"Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food" -Hippocrates

The Desired Results

When a human mind clearly and continually visualizes an end result, with deep emotion and concentrated intent, then the formatted energy generated is converted into its mass equivalent- (the desired result)

By Jim Francis

Monday, November 8, 2010

Food Additives == By Suzy Staywell Platinum Quality Author

As our food supply has become more sophisticated, the number and variety of food additives-those substances added to food in processing either by accident or by design-has increased. There is a swirl of controversy around this subject, as food scientists and health professionals consider the negative aspects of adding elements to our foods that are not there naturally.
There are a number of reasons why food producers put additives in their products. These include, to preserve the food for a longer shelf life, to enhance color, to create texture, to improve flavor, to increase nutritional value, to appeal to a niche market, and to make the food more economical.
There are two types of preservatives that are added to foods to keep them from spoiling. Anti-microbial agents, such as sugar, salt and nitrates, inhibit the growth of those microbes that can cause food-borne illness. Anti-oxidants protect the food from damage due to exposure to oxygen and include sulfates, BHT and BHA. Vitamin C and Vitamin E, the anti-oxidant vitamins can also be used for this purpose.
Colors are added to foods to give them more eye-appeal. Most of us expect packaged macaroni and cheese to be orange, colas to be brown, butter-like spreads to be yellow, and raspberry gelatin to be red. None of these foods would have these colors without the presence of additives. In recent years the emphasis has been on finding natural plant sources for these color additives as opposed to their artificial cousins.
The texture of our foods may be as important to us as the color. For this reason, we find emulsifiers and thickeners in many if the foods we enjoy. These substances keep foods from separating, crystallizing or otherwise changing to a form that we might find unpalatable.
Probably the most common type of food additive is used to enhance the flavor of the food. These additives can be natural-herbs, spices, and fruit flavors-or artificial flavors that are created in a laboratory. This category also includes artificial sweeteners, which have been the subject of much debate over the past fifty years. In addition, there is a substance called MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) a commonly used flavor enhancer that has created a storm of controversy that still rages.
In order to increase the nutritional value of the foods they produce, food processors will often add nutrients to their products. These include adding B vitamins and iron to cereals and grains, Vitamin A and D to dairy products, Calcium and Vitamin C to juices, and even iodine to table salt. These nutrients may be added to replace those lost during processing or to improve the quality of a food that otherwise would not have that specific nutrient.
Sometimes the addition of a particular substance to a food is purely a marketing decision. If a particular additive will help sell the product, than it will be added to the food. For instance, pomegranate juice is being promoted as a super food, and as a result you will see it added to everything from apple juice to cookies. In the same way, we found bran added to many products when fiber was the new watchword of the nutrition community. Artificial sweeteners are often used to attract those watching their weight or on a diabetic diet.
Saving money on processing is probably the least attractive reason why additives are used in food processing. It's called the bottom line. If a food company can use less of expensive natural ingredients by adding flavor and color enhancers, then they will do it. In addition, if a less expensive additive can be produced to replace a more expensive one, most food companies will choose the less expensive version. One example of this kind of thinking is the ubiquitous presence of High Fructose Corn Syrup in the food supply, an inexpensive but controversial substitute for cane or beet sugar.
The FDA has regulations regarding food additives that attempt to insure that they are used safely. They try to keep the list of allowable food additives to those that are safe, effective and listed on the package. Unfortunately, there is a real question of what constitutes "safe," and this causes a constant clamor from those who favor a more stringent standard of safety than the one currently being applied. With the incidence of cancer on the rise, there is a real concern about a possible link between certain food additives and this disease.
Some additions could be called "accidental additives.
Not all foreign substances get into our foods by intentional methods. Sometimes it is the method of producing and processing the food that introduces the substance and sometimes it is the form of packaging or storage. An example of this type of additive is the dioxins in food packages that may contaminate the food, especially if it is stored for a while. Hormones and antibiotics given to animals, can find their way into the meat and dairy products we consume. These are "additives" that are not listed on the label, and yet may have an impact on your health.
An interesting example of this is when you see the warning on labels that the product was produced using equipment used to process peanuts. This is because people who have a peanut allergy can be so sensitive, that even trace amounts could cause a severe allergic reaction. This is a case of an accidental additive that may cause a serious problem.
Now that you know, what will you do?
Now that you know about the types of additives that may show up in your food, it is up to you to decide what, if anything, you will do about it. At the very least you can learn to read labels, so that you know what food additives are in the foods you eat. Another option is to choose more organic foods, which are generally produced and packaged with fewer additives, particularly those that may compromise your health.
Vote with your food dollars.
As a food consumer, you can have an affect on the food supply. Every time you purchase an item in a grocery store, at a farmers' market, online or anywhere else, you are casting a vote for the continued production and sale of that product. Conversely, every time you choose not to buy a food that is overly processed or adulterated in some way to make it less healthy we are casting a vote to eliminate that product from the food supply.
I am convinced that what we eat and how we eat plays a major role in how we feel and particularly, how well we are. For this reason, I would like as many people as possible to become more aware of what healthy eating involves, and of the extreme benefits that can be found in being conscious of what and how we eat.
Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,
Suzy Staywell

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