The Dangerous 10 – Top 10 Worst Food Additives

Food additives are substances added during the processing or making of a certain food in order to preserve flavors and freshness and enhance taste and appearance.

Although some of them have been used for centuries, the use of certain food additives is becoming really widespread and some of them are extremely dangerous for your health, I would say toxic even.

I’m not talking about the once-in-a-while consumption of a certain processed food containing additives, which can’t harm anyone. I am talking about daily use. Statistics show that the average American spends about 90% of his/her budget on this kind of food; which means that if you open an American fridge or look up on the shelves you’ll find tons of canned, dehydrated, artificial or processed stuff, which is extremely unhealthy, and its persistent consumption can cause health problems.

Typically these food ingredients are very difficult to identify, both for the variety of names and codes they’re labelled with and the very minuscule fonts used to lists them on the ingredient list.

Here is the list of the top 10 toxic ingredients.

Go get your detective glass and start reading labels!

1) HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined artificial sweetener made from corn starch and found in almost all processed food such as: bread and baked goods, salad dressing, candies, yogurt, soda etc. And according to some studies has become the number one source of calories in the US.

Indeed, its easy handling and cheap cost made it the number one granulated sugar replacement: The amount of refined sugar we consume has declined over the past 40 years, while we’re consuming almost 20 times as much HFCS.

HFCS is linked with weight gaining, it increases your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects.

Also, recent researches published by the American Association for Cancer Research found that the fructose in HFCS promotes cancer growth, specifically pancreatic cancer.

2) Sodium Nitrate & Sodium Nitrite (NaNO3- NaNO2)

Both of them are chemical compound used as a food additive to preserve and give to cured meats, smoked fish and poultry a nice red pinkish color. Although their purpose seems harmless, these ingredients are highly carcinogen and their consume is linked with gastrointestinal cancer and heart diseases.

In fact, under certain conditions, they can form nitrosamines compounds, molecules that cause cancer in animals and humans.

Also, in massive doses, nitrite – and nitrate, which under some conditions changes to nitrite – can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia. In our body, nitrites, indeed, have the ability to change the structure of the hemoglobin into methemoglobin: the binding of oxygen to whom results in an increased affinity for oxygen in the remaining heme sites. This leads to an overall reduced ability of the red blood cell to release oxygen to tissue and it may occur in tissue hypoxia.

Can’t give up on eating salami, bacon or ham? Choose the uncured ones.

Sodium Nitrate is listed under its INS number 251 or E number E251, Sodium Nitrite has the E number E250.

3) MSG – Monosodium Glutammate

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. While the Glutamic acid is naturally present in our bodies, and in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheese, the ones exploited by the processed-foods industry is chemically produced through hydrolysis of vegetable proteins with hydrochloric acid to disrupt peptide bonds or by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses.

The substance produced has the ability to excite our taste buds and make everything taste delicious, which wouldn’t be a big deal if it hasn’t been shown that high levels of MSG can seriously screw with brain chemistry causing damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier.

4) Artificial Colors

Food dyes are one of the most common ingredients in processed food used with the purpose to make your meals or drinks more desirable and appealing.

Nothing against that if they wouldn’t have been linked to some serious health problems.

Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)

Banned in Norway, Finland, and France. May cause chromosomal damage.

Found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods.

Red dye #3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)

Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission.

Found in fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)

Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.

Found in American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more! (source Food Matters website)

The slogan “Eat the Rainbow” is still cool but go natural, please!

5) BHA & BHT

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), also listed with the label of E320, and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are two organic compound widely used by the food industry as preservatives due to their antioxidants proprieties as they can prevent rancidification of food containing fats.

Although declared safe from FDA, The U.S. National Institutes of Health reported that they may form cancer – cause reactive compounds in our body potentially leading to cancer.

Also, they can disturb your hormone and neurological system.

