Here’s a term you may not have heard: “Chemcuisine”.
The first time we read the term, we were researching this article. On the site, Center for Science in the Public Interest, the publishers proclaim: “Shopping was easy when most food came from farms. Now, factory-made foods have made chemical additives a significant part of our diet.”
In previous articles, we discussed the Balanced Diet: what it is, how it affects your health, your heath care and the fact that the people are consuming a “Balanced Diet” is an illusion. The publishers at the Center for Science in the Public interest drive the point home on their site.
To start the analysis, and If you are interested, here is a listing, from the FDA, of all the additives (3,000 in all) the FDA knows are in the NEW Standard American Diet: Chemcuisine.
The following analysis is a synopsis of our research on the subject of what most people, and their children, are consuming each day.
Processed, Junk, and Fake Foods
Processed food is made from real food that has been put through devitalizing chemical processes and is infused with chemicals and preservatives. Beef jerky, canned tea, jam, hot dogs, and low-fat yogurt with sugar or aspartame are a few examples of processed food.
Junk foods contain very little real food. They’re made of devitalized processed food, hydrogenated fats, chemicals, and preservatives, and include anything made with refined white flour. Canned breakfast drinks, cold/sugary cereals, doughnuts, drive-through foods, and soda are examples of junk foods.
Fake foods are made primarily of chemicals, and often contain gums and sugar fillers. Examples include bacon bits, bottled salad dressing, dehydrated soups, and instant coffee.
The Energy Output Exceeds Nutritional Input. These non-foods have one thing in common; it costs your body a great deal more to digest, absorb, and eliminate them than they offer your body in nutritional value – an extremely poor return on your investment that leaves your body sluggish and depleted.
Toxins, Poisons, Processed Food – And The Body
Our ancestors preserved foods naturally, using salt, fermentation, and sun drying. Food processing has evolved away from these simple practices into more complicated and dubious methods.
Today, food companies use nearly three thousand known additives and chemicals to process our food. Many of them can have a devastating effect on our health.
It is important to note that additives and preservatives cannot always be painted with a negative brush. The addition of vitamins to bread and milk has helped to stamp out diseases such as pellagra and rickets.
Unfortunately, the good intentions that characterized the processed food industry during the early days have now de-evolved to finding ways to cheaply process food and manipulate buyers, regardless of the detrimental affects on the health of Americans.
Today, many additives and preservatives are harmful toxic chemicals that are as problematic as the decay they are used to prevent.
Perservatives are a type of additive used to help stop food from spoiling.
Nitrates and nitrites are used to preserve meats such as ham and bacon, but are known to cause asthma, nausea, vomiting, and headaches in some people in addition to allergic reactions.
The same is true for sulfites (sulfur dioxide, metabisulfites, and others, which are commonly used to prevent fungal spoilage, as well as the browning of peeled fruits and vegetables.
Sodium nitrite in some foods is capable of being converted to nitrous acid when ingested by humans. While animal testing showed that nitrous acid caused high rates of cancer, it is still in use.
Sulfur dioxide is a toxin used in dried fruits and molasses as well as to prevent brown spots on peeled fresh foods such as potatoes and apples. Sulfur dioxide bleaches out rot, hiding inferior fruits and vegetables. In the process, it destroys the vitamin B contained in produce.
While antioxidants such as alpha-carotene are recommended by health specialists to prevent premature aging, some of the antioxidants used as food preservatives may be unhealthy. Contained in nearly every processed food on the market, antioxidants prevent fatty foods from spoiling when exposed to oxygen.
For example, BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)are two of the most widely used, yet controversial of all antioxidants. So alarming were the results of BHT and BHA in animal testing, that a number of countries have severely restricted their use.
Some people have difficulty metabolizing these chemicals, which is thought to result in health and behavioral problems, and hyperactivity. They cause allergic reactions, may also contribute to the development of tumors and cancer, as well as be toxic to the nervous system and liver.
In spite of these findings, the use of BHT and BHA has increased, rather than decreased, in the U.S.A.
Each year, the American food industry uses three thousand tons of food color. Many coloring agents are derived from coal tar, and nearly all coloring is synthetic. Norway has a total ban on all products containing coal tar.
