Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ingredients to Avoid and WHY...

Did you ever wonder how foods on our store shelves last so long?  And if they last so long on the store shelves and in our pantry, how long are they lasting in our bodies?  Many of the chemical additives and preservatives that make foods last practically "forever" on the shelf... also last in our body.  However, our body was not made to store a bunk of foreign potentially toxic chemicals!!!

I have learned quite a bit about the ingredients that we should not allow into our diets.  These ingredients all go through extensive processing (usually via chemical processes) where they are altered to a state that is somehow allowed into our foods even though they should not be allowed for consumption.  Our bodies don't know how to properly process these altered heavily processed ingredients.  And although we may not notice a difference when we eat them in the short term, over time health issues may arise.  Today people have many medical issues because of the crud we put in our systems.  Things like weight gain, indigestion, IBS (irritable bowel), heartburn, acid reflux, and then more severe things like obesity and cancer.  Think about it, why is Cancer so much more prevalent now than it was 20 or 30 years ago?  The 80's pretty much became the fast food generation!  Processed foods became a huge part of how we eat.  Whether it was from a drive thru or from a box (like hamburger helper)... we all were going for fast, easy and cheap.  Never even considering what we were actually eating.  

I am completely guilty of having been a junk food junky!  I started eating that way in the 80's and through the 90's as a single mom of two who worked full time.  Fast and easy food was it for me!  We often ate off of dollar menus or I bought whatever was the cheapest at the grocery store.  Cheap bread, cheap cereal, cheap fake fruit flavored juice, packaged and processed easy to grab on the go foods.  And if I had a coupon for it, all the better.  It's absolutely horrible when I think how I was feeding my daughters and myself.  Sure we had a fruit bowl on the counter with apples and bananas in it, but mostly we ate JUNK!!!

I also was into buying many "diet" or "low fat/no fat" foods.  What I didn't realize is those foods were often filled with chemical ingredients and fake fillers instead of the fat.  They did nothing to help me eat healthy or diet!!!  In reality, they probably hurt me!

Now, in my 40's I do have a health issues (Fibromyalgia & CFS - chronic pain, fatigue and several issues with the way my body functions, more on this topic another time..) and I also get migraine headaches.  If you've never had a migraine, consider yourself lucky!!!  I wouldn't wish them on anyone!  Basically your head feels like it's going to explode, and during a migraine you sometimes wish it would...

Certain food additives cause me to get a full blown migraine within 15 minutes of eating the offending ingredient.  I realized a direct link between food and my severe headaches about 2 years ago.  At that time I started researching things I should be avoiding and why.  Certain ingredients I have avoided for my headaches are MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup and red food coloring.   MSG is definitely the worst offender for my headaches!

Although I have eliminated these few "bad" ingredients from my diet,  I have never given 100% to completely eating right and avoiding all of the "bad stuff".  With this 60 day challenge I will be staying away from all of these completely!  Obviously when we eat out, which I do way too often, we don't know what is really in our food!  Home prepared meals will be the way to go for me.  It's the only way I can fully control what I put into my body!  I will be reading the entire label on every food or beverage item I purchase and ingest.  Even when you buy things like chicken from the meat department or lunch meats, you would be surprised how much crap is injected and/or put into our foods.  Usually if a label has more than a handful of ingredients, it is not good for you!  Here is a list of ingredients I will avoid completely.


  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (and Corn Syrup) - corn syrups that have undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness.  Inexpensive so often used in cereals, baked goods, condiments, beverages and most processed foods.  It is said to be more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions.  It is chemically altered so your body doesn't know how to process it.  Manufacturers are now permitted to label High Fructose Corn Syrup, as "Corn Syrup" in the ingredient listing of the product packaging.
  • Artificial Sweeteners of any kind - chemically processed or created (not natural)
  • Hydrogenated and Partially Hydronated Oils -  Hydrogenation is widely applied to the processing of vegetable oils fats. Complete hydrogenation converts unsaturated fatty acids to saturated ones. In practice the process is not usually carried to completion. Because partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are cheaper than animal source fats, are available in a wide range of consistencies, and have other desirable characteristics (e.g., increased oxidative stability/longer shelf life). A side effect of incomplete hydrogenation having implications for human health is the isomerization of some of the remaining unsaturated carbon bonds. Incomplete hydrogenation partially converts these molecules to trans isomers, which have been implicated in circulatory diseases including heart disease  (source Wikipedia)
  • Modified Food Starchprepared by physically, enzymatically, or chemically treating native starch, thereby changing the properties of the starch.  (it is treated with chemicals that you end up ingesting)
  • Enriched FlourThe purpose of enriching flour is to replenish the nutrients in the flour to match the nutritional status of the unrefined product. (All of the healthy properties are stripped from the flour usually via a bleaching process (i.e. white flour) and then added back in after the processing has taken place.
  • MSG - Monosodium Glutamate  - The glutamate of MSG confers the same unami taste of glutamate from other foods, being chemically identical. Industrial food manufacturers market and use MSG as a flavor enhancer because it balances, blends and rounds the total perception of other tastes.  via Wikipedia:  In normal conditions, humans have the ability to metabolize glutamate that has a very low acute toxicity.  HELLO... the word toxicity regarding an ingredient. Toxicity = TOXIC... sounds pretty bad!  I know it causes me severe migraines, and for that alone I completely stay away from it!
  • BHT - (aka: Butylated hydroxytoluene)  BHT is prepared by the reaction of p-cresol (4-methylphenol) with isobutylene (2-methylpropene) catalysed by sulfuric acid.  MORE CHEMICALS!!!
  • Nitrites - (Sodium Nitrite is often found in processed lunch meats)  Sodium Nitrite is made industrially by passing nitrous fumes into aqueous sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate solution.
    NO + NO2 + 2NaOH (or Na2CO3) → 2NaNO2 +H2O ( or CO2)   MORE CHEMICALS!!!
  • Phosphates - Sodium Photphate - Sodium phosphate is a generic term for the salts of sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acidSodium phosphates are often used as meat preservatives, as an alternative to sodium nitrite. Common in processed meats and canned meats.
  • Anything Hydrolyzed
  • Anything Enriched
  • Anything Modified
  • Anything Artificial
Okay, so you get the point.  Pretty much anything that is altered from it's original state should be avoided!   Also, anything that you can't pronounce or if it sounds like a chemical additive, it probably is...

I'm sure there will be more ingredients to avoid.  This is the list I am starting with, and I will add more as I find out about them.



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