Most people at least try to eat healthy, so it is very discouraging when there is story after story in the newspapers about different toxins that wind up in common food products. Just because something comes from the store does not mean it is safe to eat. To truly follow a healthy regimen, however, there are some things to do to keep toxins off the plate and out of the body, including reading the food labels, knowing how the food is processed and keeping the kitchen free of the following unsavory chemicals.
These chemicals are widely-used in large-scale, conventional agricutlure. Their use can leave residues on the plants that have been treated and from there make their way into the grocery store. These toxins are linked to serious health issues, including various forms of cancer, reproductive problems and birth defects. The best way to avoid them is to buy organic or naturally grown food that is not treated with synthetic pesticides.
2. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
This hormone is given to dairy cows to increase their milk production, but remains in the milk and in the products made with it. It causes elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), linked to reproductive problems and a factor in breast, prostate and colon cancer. To avoid this, always buy milk and dairy products that are organic and/or hormone-free.
Dioxins are highly toxic pollutants, the results of some industrial processes and are lipophilic, meaning that they will accumulate in the fat cells of animals that are exposed to it and contaminate the food chain. These chemicals are linked to cancer, liver damage, birth defects and endocrine and immune system disruption. The best way to avoid them is to eat low-fat or no-fat foods.
4. Brominated Vegetable Oil
This toxin is a common ingredient in many fruit-flavored drinks and sodas. Studies have found that these oils can lead to a variety of health issues, including reproductive and behavioral problems. To avoid them, make sure to read labels carefully and choose all-natural sodas or 100% juice drinks.
5. Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite
These are used in the manufacture of deli meats and other processed meat products and are a preservative. They have also been implicated in causing various forms of cancer. Avoiding processed meats altogether and reading the food label carefully are good ways to avoid these toxins. Be warned, however: products labeled “uncured” or “no added nitrites/nitrates” often use celery juice in their processing, and this is high in nitrates, too.
6. Artificial Food Coloring/Dyes
These chemicals wind up in a whole variety of processed foods, but are especially prevalent in artificial drinks, candies and cereals. Parents need to be particularly aware since they have been linked to neurological disorders like ADHD. Buying all-natural drinks and products and reading the label carefully are good ways to avoid them.
This chemical is formed by the cooking or frying of potatoes and grains at high temperatures and is a known carcinogen. To avoid it, choose not to eat fried foods, snack chips, crackers, toasted cereals, cookies and bread crusts.
The toxins listed above all carry with them significant health risks. However, there are basic means – like reading food labels and being choosy about purchasing — that can be taken to make sure they stay out of the kitchen and off of the dinner plate.
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