BHA is in tons of food: pick up a bag of chips, a box of cereal, a package of frozen sausages or simply eat a gum, and you have a high probability to find BHA and or BHT (or even worse, both of them) in the ingredients list.

6) Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial Sweeteners are sugar substitute used to give some sweet taste to drinks of food without all the calories of sucrose.

Aspartame, known also as NutraSweet, Equal and codified ad E951, is the most famous one. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar, but its effect on the human body is not as sweet as it tastes: is a neurotoxin and carcinogen.

Some studies claim that is the most dangerous substance on the market, with a wide range of health effects ranging from mild problem such as memory issues, headache and dizziness, to more serious ones, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and emotional disorders.

Avoid Acetisulfame K, Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin), and Sucralose (Splenda) too.

7) Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur Dioxide is a chemical compound with antimicrobial and antioxidants proprieties, used as a preservative for dried fruits such as dried apricot, raisins and prunes and added to fruit juices, cereal bars, breakfast cereal to prevent discoloration, ripening, and rotting.

Checking food labels for it, and for sulfites in general, with numbers in the range E220-228, is helpful; however, companies are required to list it only if there are more than 10 parts per million (ppm) in the finished product.

Whilst harmless to healthy persons when used in recommended concentrations, it can induce asthma and respiratory problem when ingested by sensitive subjects, even in high dilution.

It also destroys vitamins B1 and E.

8) Trans Fats

“Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that occur in small amounts in nature, but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food starting in the 1950s. Trans fat has been shown to consistently be associated, in an intake-dependent way, with increased risk of coronary artery disease, a leading cause of death in Western nations.”

As matter of facts, Trans fats have the power to increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, while decreasing the amount of HDL (the good one) in our bodies. Trans fat is abundant in fast food restaurants. Here is a list of health issues linked to a high consume of trans fats: Alzheimer’s disease, coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunctions, infertility, depression, deficit in memory.

Keep them in mind while you’re enjoying your fries!

9) Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and it’s famous for the anti-fungal proprieties.

Pick up a soda can and you’ll surely find it as an ingredient (E211). Indeed, it is heavily used by the soft drink industry, and not only in that. This chemical compound it is primarily added to acidic foods such as prickles, sauces, vinegars in order to enhance their flavor.

When mixed with ascorbic acid (well known as Vitamin C), Sodium Benzoate create an unfortunate side effect: it forms benzene known as a potent carcinogen, which contribute to the formation of many different types of cancer.

10) Potassium Bromate

Last but not least, Potassium Bromate, used in the Unites States, as a flours additive to improve elasticity and strength of the dough and allow it to rise higher.

In 1999, the International Agency on Research for Cancer declared that potassium bromate was a possible human carcinogen. Since that, it has been banned in a number of country including Europe and Canada, but not in the United Stated, where studies have found it in more that 86 baked goods found on supermarket shells.

‘Tis the Time for Mindful Eating: Danielle’s 5 Key Tips to Surviving the Holiday Food Deluge

Oh yeah, here they come again, the holidays! It’s funny because it is a time we all look forward to and yet there is still this dread… the dread of weeks of overeating and the unavoidable weight gain. For many it’s quite predictable. In fact, the average American gains 7-10 pounds during the months of November and December. But really, who can resist all those delectable holiday treats?

Many, on the other hand, never gain an extra pound over the holidays. I am usually one of those. “That’s because you are a dietitian and never enjoy food anyways” you say. “No way!” is what I say. I enjoy lots of foods. Lots of foods in moderation. “Ugh, the moderation word. So overused.” Yeah, I agree. But to a large extend it’s true. You can enjoy a wide variety of foods if you keep it in moderation. Over-indulge? No. Indulge a little? Yes.

Now, you might be already thinking, well that’s no fun. What’s the holidays if you can’t eat until your stomach is about to rip in two and you need to take an extended siesta on your grandfather’s lazy boy? I hear you. We all have traditions that we come to expect and almost crave during this time of year. For so many, over eating is one of them. As mentioned, we dread this season of overeating, but we also expect it and do it anyways. It’s like an unbreakable vicious cycle. How do we get out of candy land hell!

