When it comes to food – I literally eat anything and everything. I don’t restrict myself from carbs or sweets. On the contrary: those are two of my favorite food groups! I don’t view food as, “bad” or “good” but I do view ingredients as “bad” or “good”. I used to believe that if it was organic, it was healthy. In the last few years my mindset has completely shifted and now I believe if its real it’s healthy. Real ingredients come from the earth and fake ingredients come from a lab. Unfortunately, many of the fake ingredients in most “food” that is marketed to us (in the States) have detrimental effects on our health. In this article I’m rounding up seven ingredients I avoid at all costs – even in organic food.
When it comes to eating, I have a general rule with ingredients that “if I can’t picture it in nature – I don’t eat it”. The earth provides us with everything we need and while modern technology can definitely improve many areas of our lives – we don’t need “technology” in the things that we eat. If it’s made in a lab or processed with a ton of chemicals – it’s not real. And if it’s not real – I don’t put it in my very real body. Here are seven ingredients I avoid at all costs – even in organic food.
As a reminder: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be! Any claims in this article are based on my personal experience and research. Please read my full medical disclaimer before engaging with my content, suggestions, or anecdotes. Also, as a reminder, this post may contain affiliate links to certain products, and I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you make a purchase based off my suggestions.
7 Ingredients I Avoid at All Costs – Even in Organic Foods
I don’t even know where to begin with these, so I’m beginning with these. Some form of a vegetable or seed oil has found its way into nearly every pre-packaged food on the shelves. These oils have been tied to things such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, and can be linked to a slew of digestive issues. Many digestive issues have been noted to result in a decreased immunity as well as an increase in mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
What to look for: soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, peanut oil, rice bran oil, grapeseed oil, rapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, palm oil
When it comes to artificial sweeteners, think: Equal, Splenda, Sweet’n’Low, etc. Not only have artificial sweeteners been known to actually cause weight gain, but they also come with a side of increased cancer risk, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and more.
Recently, Stevia, a sugar substitute made from the stevia plant has become popular. While it’s true that the stevia plant itself hasn’t been known to have any detrimental side effects on human health.. the stevia plant, itself, is also just a dried herb and would look like basil or oregano in our food and drink – if used in its natural state.
The chemical processing of packaged stevia is questionable, however. To turn the dried herb “stevia” into a white, powdery substance that mimics sugar as we know it the plant goes through an crystallization process. During that process a solvent (a substance used to dissolve particles) must be mixed with the stevia. More often than not, the solvents used on stevia are ethanol or methanol. Yes, yes, ethanol like gasoline. As such, I’m skipping stevia, too.
What to look for: acesulfame potassium, acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, xylitol and sorbitol.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
What to look for: High fructose corn syrup, HFCS, HFCS 42, HFCS 55, corn syrup
This is one of the harder ingredients to avoid because it finds its way into nearly EVERYTHING. While citric acid naturally exists in fruits and veggies – the manufactured citric acid (“MCA”) is what is primarily used as a food additive. MCA is one of the most common food additives in the world. The majority of the production of MCA (like, literally 99% of it) is created using a black mold known as apergilus niger which is a known allergen in humans. Ingesting MCA has been known to produce inflammatory reactions in humans, which can manifest as a slew of different diseases, cancers and ailments.
What to look for: citric acid, sodium citrate
Many artificial colors, or food dyes, have been long controversial for safety concerns. This study found that of the nine, currently US-approved, dyes – all of them raise some form of a health concern. From cancers to hypersensitivity reactions to behavioral issues in children: all nine of the approved dyes are likely carcinogenic to humans. Many of these dyes are also banned in Europe, but approved for consumption in the US.
What to look for: Blue No. 2, Citrus Red No. 2, Green No. 3, Red No. 3, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5, Yellow No. 6
Gums are added to food to increase shelf life or act as a thickener or binder to change the texture of the “food”. These gums are often responsible for upset stomach and digestive issues and add to chronic inflammation.
What to look for: arabic, furcelleran, ghatti, guar, karaya, locust bean, tragacanth and xanthan gums
Found in many starchy and carb-y eats and treats (think: bread, bagels, crackers, pastries, pizzas, pretzels, waffles, etc). Potassium bromate is added into dough to help stabilize the dough. It is also a known carcinogen and is banned in many places such as the EU, Canada and South Korea because of its connection to cancer. It may also irritate the nose, throat and lungs (causing coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath), effect the nervous system (causing headaches, irritability, impaired thinking and personality changes). It can also damage the kidneys.
The thing about all of these ingredients is that they can all be found in prepackaged food. Which means when we purchase these prepackaged “foods” – we’re swapping both our short- and long-term health for the convenience of “easy eats”. Short term – many of these ingredients are known to cause mental health struggles like anxiety and depression. Long term – many of these ingredients are known to cause chronic illnesses or cancers.
About two years ago I eliminated all chemical, processed, non-organic and artificial ingredients from my diet. Since then, I haven’t struggled with obesity/weight gain, depression, or anxiety as I once did. So, for me? I’d rather lose a bit of time each day preparing my foods from healthy, organic, natural ingredients if it means I can maintain an overall happier, healthier lifestyle.