I’m straying far from my computer how-to genre this week. Bear with me. It’s for your own good. Yes, I do sound like your mother. But, it’s a new year, and a great time to think about your health.
Fifty years ago, there was no need to worry about what was in our food. Much of the food came from nearby farms or cities, plus not many preservatives or additives were used.
Go into any grocery store today and find a package of your favorite food with less than three to five ingredients you can’t pronounce. Tough, isn’t it?
Never fear. Even though we’ve got a long way to go, things are getting better due to vigilant purchasers refusing to buy unhealthy foods for themselves and their families.
I’ve been researching food additives and preservatives for years. You’d be amazed at how food additives can affect our health. Sometimes in ways we can’t fathom. Check out my blog Tourette’s Syndrome and the Effect of Sweeteners.
TIP: If you or a family member has reactions that seem to be unexplainable (headaches, emotional and anger issues, attention problems, and more), research foods. Someone else has probably dealt with the same thing. If you can’t find anything helpful, it’s time to be your own detective by watching foods ingested two to six hours before the onset of symptoms.
I’ve been told my diligence in avoiding certain additives and preservatives is over-cautious, but I plan to live a long, productive life so over-cautious works for me.
In this blog, I’m only providing information. You’ll need to come to your own conclusions, and weigh how much effort you want to put into researching the food you buy.
Why do I care what’s in the foods I buy?
1) Many additives and preservatives used in the United States are banned in Europe. Think about that one.
Why? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me since they have social medicine, their governments don’t want to pay for treatments of cancers caused by foods.
2) It is proven certain additives and preservatives adversely affect behavior in children. If these make such a difference in how children act, can they be healthy for the general public?
I’ve come to the determination you can’t stay away from every additive and preservative. Because they’re in nearly every food around us—I do shop my organic grocers often—it makes the most sense for me to focus on those suspected of causing cancer.
Researchers code additives and preservatives as H = hyperactivity, A = asthma, and C = cancer. We’re going to worry about the C’s today.
Yes, I’ve heard laboratory tests use concentrated dosages of a substance to incite cancer growth. Do I care? No. Why? Studies show the effect of the H (hyperactivity) and the A (asthma) on people in normal dosages. Can the C (cancer) be far behind?
I’ve also heard everyone has cancer cells in their bodies, some people just don’t battle them effectively. That’s not true. We all have damaged cells, not cancer cells. Our cells police themselves. If a cell is too damaged it will either repair or kill itself.
Jennifer Loros, Ph.D, a professor of biochemistry and genetics at Dartmouth medical school says, “Everyone has cells that have mutant proteins from DNA damage, but to say that that’s cancer would be alarmist.” She also says, “Cancer can occur when the normal checkpoints in the cell cycle are misregulated somehow and the [damaged] cell starts dividing.”
Today’s Computer Tip: Aren’t you happy there’s one in this blog?
You can easily search the internet for additives and preservatives that trigger H (hyperactivity) and A‘s (asthma). Copy and paste a table list into a database program like MS Excel. Then you can sort your data. I sorted mine by “C”.
FYI: European labels note their preservatives using numbers so don’t be confused with this in your web searches. Most lists are sorted by number.
I’ve included a printable list for your wallet at the end of this blog with my recommendations, but here’s what I’ve found on additives and preservatives.
- All added colors, except caramel and greens, have caused cancers in the laboratories.
I know. It’s nearly impossible to stay away from colorings. Just be aware that food producers are starting to use natural colorings, like turmeric. And there are some products you can buy now without colorings; I’m specifically thinking of Gatorade’s line of clear drinks.
- Be aware of the below C causing additives and preservatives and try to avoid them.
Aluminum, BHT/BHA, benzoic acid, biphenol/diphenol, camauba wax, carrageenan, chlorine/chlorine dioxide, cyclamic acid/cyclamate, formic acid, magnesium sulphate, orthophenyl phenol, polysorbate, polyxyl/polyxyethylene stearate, potassium acesulphame, potassium bromate, propyl gallate, insoluble polyvinylpyrrolidone (wine, beer, pharmaceuticals), saccharine, and talc.
- Stay away from all polysorbates, (other sorbates are not C’s), nitrites, and nitrates. They’re all C’s.
NOTE: I found after this article was published potassium sorbate and calcium sorbate are preservatives which are H’s and A’s, but not C’s. However, all polysorbates are C’s. I’ve updated the wallet cheat sheet below.
- Be aware that chewing gums use petroleum jelly, white mineral oil, and paraffin, which are C’s.
Notice I haven’t list MSG? Why?
Research is divided on MSG. It’s definitely an H and an A, but researchers are split on the C.
What do I do? I steer clear of MSG. If I purchase a product with it by mistake, I don’t freak. No one in my family gets headaches or other immediately hazardous reactions.
In the USA, food manufacturers hide MSG on labels due to the bad press it received.
- MSG is currently hidden in lists as natural flavors, yeast extracts, hydrolyzed proteins, glutamic acid and caseinate.
Another giveaway are the flavor enhancers disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate. In themselves, they aren’t dangerous, but they are almost always exclusively used with MSG since they themselves do nothing for flavor.
If a label says No MSG, it’s safe from MSG.
On a side note, I’m dairy intolerant so I carry a second list. Dairy intolerance is different from lactose intolerance. Lactose is specifically milk related; dairy is dairy related.
Hidden Food Label Dairy Ingredients:
*Casein/casinates * Hydrolysates *Lactalbumin/lactoglobulin/lactitol momhydrate *Nisin preparation * Nougat * Quark * Recaldent * Rennet * Simplesse * Whey *
May have milk: *Artificial flavorings * Caramel flavoring * High protein flour * rice cheese * soy cheese *
NOTE: If a label says Vegan or Dairy-free, it’s safe. If it says Non-dairy, it’s usually not. Non-dairy means no milk, but they frequently use dairy proteins as preservatives.
I’m blessed to not go into anaphylaxis. If I eat a bit of dairy, I get normal allergy symptoms: stuffy nose, watery eyes, headache, and itching of my nose plus other places people do not want to see me scratch. If I eat a lot of dairy, my muscles and joints ache as if I have a virus. Milk or dairy is poison to the body that can’t tolerate it.
I hope this post has given you information to make good food choices. Have a safe week, and thanks again for visiting Patti’s Pathways 😀
Wallet Cheat Sheet:
Note: If the back “Don’t cause cancer” says “other” in front, this means there’s at least one additive listed on the front with a similar name that does cause cancer.
DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. On any health related blogs, I am merely giving advice that seems logical to me after research and investigation. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any medical degrees or certificates related to nutrition, psychological, pharmaceutical, or medical health.