There are more than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients — added to foods in the United States.
While each of these substances are legal to use in the US, whether or not they are safe for long-term consumption — by themselves or in combination — is a different story altogether. Many have been deemed too harmful to use in other countries.
When you consider that about 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward processed foods loaded with these additives, it’s no wonder most people are carrying a hefty toxic load that can wreak havoc on their health.
A list of ingredients that are banned across the globe but still allowed for use in America recently made the news. The list is featured in the new book, Rich Food, Poor Food, authored by nutritionist Mira Calton and her husband Jayson.
The banned ingredients include various food dyes, the fat substitute Olestra, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate (aka brominanted flour), Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST, and arsenic.
Seeing that the overall health of Americans is so much lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic ingredients such as these might play a role in our unhealthy conditions.
Meanwhile, Russia has announced that it plans to extend a ban on U.S. beef, pork and turkey imports coming into effect this month, due to the feed additive ractopamine in the meats. Ractopamine is a growth stimulant banned in several countries, including Russia.
Processed Foods Depend on Additives
Most commonly, additives are included to slow spoilage, prevent fats and oils from going rancid, prevent fruits from turning brown, fortify or enrich the food with synthetic vitamins and minerals to replace the natural ones that were lost during processing, and improve taste, texture and appearance. When reading product packages, here are some of the most common food additives1 to watch out for:
Preservatives: sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, TBHQ
Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners: fructose, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K)
Artificial colors: FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2
Flavor enhancers: monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract
The food industry has already formulated safer, better products for other countries, in which these and other harmful ingredients are banned. So why do they insist on selling inferior versions in America? Amazingly, while these foods can be created using a bare minimum of additives in the UK (and sometimes none), in the US, they’re absolutely LOADED with chemicals.
The food industry does not want us to pay attention to the ingredients nor do they care about the negative effects from eating them. They certainly don’t care about the astronomical medical bills that are a direct result of us eating the inferior food they are creating.
We as a collective nation must stop this trajectory of sickness and rising health care costs, by understanding the ingredients we are putting into our bodies. We must challenge the U.S. food industry to discontinue the use of banned ingredients that are not allowed elsewhere in the world. We deserve to have the same quality food without potential toxins.”
Ditch processed foods entirely. (If you live in Europe you may have more options than Americans, as you may be able to find some processed foods that do not contain any synthetic additives.) About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, so there is massive room for improvement in this area for most people.
Swapping your processed food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods may seem like a radical idea, but it’s a necessity if you value your health. And when you put the history of food into perspective, it’s actually the processed foods that are “radical” and “new.” People have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented.
If you want to eat healthy, I suggest you follow the 1950s (and before) model and spend quality time in the kitchen preparing high-quality meals for yourself and your family. If you rely on processed inexpensive foods, you exchange convenience for long-term health problems and mounting medical bills. For a step-by-step guide to make this a reality in your own life, simply follow the advice in my optimized nutrition plan along with these seven steps to wean yourself off processed foods.
When it comes to staying healthy, avoiding processed foods and replacing them with fresh, whole foods is the “secret” you’ve been looking for. Additionally, the more steps your food goes through before it reaches your plate, the greater your chances of contamination becomes. If you are able to get your food locally, you eliminate numerous routes that could expose your food to contamination with disease-causing pathogens.