The following is a guest post from Sarah at Falk Family Fun!
**Rachel’s thoughts: While there is certainly disagreement in the scientific community over whether some of these chemicals and substances truly are harmful for our health, the more that I read and look into it the more I would prefer to err on the side of caution.**
Lately, my house has been invaded by ants. Every few hours, we find a new swarm of them on the kitchen counters. I squish them, my husband squirts them with soap, and I’m finally researching a natural way to get rid of them. I share my ant story with you because, for me, getting rid of chemicals in my house and in my food has been a lot like squishing ants.
I do it a little at a time.
You might be the mass exterminator type. You’ll go through your house, and in one fell swoop, get rid of every cleaner, every body product, and every bit of food that has yucky ingredients.
Or you might be more like me. You’ll do a few mass killings, and then do another few rounds as products appear.
Both ways work. The important thing is to get it done. If you missed my first post in this series on why you should ‘get it done’, check out Chemical Intruders – Introduction.
The Big, The Bad, and the Ugly
There are a few chemical ‘Big Bad Uglies’ to look out for as far as food is concerned. I’ll list these out for you, and give you a few examples of places where I found these offenders in MY pantry.
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup
A study at Princeton University found that rats given HFCS gained significantly more weight than rats given table sugar. Professor Bart Hoebel says, “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.” Obesity rates in the US have doubled since the introduction of this sweetener and the rate of diabetes has increased by 33%. The average American consumes 60 pounds of HFCS a year!
I found HFCS in my cereal, yogurt, bread, ketchup, mayonnaise, applesauce, pop tarts, jelly, canned fruit, colas, oreos, ice cream, and chocolate syrup, to name a few. My husband found me quite entertaining during this period – I was horrified every time I found HFCS in something new. Coke and cookies, I expect it. But yogurt, bread and mayo?
2. Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Frank Lipman explains in his book, Spent: Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Feel Great Again that hydrogenation has serious health consequences because it creates trans fats. These trans fats increase the level of bad LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream and lower your level of good HDL cholesterol. Hydrogenated oils are already banned in Europe, by the way.
I found partially hydrogenated oils in my cereal, frozen pizza, flour tortillas, peanut butter, chocolate cake rolls, and boxed brownies, to name a few. Yuck!
3. Monosodium Glutamate (aka MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, etc, etc. )
MSG is BAD stuff. Dr. Russell Blaylock (a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi) exposes some of the dangers of MSG in his book, Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills, including weight gain, brain damage, chest pain, allergic reactions, seizures, and many more unpleasant side effects.
I found it in salad dressing, dipping sauces, bread crumbs, soup, Hamburger Helper, and chips, to name just a few. MSGTruth.org has a comprehensive list.
Also in Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills, Dr. Blaylock quotes an Italian study that found that aspartame increases the mobility of cancer cells, which contributes to metastasis. And Dr. Mercola, a well respected authority in the natural/organic movement says that “aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.” I highly recommend reading more about the dangerous consequences of aspartame.
Aspartame is found in diet drinks, gum, and even Koolaid, to name a few.
5. Food Dyes
The Center for Science in the Public Interest says that food dyes pose a rainbow of risks, including hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. These dyes have already been banned in Europe.
Lots of candies, ‘fruit’ snacks, macaroni & cheese, red velvet cake, and virtually anything ‘colored’ contains food dyes.
If you feel overwhelmed after reading that list, I understand! I wanted someone to actually walk with me through the grocery store and show me what I COULD eat! Since I can’t go the store with each of you personally, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
1. Eliminate the candy and soft drinks.
2. Simple is good. Pick the products with the fewest ingredients on the label.
3. Learn to make some meals at home from scratch. Heavenly Homemakers was a great resource for me.
4. Remember that the choices you make while shopping send a message to retailers and food companies. I’m already seeing less HFCS and more ‘natural’ options on the shelves.
While making changes can feel difficult and overwhelming, the small steps you take will, over time, can have a large impact on your family’s health.
I use http://www.savingdinner.com menu mailer and menu’s. We cook from scratch, not out of boxes!
Great article. I was thining of writing a similar, but you beat me to it. As a couponer I try to buy things without these items. I read lables all the time. I buy a lot of items from bulk bins at Sprouts to save on items I use to make from scratch. I am also buying more organic items. These tend to not have as many bad ingredients in them. Yes I am doing this too through coupons.
Surviving The Stores says
The more we can get the word out the better!! I think we all need to be posting articles like this, lol!! 🙂
The more we can get people to change their “votes” in the store, then the more companies will start making the changes!
I am LOVING all of the bulk bins at Sunflower Farmers Market here in Dallas. They have some pretty awesome sales and we try to stock up whenever the bulk foods hit their lows. My GOAL (working towards it but not there yet) is to just shop the outer section of the store (produce, meat, dairy) and not go into the aisles at all except for bulk food purchases.
Hopefully the day where that goal is met will be soon!!!
I tried to click on your link to Heavenly Homemakers, and it doesn’t work…. But I totally agree, I have tried my hardest to cut out high fructose corn syrup, msg, but I didnt think about food dye or hydrognated oils. But it is scary scary and crazy how you did not know growing up all this bad stuff, in your favorite foods..!
I’m sure I ate this stuff growing up and I turned out okay lol!~ But I am really trying my best to cut out all of that and whole food is my best friend~!
Thanks for the infomation,
Ryan @ Surviving The Stores says
Sorry about the link, I just fixed it so it should work now!
I am so glad you included MSG on your list. My mother went into anaphylaxis several years ago after accidentally eating something that contained it. It really is a killer! Even if you think you have gotten rid of all of it from your pantry, check again>”Accent!” is nothing but MSG. Thanks for the great post!
Reading labels to check for HFCS was one of the first things I started when I began my health journey. I too was amazed that this ingredient was in so many items that one typically buys. This was several years ago and many, many more changes have taken place since that time. This is definitely a great step to begin with.