Thousands of substances are being added to the food we consume to enrich flavor, appearance, taste or shelf life. Food additives can be synthetically produced or extracted from natural substances. Additives take the following forms- flavoring, coloring, preservatives. The fierce competition within the food industry has resulted in a dependence on additives that are actually harmful but drastically improve the sales of the products.
Here are some common food additives and the potential health hazards associated with them:
1 . Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, commonly present in diet foods, has been proven to be carcinogenic. It also acts as a neurotoxin and affects the brain causing temporary effects like short-term memory, confusion, dizziness and deadly effects like Parkinson’s disease. What’s worse is that these sweeteners are addictive and hyper reward the brain, causing one to overeat and develop unhealthy cravings. Ace-K, another sweetener, is present in beverages like Colas and soft drinks and give the sugar-high that is much craved for.
2 . Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
This leads to what is known as the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. It is an amino acid that is used in Chinese fast-food items. It is a type of excitatory neurotransmitter that stimulates the neurons to fire away and ultimately get damaged or die. The excitation of brain cells brings about the enhanced flavor and results in an urge to binge. Other side effects include eye damage, fatigue, head ache, and obesity.
3 . Trans Fat
Vegetable oils are converted from liquid to solid fat by hydrogenation and are used as a preservative to extend the shelf life of packaged foods. This brings about lethal changes in our cholesterol levels, leading to cardiovascular diseases in the long term. Trans fats have also been associated with breast and prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, and obesity. There is no safe limit of ingestion for these partially hydrogenated oils found in margarine, chips, fast food, and just about all packed and preserved foods.
4 . Food Dyes And Artificial Flavors
All that glitters isn’t gold. Food manufacturers add food coloring chemicals to soda, juices, salad dressing, cereals, etc. to increase their physical appeal. These dyes can initiate chromosomal damage, mutation, and reduce IQ by interfering in brain nerve communication. In children, food dyes cause hyperactivity and make them restless. Artificial flavors were innovated to imitate natural flavors but have now endangered the health of many. They also bring about allergies and behavioral and mood alterations.
The only way to step out of the additives game is by being aware, reading food labels carefully, and to depend on unprocessed food. Eat Healthy,Stay Happy!