Health Hazards You Can Avoid
By Carolyn Krieg, DO
Primary Care Provider, New Beginnings Health Care
Of the many factors contributing to adrenal stress (and beyond) that Dr. Deckert listed here, some you can control, and some you can’t. Obviously there’s not much you can do about environmental pollutants in the air. But why not take control of what you can? Chemically processed foods, for example. Insidiously stealthy, yet avoidable.
A huge number of foods in the American diet are chemically changed from their original state so they’ll have a longer shelf life and be more appealing… even addictive. They’re just plain bad for everyone, but even worse for those who are already challenged by stressed-out adrenal glands.
The good news is, you have a choice. Read the labels. Know at least some of the worst things to look for. Avoid fast foods. Go organic as much as possible.
Of course, it’s very difficult to avoid chemically-processed foods completely, and even harder to know the long list of chemicals to avoid. But just a little knowledge and cutting way back can make a big difference in your health and longevity. And no wonder, because most chemically-processed foods are known to trigger inflammation while at the same time weakening the immune system’s ability to cope. Both events open the door to all kinds of ailments and diseases.
The most dangerous things to look for on food labels are:
The preservatives BHA, BHT, TBHQ, sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate, nitrate, and a plastic used in shoe rubber called azodicarbonamide. These are variously linked to neurological, behavioral, hormonal, metabolic, liver, and allergic issues plus such diseases as cancer and Parkinson’s.
Trans fats and vegetable oils such as canola, corn oil, soybean oil and more – all found in most processed and fried foods. They promote inflammation and are linked to a great many serious health problems including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and stroke. Use grapeseed oil and coconut oil instead. They’re very healthy and can be heated without generating hazardous compounds.
All artificial sweeteners including the most dangerous NutraSweet and Equal (aspartame, the worst); NutraSweet’s aspartame-based neotame; Splenda (sucralose); Sweet ‘N Low (saccharin); and acesulfame potassium (aka Ace-K), sold under the brand names Sweet & Safe (really?), Sunett, and Sweet One.
You should avoid artificial sweeteners entirely. They are variously responsible for causing weight gain, triggering type-2 diabetes, destroying beneficial gut flora, disrupting gastrointestinal function, supporting inflammatory bowel disease, and damaging DNA. As if that’s not enough, sucralose releases cancer-causing dioxins when heated. The only safe sugar substitutes are the natural herbs stevia and Lo Han Guo (aka Luo Han Kuo); Xylitol, a natural sweetener from fruits and vegetables; and pure glucose.
High-fructose corn syrup, found in beverages and in a vast number of different foods including baked goods, candies, condiments, and even baby food. Your liver is the only organ that can transport it, so it’s metabolized like alcohol. This results in metabolic malfunction and turns fructose into fat.
Artificial colors (toxic food dyes), the worst of which are Blue #2, Yellow #5 and Red #40. You’ll see Blue #2 listed on at least the honest labels for beverages, candies, pet foods and more. It has been linked to brain tumors. Yellow #5 is used in candies, bakery products, cereals and more. It’s linked to children’s behavioral issues and may be polluted with carcinogenic chemicals. Red #40 is in a wide variety of foods and is said to cause hyperactivity in children.
Artificial flavors, which can be one or hundreds of chemical additives within a given flavor. Some represent serious health hazards including Alzheimer’s disease.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), which may be listed instead as yeast extract, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed protein and too many more. It’s in a great variety of foods including salad dressings, frozen dinners, Chinese foods, chips and even meats. It has been linked to headaches, fatigue, vision damage, disorientation, numbness and tingling, rapid heartbeat, depression and obesity.
Genetically-engineered (GE) ingredients, found in an estimated two-thirds of all foods in U.S. grocery stores. It’s most prevalent in foods containing soybeans, soy flour, soy protein isolates, soy oil, corn, corn starch, corn oil, corn flour, and high fructose corn syrup. A related term is GMO, meaning Genetically Modified Organisms. These are plant or meat products whose DNA is artificially modified in the laboratory by applying genes from bacteria, viruses, and other plants and animals.
The argument for the technology contends that it will make possible the growth of enough food to feed the total world population. The argument against is that GMO foods cause severe stomach inflammation, as shown in animal studies that simulated the human diet. While the U.S. government has approved GMOs, more than 60 other developed countries including Japan, Australia and the entire European Union restrict or ban them as unsafe. Your best bet: buy 100% organic.
And so I repeat: The good news is, you have a choice.