Day 13: Nothing artificial – Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.
Artificial flavorings are derived from chemicals made in a laboratory and offer absolutely no nutritional value and are a magnet for processed foods. They show up in almost everything today, including bread, cereals, flavored yogurt, soups mixes, and cocktail mixers, so they can be hard to avoid. Every single artificial flavor in the food industry has some kind of detrimental health effect. These include neurotoxicity, organ, developmental, reproductive toxicity and cancer.
Food colouring is a tactic the food industry has used for decades. From those marshmallows floating in your bowl of milk to brightly colored orange cheetos, even the most common household foods contain ingredients such as Red #40 (the most widely consumed artificial dye) and Yellow #5.
However, the dangers of artificial dyes are often an issue in food safety, with many claiming them to be toxic and a factor to the rise of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in recent years. Curiously enough, many natural colors previously used to color food contained toxins such as mercury, and at the turn of the 20th century, companies began to create synthetic solutions to replace harmful natural dyes.
There are several food colourings still on the market linked with cancer.
Blue 1 and 2, found in beverages, candy, baked goods and pet food, have been linked to cancer in mice. Red 3, used to dye cherries, fruit cocktail, candy, and baked goods, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats. Green 3, added to candy and beverages, has been linked to bladder cancer. The widely used yellow 6, added to beverages, sausage, gelatin, baked goods, and candy, has been linked to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney.
Another food additive to look out for is "MSG" which hides behind dozens of names, such as natural flavoring, yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, caseinate, textured protein, hydrolyzed pea protein and many others. Currently, labeling standards do not require MSG to be listed in the ingredient list of thousands of foods.
One of the problems with the products of food science is that, as Joan Gussow has pointed out, they lie to your body; their artificial colors and flavors and synthetic sweeteners and novel fats confound the senses we rely on to assess new foods and prepare our bodies to deal with them. Foods that lie leave us with little choice but to eat by the number, consulting labels rather than our senses.
Another issue with artificial foods is that, just like other highly processed foods, they’re relatively new and therefore we don’t know exactly how their consumption affects the body long term. Remember how margarine was touted as a healthy alternative to butter when decades later we learned the dangers of hydrogenated oils?
There have been recent studies on the effects of artificial dyes in our food especially for kids. Think about how your kids react not only when they have had the dreaded SUGAR but when that sugar is tied to artificial colourings! Usually this combination makes kids crazy, causes melt downs and the like! Not fun!!
This mini-challenge reminds me that I’ve been wanting to share the difference between “natural” and “organic” food products. Packaging and labels can be very confusing these days! When a product says it is “natural” it just means that the ingredients come from something naturally created like a plant or an animal. If a product weren’t “natural” it could contain artificial ingredients like Red Dye #40 that’s chemically created or “invented” by food scientists in a lab somewhere. Sound appetizing?
“Organic” food is a whole different story and refers to products that have not been treated with synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides, which is a good thing.
For the record, whether you are buying food that is “all natural” or “organic” it does not mean those products are whole grain, low in sodium, or lacking loads of sweeteners like sugar. To put things in perspective, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is actually a “natural” ingredient since it is made from corn. But that doesn't mean it's an ingredient I'm ok with if I come across it on the back of a package! However if given the choice I would much rather consume HFCS over an artificially created sweetener like Splenda. With that being said, natural products are a far better choice than artificial ones although we would by no means automatically deem them as being “real food.”
So I'm sure this is all a bit confusing but the beauty of all this is that with the Facebook group we can all talk about what we come across and I can help clean things up for you. Packaging can be SO tricky!!! But I am hoping this Challenge won’t be too difficult because I'm not asking you to go full force with “real food,” but instead to just avoid the items that are basically fake. And hopefully this experience will be eye opening for you as far as how many products contain these fake, artificial additives.
Even most cough syrups, children’s Tylenol products, and throat lozenges contain artificial ingredients! So be on the lookout next week and avoid all additives that were “invented” within the last century and instead stick to those trustworthy ingredients that our ancestors have survived on for thousands of years! Remember Great Grandma? If she would recognize it than it's ok!
WHY IT'S USED
WHY IT'S BAD
(Acesulfame-K, As-partame, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Sac-charin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol)
(BHT, BHA, TBHQ)