Would you eat your favorite breakfast cereal if you knew that it contained Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), a product also used in jet fuel and embalming fluid? Can you imagine grilling your low fat veggie burger if you found out that its main ingredient is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)?
Watch out, because foods that are considered “healthy” and labeled as “natural” contain many harmful chemicals used as food preservatives and flavor enhancers – and these chemicals are often disguised under unrecognizable names.
Today, I’ll expose the hidden dangerous food additives that are lurking in so-called “healthy” foods, how you can easily spot them and the simple and delicious alternatives that won’t sabotage your bone and overall health.
In the last 100 years the food industry has advanced by leaps and bounds. Today, more than three quarters of supermarket shelves are stocked with packaged and processed foods. These boxed, canned, and frozen concoctions in most cases only require boiling or microwaving to become edible.
In total, there are more than 3,000 food chemicals purposely added to our food supply, yet avoiding them is a lot easier and more economical than you might think.
You probably already know this, but the rule of thumb is that the best foods to conquer osteoporosis and to stay healthy are unprocessed natural foods. That’s because man-made chemicals acidify your body pH which in turn accelerates bone loss.
Back to basics is best for your bone health
We can all agree that scientific progress is a good thing, especially when it comes to innovations that make our life easier and more enjoyable. But advances in the food industry are hindering our efforts to stay healthy because thousands of chemicals have entered the food supply.
At the beginning of the food processing revolution, which began soon after World War II, manufacturers did not bother to hide the newly added synthetically made food additives. After all, the perception was that as women joined the workforce, their available time for cooking would be greatly diminished, and that most everyone would quickly adopt the newly invented convenience foods. So like a tsunami thunderously ravaging the shoreline, the convenience food industry has flooded grocery stores with their processed products.
As a result, foods have become so industrially processed that in some cases they could be easily labeled as “edible food-like substances” – a synthetic man-made product – rather than actual nourishing food.
Adding insult to injury, many staple foods such as potatoes and corn – often used as basic ingredients in a host of products – have their genetic makeup purposely tampered with and may be dangerous to your health.
Convenience foods hurt more than help
Ample research on the evolutionary process of humans and their nutritional requirements point to the clear fact that while our nutrition has radically changed since Paleolithic times, our biology really hasn’t. But along came agriculture and later on the Industrial Revolution and with it, man-made chemicals made their way into our dining rooms.
Fortunately, as is the case with most deceptions, educated consumers are now seeking alternatives to these chemical laden products in turn forcing food producers to get creative… That is why more often than not, food chemicals are renamed with less “synthetic names” than their older original ones.
I want you to be aware of this very important health issue, so we’ll explore together the 12 most dangerous commonly used food additives that can sabotage both your bone health and your general health. One important comment here: remember that ingredients on product packaging are listed according to quantity; the ingredient making up the largest quantity is listed first, and so on.
Let’s analyze a healthy breakfast cereal
Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative damage and some of them are proven potent bone protectors as well. So isn’t it a great idea to have your morning breakfast cereal with healthy antioxidants? Not so fast… Let’s take a look at the ingredients of Kellogg’s® Smart Start® Strong Heart Antioxidants:
Rice, whole grain wheat, sugar, oat clusters, sugar, toasted oats [rolled oats, sugar, canola oil with tbhq and citric acid to preserve freshness, molasses, honey, bht for freshness, soy lecithin], wheat flakes, crisp rice [rice, sugar, malt, salt], corn syrup, polydextrose, honey, cinnamon, BHT [preservative], artificial vanilla flavor, high fructose corn syrup, salt, honey, malt flavoring, alpha tocopherol acetate [vitamin E], niacinamide, zinc oxide, reduced iron, sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), calcium pantothenate, Yellow #5, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), BHT (preservative), vitamin A palmitate, folic acid, beta carotene (a source of vitamin A), vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene): this common additive used to prevent oxidation in a wide variety of foods and cosmetics is listed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in 2005 as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” on the basis of experimental findings in animals. It is also used in jet fuels, rubber petroleum products, transformer oil and embalming fluid. As if this were not enough, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns that BHT should not be allowed to enter the environment, can cause liver damage, and is harmful to aquatic organisms.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Loaded with “unbound” fructose and glucose molecules, studies have shown that the reactive carbonyl molecules can cause tissue damage that may lead to obesity, diabetes, and also heart disease. So much for this “Strong Heart Antioxidants” cereal recipe! HFCS is made from genetically modified corn and processed with genetically modified enzymes. To make matters worse, studies have recently revealed that nearly half of tested samples of HFCS contained mercury.
Yellow #5: Almost all colorants approved for use in food are derived from coal tar and may contain up tp 10ppm of lead and arsenic. Also, and not surprisingly, most coal tar colors could potentially cause cancer.
I love starting my day with an antioxidant-rich breakfast complete with natural granola and fresh fruits sprinkled with slivered almonds, flax, and pumpkin seeds for extra crunch. Try it with your favorite milk substitute, and if you have a sweet tooth, use a little honey. I’m quite sure you’ll love it too. There are also many tasty varieties of boxed cereals that truly contain all-natural ingredients – just read the label and avoid synthetic ingredients including the ones listed above.
Are you ready for lunch?
