#HealthBytes: Here's why avoiding food additives is a good step
Food additives are chemicals that are added to processed foods for a number of reasons. Additives help preserve foods for longer periods of time, reduces the risk of contamination, and enhances their flavor. Additive-laced processed foods are everywhere and consuming small amounts are considered safe. However, regular intake of highly processed foods has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and cancer.
Sodium nitrate increases the risk of various cancers
Sodium nitrate: Sounds like that chemical compound we studied and forgot about in school? Well, you will be surprised at how much of it you're feeding your body daily. Sodium nitrates are most commonly used to process canned foods, tuna, bacon, sausages, and meat. High levels of nitrates in the body have been linked to pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, thyroid cancer, and leukemia.
The controversial MSG can cause breathing difficulties
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been in the news for the longest time for the controversy regarding its harmful side-effects. It's a popular additive in Asian foods and adds flavor to soups, ready-to-eat foods, etc. While there is not much evidence regarding their long-term side-effects, studies prove that people sensitive to MSG experience nausea, chest pain, breathing problems, headaches, burning in the face and neck.
Artificial food coloring is linked with hyperactivity in children
Artificial food dyes like red no. 3, red no. 40, yellow no. 5, and yellow no. 6 are commonly used in candies, popsicles, soft drinks, chips, etc. to make the food appealing to the eyes and attract children. These dyes have been linked to hyperactivity and learning problems in children and removing them from the diet has been proved to significantly reduce hyperactive symptoms.
Trans fats increase the risk of heart diseases
Trans fats occur naturally in the meat of animals like cattle, sheep, and goats and are safe for consumption. However, artificial trans fats that are primarily found in vegetable oils, to help them stay solid at room temperature, are hazardous to health. Clinical studies prove that people who consume diets rich in artificial trans fats are at a greater risk of heart diseases.
Aspartame can aggravate existing health conditions in some people
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener and a primary ingredient in diet sodas and energy drinks. Since it's almost 200 times sweeter than sugar yet has a low calorific value, it is used as a sweetener in weight loss diets. However, people with conditions like phenylketonuria and neurological disorder, tardive dyskinesia, should avoid drinks and foods with aspartames as it will worsen their existing conditions.