There are approximately 2000 different types of food additives. The standard American diet includes 3-5 pounds of these additives per year. Many additives may be toxic chemicals that give rise to a number of symptoms. The most common effects are psychological or neurological like depression, headache, mental confusion (“brain fog”), mental illness or abnormal nerve reflex.
These substances are added intentionally to foods during manufacturing to increase the desirability of the finished product by reducing the spoilage time. Many of these will accumulate in body fat. A common related allergic reaction is hives (“urticaria”)
BHA and BHT:
Butylated hydroxyanisole and Butylated hydroxytoluene are antioxidant preservatives commonly found in prepared packaged foods and usually added to the packaging. They are in breakfast cereals, chewing gum, oils found in potato chips, vegetables oils and shortening.
Benzoic acid or sodium benzoate is used to retard spoilage under acidic conditions. Soft drinks, salad dressings, and fruit juices mat contain this additive. Sodium benzoate is found naturally in some vegetable and fruits, such as cranberries and prunes, and is also a product of metabolism. Safe levels are up to 0.1% sodium benzoate.
Sulfating agents, sodium sulfite, potassium and sodium metabisulfite, potassium-sodium bisulfite, and sulfur dioxide are examples of compounds used to prevent browning, color changes or microbial spoilage of fruits, vegetables, and fresh shrimp and seafood. Foods that can legally contain sulfites includes potatoes (raw, frozen , or as potato chips), mushrooms, (canned or raw) salad mixes (unless specifically noted otherwise), fruits and vegetables (canned, frozen, or dried) and cider or vinegar. Grapes are grassed with sulfur dioxide approximately once a week after they are picked, so they may contain significant sulfites.
Wash before eating this fruit. Condiments may contain sulfite, and also beverages such as wine, wine coolers, beer, cocktail mixes, cordials, lemon and grape juice. Baked goods, pizza, cookies, crackers, piecrust and tortillas may sometimes have sulfites.
Perhaps a million Americans are sensitive to sulfites; most if these have asthma and allergies. Symptoms of sulfite sensitivity include nausea, headache, skin rash, swelling, flushing, and diarrhea. Severe reaction can lead to asthmatic attack, and unconsciousness. Highly sensitive individuals may experience anaphylactic shock. Read labels to identify brands with sulfites; notify your dentist and physician of your sensitivity. Some anesthetics and medications contain sulfites.
Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate:
Commonly found in luncheon meat, ham, bacon, and hot dogs to prevent turning brown, nitrites and nitrates provide the classic pink meat coloration and prevent anaerobic bacterial growth (such as clostridium botulinum that cause botulism). High levels of nitrites may be found in rural ground water contaminated with fertilizers high in nitrogen. Nitrite toxicity comes from its interference with our hemoglobin =’s oxygen carrying ability by converting it into methemoglobin. This is especially likely for infants, whose digestive system is not fully developed to produce all acids and enzymes that would provide protection. Nitrites are no longer routinely added to baby foods (they were until the late 1970’s), however please read your labels. When nitrites are heated or added to stomach acids the can form substances called nitrosamines which associated with increased stomach cancer. Vitamin C and similar chemicals can block nitrosamine formation.
This process kills microorganisms, insects, and inhibits sprouting of potatoes and onions. It delays the ripening of fruit. Ionizing radiation produces URPs (Unique Radiolytic Products), which are potential carcinogens. All foods treated this way must be labeled with the “picowaved” logo.- a floral emblem with a circle surrounding it. Prepared foods do not require the logo or labeling. Irradiation is currently approved fir fresh vegetables like potatoes, wheat, spices, fresh fruit like strawberries, fresh and frozen uncooked (chicken because of salmonella), pork, medical supplies and some drugs.
MSG enhances flavors by exciting your taste buds to increase the flavor experience. Used especially in Asian foods, restaurant foods and processed foods, it is a common source of natural amino acid glutamic acid. Our body uses glutamic acid as a fine turner for brain function as well as a protein building block. In some people it can over excite nerve endings and cause “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” (MSG Related Syndrome). They experience transient symptoms as numbness of chest, back and neck, worsening of asthma, tingling or burning sensation, heart palpitations, anxiety, frequent urination, thirst, stomach ache or vomiting. Most reactions pass within 4-8 hours after they were included.
Artificial Food Colors:
Artificial Dyes are widely used in foods, beverages and drugs. Many of the common coloring agents are azo dyes (impregnated with nitrate), or petroleum products derived from coal tar. These additives pose a greater health risk then any other class of food additives. They provided cosmetic appeal, but have no nutritional benefits. Certain tissues in the body are more susceptible to dyes; especially those that have quick turnover like cornea of the eye, tissue in the mouth, lining of the stomach and small intestine, and blood and lymph tissue. Safety concerns can be summarized as follows:
FD&C Red No. 40- Suspected cause of lymph tumors in experimental animals. Used in soft drinks, sausage, gelatin desserts, other dessert, and candy.
FD&C Red No. 3- Causes thyroid and lymph tumors in experimental animals
FD&C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine)- Must be specifically listed on labels; some asthmatics and individuals allergic to aspirin are also allergic to this dye. It is used in soft drinks, orange drinks, Italian dressing, cheese-food, sausage, baked goods, candy, gelatin desserts, some vitamins, sedatives, steroids, antihistamines and antibiotics.
FD&C Blue No.1 – Causes chromosomal damage; use in candy and soft drinks.
FD&C Blue No. 2- May cause brain tumors in experimental rats; common in soda pop and cat food.
FD&C Yellow No. 6 – May cause adrenal kidney tumors in experimental rats; common in soda pop and candy.
FD&C Greene No.3- Causes bladder tumors on experimental animals, and may be implicated in thyroid cancers. Found in lime drinks and popsicles.
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