You know that you can never go wrong with a salad to start your lunch with, so you pick your favorite bone-healthy alkalizing vegetables and all you have to do is pour some delicious dressing. Add a few crispy nuts and seeds and voila! You’ve got yourself a healthy lunch. But your choice of salad dressing can ruin your intentions… Let’s take a look at one of the most popular salad dressings, Kraft’s Creamy Italian dressing:
Water, soybean oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, contains less than 2% of garlic*, xanthan gum, citric acid, propylene glycol alginate, onions*, polysorbate 60, spice, red bell peppers*, garlic, phosphoric acid, parsley*, vitamin E, natural flavor. *dried
Soybean oil: More than half of all soybeans crops grown in the US are genetically-modified (GMO) representing a meteoric rise since 1996, when only 7% were GMO soybeans. Genetically modified crops not only pose environmental dangers. There is a growing concern (and mounting scientific evidence) that genetic engineering of food plant seeds may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health.
Propylene glycol alginate (E405): this food thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier is derived from alginic acid esterified and combined with propylene glycol. Bear in mind that even though propylene glycol is used as a food additive, it has many industrial uses including automotive antifreezes and airport runway de-icers.
Polysorbate 60: short for polyoxyethylene-(20)- sorbitan monostearate this emulsifier is widely used in the food industry. Made of made of corn, palm oil and petroleum, this gooey mix can’t spoil, so it often replaces dairy products in baked goods and other liquid products.
While some commercially made salad dressings really may have natural ingredients (make sure you read the labels), try to stick to basics and use olive oil with lemon juice as often as possible. Olive oil, is in fact a fruit juice and contains long chain unsaturated fatty acids that alkalize your body’s pH. You can also make your own salad dressing at home using wholesome natural ingredients.
An afternoon snack to energize your day
A couple of hours after lunch, you might crave a little pick-me-up snack. A few pretzels might just hit the spot, right? But not so fast… Take a look at the list of ingredients in a bag of fat free Rold Gold® Pretzels, the number one brand in the US:
Enriched flour: these pretzels are made with enriched flour. But don’t let the attractive description mislead you: like most highly processed foods, enriched flour is devoid of nutrients and more often than not it is also bleached. Since the wheat germ and bran are removed from this type of flour, the body treats it as a refined starch.
But it doesn’t end here. The “enrichment” itself is made using toxic ingredients. For example, iron is added back into enriched flour. Unfortunately, food makers use a metallic form of iron that your body can barely absorb and should not be ingested. Watch the shocking video below:
It has fortunately become quite easy to replace enriched flour with healthy alternatives, especially with whole wheat flour. But don’t forget that there are other options that can add variety to your meals such as rye, quinoa, millet, and brown rice flour and sprouted grain products.
I like to snack on alkalizing fruits, whether dried or fresh, and sometimes add a few nuts such as almonds or walnuts and some sesame seeds that are naturally high in calcium. Dried fruits mixed with nuts are easy to carry around so you can have a bone-healthy snack anytime of the day.
It’s time for dinner now
As the day is winding down, you are looking forward to a nutritious and substantial dinner. You might choose what you think is a healthier lower fat alternative to beef, such as the Morningstar Farms® Grillers® Vegan Veggie Burgers. Take a look at the ingredients:
Water, textured soy protein concentrate, corn oil, contains two percent or less of autolyzed yeast extract, vegetable gum, natural flavors from vegetable sources, maltodextrin, soy fiber, salt, carrageenan, potato starch, onion powder, caramel color, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, konjac flour, sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), concentrated onion juice, ascorbic acid, vinegar powder, citric acid, aspartic acid, modified corn starch, malic acid, succinic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, wheat flour, soy lecithin.
Textured soy protein concentrate, carrageenan, maltodextrin, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, modified cornstarch: All of these are basically different names to hide ingredients that either contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) or form MSG during processing.
It is very important for your bone health and your overall health that you avoid these acidifying chemicals that can cause a variety of undesirable side effects, besides accelerate your bone loss. MSG and its related products have been linked skin rashes, nausea, migraine headaches, heart irregularities, and even seizures.
If you are following the Save Our Bones Program you know that you have a very wide choice of foods to create delicious and bone-smart meals. The Program reveals an easy to follow pH balanced nutrition plan among many other things, and the best part is that you are in complete control of the huge number of combinations possible from the alkalizing and acidifying lists.
While beef is acidifying, you can build your dinner around a beef hamburger instead of the chemical meat replacement example above. I recommend you combine it with bone-healthy alkalizing vegetables and other alkalizing foods to balance your dinner.
If you opt not have meat, the good news is that many grocery stores carry all natural vegetable imitation meat patties – just make sure they don’t contain the aforementioned ingredients.
Your health is in your hands
As you can see, it is easy to make the healthy food choices that will bring back or retain your bone density and your general health. I hope that after you read this article you will pay even more attention to the ingredient labels in the foods you buy. This may sound daunting, but it’s really a lot easier than it sounds.
Simply try to eat foods in the most unadulterated “original” format as often as possible. And here’s a shortcut, any food packaging that has a long list of ingredients with names that sound like they’re from a distant planet is not the kind of food you want to eat. For strong and healthy bones, eat foods with a short and easy to recognize list of ingredients.