Updated: Mar 10
A completely whole food diet is THE best diet.
But let’s be honest – that’s virtually impossible to do.
At some point in our day, we will usually eat some type of processed food. Whether it’s some protein powder after a workout, a breakfast bar on the go, or that bag of popcorn we love to snack on, it’s all processed food.
But beware, not all processed food is created equal. Some contain especially harmful ingredients.
Next time you check the “Ingredients” label on your packaged food and supplements, watch out for these potentially harmful additives.
Natural flavors aren’t as natural as you think they are. According to the Food and Drug Administration a natural flavor is classified as:
“…The essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
In short, “natural flavor” is derived or altered from a natural plant or animal substance, whereas “artificial flavors” are derived from petroleum products. Both are manufactured in labs and serve to enhance flavors, making the food addictive.
And according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these flavors can be comprised of over 100 different chemicals including the original flavor source. These chemicals can be used as preservatives or solvents.
The FDA doesn’t require food labels to say what’s in their “natural flavors” unless the ingredients include a common food allergen. It’s an umbrella term that could literally mean ANYTHING.
And VEGANS BEWARE! If you’re vegan but consuming foods with natural flavor additives, you may be eating flavors derived from animal sources. The only way to be sure is by contacting the manufacturer to find out what’s in their “natural flavor.”
Here are some common gums you may find in your packaged food:
Acacia Gum, also known as Gum Arabic
Locust Bean Gum, also known as Carob Bean Gum
Gums are often used as thickening, emulsifying, and bonding agents for ingredients that don’t seem to mix well together. While there is little research to how these gums can affect humans long-term, a common side-effect of ingesting gums on a daily basis is gastrointestinal distress. That can include gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pains.
Some of these gums may pose little to no harm to you, whereas others, like Carageenan, are actually banned in Europe!
So if you’re experiencing mysterious digestive issues, these gums may be the culprit!
Yet another ingredient deemed safe by the FDA but is considered a banned carcinogen in the European Union is Titanium Dioxide. The European Food Safety Organization believes it can cause inflammation to the body and alter nervous system function, making it unfit for consumption.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has listed titanium dioxide as a Group 2B carcinogen. This means that it may be carcinogenic but there is not enough animal and human research to support that claim.
They do caution inhaling Titanium Dioxide, as studies have shown it can pose a risk of developing tumors in the lungs. And still, in the United States Titanium Dioxide is commonly found in makeup setting powders that can easily be inhaled!
Because Titanium Dioxide is mostly commonly found in candies and pastries, children under the age of 10 are the heaviest consumers of this ingredient. Recently Skittles has come under fire for having “heightened levels” of Titanium Dioxide. Although you can argue that Skittles and other candies aren’t a part of your daily diet, you may be surprised to find that Titanium Dioxide is also found in many supposed “wellness” supplements and personal care products, including tampons!
Unfortunately, these toxins are everywhere. While it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid them, you can use this knowledge to make 1% better choices with your food, supplements, and personal care products. I hope this information encourages you to take charge of the aspects of your health within your control before it’s too late.