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.