New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman calls it SAD – the Standard American Diet. Our food economy only functions if manufacturers hide the toxins added to food, treat animals with utter disrespect, and engage in manipulative marketing to sell their products. Other countries have pulled ahead of the US, banning many additives Americans consume daily. Today, a growing population is choosing knowledge over ignorance, making new choices and emerging healthier and happier as a result.
If you want to change your health, your diet and you life, you will want to educate yourself about the food choices you have available. A typical American household spends about 90 percent of their food budget on processed foods. You and your family need to understand the consequences of your food selections. I’m here to help.
Obesity and Diabetes
Half of American adults are overweight. Forty 40 million people, 25% of the adult population, are clinically obese. Twelve million kids are now obese, as well. Type 2 diabetes, typical of populations that consume hyper-processed foods, has reached 24 million. Another 79 million people have pre-diabetes.
It now appears that Alzheimer’s could be a form of diet-induced diabetes. It seems that Alzheimer’s and diabetes have the same cause: processed foods that mess with insulin’s many roles.
“The link between diet and dementia negates our notion of Alzheimer’s as a condition that befalls us by chance,” said Mark Bittman. “Adopting a sane diet, a diet contrary to the standard American diet, would appear to give you a far better shot at avoiding diabetes in all of its forms, along with its dreaded complications. There are, as usual, arguments to be made for enlisting government help in that struggle, but for now, put down that soda!”
“Alzheimer’s is insulin resistance in the brain,” said Dr. Suzanne DeLaMonte, the Brown Medical School neuropathologist who did the initial studies, identifying Alzheimer’s as akin to Type 3 diabetes. DelaMonte turned to statistical evidence to look for a cause, and found a connection: a fivefold increase (from 1970 to 2005) in U.S. consumption of fast food and processed meats and, over the same period of time, a fivefold increase in rates of Alzheimer’s, diabetes and fatty liver disease among people 55 and older.
Dr. DelaMonte blames the high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed American diet, and in particular, nitrites, an additive used in meats and processed foods for flavor and coloring. Nitrites are converted to nitrosamines in the body, according to de la Monte, and “we have reasonable evidence that human exposure to nitrosamines is at the root cause of not only Alzheimer’s but several other insulin-resistance diseases, including Type 2 diabetes,” she said.
More and more American children are developing food allergies. The number of kids with food allergies went up 18 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 3 million children younger than 18 had a food or digestive allergy in 2007, the CDC said. Equally disturbing is the fact that children with food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared to other children. One theory is that the Western diet has made people more susceptible to developing allergies and other illnesses.
Hyperactivity makes learning more difficult for children. Studies have attributed it to food additives. “A mix of additives commonly found in children’s foods increases the mean level of hyperactivity,” wrote the researchers, led by Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the University of Southampton. “The finding lends strong support for the case that food additives exacerbate hyperactive behaviors (inattention, impulsivity and overactivity) at least into middle childhood.”
When to Buy Organic
The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health, has identified the most important foods to buy organic. Why? Because the pesticides on these fruits and veggies are so toxic. Their recommendation are based on the results of pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies for the past nine years.
These are the “Dirty Dozen” with the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic – or to grow them organically yourself:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
8 Foods We Eat In The U.S. That Are Banned In Other Countries
Buzzfeed recently posted this important list. The original list was found in Rich Food, Poor Food, by Dr. Jayson Calton and certified nutritionist Mira Calton.
1. Artificial food dye: Enhances the appearance of food. Can inhibit nerve-cell development.
Used in: Practically everything we eat: cake mixes, sports drinks, cheese, candy, and even macaroni and cheese.
Why it’s dangerous: Artificial dyes are made from chemicals derived from petroleum, which is also used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar! Artificial dyes have been linked to nerve-cell deterioration and hyperactivity in children. Animal studies have linked food colorings to cancer.
Where it’s banned: Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and the U.K.
Here’s a breakdown of the specific dyes:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage. Used in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods
Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission. Used in: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!
Yellow #6 and Yellow Tartrazine Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage. Used in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more!
2. Olestra (or Olean): Lowers calorie counts while causing vitamin depletion and anal leakage. Used in: Fat-free potato chips, corn chips, and French fries.
Why it’s dangerous: Created by Procter & Gamble as a substitute for cooking oil, Olestra robs your body of its ability to absorb vitamins. Fun side effects include cramps and leaky bowels.Where it’s banned: Great Britain and Canada.
3. Brominated vegetable oil: Makes food dye stick to liquid, but also may cause birth defects and major organ damage. Used in: Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas.
