The Dangers of the Five Most Common Toxins Found in Food

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Toxins are everywhere and no less than in many of today’s food. Knowing what they are can help avoid the many diseases those foods are known to cause.

In an effort to provide nutrition and yet make a profit, many food producers have found ways to produce more food on less land and prevent pests from destroying crops. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides were introduced to enhance and speed up plant growth and preserve freshness so they could get to the kitchen without rotting away. Growth hormones and genetic modifications insure that cattle produce more meat.

Yet some of the chemicals that have been introduced into the food chain in the last hundred years have proved harmful to human health. Today, those chemicals are still in use while many people are unaware that ingesting them is shortening their lifespan. Knowing what toxins to avoid is crucial for good health as food producers are unlikely to give up profits in favor of public safety.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

It’s been in use since the 1970s. A cheap sweetener, it’s found in many common products, yet since its introduction, the rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease have risen dramatically. Soda contains a great deal of high HFCS and those who drink colas regularly are more likely to be obese. The only way to avoid this sweetener is by checking the product label. Though the Corn Refiners’ Association insists that there is no difference between HFCS and table sugar, the facts clearly show that this sweetener is a definite killer.

Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated oils are animal and plant oils that have been treated with hydrogen molecules at high temperature. This creates a product that stays solid at room temperature and preserves shelf life. The trans fat content lead many to suffer from atherosclerosis, diabetes and obesity. Margarine, shortening, lard are commonly used for deep frying, but their effects on the heart, circulation and other body functions don’t make them worth using.

Nitrates and Nitrites

These are commonly found in cured meats as a preservative. Many luncheon meats contain these ingredients, but the safety of consuming them is in question. They can lead to severe cardiovascular conditions if ingested in large quantities. Blood vessel walls are known to narrow, harden and become damaged. This impairs heart functioning. The best meats are preservative free. Some beef is treated with formaldehyde and carbon monoxide to preserve color and freshness, but that does not make them safer than cured meats.

Excitotoxins

The body contains amino acids that are necessary for brain functioning and body health. Excitotoxins, however, are highly reactive and interfere with the neural pathways that occur within the brain. They lead to migraines, seizures and memory impairment. Aspartame, used as a replacement sweetener for HFCS is commonly found in diet soft drinks. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common excitotoxin used as a flavor enhancer for food but interferes with brain chemistry. It’s commonly found in canned and Asian foods. While it is listed as safe by the FDA, it’s best to avoid MSG altogether.

Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A or BPA is primarily used in the manufacture of plastics. It has recently come into the news as a toxin leaching from water bottles and baby bottles. Intake over time can lead to sexual dysfunction in men and women. They are also used in the lining of many canned foods. Ingesting small amounts does not appear to have severe health consequences, but over time health problems may arise. Canada only recently has banned the use of BPA. The best method to avoiding BPA is to use glass bottles instead of plastic.

There are, of course, many more chemicals in use today. Whether injected into cattle or found on the dinner plate, the best course of action is to stay as close to nature as possible for a healthy lifespan.

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