Food Additives – The Worst of the Worst!
In our 1st part at looking at the obesity epidemic in Canada and the US, we reviewed the latest 2009 statistics released for the US. A quick review of those stats shows us that more than 60 % Americans are classed as over weight and a quarter of them are obese. Canada’s 2004 stats don’t show us as being much better.
In our 2nd part of our series on Obesity, we’re going to take a look at the worst of the worst food additives used in most processed, packaged, fast foods and restaurant foods produced in North America. By now, most people know that food additives aren’t good for us and is one of the major causes of obesity in Canada and the US today.
There are literally hundreds of food additives used by food producers. Lets take a look at some of the very worst and why they’re totally unhealthy for most of us.
1.Sodium Nitrite has to be my 1st Choice
This additive is a preservative used to preserve, colour, and flavour meat products. You’ll find Sodium Nitrite in almost every “cured” meat product, including bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish, and corned beef to name just a few. It stabilizes the red colour and adds flavour. It’s also a preservative that prevents growth of bacteria, but studies have linked eating it to various types of cancer. Under certain high-temperature cooking conditions such as grilling, it transforms into a reactive compound that has been shown to promote cancer.
As a WLS Pre-op or Post-op, cured meats are strictly a NO-NO, not only because of their high fat content, but because Sodium Nitrate is a flavour enhancer and makes us want to eat more! As a support resource, I’ve actually had new Post-ops ask me if it’s OK to have eaten 1/2 of a wiener or part of a fast food burger and the answer, of course is ABSOLUTELY NOT! It has nothing to do with quantity and EVERYTHING to do with life style change from foods that drive our cravings to healthy food choices.
2. MSG – Monosodium Glutamate is next on my list.
Monosodium Glutamate is an amino acid used as a flavour enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrées, and restaurant food. It is commonly associated with Asian foods and flavourings. MSG can cause headaches and nausea in some people, and animal studies link it to damaging nerve cells in the brains of infant mice. It is a flavour enhancer, but you’d be better off putting in a few grains of salt on your food if you must. For WLS people MSG is another one of those additives that drives hunger/appetite. Think about this for a second and you’ll understand why MSG is added to foods. If you were a food producer and you could increase your sales by say – just 2% by adding MSG, would you do it?
Here are some common names used in processed foods that MSG hides under. enzyme modified, anything fermented, anything protein fortified, anything ultra pasteurized, autolyzed yeast, barley malt, broth, bouillon, calcium caseinate, carrageen, flavouring, natural flavoring, gelatin, hydrolyzed oat flour, hydrhydrolyzed vegetable, olyzed protein, malt extract maltodextrin, natural flavors, pectin, plant protein extract, potassium glutamate, sodium caseinate, soy protein, soy sauce, stock, textured protein, whey protein, yeast extract, yeast food.
note: MSG occurs naturally in many foods (natural glutamates). This is NOT the MSG I’m referring to. I specufucally refrring to “added” MSg in processed foods.
3. Trans Fats
Any kind of fat is bad for WLS people, but Trans fat makes it as my number 3 choice because eating too much of it leads to heart disease. “Trans fats are proven to cause heart disease, and make conditions perfect for stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and limb loss due to vascular disease. It would be wonderful if Trans Fats were just totally banned. Many manufacturers have modified product ingredients lists to reduce the amount of trans fats, and are required to label trans fats amounts on food labels, but restaurant food, especially fast food chains, still serve foods completely laden with trans fats. Experts recommend we consume no more than two grams of trans fat per day, an amount easily reached by all of us if you eat any kind of normal meat and dairy at home.
Any and all kinds of sugar. Brown, white, what ever …it’s all sugar.
Some foods, such as fruits and carrots, naturally contain sugar. Eaten in appropriate quantities, the other benefits of the vegie or fruit far out way the sugar.
How ever, watch out for foods with added sugars, such as baked goods, cereals, crackers, even sauces and many other processed foods. Large amounts of sugar are unsafe for our health and promote bad nutrition. WLS patients should never eat more than 5 grams of sugar in a portion of anything.
Many Canadians and Americans today are consuming 20, 30, or 40 percent of their calories from simple sugars. Too much sugar not only leads to problems with weight control, tooth decay and blood sugar levels in diabetics. It also replaces good nutrition. Lets face it, most people aren’t going to pick up and eat an banana or apple after they’ve had a piece of pie and ice cram. In addition to providing unnecessary calories, your body needs nutrients to metabolize sugar, so it robs your body of valuable vitamins and minerals. For WLS Post-ops who have had some form of restrictive absorption surgery, sugar is a sure way to “Dumping”
5. SALT – Sodium Chloride
Salt is another flavour enhancer. We all love our salt salt, but salt is another hidden food additive that can lead to health issues. Small amounts of salt are needed by the body and are beneficial in preserving food. Excessive amounts of salt can become dangerous for your health, affecting cardiovascular function, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.
6. Artificial Sweeteners
Most are a combination of chemicals that exist to make our foods sweeter without the calories of sugar. Since the introduction of artificial sweeteners Canada and the U S’s population has been getting fatter. We know that by themselves, they’re not the single “Tipping Point” that has driven our obesity epidemic, but they sure haven’t help.
How could such a major item used by over weight people every where make them even fatter?
Here’s why. It turns out that when you eat something sweet, but don’t take in any calories, your body will crave more calories than if you had eaten real sugar. So it is with artificial sweeteners—and it is an endless cycle. For many people, the more they eat of the artificial stuff, the more weight they gain, and the more they crave sweet foods. Also, most of the foods that contain artificial sweeteners are of poor nutritional quality, (zero calorie pop) and in a sense, cause your body to starve itself no matter how much you eat. You are hungry all the time because your body is not getting the nutrients it needs.
Well, there’s my worst 6 food additives. Want to see what else is going into your food and how it impacts your body or your children?
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