Happy February everyone! We made it through January, which always feels long and cold coming off the holiday high. Hopefully you’re still feeling good about your New Year’s resolutions and weren't panic eating queso during the Super Bowl Sunday night! But if you were, don't sweat it. Just pick those healthy habits right back up again.
As I mentioned in my last post, people try and make drastic changes to get healthy when the new year hits, but often times it’s the small things that can have profound effects on your long term health. For example, paying attention to what’s in your food can be life changing, and it's as simple as reading the ingredients list on packaged food or asking how a dish is made at a restaurant. This is especially important if you are trying to conceive, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, because in addition to the extra sugar and salt, some additives can have scary effects on your health. They often hide in plain site so you just need to know which ones to look out for.
There are 12 additives in particular - known as “The Dirty Dozen” of non-food items - that are best to avoid. They are typically used to increase the shelf life of foods or make them taste better, but they can be dangerous to your health over time. There have been links to cancer, respiratory, muscular and cardiovascular issues, migraines, weight gain and can even slow down DNA synthesis. If you see any of these, it’s best to put it back on the shelf and step away slowly...
- Hydrogenated Oil (trans-fat): A synthetic fat that provides a longer shelf life. It is typically found in boxed and packaged foods.
- MSG (monosodium glutamate): A flavor enhancer typically found in soups, salad dressings, processed meats and frozen entrees.
- Aspartame: Zero calorie sweetener typically found in carbonated soft drinks, gum, dessert mixes and most items labeled “sugar free”, “lite” or “diet”. This one is particularly problematic for those with weight issues.
- HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein): Flavor enhancer with similar effects to MSG typically found in processed poultry, pork, sauces, gravies and hot dogs.
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole): A fat preserver that protects food odor, color and flavor and is typically found in butter, meat, cereal and gum products, as well as snack foods, dehydrated potatoes and beer.
- BHT(butylated hydroxytoluene): has similar effects and sources to BHA
- Acesulfame Potatssium (acesulfame K): a zero calorie sweetener typically found in gum, dry mixes for beverages, non-dairy creamers & gelatin desserts.
- Potassium bromate: a food additive used to increase volume in white flour, breads and their by-products.
- Sodium nitrate/nitrite: a preservative of color that also inhibits botulism. It is typically found in processed meats such as salami, hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon and ham.
- Propyl Gallate: a food additive that ensures oils don’t become rancid or change texture and is typically found in vegetable oil, mayonnaise, soups, snack foods, make-up & skin products.
- Sodium Benzoate: a preservative preventing spoilage, color flavor and nutrient changes that is typically found in salad dressings, carbonated drinks, jams, fruit juices and sauces.
- Artificial colors: a petroleum by-product that alters the color of food to make it more appealing. These can be found in countless food products from candy to soda to cereal to sausage. They usually include a color with a number.
The best way to avoid them? Keep it clean. Cooking real, whole foods at home and making sure to read the ingredient labels on anything packaged that you do buy, is a great way to avoid extra sugars, salts, chemicals, hormones and the dirty dozen - which can affect more than just your waistline. So no matter what your New Year's health resolution, paying attention to what's in your food will have long term health benefits that keep you and your family looking and feeling great. If you're interested in learning about how to keep it clean, please get in touch!
Source: Dr. Sears Wellness Institute