Detoxing Your Kitchen From Additives & Preservatives: Substitutes for 10 Common Food Additives & Preservatives by Veronica Villanueva
Did you know that there are over 3,000 FDA-approved food additives that have negative effects? In an ideal world, we would eat only fresh food, from farm to table and from ocean to kitchen, but unfortunately, that’s not the case, and often our freezer is more packed than our refrigerator.
To take control of your health and diet, it is imperative to start scrutinizing the ingredient labels when purchasing your food. However, reading food labels can be tricky. Food manufacturers make it complicated to make it harder for consumers to understand. The danger is that over time, the health risks from consuming food with preservatives and additives, are linked to chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Here are three things you can begin to do to reduce exposure to additives and preservatives:
- Eat more fresh food, less canned foods and beverages.
- Eliminate as many processed and fast foods as you can.
- Read food labels each time you do food grocery shopping.
Since knowledge is power, here is a list of the most common additives and preservatives, what they are used for and suggestions for healthier alternatives. Hope it will help you take the first easy steps toward detoxing your kitchen!
1. Additive: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Purpose: Intensify and enhance flavors of many processed foods.
- Foods: frozen ready-made meals, salty snacks and canned foods, especially soups
- Issues: Restaurants use MSG quite frequently to add flavor however, many people are sensitive to MSG but unaware of it or discount it. Symptoms can include headaches, sweating, numbness.
- Alternative: In a restaurant you can ask for your food to be MSG free.
2. Additive: Artificial Food Coloring
- Purpose: Brightens the color of the food.
- Foods: Usually candies and condiments.
- Issue: Certain dyes may cause cancer and thyroid issues. Research has linked food coloring with “hyperactivity” in children. Pay attention to the following potential hazardous food dyes: Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6.
- Alternatives: riboflavin yellow 101, beet red 162, curcurmin, chlorophyll green 140
3. Additive: Guar Gum
- Purpose: Used to thicken and bind food.
- Foods: ice cream, sauces, soups and salad dressings
- Issue: Can help you feel full but at the same time can cause abdominal bloating, gas, and cramps.
- Alternatives: Psyllium husk, which is made from the husks of Plantago ovata seeds, chia seeds and water, ground flax seeds and water, or agar agar.
4. High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Purpose: Used as a sweetener.
- Foods: soda, juice, cereals, snacks and candies
- Issue: Can trigger inflammation therefore can cause diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease. In addition, the empty calories that can cause weight gain.
- Alternative: Stevia
5. Artificial Sweeteners
- Purpose: Used in diet foods and beverages to add sweetness while reducing calories.
- Examples: aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium
- Issues: One of the symptoms is usually headaches.
- Alternative: Stevia
- Purpose: Used as a thickener, emulsifier in food products.
- Foods: almond milk, cottage cheese, coffee creamers, dairy-free products like vegan cheese and ice cream
- Issues: Increases your insulin level and may cause colitis.
- Alternative: agar agar
7. Preservative: Trans Fat/Hydrogenated Oils
- Purpose: Helps with consistency of food and longer shelf life.
- Foods: pastries, microwave popcorn, butter biscuits
- Issues: trans fats can cause inflammation, heart disease and diabetes.
- Alternatives: While there really is no great alternative, try using saturated vegetable fats, including the "tropicals" such as palm, palm kernel and coconut oils.
8. Xanthan Gum
- Purpose: Thickens the consistency of food products.
- Foods: syrups, sauces and salad dressings
- Issues: Affects the digestive system causing diarrhea and gas.
- Alternatives: Similar to guar gum, use psyllium husk, which is made from the husks of Plantago ovata seeds, chia seeds and water, ground flax seeds and water, or agar agar.
9. Artificial Flavoring
- Purpose: Used to imitate other flavors.
- Food: popcorn, “chocolate flavoring”
- Issues: May be toxic to bone marrow cells.
10. Yeast Extract
- Purpose: Serves to add taste and to bring out and balance existing flavors.
- Foods: cheese, snacks to boost flavor and soy sauce
- Issue: Not as bad as most additives but take note of how you feel after.
- Alternative: sourdough starter
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