One of the first steps is to recognize the problem! The problem is that when we overeat, we constantly over-ride our natural hunger/fullness cues which eventually leads to dysfunction, to the point we can’t even tell when we are hungry and full anymore. We start to eat for pleasure or pain instead of physical need. This causes us to eat frequently and in portions much larger than we need.

What to do? This is where some basic mindful eating tips can come in super helpful. It may not change your life immediately, but trust me, over weeks and months you will slowly be more in tune with yourself and better able to nourish your body with what it needs, not with what your cravings tell you it wants.

Danielle’s 5 tips for surviving the holiday food deluge:

1. Recognize your weakness areas and where they are encountered.

Recognition is always the first step, isn’t it? You have to assess where your problem areas lie. Is it sugar? All carbs? Salt? Large portions in general? All of the above? Does the problem occur in the workplace? At home? At family gatherings? Late at night alone? All of the above. Think through the foods you just can’t stop eating and where you find them throughout the day. Write it down.

2. Make a daily and weekly plan.

Remember, most of the gradual weight gain comes from slight but cumulative overeating all through the holidays, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Make a plan for yourself so you have a rough idea of what you want to eat from day to day and stick to it. Having a plan liberates the mind to think about other more important things and even frees it from considering cravings, especially when you know, according to your “plan,” that they are not an option.

*If you need help making a plan for the holidays, come see me for ideas!

Going along with that, keep a diet journal as you go. Writing down what you eat, at least for a short period of time, increases your mindfulness around what you are eating and helps avoid random snacking. When you are forced to think more about what you eat, you tend to make better choices. So put pen to paper (or finger to phone) and keep track for a couple of weeks during the holidays.

3. DO NOT avoid all your favorite foods. That is probably the worst thing you can do, especially as you start something new. In my experience the more forbidden a food is, the more you want it. What I say is that all foods are allowed, but portions are controlled. That is the key. Make sure you enter it into the plan and stick to a defined portion. *Don’t forget, usually the first 1-3 bites of any food are the most satisfying. The word is enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Enjoy the hell out of each bite. When that uber enjoyment ends, put down the fork. Save the rest for another day. I know it’s hard, but try it!

4. Keep up your physical activity! I can’t even tell you how many people let go of their exercise routines during this time because they are “too busy.” Oh no. That is not acceptable. We all have extra things we add to our daily itineraries because of holiday stuff, but slacking off on exercise is not one we can cut. Decreasing exercise can increase your risk for depression (especially if you are prone to it), decrease your willpower around food portions, and of course only add extra calories to your day because your aren’t burning those bad boys off. In fact, my advice is to INCREASE your exercise during the holidays! Make November and December your fittest months. You will not be regretting that come January when everyone else is hauling their sorry arse back to the gym!

5. Always load up on fruits and veggies.

Basically when in doubt, choose fruit and veg. These beauties are chocked full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants… all the things you need to counter act any unhealthy choices encountered over the holiday months. You are going to feel a lot better, and gain less weight, if you fill your plate with produce at each and every meal.

Bonus tip: Relieve stress however you can! Stress always makes eating worse (not to mention ruins our holiday spirit). Before the holidays hit, think through right now what helps you melt away stress and make a plan to DO those things regularly. Read a book? Get together with a friend? Meditate or deep breathing? Yoga? A quick getaway? If the holidays stress you out, counteract it this year and get stress-relieving activities on the schedule!

Remember these tips as you move through these next weeks and months, and best of luck as you navigate another wonderful holiday season.

Healthy Eating – Three Reasons To Rethink Including Milk in Your Diet

Are you a fan of cow’s milk? If so, it may be time to rethink the inclusion of cow’s milk in your diet. While milk is an excellent source of calcium, many drawbacks you need to be aware of can come from cow’s milk.

