Just what are food additives and what do they do?
One definition is: any substance not normally consumed as a food itself and not normally used as a typical ingredient of food, regardless of nutritional value. The intention of which is to create a food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or holding of such food.
Generally additives are used in food production to increase shelf life, visual appearance or to reduce
contamination during processing. Additives are found predominantly in many packaged foods,
processed and canned foods and can include: preservatives, colours, flavours, stabilisers, sweeteners
and emulsifiers. This list doesn’t even include other contaminants used in the growing of foods like
spray residues on fruits and vegetables, hormones and antibiotics in meat/poultry/eggs and the wax
used on fruits and vegetables to make them shiny.
What’s the impact on my health?
Many food additives also come at a price to your health. Some additives cause more problems than
others and it has been revealed that laboratory testing was only conducted on mice with one additive at
a time, not the effect that multiple food additives has on the body like most humans are exposed to.
Here is a list of the top 10 worst food additives for your health:
Aspartame – Aspartame, popularly known as Equal or Nutrasweet, is believed by many scientists and
health experts to be carcinogenic and has been linked to the development of Alzheimers, diabetes,
Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, depression and anxiety.
High Fructose Corn Syrup – High fructose corn syrup is found in the majority of processed foods these
days, and is one of the leading causes of obesity. It also contributes to high cholesterol levels, tissue
damage, diabetes, and other health problems.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – MSG is used to enhance the flavour of food, and is linked to problems
such as disorientation, headaches, depression, eye damage, obesity, and fatigue.
Trans Fat – Trans-fat is used to extend the shelf life of food and to enhance the flavour of food. It is
linked to cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and the increase of bad
LDL cholesterol (and decrease of good HDL cholesterol).
Food Dyes – While some products use natural food dyes to colour products, there are many common
food dyes used that can cause problems such as chromosomal damage, thyroid cancer, breathing
problems, rashes, headaches, and, in severe cases, cardiac arrest. The top food dyes to avoid include,
blue dye, yellow dye, red dye and and yellow tartrazine.
Sodium Sulfite – Sodium sulfite is often found in wine and dried fruit. If you are like many people who
are sensitive to sulfites, look for sulfite-free products. Individuals sensitive to sulfite, who consume
products that contain this additive, may experience headaches, rashes, and breathing problems.
Sodium Nitrite or Sodium Nitrate – Used as a preservative in meat products, sodium nitrite (or nitrate) is
highly carcinogenic, and may damage internal organs such as the pancreas and liver.
BHA and BHT – these additives are found in many brands of cereals, potato chips, vegetable oils, and
chewing gum. BHA and BHT can cause neurological damage, cancer, and behavioural problems.
Sulfur Dioxide – Sulfur dioxide is an additive that can be found in some brands of soft drinks, potato
products, dried fruit, and juices. It is known to cause bronchial disorders in people who are prone to
Potassium Bromate – Potassium bromated is used in bread products, and is known to cause health
disorders such as cancer.
Avoiding these additives as much as possible, is a great way to begin your additive free living journey.