I don’t know what you do when you go grocery shopping, but I have learned over the years to be careful in my selection of certain items. Did you notice that I said “items” and not “foods”? The reason for this word choice is intentional, and I hope to convince you to do the same during your future grocery shopping excursions.
Did you know that about eighty percent (80%) of all packaged foods in most grocery stores here in the United States has been banned in other countries! Why does the Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) allow such toxic substances to be utilized in the making of “food” products here in the U.S. marketplace, knowing full well the links they have to diseases and numerous physical ailments? It is all mind baffling, yet here in the U.S., we, as a population, will eat just about anything as long as the package is sleek, the price is right, the commercial is quotable, and/or a celebrity claims it is healthy.
Now, I get it, we are constantly being bombarded with food choices from every angle. The grocery store has become a virtual war zone for the senses! We have breads that claim to be softer, tastier and 100% whole grain, we have chips and breakfast cereals in every color, shape and flavor, and we can buy sodas and flavored waters offering “Zero Calories” in every can! My question is, do you know what the ingredients listed on these products actually are?
In my quest to constantly educate not only my readers, but myself, the following are just a few of those “toxic” substances found in products you probably have in your pantry/fridge right now.
Olestra. You probably heard of this product back in the 1990s when the craze for “fat free” and “no fat” foods such as chips, crackers and fries was the trend (and still is today). Olestra has been found to cause gas, cramps, and uncontrollable diarrhea, and was found to reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients! Let’s think for a minute, over the last 10 to 15 years there has been an increased diagnosis of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) in the United States, hmmm….. just saying.
Brominated Vegetable Oil. This lovely substance is associated with every form of thyroid disease, autoimmune disease and cancer, known today. This substance is found in sodas such as Fresca and Mountain Dew. (Recently, Coke, Pepsi and Gatorade made public announcements that they were removing BVO from their products. My question, why was it there in the first place?).
Yellow Dye #5 and #6, and Red Dye #40 (to name but a few). These colorful dyes are made to make our senses (and our children’s senses) go wild…literally it would seem. Yellow #5 dye is also called “tartrazine. Yellow Dye #6 is also known as Sunset Yellow. Both are commonly used in cheese flavored chips and crackers, mac and cheese mixes, colorful cereals (Trix and Fruity Pebbles anyone), and yellow sports drinks and sodas (ooh, Mountain Dew again) just to name a few. Their active ingredient is coal tar, you know that stuff that is in lice shampoo, and has been known to cause ADHD, allergies, and cancer in animals. Yummy right? Red Dye #40 is also known as FD& C Red No. 40, Red 40 and Allura Red. This substance can be found in candy, cereal, gelatin powder, baked goods, drugs and cosmetics. It is derived from petroleum, and has been shown that where most dyes we consume are excreted through the body, Red Dye #40 can cause hypersensitivity, hives and possibly cause irritability or hyper activity in children.
I found this little tidbit as well. Just as a side note, and to show how FAR OFF we are on our food safety measures here in the U.S.: Kellogg Strawberry Nutrigrain bars in Britain are colored with strawberries (hmmm go figure), but here in the U.S. those same Nutrigrain bars are colored with Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue Dye #1 (another banned substance…not in the U.S. of course). Also in Britain, Fanta orange soda is dyed with pumpkin and carrot extract, while the U.S. version uses Red 40 and Yellow 6. You see where I am going with this right? Pick up a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos and you will find, among other things: MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Red 40. Are you really surprised by that? I did not think so.
I still have not found really valid answers to my question of why the FDA allows such toxic substances to be utilized in the U.S; however, I do have my own opinions as to the reasoning. In any case, I hope that the above will assist you in making healthier food choices for you and your family – emphasis on FOOD choices. Remember, ultimately you are responsible for what you put into your body. The choice is yours, and as you know and have seen, there are many choices on the shelves of American grocery stores and eateries.
As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.
Merlinda Swearingen is a Navy wife and mother of two growing boys (12 and 10). She teaches group fitness classes at ODU's student recreation center and is a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, pilates instructor, personal fitness chef, and business owner with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. She enjoys spending time with her family, church family, cooking, camping, and finding new information and ideas that are trending in the area of fitness and health. Living a healthy and fit lifestyle is a passion she enjoys sharing with anyone and everyone she meets.