By Chris Gibson, LHLSC Expert Contributor
It seems that there is always some news report out that tells us something we are eating isn’t good for us, only to be replaced with another news report that contradicts the original report. Understanding the ingredients in foods and how they impact you can be simplified when you look at the choices that nutritionists make for themselves and their families.
If they are not eating it or feeding it to their kids, that is a good indicator that you shouldn’t either. I’m going to share the top 5 ingredients that even nutritionist avoid eating. Doing the same will contribute to a healthier body all over and may well help you avoid certain diseases later in life.
1. Potassium Benzoate
This little ingredient is found in many dark colored diet drinks and even some fruit juice products. Don’t let the vitamin sounding Potassium in the name fool you into thinking it is harmless. Because these drinks also contain sodium (quite a bit actually), when mixed with vitamin C they can form Benzene.
In the body this ingredient can wreak havoc and is carcinogenic. Check the label of any diet drink or juice beverage for this ingredient so you can make a better choice.
2. Modified Corn
I’m not talking about your corn from your garden or even canned or frozen. I’m speaking of things like corn oil, modified cornstarch, dextrose, and malto-dextrin. These days they are all made from genetically altered corn. These ingredients are high in Omega 6 fats that promote problems like chronic inflammation, cancers, and even heart disease.
While your body needs some Omega 6 most people get way too much, as high as 15 times the amount needed. This ingredient can be hard to avoid because it is in most commercial processed foods. You will discover this when you start checking labels for it. The goal here would be to try and reduce it as much as you can. Adding flax, walnuts, and fish (like Tuna and Salmon) instead will give you a balance of Omegas all around and a healthier diet.
3. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
Any food out there that has fat in it and a shelf life longer than a couple of days has BHA in it. It is added to keep the fat from spoiling, becoming rancid, and tasting bad. You know what I mean when I say this if you have ever had stale potato chips or had your cooking oil go bad. BHA extends the flavor and life of a processed food products far beyond what it would last if it were not added. Hence, the store bought Christmas cookies that “stay edible” until May or June of the following year.
While the FDA considers the ingredient safe, it has been shown to cause cancer in lab tests. Minimizing your intake of BHA is a really good idea, especially when you consider that it is usually paired with junk foods I already recommend you avoid anyway.
4. Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite
If you have ever consumed commercial processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and almost ALL deli meats, you have consumed both Sodium Nitrate and Nitirte. This includes fresh cut deli meat you can buy at the meat counter. Nitrites are added to processed (cured) meats as a preservative. Since around the mid 1980′s, it has been known that these additives can form nitrosamines while they are digested by the human body.
The problem with this is that studies have shown these to promote cancer growth. Scarier is a 2009 study on children uncovered that the children in families who ate cured meats or fish more than once a week had a 74 percent greater risk of leukemia than children who rarely or never ate them! Despite the decades long the controversy over preservatives and additives in our foods, little has changed. Taking your food choices into your own hands and reducing these in your overall diet is certainly a step toward a healthier future for you and your family.
5. Enriched Wheat
I can tell you from experience that the number of clients coming to me with wheat gluten issues and allergies has dramatically increased over the last 4 or 5 years. Not all wheat is equal. This is important to know as you work to build a healthier diet. While the word enriched makes it sound healthy, you are basically ingesting refined flour bleached or unbleached that has had a minimal amount of nutrients added to it.
This process strips out most nutritional value and ruins the grains fiber count. Some of the nutrient is replaced during the enrichment process, but not enough to compare to what you get from Whole products where the actual grain and fiber are left intact. Many of my clients who thought that they had gluten allergies or celiac disease actually tolerate the whole wheat grains whether it is rye, golden, or other varieties.
Whole grains contain plenty of nutrition and fiber and they just taste better eliminating enriched refined flours is a very healthy choice to make. In my mind, if a nutritionist who is charged with helping people to get healthy and create the best diet choices they can isn’t willing to let an ingredient on their dinner table, then I’m going to take a close look as to whether it should be on mine as well.
I hope you find this information helpful as you make choices for yourself and your family.
By Chris Gibson, LHLSC Expert Contributor
I talk a lot about diet and it’s role in skin health. Still, even today I am always seeing news reports that tell us that something we are eating isn’t good for us only to be replaced with another news report that contradicts that. Rarely do they spell out how these foods and the chemicals in them affect us, so not surprisingly when I was being certified as a nutritionist I was a little shocked myself at some of what I learned.
