Thursday, April 12, 2012

Those Sneaky Chemicals!

Well, since it already feels like I'm on a roll talking about food coloring and artificial sweeteners in previous weeks, I thought I would continue and talk a bit about a few other nasty chemicals that are added to foods.  These chemicals, along with sugar, food coloring and artificial sweeteners, are considered anti-nutrients and really should be avoided as much as possible.  What am I talking about?  MSG (monosodium glutamate), Nitrates, BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole).

These chemicals may have long names but they don't do a whole lot for a long, healthy life. They leave little room for life-sustaining building blocks such as proteins, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids which are all necessary for optimal health.  What's worse, these anti-nutrients have even been linked to serious diseases such as asthma, obesity, Type II diabetes and cancer.  Check out your boxed cereals, crackers, luncheon meats, processed breads and be very wary of these chemicals.

It is obvious in any grocery store that people are eating "far from the land". Think about it. How much processing is involved and how much "real" food is truly left in a boxed dinner?  The reason food manufacturers' have to add in the chemicals I mentioned is because the food really has no taste - so many good things have been stripped from the original food and replaced with junk.  MSG is added to things to make it taste good - it gives food a hearty, meaty type of taste.  Nitrates are used to preserve foods such as luncheon meats.  Historically, salt was used.  Nitrates are one of those chemicals that truly scares me.  Consuming too much of it can lead to stomach cancers and other problems.  BHT and BHA are used to add shelf-life to foods.  I don't know about you, but I would rather eat something fresh instead!

The side effects of MSG have been well documented and include: migraines, headaches, stomach aches, irritable bowel disease, panic attacks, heart palpitations, hyperactivity,  blurred vision, behavioral problems in children, difficulty focusing and fibromyalgia.  Food chemicals are a special concern for children whose growing bodies and smaller organs are more susceptible to its effects.  Like Aspartame, MSG crosses a safety net, called the blood-brain barrier, which separates the brain from the rest of the body.  There's also a strange phenomenon called "Chinese-Food Syndrome" that is related to consuming MSG that can cause tingling, chest pains, numbness as well as the other mentioned symptoms.  Yikes!  Manufacturers have also tried to get around the whole MSG stigma by using ingredients such as autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed protein which are actually components of MSG in disguise.  Pretty sneaky, right?

Interestingly, there is a natural form of MSG that is found in soybeans, beets, seaweeds and, in small amounts, in beef.  However, this natural form is how God intended and not condensed and transformed into the chemical sense of MSG.

What can you do?  Eliminate food ingredients that you cannot pronounce!  Better yet, eliminate those that a 4th grader cannot pronounce!  There is no such thing as empty calories.  Every food eaten can help or hinder you and your children's health.

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