As a doctor I have made it my mission to educate as many people about the philosophical pitfalls of believing "If it's on the shelf, it must be safe." In the US, we suffer from something called the "shortest healthy lifespan". That means we spend more years battling chronic disease than our peers from the 12 industrialized nations. There are many factors leading to this problem, but one of the obvious is how loaded our diets are with artificial chemicals.
1. Soda. Ahh, the good old American beverage. Soda is everywhere. It is marketed hard, and found at birthday parties to church functions. Nothing could be worse for the body than a splash of insulin overloading sugar soup. Almost every person I counsel on weight issues has a soda or diet soda addiction. (See also: The Top 10 Diseases Linked to Soda.)
2. Avoid Soy. Many patients in my office ask about soy products. This article is designed to help uncover some of the things many people are not aware of. Here is some of the research on soy. A 2001 literature review suggested that women with current or past breast cancer should be aware of the risks of potential tumor growth when taking soy products, based on the effect of phytoestrogens to promote breast cancer cell growth in animals.
A study found high consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found in most types of vegetable oil including soybean oil, may increase the likelihood that postmenopausal women will develop breast cancer. The most serious problem with soy may be its use in infant formulas. "The amount of phytoestrogens that are in a day's worth of soy infant formula equals 5 birth control pills," says Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., president of the Maryland Nutritionists Association.
3. Monosodium Glutamate. The word you need to know is excitotoxicity which means too much activity, it is the pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged and killed by glutamate and similar substances i.e. (MSG). This occurs when receptors for the neurotransmitter are bombarded and can cause excitotoxicity by allowing high levels of calcium ions to enter the cell. Calcium influx into cells activates a number of enzymes. These enzymes go on to damage cell structures such as components of the cytoskeleton, membrane, and DNA.
Excitotoxicity may be involved in spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) such as Multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease, Alcoholism and Huntington's disease. It's no wonder why the US leads the world in neurodegenerative diseases. Millions of people consume this product and don't even know the side affects.
4. Aspartame. It's a non-nutritive sweetener about 180 times sweeter than sugar. When I speak, people invariably want to argue this point. They want their artificial sweetener. I often get comments like, "It's FDA approved." WARNING! WARNING! If the government has to "approve" something for consumption THERE IS A PROBLEM! It is simply approved until enough people die, than it will be unapproved. Your health is your responsibility. Guard it well.
5. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you have seen any of the advertising material for HFCS high-fructose corn syrup, the marketers are trying to convince us this is a natural product. HFCS or crystalline fructose or hydrolyzed fructose, it convert to triglycerides and adipose (fat) tissue within one hour of consumption. The cheapest ingredient in the processed food industry is HFCS. The sad part about this debate is not whether HFCS cause problems, because that is settled with this research article. The fact that mercury is found in 50% of products with HFCS should be more of a concern to every parent.
6. Hydrogenated Oil or Partially Hydrogenated Oil. Never buy foods with these ingredients since they are trans fats. Trans fats are deadly, causes heart disease, cause weight gain, and once more, other medical problems.
7. Avoid Sugar. In fact, the sweetener seems to prompt the same chemical changes in the brain seen in people who abuse drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Sugar that is processed turns out as refined white powder.
8. Don't Be Fooled By "Natural" and "Artificial Flavor". These words, most of the time, mean that the food is loaded with chemicals and grown with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and herbicides. The bottom line-eating organic food is best.
9. Avoid Artificial Color. If anything has dye in it, stay away. A dye is a chemical poison.
10. Avoid Palm Oil. This is a very unhealthy oil that is cheap to manufacture. It also has the wrong essential fatty acid ratio, which means it increase the inflammation circulating in your blood. Inflammation is being tied to almost all disease processes.
11. Dextrose, Sucrose, and Fructose. There are chemically made sweeteners. There are not good for the body at all. So, it's best to avoid them.
12. Avoid Sucrulose and Splenda. This is a man-made sweetener that most people have heard of. In spite of the hype, it is unnatural, artificial, and man-made. The problems it can cause are increases in appetite, depression, allergies, etc., all depending on the person's genetic makeup. It is best to avoid these products.
13. No Enriched Bleached White Flour. This flour has no fiber. It has no nutritional value, and is highly refined. Eat organic wheat flour or other organic flours such as rye, millet, etc. Shoot for 20 grams of fiber a day.