Milk contains several different carbohydrates including:

  • lactose
  • glucose
  • galactose

and other oligosaccharides containing a small number of simple sugars. Lactose gives milk a sweet taste and gives rise to approximately 40% of the total calorie count.

Let us take a closer look at what some of the drawbacks are and how they may be negatively impacting you:

1. The Sugar Content. Let us begin with the obvious – the sugar content. Taking in too much sugar from any source is never good for your body, and milk is full of it. With over 10 grams of sugar per cup, it adds up quickly.

If you drink the standard recommendation of three glasses of milk a day, that is a whopping 30+ grams of sugar you are consuming. This much sugar is more than anyone needs, especially if you are looking to prevent or manage Type 2 diabetes.

2. The Lactose Content. The next issue is the lactose content. Lactose is the sugar found in milk, but it also causes other problems. For many, lactose leads to…

  • gas
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps, and many other undesirable digestive symptoms. While you can take lactase to ease your discomfort, this is far from ideal. Most people tend to do better on a lactose-free diet plan.

3. The Hormones. Finally, there may be hormones in the milk you are consuming. Many farmers are using hormones as they want to raise large cattle: these hormones may then be transferred to your body as a result of this.

The hormones given to the cattle can lead to problems with your hormonal levels if you are not careful. They may also be responsible for inflammation and other health concerns for you.

As you can see, cow’s milk is not exactly ideal. Will the odd glass here and there hurt you? Likely not. But drink a few cups a day, and you could be looking at having a few health problems if you are not careful. Instead, try unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Both are superior choices, contain no sugar, and are lower in calories as well. They will comfortably fit into your diet and can be used in recipes in place of the usual cow’s milk.

What Indoor Rowing Taught Me About Food

When recently asked to discuss nutrition “worsts” for athletes, I zeroed in on one. But I think it applies to the holidays, too. Let’s take a look.

Taking an off-season with food is as energy-damaging as it gets.

My endurance coach, Jim Karanas, used to say, “Endurance athletes don’t mind expending energy, but they don’t want to waste it.”

Wasted energy is energy spent with no performance payoff. And the wasted energy of a food off-season is considerable:

  • It wastes physical energy for your body to deal with junky food.
  • It wastes time and energy to get things back on track for the next athletic season.
  • It wastes effort to correct bad habits, weight gain, mood swings, loss of motivation – and to re-create the right training state.

What stress on body and mind?

It reminds me of the terrible habits professional sports teams used to have when I was a kid. They’d actually stop all training during their off-season and then have to use the pre-season training period to get back in shape. Really. Think of the time, effort and money that took. Fortunately, pro athletes no longer do that.

But some non-pros may still do it with food.;

How Can Indoor Rowing Help with Food?

In the book The Stress of Life, Hans Selye defines stress as anything that takes the body out of homeostasis. If clean eating is your habit during your sport season – whatever that may be – then letting your nutrition slide is stress on your body.

And once you’ve established the new, junky pattern, shifting gears to get back to healthful habits again is additional stress on your body.

A few years ago, I learned a concept from the best rowing coach I know (and I’ve had several). Because he’s such a talented instructor and coach, he deserves a shout-out: Duncan Kennedy, who rowed with the U.S. national team from 1993 to 1994. He knows his stuff and loves to teach.

Duncan suggested that his indoor rowers use an outdoor rowing technique called Battle Paddle. In a crew boat, even during recovery moments, the rowers need to be in sync to prevent an 8-oar free-for-all.

So the strokes are just relaxed paddling, but the team stays in formation. Most importantly, the rowers are ready to drive into action as soon as they receive the signal. That vigilance underlies the relaxation at all times.

How about an athletic off-season that mirrors this concept with food – and becomes the nutrition equivalent of Battle Paddle?

Keep food intake – quantity and quality – under control, perhaps allowing an occasional dessert, say, once a week. From that point, driving into action for the next season will be a simple and disciplined matter.

