Apart from Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup and trans fats, which were the subject of our previous blog, there are other products that are potentially harmful and can be easily avoided. Farmed fish carry mercury, baked and fried starches as found in crisps and cereals contain carcinogenic acrylamide, antibiotics in meat destroy the natural flora of the gut and hasten the spread of antibiotic resistant diseases.
Recent research suggests that the greatest influence on a healthy immune system and resistance to disease is the flora in our gut. Sugar and antibiotics can disrupt that for life. Arsenic from chemical sprays that run off into water, occurs in some rice. Washing rice well before cooking it helps reduce arsenic in the starch grains. BPA and phthalates, found in some plastics, leaches into food and water when plastic bottles are heated or when food in plastic is cooked in micro waves. These act as hormone adaptors that reduce fertility or promote cancer. Hundreds of chemicals used in agriculture to protect crops from insects and disease, or added for storage or to retain color and freshness cause allergies, weakened immunity and cancer. These chemicals also flow into the water table and thence into liquids and water itself. Virtually all preserved meats contain nitrates and sulphates which are converted to carcinogenic nitrosamines.
Most chronic diseases involve some form of inflammation and inflammatory foods include wheat, soy and corn and vegetable oils or margerine made from these are best avoided. By contrast, once maligned coconut now appears both heart healthy and preventive of Alzheimer’s.
Nothing is a substitute for knowing the source of the food you eat and understanding the implications of labels on products. Anyone who tries to read labels soon discovers that it requires a magnifying glass and a skeptical mind. They often hide harmful products with misleading claims, and do so with the full knowledge of regulators, won over by lobbyists. This applies particularly to high fructose corn syrup (HFC) and to trans fats, currently regarded as two of the most pervasively harmful products in manufactured food. Be wary of the label 0 gr. The law in most countries allows any food containing less than 0.5 gr of trans fat per serving to be labeled as having 0 gr of trans fats. It may be made entirely of trans fats with small sized servings and be labeled 0 gr trans fats. Give away synonyms in the ingredients list are partially hydrogenated, hydrogenated, vegetable shortening, margarine or mono glycerides. Fortunately in some countries and states, the use of trans fats is now outlawed.
Labels may replace HFCS with words like corn syrup, starch syrup, maize syrup, glucose syrup, fructose syrup, tapioca syrup, dahlia syrup, fruit fructose and crystalline fructose.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) masked as mono potassium glutamate or glutamate in a variety of forms, is another chemical stimulant that adds to cravings but contributes to allergies and inflammation.
There are ways to evade the scams. They entail buying organic seeking out genuine grass fed animal proteins, eating only wild caught fish, cultivating your own food gardens and selecting healthy foods, of which the range is limitless. Even organic products have residual chemical sprays and could do with a good wash with vinegar and water.
Enough about harm! Our next blog deals with healthy alternatives- foods that delight the palate and color the plate.