Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am DEEPLY passionate (and borderline extreme) when it comes to toxic ingredients in my family's food, body care products and our environment. Why? Because when you have a child born with a compromised immune system who cannot effectively eliminate toxins from the body, reading labels and spending endless hours researching toxic chemicals becomes part of your everyday lifestyle. It's definitely a game-changer!
The following is my list of non-negotiables:
Carrageenan is a common food additive extracted from Red Seaweed and used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the texture in foods.
- Commonly found in: nut milks, ice-cream, yogurt and cheeses
- Why I avoid it like the plague: can cause inflammation in the body and it is often used in drug studies to gauge the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory, experimental drugs. Lab mice also don't prefer it as it impairs their insulin production which leads to diabetes.
- Here's a suggestion: Take note next you're food shopping, of the many companies that are now posting on their packaging "carrageenan-free!" Consider organic alternatives and read your labels.
2. BFR's (new car smell!):
Brominated Flame Retardants are just some of the 100's of chemicals off-gassing in your new car, and it's not just a matter of keeping the windows cracked for a few days.
- Commonly found in: New Cars. (duh)
- Why I avoid it like the plague: . The off-gassing of these chemicals can last up to a year, and research has tied BFR exposure to learning impairment, infertility, and thyroid problems. Add in chlorine, PVC's, lead and heavy metals, and you have a lovely chemical cocktail that's all yours, bumper to bumper, all inclusive with a 5 year, 30,000 mile warranty.
- Here's a suggestion: If you have to buy new, keep the windows completely down as much as possible and put some eucalyptus essential oil on cotton balls and toss them under your seats to diffuse the toxins faster. Your respiratory system will be so happy :)
3. FD&C Red Dye 40 (and the rest of the artificial rainbow)
Since 1950, the legal amount of food dye allowed in consumer products regulated by the FDA has risen by more than 300%, with most food colorants being consumed in beverages. Got Gatorade? Horrifying.
- Commonly found in: pretty much EVERYTHING processed that you and your pets eat.... and even in your kids bubble bath (yikes...read your labels)
- Why I avoid it like the plague: It's linked to hyperactivity and ADD in children, brain and adrenal tumors in mice, the FDA has banned some of these colorants in cosmetics, and certain countries in Europe have already banned most of the popular artificial colors we use in America (do you think maybe they know something we don't?). Lastly, my body body doesn't know what to do with anything artificial so it deposits this stuff on my estrogen receptor sites hoping I won't notice and it will all go away as mysteriously as it crept in.
- Here's a suggestion: Buy foods with natural food dyes made from fruit and veggie juices. They exist, but you have to shop in the natural food aisles. (ironic how we separate "natural food" in grocery stores..hmm?)
Currently, an estimated 80% of all US conventional beef cattle are injected with 6 different anabolic steroids (3 synthetic, 3 natural) to promote faster growth as they enter feed lots. Approximately 20% of dairy cattle also receive rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone, a genetically modified artificial hormone, that increases milk production.
- Commonly found in: conventional beef, dairy, poultry, fish
- Why I avoid it like the plague: rBGH cows have much higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone considered to be a high-risk factor for breast, prostate, colon, lung and other cancers. Dairy cows are prone to constant udder infections from over-milking, so they are also treated with much higher levels of antibiotics hence being a possible cause as to why more diseases are becoming antibiotic resistant. Hormones in meat and dairy inevitably pass into our bodies through ingestion, therefore altering our natural hormone balance (no- you don't poop it out). If hormones make the cow fatter, what do you think it's doing to you? Over 100 countries have BANNED US milk treated with rBGH from entering their food system (AGAIN, I ask, do you think maybe they know something we don't??). And lastly, look around at the physiological differences we're seeing in childhood development with girls' bodies developing at much younger ages and the skyrocketing issues around infertility that couples are experiencing.
- Here's a suggestion: If you are a meat and dairy consumer, PLEASE consider buy organic, natural, and local meats. Yes it costs a bit more, but isn't your health worth it??
5. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
HFCS is a cheap, chemically processed corn-derived sweetener that is being dished out in our country in what I consider to be pharmaceutical doses!! It contributes to obesity, diabetes and now studies are showing it may be linked to enlargement of heart muscles. Yikes!
So why is it the basic ingredient in almost every food the average American eats? Because big companies are making a fortune off of the massive addictions and epidemic diseases that are a direct result of our rampant sugar consumption.
- Commonly found in: pretty much everything you ingest that's not labeled organic or natural
- Why I avoid it like the plague: HFCS contains traces of inorganic mercury due to the manufacturing processes necessary to metabolize the corn starch. Last I checked, mercury wasn't on my supplements list.... The average American consumes up to 140 pounds of sugar per year contributing to the drastic rise in obesity and childhood diabetes. (1000% consumption increase from 1970-1990). Soda and Ice tea drinkers consume approximately 17-20 teaspoons of sugar per drink, and most people drink at least 2 cans a day due to sugar addiction. HFCS is NOT the same as cane sugar and is processed differently in the body, robbing it of essential molecules for our body's natural energy production. Result? You feel drained after HFCS intake. HFCS has been shown to actually put holes in intestinal lining. (enough said). Corn is one of the top USA genetically modified crops (GMO) produced by big industries, and it's "dirt" CHEAP! (you do the math...) BTW, if you think you're safe because you drink diet soda all day long, think again....but I'll leave that for my next blog.
- Here's a suggestion: Obviously, look for alternative foods that contain natural cane sugar in low amounts. There are natural sodas available on the market and you can even make your own if you have a culinary edge. For those serious about conquering sugar addiction, I highly suggest having a look at the Body Ecology Diet which talks about proper food combining and cutting off all refined sugars. I promise you'll sleep a lot better, your mood will improve, you'll find a healthy weight, and the brain fog will disappear!
As always, please leave your questions and comments below, and to CMB (cover my butt), this article is not intended to make any medical claims, and readers should always seek the advice of their medical practitioner before making any changes in a health regime.