We all know they are out there. Those weird-sounding ingredients listed on our food labels that we can’t even pronounce. But are they really all that bad? Here is a list of five ingredients you might want to stay away from:
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
MSG hides behind many names including natural flavouring, yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, caseinate, textured protein, hydrolyzed pea protein and many others. MSG is a flavour enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. The FDA has received many anecdotal reports of adverse reactions to MSG-containing foods. These reactions, known as MSG symptom complex, include:
- Facial pressure or tightness
- Numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas
- Rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations)
- Chest pain
Currently, labelling standards do not require MSG to be listed in the ingredient list in most countries.
Acesulfame-K, or acesulfame potassium, is one of the main artificial sweeteners used in processed foods and drinks. Although it is approved by many governments, there are several potential problems correlated with the consumption of this food additive. Methylene chloride, a solvent used in the manufacturing of acesulfame-K, is the substance that may give the food additive its potential carcinogenic characteristics.
The first safety tests on Ace-K were conducted in the 1970s. Among other things, these tests indicated the compound could be cancer-causing in rats. The validity of these tests has been called into question over the years.
Sodium benzoate often shows up in seemingly innocuous foods such as apple cider, low-fat salad dressings, syrups, jams, olives, and pickles. Apart from being a food preservative, it is also a prescription medication for urea cycle disorder. When combined with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), it can convert into a potential lethal carcinogenic called benzene.
Sodium benzoate chokes out your body’s nutrients at the DNA cellular level by depriving mitochondria cells of oxygen, sometimes completely shutting them down. Just as humans need oxygen to breathe, cells need oxygen to function properly.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
Any processed food product that has a long shelf life is often loaded with BHA, including cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. BHA is a synthetic antioxidant that is used to prevent fats in foods from going rancid. At high doses, it causes cancer in rats, mice and hamsters, but it does this exclusively in the forestomach, an organ that humans do not have. In the low levels used in food preservatives, however, many researchers consider it perfectly safe. While BHA is an approved food additive, it is also considered “possibly carcinogenic to humans (category 2B)” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). While the testing continues, it’s generally best to stay away from it.
5. Polysorbate 80
Polysorbate 80 has been found to negatively affect the immune system and possibly cause severe anaphylactic shock. This additive may accelerate maturing, cause changes to the vagina and womb lining, initiate hormonal changes, lead to ovary deformities and degenerative follicles. Although scientists are aware of its ability to cause infertility, it continues to appear in children’s vaccines. Polysorbate 80 is primarily used in cosmetics and beauty products as a surfactant and emulsifier because of its ability to help other ingredients dissolve in a solvent in which they normally would not be able to dissolve, Polysorbate 80 is also commonly found in ice cream.
When it comes to weird ingredients in your food the best advice is to go as natural as possible. Remember, if it goes bad, it’s probably good.
By Dr Sara Diaz for Whatsinit?
So, What is Whatsinit?
Whatsinit? is a app designed to help you out with finding out what exactly is in the food we eat and is especially good for those who have allergies. It makes it a whole lot easier to look up what exactly in the food that you eat because of the simple colour coding system and through being able to take pictures and record particular ingredients. As a result, you get a app personally tailored to you with your allergies, intolerances or foods you just rather avoid in one place. In summary this is a go to app for all of those who are concerned or maybe just interested in what actually is on some of these food labels that seem indecipherable.
PS The pictures used are of no indication of the food you should or should not be eating in order to have a healthy lifestyle.
Thank you so much to Dr Sara Diaz and the Whatsinit? team for this article and you can check out Whatsinit? now on the app store and Google Play!