Though some artificial food dyes have been banned because they are believed to cause cancer, most dyes used today are of the artificial variety. They are also linked to allergies, asthmas, and hyperactivity.
The long list of foods and beverages in which color is altered includes butter, margarine, the skins of oranges and potatoes, popcorn, maraschino cherries, hot dogs, jellies, jellybeans, carbonated beverages, and canned strawberries and peas.
Even the chicken feed on large-scale egg farms is colored so that chickens will lay golden-yolk eggs similar to those laid by free-range chickens.
Most processed foods contain sweeteners, many of which are artificial sugar substitutes containing no natural sugars, such as saccharine and aspartame.
Artificial sweeteners are linked to behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and allergies. Because saccharin was shown to increase the incidence of bladder cancer in animal testing, all foods containing this sugar substitute are required to carry a warning label.
Emulsifiers, Stabilizers, and Thickeners
These additives alter the texture of foods. Emulsifiers, for example, prevent ingredients from separating into unappealing globs in food such as mayonnaise and ice cream.
A first cousin to anti-freeze, propylene glycol is a synthetic solvent used as an emulsifier in foods. Although it is recognized as toxic to the skin and other senses, and is considered a neurological toxicant, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed it generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
The most common food additive, flavorings – of which there are over 2000 in use – may be natural or artificial, and are usually comprised of a large number of chemicals.
Artificial flavors are linked to allergic and behavioral reactions, yet these ingredients are not required to be listed in detail as they’re generally recognized as safe.
MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a common flavor enhancer. Found to cause damage in laboratory mice, it has been banned from use in baby foods, but is still used in numerous others. It causes common allergic and behavioral reactions including headaches, dizziness, chest pains, depression, and mood swings, and is also a possible neurotoxin.
Refined flour has had the brown husk of the grain stripped away, leaving the white, refined starch that is found in white bread, white rice, pasta, cookies, and numerous other junk foods.
Without the fibrous husk, refined starches are broken down quickly into sugar and absorbed immediately into the bloodstream causing glucose levels to rise, and increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes and a host of other “not so nice” health complaints.
In contrast, whole grains – such as whole grain bread and cereals, brown rice, and barley – retain the bran surrounding the starch, so they’re absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream than refined starches. This slows sugar absorption from the intestine, and reduces the risk of consuming refined food.
Refining Destroys and Devitalizes Most of Foods’ Goodness
Healthy unsaturated fatty acids – high in food value – are lost during the milling process. Half the vitamin E is destroyed when the wheat germ and bran are removed. Refining wheat into white flour removes between 50 and 93 percent of wheat’s magnesium, zinc, chromium, manganese, and cobalt.2
Additionally, approximately 50 percent of calcium, 70 percent of phosphorus, 80 percent of iron, 50 percent of potassium, 65 percent of copper, 80 percent of thiamin, 60 percent of riboflavin, 75 percent of niacin, 50 percent of pantothenic acid, and about 50 percent of pyridoxine is lost.3
Refining sugar cane into white sugar depletes it of 99 percent of its magnesium and 93 percent of its chromium. Polishing rice removes 75 percent of its zinc and chromium. Refined table salt has had most of the trace minerals removed during processing. It contains no sodium chloride, sugar as filler, and may even contain aluminum.5
Part of the process wheat undergoes to become the white flour in popular baked goods involves bleaching. Various chemical bleaching agents are used including oxide of nitrogen, chlorine, chloride, nitrosyl, and benzoyl peroxide mixed with a variety of chemical salts.
Chloride oxide – which catalyzes a chemical reaction that destroys beta cells in the pancreas is now being linked to diabetes. This toxic effect is common scientific knowledge in the research community. In spite of this, the FDA still allows companies to use chloride oxide in processed food.
A Healthier Lifestyle
Eradicating every guilty pleasure in life is not the end goal here, nor is it a particularly realistic approach to making changes because everyone enjoys the occasional cheeseburger, order of fries, or bag of chips.
But if you understand the consequences of making what ought to be an occasional treat into the mainstay of your diet, you can begin to make wise choices about how many of these things you are willing to eat.
When it comes to avoiding many of the questionable – and possibly deadly – additives contained in processed foods, you’re only human after all so, taking baby steps toward change is usually the best approach.
