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Avoiding toxins in our food: Be informed

Pauli Halstead
Columnist
Americans consume a large percentage of their daily calories from ultra-processed foods. We need to substitute the ultra-processed foods with fresh, whole, and organic foods for improving our immune system, cancer prevention and prevention of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Metro Newspaper Service

Any food that has been canned, reconstituted, dehydrated, or had food colorings and chemicals added to it is a processed food. Unfortunately, these food ‘products’ make up about 70 percent of the average American diet.

Be informed! It’s now up to us to educate ourselves by reading labels when we shop! You can now read about the worst additives and chemicals polluting our food supply and keep them out of your house and away from your children. After you’ve become familiar with their harmful effects, you will want to eliminate them from your diet.

Over the last few decades, the number of chemicals added to our food system has skyrocketed. Preservatives are added to foods to keep them fresh and chemicals are added to make them look more appealing. Chemicals and scents are also added to lotions and laundry products to make them smell nice. The list goes on and on and our health is suffering because of it.



Americans consume a large percentage of their daily calories from ultra-processed foods. We need to substitute the ultra-processed foods with fresh, whole, and organic foods for improving our immune system, cancer prevention and prevention of obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Parents must be mindful of children’s developing brains and the destructive toxins that cross the blood brain barrier which can cause hyperactivity, and affect brain function and learning.

Most of us don’t think of the food we eat as containing poisonous ingredients. However, some of the ingredients commonly found in processed foods can be considered very toxic indeed. These would be fast food burgers, some made with engineered meat, (think pink slime), prepackaged junk foods laden with very toxic high fructose corn syrup, food colorings and a myriad of chemicals.



Are the preservatives, food colorings and chemicals safe? You would think the FDA wouldn’t approve them if they were not safe? Not so! Some research has also shown that multiple food additives may have an amplified health effect when combined.

Titanium dioxide is used as an artificial color additive, anti-caking agent, or whitener in a wide variety of processed foods. The International Agency for Research on Cancer finds it potentially carcinogenic. The European Union has banned the ingredient. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says there isn’t evidence to demonstrate any safety concerns. Consumption of titanium dioxide may be linked to changes in your gut microbiota which can lead to inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer. Why take a chance on your family’s health?

Processed and ultra-processed meats, such as ham, bacon, salami, hotdogs, beef jerky and corned beef, have long been associated with a higher risk of bowel cancer in both men and women, according to the World Health Organization, American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research. All types of ultra-processed foods play a role to some degree.

Glyphosate is the base chemical and active ingredient used to make Roundup and is one of the most harmful substances known to man. First registered for use in the U.S. in 1974, it’s now the most widely used in farms and gardens across the country and sold in more than 750 products. Used in food crops, glyphosate can now be found virtually everywhere in the food chain. The link between glyphosate toxicity and cancer are on the rise.

These are just a few of the food products containing glyphosate residue. Better just to avoid prepackaged snack foods altogether, unless certified organic.

  • Granola by Quaker, KIND, Back to Nature, Nature Valley
  • Instant oats by Giant, Quaker, Umpqua, Market Pantry
  • Whole oats by Quaker, Bob’s Red Mill, Nature’s Path, Whole Foods
  • Cereal by Kashi, Kellogg’s, including Lucky Charms and Cheerios
  • Snack bars by Quaker, KIND, Nature Valley, Kellogg’s
  • Orange juice by Tropicana, Minute Maid, Signature Farms, Kirkland
  • Crackers, including Cheez-Its, Ritz, Triscuits, Goldfish
  • Cookies by Annie’s, Kashi, and Nabisco (Oreos)
  • Chips by Stacy’s, Lay’s, Doritos, Fritos

To avoid glyphosate poisoning, here are some of the things you can do:

Look for labels. The Detox Project, which uses an FDA-registered food testing lab to test for toxic chemicals, recently launched a “Glyphosate Residue Free” label that companies can apply for to certify their products. Until it rolls out more widely, you are more likely (but not guaranteed) to avoid exposure by opting for foods labeled “Certified Organic.”

Only you can take responsibility for your health and the health of your family by reading labels. Don’t bring processed food with toxic ingredients home. And teach your children well.

Pauli Halstead is the author of “Primal Cuisine: Cooking for the Paleo Diet” and Joy Brann, MPH, works in health education and policy.

 

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