The 7 WORST chemicals in your food


Have you ever picked up an item in the supermarket and with all good intentions looked at the nutritional information label on the back, only to be confused by the amount of information you’re faced with? Checking food labels is a great habit to establish when you do your weekly shopping, but it’s hard to know what to actually look for!

Of course, the best way to avoid all the nasty preservatives and chemical additives is to eat only fresh, whole foods. However practically, this can be quite hard to achieve 100% of the time. So, to simplify things, we’ve made a list of the WORST chemicals that you can find in processed foods – if you pick up an item with one or more of these in it, put it back on the shelf IMMEDIATELY!

1. Artificial Sweeteners
Consuming artifical sweeteners has been shown to have a greater negative impact on the health of a person than just eating sugar. These sweeteners, predominantly aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose and saccharin, will not only help you gain weight faster, they’ll also increase your chances of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and other diseases.

2. Trans Fats and Vegetable Oils
Trans Fats can increase your chance of stroke as well as

interfere with basic cell membrane function, which can pave the way for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Hydrogenated vegetable oils are common in most fast foods including crackers, chips and fried foods. Not only can these oils be highly inflammatory, promote heart disease and Alzheimer’s, they have an increased chance of being genetically engineered and contaminated.

3. Artificial Flavours
When you see ‘Artificial Flavours’ on a label, it’s hard to know what it actually means. It could mean there’s one of two additives or it could mean there’s hundreds of them! Whilst not all of them have serious health concerns, some can have a serious effect on your health. The problem is that you never know when it’s labelled ‘Artificial Flavours’ – a game of chance with this one.
As an example, the butter flavoring added to microwave popcorn (diacetyl) has several implications for brain health and may contribute to beta amyloid plaques, which are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a flavour enhancer that is known mostly for its association with Chinese food. But, it’s actually added to a vast array of proceeded foods such as salad dressing, meats and snack chips. Cleverly enough however, you won’t usually find the term ‘Monosodium Glutamate’ or ‘MSG’ on the ingredient list. Instead, MSG comes under many other names such as glutamic acid, hydrolyzed protein or yeast extract. MSG has been associated with obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue, disorientation, depression, rapid heartbeat, and numbness and tingling.

5. Artificial Colours (Dyes)

It’s scary to think how the colour of some processed foods can look so vibrant. Well, this isn’t by chance. In fact, many dyes are derived for coal tars. These artificial colours are linked to a range of health issues. For example, one of the most commonly used dyes, Red #40, may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumours in mice as well as triggering hyperactivity in children. Let’s talk about Blue Dye #2, most often used in candies, beverages and pet foods, has been linked to brain tumours. What about our baked goods, candies and cereals containing Yellow Dye #5? Well, they’ve been linked to hyperactivity, hypersensitivity and other behavioural effects in children.

6. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) 

This enhancer is cheap, easily added to processed foods and is consumed in massive quantities every day. It’s hidden in surprising food items such as baby foods and condiments. Fructose is primarily metabolised by your liver and is metabolised much like alcohol, causing mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction in the same way as ethanol and other toxins. Your body also turns this fructose directly into fat!

7. Preservatives  

Preservatives are great for manufacturers – they can be added to food to increase their shelf life and therefore increase their profits! Preservatives have been linked to numerous health problems such as cancer and allergies. Here are the top five to watch out for:

PreservativeWhere It’s FoundPotential Health Risks
BHA and BHTChewing gum, breakfast cereals, breads, crackers, potato chips, nut mixesNeurological problems, behavioural issues, hormonal issues, metabolic dysfunction and cancer
TBHQInstant noodles, crackers, commercial pizzaNausea and vomiting, tinnitus, delirium, sense of suffocation, liver toxicity, reproductive mutations
Sodium BenzoateSoft drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings, picklesHyperactivity, asthma, cirrhosis of the liver, Parkinson’s disease, cancer
Sodium nitrite and nitrateDeli meats, bacon, ham, smoked fish, hot dogsColorectal, stomach, pancreatic cancers
AzodicarbonamideDough conditioner in commercial baked goodsCancer, asthma, allergies


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