And Why Artificially Created Additives in Food are Bad for You
In today’s fast-paced world, convenience often takes precedence over nutrition. The food industry has responded by introducing a wide array of processed foods enriched with artificial additives. I will stop here and say that if you don’t know what artificial additives are, check your pantry or fridge, and any of the food there has Red 40, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, sodium benzoate, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and potassium sorbate – you have a winner.
Food Created in a Lab or Artificial Additives
Artificial additives are substances added to processed foods to improve their appearance, taste, texture, and preservation. These additives can include artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and other chemical compounds. While their primary purpose is to enhance the sensory appeal and extend the shelf life of products, the long-term consequences of their consumption raise concerns among health professionals.
Negative Impact on Health
Allergic Reactions: Artificial additives, particularly food dyes, and preservatives, have been linked to allergic reactions, including skin rashes, asthma attacks, and gastrointestinal distress. Synthetic food colorings, such as tartrazine and Red 40, have been associated with hyperactivity in children, and some individuals may exhibit sensitivities to certain additives.
Adverse Effects on Children: Numerous studies have suggested a link between artificial additives and behavioral issues in children, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, it is believed that artificial colors and preservatives may disrupt normal brain activity and contribute to behavioral disturbances.
Increased Health Risks: Artificial additives, such as trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup, which are commonly found in processed foods, have been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
Hormonal Disruption: Some artificial additives, including certain preservatives and flavor enhancers, have been found to interfere with hormonal balance.
Healthy Whole Food
I have become obsessed with reading food labels in the last three years. It all started with discovering how many unnecessary ingredients manufacturers add to the food. Even foods advertised as “healthy” still contain additives for prolonged shelf life. I slowly concluded that if I could not find a brand that offered a natural product, I would make it at home or avoid it altogether. I was a terrible baker but learned to make cookies, banana bread, and more to spare my family from artificial additives. While I wouldn’t call myself a baker, I became good at it.
Benefits of Natural Whole Foods
Nutrient Density: Natural whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. These nutrients are vital for maintaining optimal health, supporting bodily functions, and preventing nutrient deficiencies.
Lower Disease Risk: A diet rich in natural whole foods has been consistently associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and metabolic disorders.
Digestive Health: Whole foods, particularly those high in fiber, promote a healthy digestive system by preventing constipation, maintaining bowel regularity, and supporting a diverse gut microbiota.
Enhanced Satiety: Whole foods are more filling and satisfying than processed foods due to their higher fiber and protein content. This can aid in weight management by reducing overeating and controlling calorie intake, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight.
Whole Foods Lifestyle
But whole foods are expensive because they have a shorter shelf life, and now they are hip and trending, so the price is increased! This is wrong. While some whole foods, especially the so-called superfoods, are expensive, generally speaking, whole foods are not expensive.
Choose Fresh, Unprocessed Foods: Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains whenever possible. Incorporate various colors and textures to ensure your diet has a diverse range of nutrients. Frozen counts also, as most fruit and vegetables are frozen at peak freshness.
Read Labels Carefully: When purchasing packaged foods, read the ingredient list and look out for artificial additives. Avoid products that contain additives such as artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Instead, choose foods with minimal ingredients and ones that you can recognize and pronounce. My rule is if I cannot imagine the plant/animal it comes from, It’s probably not for me.
Cook at Home: By preparing your meals at home, you have control over the ingredients used. You can choose to use whole, natural ingredients and limit the use of processed foods. My whole blog is dedicated to using whole ingredients, and even when I use pre-prepared food (lasagna sheets), I ensure the label follows the above rule.
Educate Yourself: I cannot stress how important that is. Don’t blindly follow TikTok and YouTube videos advertising 0 calories, sweeteners, and artificial food that will have magic effects on your weight. Stay informed about food additives and their potential risks to your health. Keep up with the latest research, news, and recommendations from trusted sources such as health organizations and reputable nutritionists.
Long Story Short:
While artificial additives may enhance processed foods’ taste, appearance, and shelf life, their potential risks to our health cannot be ignored. On the other hand, the consumption of natural whole foods provides us with a wealth of essential nutrients and contributes to overall well-being. By embracing a whole foods lifestyle and being mindful of our ingredients, we can prioritize our health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and foster a stronger connection with our food. Remember, our bodies deserve nourishment from nature’s bounty, so let us make conscious choices that prioritize our health and well-being.