How Can Battle Paddle Work for You?

Why can’t non-athletes use this concept during the holidays? Too often, my clients let food pandemonium take over – with all the stress that puts on the body, and all the effort they have to go through to undo the damage when January gets here.

Ideally, we’d all avoid troublesome foods all year. But choose your Battles, right?

If you can’t bring yourself to avoid holiday goodies this season – and if you really believe you can handle it (although that may not be true!) – stick to your healthful guidelines just 99% of the time.

Like rowers on the water, maintain the discipline of good form. Relax only enough to have the occasional – and that’s the operative word – treat.

Please keep in mind that this plan may backfire for anyone with an addictive reaction to specific foods, especially foods with sugar. I’m in that category, so my holidays will NOT be done in Battle Paddle mode. It’s better for me to stay away from trouble altogether. I encourage my clients to do the same, but the decision is theirs.

Is Nutrition Really 70% of Your Fitness Success?

General sayings and quotes are pervasive within the fitness community. Some do a great job of giving the public some guidance, while some in my humble opinion lead to more confusion. I address one of these sayings in this article which has to do with nutrition being the key to fitness success for everyone.

The real answer is one that will irk some.

It depends:

Without a doubt, for some people, eating a diet which includes plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean cuts of meat and poultry and healthy fats from oils, legumes and nuts. But for others, consuming a diet which is less “healthy” by nutritional standard, but exercising 5 to 7 days per week, produces the exact results they wish to achieve.

The point is, every one of us should be eating as healthy a diet as we can for general health, to try to stave off any dis-ease, and for optimal performance. The degree to which the diet or exercise becomes the primary focus of a person’s plan is really a matter of experimentation to find the right balance between the two long-term.

The key is long-term

Listen, it is difficult to eat meticulously 100% of the time for most people. Long-term health is not about exercise vs. nutrition, it’s about making consistent choices which promote well-being and optimum performance. Work is going to get in the way sometimes. School will get in the way. The kids may get in the way. There are many, many factors which will come up that have the potential to knock you off balance on occasion. The goal is though, to try to make sure that 90% of your meals are contain the foods we talked about above, and to take it easy on yourself when you have to eat a meal which isn’t quite so nutritious.

If you focus on this and not whether exercise or nutrition should consume your energy and focus, you’ll generally achieve any goals you may have and live a healthier lifestyle.Begin by getting in plenty of vegetables with each meal. Colors matter! So, try to get in all the colors of the rainbow maybe not each day, but certainly each week. The colors of fruits and vegetables come from specific phytochemicals and phytonutrients which not only give the food its color, but also provide us with nutrients and intermediaries to serve as catalyst to many bodily functions.

Whether you are a Vegan or not is a matter of personal choice form most people. There can be food allergies and intolerance to both meats and certain vegetables and seeds and nuts. You do though, want to make sure you are getting in enough protein over the course of the day to satisfy you unique bodily needs primarily from whole fresh foods, and secondarily from protein supplements if you are unable to get them in via whole fresh sources.

Also get in healthy small amounts healthy fats and drink plenty of water and non-sugary drinks and you’ll do quite well.

If you are doing all of this and weight loss is still a problem, then further digging into the proper amounts of foods being consumed and possibly hormone dysfunction may need investigation.

Experiment and find the right balance for you.

Enjoying Food Lets You Avoid the Consequences?

Have you heard people say this about “off-limit” foods? It’s usually said with a proud, almost defiant, air and possibly a smirk. Have you embraced the thinking behind it? It’s a common School of Thought.

Here’s a bit of information that some people won’t want, but I invite you to stay with me.

I’m not one of the folks who believe that enjoying a food – one that, ideally, we’d avoid – will prevent the negative consequences of that food. Yet I’ve heard this so-called school of ‘thought’ too often. I feel compelled to address it, particularly at this time of year.