Understanding what ingredients are in the foods we eat and how they impact you can be simplified when you look at the choices that nutritionists make for themselves and their families. Some of this you need to know because it especially affects the health of your skin!
To keep things straightforward and easy for you to identify what you may need to change in your diet, here are my top 5 foods to be on the look out for.
Meat that is processed such as deli meat, canned meat, and even frozen can harbor some pretty bad things for your skin. Much of the meat produced today are from animals that have been pumped full of antibiotics and steroids. This can upset your own hormonal balance which can lead to hypersensitive skin. Steroids are a known contributor to acne and if your eating foods that contain them then your getting them in your system too!
Most processed meat, bacon, sandwich meat, and sausages, contain a ton of salt and nitrates. Nitrates are a known contributor to inflammation in the digestive system and suppressing immune system. This can leave skin more susceptible to disease and even skin cancers. What’s more, most processed meats are made with mechanically separated meat which means the meat processors is putting just about everything except the bone in to the product, spoiled, diseased and all. Try local organic grain fed beef and poultry. Keep meat intake to small amounts equaling no more than a small deck of cards in size. This will still provide protein and satisfy your appetite while reducing your risk.
Altered Dairy Products
Because the same animals that supply our meat are providing the majority of dairy products it follow that there are the same problems here. In recent years dairy products have been linked to acne an increased estrogen in both men an women. For my acne clients, stopping dairy products in the diet is one of the first things we do and in many cases, their skin responds with less inflammation and breakouts. If you do eat dairy try to find organic sources for it and eat whole dairy instead of altered or low fat version. They taste better and are much better for you overall that the foreign material use to replace the fats in these foods.
Artificial Flavors, Colors and Even Sweeteners
It is no secret I harp on how much sugar most people consume. Reducing sugar intake should be number on on most folks to do list when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. Too much sugar feeds yeast in the bowel and skin causing all sorts of skin issues from acne to dermatitis outbreaks. I also weekend new skin cells and collagen product leading to premature again of the skin. The list of problems associated with too much sugar in the diet goes on an on and what you replace it with is just as important.
Most are made with chemicals our bodies have to work hard at to remove and are linked to allergic reactions and contain no nutritional value whatsoever. The same goes for artificial colors and flavors. While avoid these all together is nearly impossible using fruit juices and their zest, the original herbs for flavor, and sugar replacements like agaves, honey, and Stevia, are much healthier choices for your skin and health.
We hear about these all the time but what is hydrogenated fat and what impact does it have on skin and health? Many oils when hated to very high temperatures ( think deep fried foods like french fries) or processed industrially for sale at your grocery store, they become oxidized. Some manufactures also pump hydrogen into the oils to raise the lever of these because they act as a preservative to extend the oils life and keep it from becoming rancid. Good for their bottom line – bad for you.
This means that the actual molecular property of the oils are changed. These are the oxidants and free radicals that damage the cells in the body over time, even your skin. These are what you eat foods and take vitamin supplements full of anti-oxidants to help the body fend off. They cannot be processed in your body and this is why they cause damage. The best choices are oils that are cold pressed and not heated. The labels of these products will state this. I recommend olive oil whenever possible also peanut, coconut, and safflower for eating and cooking.
Last I want to address what has become a huge issue over the last 10 years and that is gluten sensitivity. From the beginning, whenever I have worked with clients with severe skin issues we remove gluten, dairy, yeast, and sugar from the diet completely for at least 6 weeks. Back in the day, as we added these foods back into their diet, gluten was usually not a contributing factor. About 10% of my clients had a problem with wheat gluten. I can say this has really changed over the last 10 years as so many people have become gluten sensitive which I believe is due to the way wheat has been engineered, grown, and harvested.
Suffice to say that today about 40% of adults have gluten sensitivity and about 20% of them have a full allergy to it known as celiac disease. Here is what you need to know, whenever clients remove gluten from their diet almost always they have a marked improvement in their complexion not to mention how they feel. Some of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity are bloating, gas, achy joints, skin rashes, breakouts and skin inflammation. If you have these symptoms and they stop or lesson considerably, you may want to go and be tested for gluten sensitivity. Gluten packed foods you might consider cutting include pasta, breads, crackers, pastries, cakes, oats, pizza, beer, barley, and rye. Many people suffer years unnecessarily because they are not aware this is the problem.
Knowing what is in your food and the impact it has on the health of your skin can make a big difference in how your skin looks and ages over time. Giving it the best internal support you can will help you skin give you a lifetime of looking good!