Why it’s dangerous: Bromine is a chemical used to stop carpets from catching on fire, so you can see why drinking it may not be the best idea. BVO is linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss. Where it’s banned: In over 100 countries.
4. Potassium bromate (or bromated flour): Great for impatient bakers, bad for your kidneys and nervous system. Used in: Wraps, rolls, bread crumbs, bagel chips, flat breads.
Why it’s dangerous: Derived from the same harmful chemical as brominated vegetable oil, brominated flour is used to decrease baking time and reduce costs. Only problem is, it’s linked to kidney damage, cancer, and nervous system damage.Where it’s banned: Europe, Canada, and China.
5. Azodicarbonamide: Bleaches flour, plastic, and induces asthma as an added bonus. Used in: Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods.
Why it’s dangerous: Used to bleach both flour and foamed plastic (yoga mats and the soles of sneakers), azodicarbonamide has been known to induce asthma. Where it’s banned: Australia, the U.K., and most European countries.
6. BHA & BHT: Waxy preservatives linked to cancer and tumors.Used in: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, Potato chips, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid.
Why it’s dangerous: Used to keep food from becoming rancid, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are known to effect the neurological system of the brain, alter behavior and cause cancer in rats.Where it’s banned: The U.K., Japan, and many other European countries.
7. Synthetic growth hormones rBGH and rBST: Harmful to cows and linked to increasing tumor development in humans. Used in: Milk and dairy products.
Why it’s dangerous: Growth hormones are bad for cows and people, potentially causing infertility, weakened muscle growth, and a whole array of cancers. Where it’s banned: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the EU.
8. Arsenic: Basically this poison will slowly kill you. Used in: Poultry.Why it’s dangerous: Used in some chicken feed to make meat appear pinker and fresher, arsenic is poison, which will kill you if you ingest enough. Where it’s banned: The EU.
Other Food Additives That Are Dangerous To Our Health
Artificial Sweeteners – Check our article on this site
High Fructose Corn Syrup – Used in most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals. High fructose corn syrup has become the number one source of calories in America. It puts on weight, increases cholesterol levels, and contributes to diabetes and tissue damage.
Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite – Used in: hotdogs, bacon, ham, luncheon meat, cured meats, corned beef, smoked fish or any other type of processed meat. Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is a preservative, coloring. It is a color fixer, making old meats appear fresh and vibrant. It is highly carcinogenic and is widely regarded as a toxic ingredient. The USDA tried to ban this additive in the 1970’s but was vetoed by food manufacturers who complained they had no alternative for preserving packaged meat products. It has been identified in research as a factor in Alzheimer’s.
Sulfur Dioxide – Used in: beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, cordials, wine, vinegar, and potato products. Sulfur additives are toxic and in the United States of America, the Federal Drugs Administration have prohibited their use on raw fruit and vegetables. Adverse reactions include: bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. It also destroys vitamins B1 and E. Not recommended for consumption by children. The International Labour Organization says to avoid it if you suffer from conjunctivitis, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, or cardiovascular disease.
Potassium Bromate – Used in: breads, especially white breads, reminds us of chef/author Michael Pollan’s observation: “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” It is an additive used to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls, potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals. Even small amounts in bread can create problems for humans.
Monosodium Glutamate – Used in Chinese food, snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners, lunch meats. MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer. It is as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. MSG effects the neurological pathways of the brain, creating cravings and weight gain.
Trans Fat – Used in: margarine, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods. Trans fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products and is highly dangerous. Used in deep-fried fast foods and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fats are formed by a process called hydrogenation. Studies show that trans fat increases LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL – good – cholesterol, increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes and other health problems.
Sodium Sulfite – A preservative used in wine and dried fruit. The FDA states that one in 100 people is sensitive to sulfites in food. The majority of these individuals are asthmatic, suggesting a link between asthma and sulfites. Individuals who are sulfite sensitive may experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death by closing down the airway altogether, leading to cardiac arrest.
What’s Next? Listen to the food gurus.
“Eat real food.” Robb Wolf
“If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.” Michael Pollan
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan
“This evidence is overwhelming at this point. You eat more plants, you eat less other stuff, you live longer.” Mark Bittman
“Not only would profits fall if we ate a moderate diet of wholesome foods; so, too, would the rates of lifestyle diseases, global warming, our collective weight, antibiotic use, environmental damage, and cruelty to livestock.” Mark Bittman
The Paleo Diet!
The popularity of the Paleo Diet and other fresh food/organic diets is because people are discovering the damage of processed foods. Your food can make you sick. Or your food can heal you. It’s your choice.