We all love convenience. Who can even remember what life was like before things like internet banking, internet shopping and internet stalking? I mean, networking, internet networking. But it’s taking convenience a little far when our health is the price. And we are paying big time! Packaged and processed foods certainly help save time and labour, and thanks to all the preservatives, they last forever. The inclusion of additives means we can have pasta in five minutes, noodles in two and a whole chicken dinner in just under 10, but what are they really feeding us? These unhealthy amounts of salt, refined sugar, bad fats and other ingredients that you need a scientific textbook to decipher, can lead to weight gain, food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, digestive disorders, skin issues, cancer and much more. We would be here until Suri Cruise heads off to college if I were to go through all of the nasty additives found in processed food, so let’s just go over the most common ones. Here’s what you need to look for next time you take a gander at an ingredients label …
1. Artificial sweeteners
You might think you’re doing your thighs a favour by choosing a ‘diet’ version of your favourite food or drink, but artificial sweeteners are even worse for us than regular sweeteners. They have nasty side effects like cancer and brain disorders because of the toxicity of their chemical breakdown in the body. Plus, in combination with other food additives like artificial colors, artificial sweeteners can have a much more potent effect on nerve cells. Read more in this post I wrote about aspartame.
2. Refined Sugar
White, highly processed sugar is found in pretty much all processed foods. Everything from tomato sauce, soup and pasta dishes to bread and bottled beverages is laced with sugar. High consumption of sugar and the corresponding elevated insulin levels can cause weight gain, bloating, fatigue, arthritis, migraines, lowered immune function, obesity, cavities and cardiovascular disease. It can also disrupt absorption of nutrients, possibly leading to osteoporosis, depression, PMS symptoms and stress.
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Most commonly known as the flavour enhancer in Chinese food, MSG is also an ingredient in many packets found on supermarket shelves. MSG is an excitotoxin, and excitotoxins are toxins that bind to certain receptors. For instance it turns off the receptor that tells your brain it’s full, making you want to consume more food. It also over stimulates the brain, causing a drug-like rush as dopamine levels rise. Side effects include headaches, itchy skin, dizziness and respiratory, digestive, circulatory and coronary concerns. For more on MSG, click here.