You Are What You Eat! Tips On What To Look For At The Grocery Store Part 1

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When you go shopping for groceries you should always look for organically grown food. Read those labels, here is why;

Only in America are GMO (genetically modified organism) foods allowed. If you have ever crossed the pond into Europe you will find that all their food tastes incredible and wonder to yourself, why does ours taste so bland. Here is a list of some of the chemicals that have been added to our food here in America which you may want to avoid:

  • Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) found in most sodas stems from one ingredient: bromine. Bromine irritates the skin and mucous membranes and has been known to cause memory loss, loss of muscle coordination and more. BVO has been banned by several countries and the European Union yet here in America the FDA allows it in beverages.
  • Genetically modified fruits and vegetables (GMOs) are created for a number of reasons including disease resistance, nutritional quality, pest resistance and other factors affecting farming and distribution. The European Union has a strict legal regime in place for GMOs. In Norway several EU-approved GMOs are illegal. Many of these foods reek havoc on the digestive system causing leaky gut, gas, bloating, irritable bowl syndrome and have been traced to colon problems. Simply buy only Certified Organic fruits and vegetables to avoid these problems.
  • Bovine growth hormone (BGH) also known as bovine somatotropin (BST) is a natural growth hormone found in cows. Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) refers to bovine growth hormone that is mad in a lab using genetic technology. Studies have shown rBGH and rBST to cause adverse health effects in cows and according to the American Cancer Society, evidence for potential harm to humans in inconclusive. Use of rBST is banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the EU. The best solution is to buy only certified organic, grass fed meat. It costs a little more but is still a whole lot less that the treatments for disease you could incur from your doctor in the long term.
  • Potassium bromate an oxidizing agent used as a food additive when making bread. Potassium bromate is banned in the European Union, Canada, China, South Korea and some South American countries. Use in the U.S. remains legal, but California’s Proposition 65 law dictates that bromated flour must be labeled as a carcinogen. Several restaurants in the U.S. have voluntarily cut potassium bromate from their ingredients, including Panera Bread, which added potassium bromate to its so-called “No-No List” along with BHA, BHT, ADA, and other potentially harmful ingredients. You have two choices here, either bake your own bread, or buy certified organic bread. Check those labels.
  • Carrageenan used as an emulsifier, stabilizer or thickener in foods. Carrageenan is naturally occurring and extracted from red seaweed. The additive is often found in dairy products like ice cream, chocolate milk, salad dressings, soy milk, even toothpaste and shampoo and conditioners. The European Union has banned carrageenan but it is still widely used here in the U.S. Again, read those labels and to quote famous fitness expert Jack La Lane, “If man made it, don’t eat it.”
  • Chlorine-washed poultry You might think of chlorine as what cleans your pool, but some of your food might be washed with it too. In the U.S., regulations for the process are determined by the FDA. The European Union prohibits the use of any substance other that water to remove contamination from animal products unless the substance has been approved. One more time read those labels and only buy certified organically raise chicken.
  • Yellow No. 5 There are nine certified color additives approved by the FDA for use in food here in the U.S. foods containing Yellow No. 5 must be listed on the food label so consumers sensitive to the dye can avoid allergy symptoms like skin irritation and hives. Although not entirely illegal in the EU and United Kingdome, foods containing Yellow No. 5 must come with a waring label to inform consumers the food color “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Bottom line if a food item has this in it, simply do not purchase it. Read the labels.
  • Yellow No. 6 Found in cereals, snack foods, baked goods, gelatins, beverages, dessert powders, crackers and sauces. Yellow No. 6 also must come with a warning label in the EU and UK.
  • Red No. 40 Known as Allura Red is another additive commonly found in cereal, beverages, puddings, dairy products and confections. Like Yellow No. 5 and 6, Red No. 40 must come with a warning label in the EU and UK to inform consumers the food color “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” According to an article by Becky Bell on, in January 2017, “Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 may contain contaminants that are known cancer-causing substances. Benzidine, 4-aminobiphenyl and 4-aminoazobenzene are potential carcinogens that have been found in food dyes.” (1)
  • Azodicarbonamide (ADA) When bread is baked using ADA, a whitening agent and dough conditioner, a breakdown chemical known as semicarbazide (SEM) forms. At high levels, SEM has been shown to increase the incidence of tumors when fed to female mice. The EU has banned the use of ADA. Here in the U.S. the FDA says it is all right and set recommended exposure estimates. Again, read the label. You must educate yourself.
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) used as a preservative in some cereals, potato chips and other snack foods. Studies have shown is to be a human carcinogen based of evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals. Used here in the U.S. but is more heavily regulated in the EU.
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) a sister compound to BHA often used in packaged snack foods and breads as a preservative. The U.S. recognizes it as safe for use in food but abroad it is still heavily regulated and limited as a food additive. Read your labels.
  • Olestra also known as Olean, is an additive used in place of fats and oils in prepacked savory snacks and microwaveable popcorn kernels. In the U.S., specified amounts of vitamins A, D, E and K must be added to foods containing olestra to compensate for the additive’s interference with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Olestra is not available in Canada as well as other countries.
  • BPA commonly used in polycarbonate plastics that store food and beverages, seeps into the foods and beverages they contain. Health concerns by exposure to BPA include effects on the brain, prostate gland, infants and children. There is a possible link to increase high blood pressure. Here in the U.S. the FDA says it it safe at very low levels that occur in some foods. However, in France, BPA in all food and beverage packaging and utensils is banned. Eliminating plastic containers is one way to be more sustainable and lower your carbon footprint. Look for this on your labels.
  • Propylparaben While cosmetic companies are going paraben free, most Americans are still exposed to parabens in food. Propylparaben, a paraben found in popular trail mixes, tortillas, dessert cookies, muffins and other pastries, has been shown in recent studies to have potentially harmful effects on the endocrine systems and fertility. Back in 2006 the EU banned propylparabens no longer authorizing them for use. It is very important to read those nutrition labels and avoid these and other harmful chemicals.
  • Nitrates and Nitrides used widely in the U.S. as a preservative in prepared meats like sausage, jerky, salami, bratwurst, hotdogs. Unfortunately once you begin cooking some of these at high temperatures combined with the amino acids from the protein of the meat creates the perfect condition for nitrosamines to form. Nitrosamines are some of the main carcinogens in tobacco smoke. The nitrosamines are carcinogenic and therefore should be avoided as much as possible. Always look for these on the package label.

The sixteen chemicals that I mention here are just the tip of the iceberg. To truly maintain good health one must become diligent, educate yourself on your food and drink. Most of the health problems here in America can be traced back to our food supply. Remember, “you are what you eat!” Look for this and many more articles to come for creating a healthier lifestyle. Next week we will show you exactly how to read those food labels without being tricked.

(1)  Becky Bell, MS, RD, Jan. 07, 2017, “Food Dyes: Harmless or Harmful