If you can accomplish just one of these 10 steps, you’re moving in the right direction.
Try implementing one change a month …
1. As a general rule, if you don’t recognize – or can’t pronounce – the words on a label, don’t buy it, or eat it. Instead choose the real thing!
2. Avoid products containing
- Nitrates and nitrites (including sodium nitrite)
- Sulfites (including metabisulfites)
- Sulfur dioxide
- Benzoic acid (aka sodium benzoate)
- BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
- Coal tar
- Propylene glycol
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- Refined or bleached flour (i.e. whitened using chloride oxide)
3. Don’t eat partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated trans fats
4. Don’t eat products containing sugar substitutes such as saccharine and aspartame.
5. Avoid products with a long shelf life – the better they do on the shelf, the worse they are for your body.
6. Avoid products that have been “enriched“. They have been completely devitalized during processing.
7. Avoid food that has been genetically modified or engineered. Nearly all processed food contains GMOs.
8. Avoid products made with ingredients euphemistically described as “natural flavoring” or “natural coloring.”
9. Avoid products with added sugar – watch for words with “-ose” endings, such as fructose.
10. Incorporate a high quality multi-vitamin into your health regimen.
If you’ve had a history of eating products high in sugar and are concerned about diabetes, incorporate disease-fighting foods such as garlic, onion and quality Aloe vera juice into your diet. Natural phytonutrient supplements can also protect your body from the harmful effects of eating refined products that have been bleached with chloride oxide.
As you begin to eliminate processed food from your diet, and start to enjoy eating real food that has not been processed to death, you will be on your way to optimizing your health, making an investment in your body’s future and, ultimately, feeling better.
Processing Food Facts
In addition to the more than three thousand chemicals and additives in our food, preserving processes have changed beyond recognition from the simple use of vinegar, salt, and sunshine. Many processed foods are stripped bare, rendering them of little or no nutritional value.
Worse, foods are deliberately tampered with to create the desire for more. And the health effects of certain processing methods – such as the very controversial irradiation – are not yet known.
Irradiation is the use of x-rays or gamma radiation on food to kill bacteria mold, viruses and parasites. Unfortunately, its effects are also harmful to test animals. Those fed a diet of irradiated wheat developed increased numbers of cells with chromosome abnormalities. As well, there were unexplained stillbirths in the offspring of test rats.
So unpleasant is the mere sound of the word “irradiation” that euphemisms such as “Cold Pasteurization” and “Picowaved For Your Protection” are being used on labels because food companies fear that using the term “irradiation” may hurt sales.
Junk food – high in fat and sugar – is one of the leading causes for the soaring number of cases of type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and tooth decay. It is also linked to hypoglycemia and yeast overgrowth.
Did you know that cravings for processed foods are initiated by eating processed food? It’s a vicious, addictive cycle.
Food scientists know that it is necessary for certain nutrients to be present in the blood stream in order to feel full. While it is not fully understood how this process works, food companies know enough to use this knowledge to manipulate consumers into eating more by subtracting various nutrients, and adding others such as fat, sugar, and salt.
This manipulation creates a desire for processed foods – one that can never be satisfied – no matter how much of it you consume.
“Natural flavoring” can be just about anything, from the cells of yeast extract and nucleic acid from cell chromosomes, to waste bi-products from cattle. Some reports suggest that the ingredients in so-called “natural colors” have been known to contain products as unlikely as monkey intestines; others note that some “artificial flavors” are comprised of ingredients as unappealing as minced cat.
How is it possible to determine exactly what “flavorings” are comprised of when the list of items from which they are concocted often includes a long ramble of unrecognizable chemicals?
Here is an example from the ingredient list for the strawberry flavoring in one popular fast food outlet’s strawberry milk shake.
