You may have heard the saying, ‘What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you.’ I challenge that not knowing does matter. Especially when it comes to feeding yourself and your family. What you don’t know could really, really harm you.
Would you change the way that you eat and what you feed your family if you knew that up to 80% of food found in your local grocery stores contained ingredients that are actually illegal in other countries? Why is it ok for Americans to eat an array of chemicals and fillers that have been determined dangerous and banned in other places?
If no one told you this, do you think you would find it out? The answer is no. Why would food manufacturers, who get fat off the back of our ignorance, be motivated to do anything to reveal what is really in the food that they produce?
It is not so much about calling out specific brands as it is about understanding how to determine the difference between real food that your body can use for energy and healing, and fake, non-food that is paraded in front of us as masqueraded as food. It may be cheap, it may taste great, and it may be highly accessible…but it’s not real. Because the illusion is so great, however, so many people fall into the trap of eating dangerous and even toxic chemicals each time they sit down to a snack or a meal.
You may like it but do you really know what is in it?
As long as Americans are loading their grocery carts with soda, candy, frozen meals, packaged snacks and the like, manufacturers will continue to make it.
Here is a peek into some dangerous food ingredients that are found in popular grocery items and sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration, but deemed too dangerous by other foreign governments to allow their citizens to consume.
- Food dyes- This common ingredient found in sports drinks, soda, candy, cake, cereal, and packaged macaroni and cheese is what gives food items their unique colors. Sadly, it is made out of petroleum, the same stuff that makes the gas you put into your car. Are those brightly colored breakfast cereals really worth it? The chemicals that are used to make food dyes have been linked to various forms of cancer and could even mutate healthy human DNA. European countries, including Finland, France, Austria, and Norway have all banned at least one type of petroleum-containing food coloring.
- Olestra – Olestra is found in fat-free potato chips. This fat substitute was developed as a way to create a “lighter” chip that is “better for you,” but it is said to cause a significant depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, which robs the body of vital micronutrients. Olestra’s side effects even include oily anal leakage. Also found in other fat-free foods such as ice cream and mayonnaise, olestra is often called by its brand name, Olean. This disastrous ingredient has been banned in many countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada.
- Brominated vegetable oil – Linked to thyroid disease, cancer, and autoimmune disease, brominated vegetable oil is banned in more than 100 countries. Many citrus soda drinks contain this ingredient along with bagel chips, flatbread, wraps, and other common bread products. Would you think twice about eating this stuff if you knew that bromine is also used to disinfect swimming pools and keep carpets from catching on fire?
- BHA and BHT – The FDA says that BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) are “generally recognized as safe,” but these substances have been shown to increase the risk of cancer in animal tests and are banned from foods in countries throughout Europe as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. These synthetic additives are typically found in foods like potato chips and cereals to prevent rancidity in oils and extend shelf life. Several studies have also shown BHT to be carcinogenic. Furthermore, the National Toxicology Program classifies it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” The European Union classifies BHA as an endocrine disruptor.
- Azodicarbonamide – The same chemical is found in bleach and used to make yoga mats is also found in many frozen potato and bread products as well as in some frozen dinners. This dangerous chemical has been found to induce asthma and is based in the U.K., Australia, and many other European countries. If you use this food ingredient in Singapore, you could face a $500,000 fine and up to 15 years of jail time. The FDA states that Azodicronamide is ‘approved to be a bleaching agent in cereal flour’ and is ‘permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption’.
One of the biggest concerns with these and other chemicals is that they build up in the body, get stuck in fat, and stick around for a very, very long time. All the while, they are having an impact on our health.
Will the REAL food please stand up?
There are more chemicals and dangerous ingredients that would take a novel to list. But what is really important is to know how to spot the difference between real food, fortified by nature, and food that has been destroyed by an industry determined to use dangerous, sometimes addictive chemicals in so-called food items. Here are some true characteristics of real food, and if you have ever committed to anything in your life, now is the time to commit to eating and feeding your family real food.
- Real food is whole, single-ingredient food like an apple or an orange or an egg
- Real food is mostly unprocessed and free from chemical additives
- Real food is rich in nutrients
- Real food is slow food
- Real food can be a combination of non-processed real foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, and whole grains
While there are many ways to define what real food truly is, the starting point in adopting healthy eating habits is to realize the danger of fast, frozen, and heavily packaged food. This food is created to travel a long distance and last a long time, and to do that, manufacturers add chemicals that are not found in simple and real foods that, by the way, also spoil!
A good rule to live by is that if the food you are eating has ingredients that you can’t pronounce or more than five ingredients, it is unlikely to be real.
Keep it simple, and keep it real!