Naturally, it’s counterproductive to eat an off-limit food and feel guilty about it – either while eating it or afterward. What I question is the wisdom of having the food.

Everyone gets to decide what she or he will do when it comes to nutrition. Of course, not everyone makes the wisest decision. Some people are unaware of what junk foods do to them. And some people eat junky foods knowing what they do, but not wanting to give up the foods.

What About Eating Everything in Moderation?

Another school of thought is “everything in moderation.” As I’ve maintained for years, not everyone can achieve moderation around all foods – and certain foods can cause big trouble. Those who don’t understand food addictions (or who may not be ready to face their own) tend to talk about moderation.

But when it comes to addictive substances like alcohol and sugar, there’s no such thing as One-And-Done.

The consequences will happen. Those might include:

  • cravings later on or for several days
  • increased appetite for several days
  • changes in food preferences that lead to continued junk-outs
  • negative effects on mood
  • inability to focus
  • fog-brain, and more.

Someone who has been trying to quit sugar but is still early in the process is typically in a fragile state. The consequences are more likely – and likely to be more severe.

It’s not helpful to be surrounded by people who encourage trying everything in moderation or just enjoying a food to make it all okay.

Is There a Plan That Will Work?

So many delicious foods are around at holiday time, I’m not telling you not to enjoy the season!

But setting boundaries is a more helpful – and absolutely acceptable – strategy, no matter what you’ve heard about enjoyment. Know in advance what you won’t eat, shouldn’t eat, can’t eat, refuse to eat. Then stick with that plan, no matter what. Savor the many, many other foods.

Believe me, if simply enjoying a food did the trick, I’d be ‘enjoying’ all kinds of sugar right now and getting into all kinds of trouble.

Maybe this enjoyment thing is another loophole that people look for in the sugar journey, but I’ll continue to maintain that, truly, there’s no loophole.

Healthy Eating – What You Should Know About Biological Value

As you go about planning your menu, one thing you will want to take into account is something called biological value (BV). Most people are quite good at staying on top of research so they can figure out which foods hold the most nutrients and which ones will help optimize health the best. Where many go wrong, however, is forgetting because if a food is nutritious, it does not mean it will be fully utilized by the body. That is where the biological value (BV) comes into play. Biological value refers to protein-rich foods and discusses how well these foods will be utilized after they are consumed.

Here is what you need to know…

Factors Impacting Biological Value. While BV is a static number, keep in mind there are some factors able to influence the natural biological value of the food you are eating.

These factors include:

  • the frequency in which you consume your protein. Eating protein every few hours throughout the day can help increase the BV more than eating one or two large meals with a higher serving of protein in each meal. This is one reason to space your calories out into six mini meals rather than three large ones.
  • the speed in which the amino acids hit your bloodstream. Generally speaking, the slower the amino acids hit your bloodstream, the better they will be absorbed and utilized, so do what you can to slow them down.
  • The best way to do this is to ensure you consume some dietary fat with each protein serving as fat slows the rate of digestion.
  • whether or not exercise has been performed. Exercise will naturally increase your ability to utilize the nutrients you feed your body immediately following a workout, so do whatever you can to eat a post-workout meal in within minutes of finishing.

A post-workout protein shake is a must for optimal results.

So as you can see, a biological value is not black and white. Factors do impact the value. Still, it can serve as a general guideline.

The Biological Value Of Foods You Are Eating. So this said, below is the listing for the BV of a variety of foods you have likely included in your menu. The higher the rating, the better the protein will be utilized:

  • eggs (whole) – BV = 100
  • eggs (whites) – BV = 88
  • chicken/turkey – BV = 79
  • fish – BV = 70
  • lean beef – BV = 69
  • cow’s milk – BV = 60
  • whey protein isolate – BV = 159
  • casein protein – BV = 77
  • soy protein – BV = 74

Keep these values in mind as you plan out your meals. For optimal protein retention, choose foods with the highest biological value whenever possible.