid, that in the cost of our health. Many of the preservatives added to our food are chemically-based and are not suited to our bodies.

Take, for instance, sodium nitrate, the most common preservative in lunch meats and hot dogs. Studies done by the American Dietetic Association have shown this substance to be carcinogenic, meaning it can cause cancer.

Also be on the lookout for MSG, which can cause headaches and nausea. (I’ve experienced this one myself.) While this additive is most commonly found in Chinese food, many Chinese restaurants are now going MSG free.

We’ve all heard about the dangers of trans fats, but did you know that they are actually a food preservative? I had no idea. I thought they just existed, not that they were added. Interesting. I quote a representative from the American Dietetic Association: "Trans fats are proven to cause heart disease, and make conditions perfect for stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and limb loss due to vascular disease. It would be wonderful if they could be banned."

Aspartame is especially dangerous. According to the FDA, it can cause headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain. You will especially want to avoid it if you have brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson's disease, alzheimer's, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes, as it can make the effects of these conditions worse.

Our ancestors had to eat their foods fresh and quickly before they went bad. We may be considered more “advanced,” but we’d do well to take a page from the lives of our ancestors and eat the bulk of our foods as fresh as we can get them, as unprocessed as possible. Our bodies simply weren’t made to accommodate these high levels of chemical additives.

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Lee Ann Setzer said...

Amen, sister! It's the lunch meats etc. that give me headaches. Good thing, I guess--just thinking about hotdogs gives me a migraine.

Annette Lyon said...

Yeah, trans fats are a problem. My understanding is that they were invented specifically as a preservative. They're why we can have cake mixes and such on the shelf for months on end.

I was lucky in that I grew up with a mother who believed that trans fats were the worst fat possible back in the day when nutritionists didn't know better and actually said margarine and other trans fats were BETTER than the natural stuff like butter.

I know I consume too much aspartame. It's something I need to work on.

Cindy Beck said...

Very interesting blog entry. Thanks for all the info ... it's great stuff to know.

Oh, and thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on A Tisp. It is interesting how men and women are so different!

Dan and Wendy said...

Thanks for the tips Tristi. Just one more reason to grow a garden.

Anne Bradshaw said...

Great information, Tristi. And yet it's the hardest thing to convince others of these truths unless they really want to know.

There are too many living in "blissful" ignorance out there! Until something bad happens. Even then many won't accept that answers often relate to food intake.

Kara said...

Thanks for this post. You're right on the money! Don and I have banned all food additives and preservatives at our house. This includes trans fats as well. This all happened when our oldest was about 5. Her behavior was out of control so I took away all processed foods and mixes from our diet. She turned into an angel. The biggies for her are food colors and preservatives as well as high fructose corn syrup. That has some terrible effects on the pancreas. We could do a whole blog entry just on that. It should not be in anyone's diet.

Sandra said...

I am trying so hard to get a handle on this whole food thing. But as I get better, the weight is just coming off. Now if I could just get everything else under control.

Merry Christmas to you

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

If only more people would listen to this kind of info. I fight a loosing battle with family and friends trying to get them to not drink diet softdrinks!

Rebecca said...

I completely agree with you. I also think it's irresponsible that those ads pushing high-fructose corn syrup are on the air. Sure, sugar isn't great for you either but from what I've read, HFCS is worse.

Maybe it's a good sign that they're hurting enough to run commercials.

(Oh, and I came over from Kimberly's blog.)

Tristi Pinkston said...

I hate those corn syrup commercials! Esp. since I feel a strong reaction whenever I eat it, and I know how rotten the stuff is!

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