April 18, 2010

9 Things to Avoid in Your Diet

By admin

This is a good piece (9 Things to Avoid in Your Diet), but I think they could have made it even better.

How?  Add an ‘ethical’ column to the products and you get a sense of what the broader implications are with each of these products.

What follows are just a few ideas.  Feel free to add your own.

Ingredient Why it is Used Why it is Bad Why it’s REALLY Bad
Artificial Colors
  • Chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color.
  • Linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches.
  • Food from coal?  Really?
Artificial Flavorings
  • Cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors.
  • Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma
  • Can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid.
  • Most artificial flavourings are derived from petroleum products.  That’s right:  oil.  We need to naturalize our food so that when we finally start taxing the hell out of oil, we don’t force ourselves into starvation!
Artificial Sweeteners
(Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®,  Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol)
  • Highly-processed, chemically-derived, zero-calorie sweeteners found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving.
  • Can negatively impact metabolism
  • Some have been linked to cancer, dizziness hallucinations and headaches.
  • Donald Rumsfeld is connected with Aspartame and many believe that it’s this connection that prevented the US Admin under Bush from ever investigating claims of defects, tumours and other maledictions related to artificial sweeteners.
Benzoate Preservatives(BHT, BHA, TBHQ)
  • Compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid.
  • May result in hyperactivity, angiodema,  asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors and  urticaria
  • Can affect estrogen balance and levels.
  • An easy way to avoid preservatives is to eat fresh, organic, real and natural food.  Many people argue this isn’t possible, but think about how real things would be if we as a culture spent money on real food instead of trying to extend the shelf-life.
Brominated Vegetable Oil(BVO)
  • Chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks.
  • Increases triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Can damage liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys.
  • This is actually an additive that many countries have labelled as toxic and have subsequently banned in products like pop and power drinks.
  • So here’s the big hint:  stop drinking sugar and you’ll be fine.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar
  • Sustains freshness in baked goods
  • Blends easily in beverages to maintain sweetness.
  • May predispose the body to turn fructose into fat
  • Increases risk for Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer
  • Isn’t easily metabolized by the liver.
  • Too many issues with this, but the central idea is that corn permeates our entire food chain.  We need to break that chain and expand from a monoculture.  If we don’t, and something happens to corn (disease, pests, etc), we’re all screwed.
  • Corn is dominated by approx. 3 companies (ADM, Monsanto, Cargill) and they are constantly fighting for ways to monopolize distribution and growth of corn.
MSG(Monosodium Glutamate)
  • Flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and other foods.
  • May stimulate appetite and cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing.
  • In most cases, MSG is piled on in one specific kind of food:  fast food.
  • Avoid fast food and you’ll be fine.
  • The pervasiveness of MSG in our diets is a reflection of how much we’ve aborted food culture and adopted an unnatural commercial food industry as a cornerstone of our routine.
  • Not only are there financial implications, but the cultural ramifications run deep as well.  We no longer eat together and we need to start enjoying the people we eat with as well as what we eat.
  • An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked.
  • Inhibits absorption of some nutrients
  • Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence.
  • Two words:  anal leakage.
Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
(Palm, Soybean and others)
  • Industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S.
  • Cheaper than most other oils.
  • Contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, contributing to risk of heart disease.
  • Palm oil in particular is a MASSIVE problem.  Most palm trees grow in tropical areas and to get these fats in our foods, we’re deforesting pristine woodlands faster than a fatty burger goes through our systems.
  • Solution:  avoid processed and fast foods.

I loved reading about the 9 things to avoid, but I loved the exercise of exploring even more ethical and moral reasons why we need to rethink our ‘demand’ for these products.

Most of the solution comes with a very simple answer: make your own food from natural products, enjoy cooking and take the time to cook (making it a family or functional activity) and stop buying processed anything.