It contains: Amyl acetate, Amyl butyrate, Amyl valerate, Anethol, Anisyl formate, Benzyl acetate, Benzyl isobutyrate, Butyric acid, Cinnamyl isobutyrate, Cinnamyl valerate, Cognac essential oil, Diacetyl, Dipropyl ketone, Ethyl butyrate, Ethyl cinnamate, Ethyl heptanoate, Ethyl lactate, Ethyl methylphenylglycidate, Ethyl Nitrate, Ethyl propionate, Ethyl valerbate, Heliotropin, Hydroxyphrenyl-2butanone (10% solution in alcohol), A-Ionone, Isobutyl anthranilate, Isobutyl butrate, Lemon essential oil, Maltol, 4-Methylacetophenone, Methyl anthranilate, Methyl benzoate, Methyl cinnamate, Methyl heptine carbonate, Methyl naphthyl ketone, Methyl salicylate, Mint essential oil, Neroli essential oil, Nerolin, Neryl isobutyrate, Orris butter, Phenethyl alcohol, Rose, Rum ether, G-Undecalactone, Vanillin, Solvent!
And this is just the stuff in the flavoring.
Do you want to know what’s in the “milk” part of this so-called milk shake?
It contains: Milk fat and nonfat milk, Sugar, Sweet whey, High-fructose corn syrup, Guar gum, Monoglycerides and diglycerides, Cellulose gum, Sodium phosphate, Carrageenan, Citric acid, E129, Artificial strawberry flavor.
MMM, MMMM! yummy and so good for you – NOT!
There are also concerns regarding the materials used to coat and package foods.3 The protective wax on produce such as cucumbers, peppers, and apples may trigger allergies, and can contain pesticides, fungicide sprays, or animal byproducts. Further, the plastic (vinyl chloride) some food is wrapped in is considered carcinogenic, and has been linked to immune reactions and lung shock.
A by-product of whitening, especially of food containers, Dioxin has become a health concern. It has been reported, for example, that certain ice creams contain high levels of dioxins, reportedly leaked into the product through the whitening used in its containers.
A known carcinogen, dioxin is associated with genetic and reproductive defects as well as learning disabilities.4 Dioxin exposure is a possible cause of endometriosis – a painful condition that can result in fertility problems and/or hysterectomy, as well as chronic pelvic pain and other conditions.
After reading this, one could conclude that the situation is hopeless.
Quite the opposite is true – because knowledge is power. Simply use this knowledge to make different choices.
It makes good sense to pay attention to the food you are buying, especially if it has been processed. One thing is for certain – most of these added ingredients have nothing to do with nutrition and everything to do with increasing food sales by keeping addicted, depleted consumers coming back for more.
Besides adequate rest and moderate exercise, the fundamental nutritional thresholds must be consumed, if you have any expectation for staying healthy. Your body needs copious amounts of: (in descending order) clean water, protein from vegetables with a limited quantity from animals, minerals, carbohydrates from whole grain, healthy fat from fish and a smattering of vitamins to stay healthy. You can choose to consume them or take fundamental supplements to fill the gaps in your diet.
If you are experiences any of the likely complaints associated with failing to meet these thresholds, you may want to consider choosing supplements help you address your specific needs to expedite your restoration.
We’re all in this together – I’m pulling for you. (Sorry Red Green, I left out the attribution)
1. Hanley, J.L., M.D. and Deville, N., Tired of Being Tired, Berkley Publishing Group, NY, 2001. (p. 66)
2. Wilson, Lawrence, M.D., F.I.C.B., Why Take Nutritional Supplements, article on www.drlwilson.com.
3. Hull, Janet, M.D., Bleaching agent in flour linked to diabetes, from The Idaho Observer, July 2005, cited on www.detoxprogram.net.
4. Wilson, Lawrence, M.D., F.I.C.B., Why Take Nutritional Supplements, article on www.drlwilson.com.
5. Hanley, J.L., M.D. and Deville, N., Tired of Being Tired, Berkley Publishing Group, NY, 2001. (p. 220)
6. Hull, Janet, M.D., Bleaching agent in flour linked to diabetes, from The Idaho Observer, July 2005, cited on www.detoxprogram.net.
7. Chek, Paul, excerpted from the CD/Workbook Program: You Are What You Eat! at www.chekinstitute.com.
8. The New York Nerd: Eat Fast, Die Young, April 24, 2006, at www.nynerd.com.
9. Hass, Elson M., M.D., Food Additives and Human Health, excerpted from Staying Healthy Shopper’s Guide: Feed Your Family Safely, cited on www.healthychild.com.
10. Hass, Elson M., M.D., Food Additives and Human Health, excerpted from Staying Healthy Shopper’s Guide: Feed Your Family Safely, cited on www.healthychild.com.