Negative Effects Of Food Additives On Our Health

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Got Sugar? Let us think about food in a new light. As Americans we have so many available options of nourishment to choose from, the horrible part is were constantly at war. We constantly have to choose between healthy and unhealthy food. However, we could easily win this war if food labels would not sugarcoat facts, but instead blatantly come out with the truth. For example, the ingredients label states: contains weight gain, low energy, obesity, high cholesterol, weakened immune system, shortness of breath etc. In reality, this is not the way society works, so when we have our moments of weakness we become more susceptible to the ingredients (a.k.a. additives) in the food.

The most important thing to remember is our bodies are our first and only homes have, so we must cherish them. The good news is that our bodies are our friends, even when we do not care for them to the best of our abilities our bodies are strong and do not easily give out, we can always redirect our way and make healthier choices. We must not give in to constantly being bullied to eat what advertisement shows us or eat what is easily obtainable. Americans should limit additives in their diet because it is highly addictive and negatively affects our health. If we really sit and meditate on the thought of what a food additive is, it is nasty. It is something added to food to enhance the flavor, make the color look better, and make it last longer.

First, when served on a plate, what possible explanation is there for wanting to make food look better? Or even make it taste better? These are pure chemicals that are put into our bodies that are made to taste good and seem as though it does no harm. For example, high-fructose corn syrup has been known to lead to weight gain and diabetes and cause inflammation to cells. High-fructose corn syrup is often found in soda, juice, candy and cereals. It is easy to look at it in the view of eating it in small proportion, which one should, but others do not and with the overconsumption of eating high-fructose corn syrup they can mildly to severely encounter these affects. Just like that, in one second our life can turn for worst without us even realizing it.

The food additive Sodium Benzoate has been known to possibly cause cancer (Link). Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid that is used to make types of lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides (American Cancer Society). It is found amongst the large infamous populous of carbonated drinks, and fruit juices to include others. It gets worse though, it has been said that when benzoate is combined with vitamin C and made into benzene. The bad news is that sodas, especially diet or sugar-free are known to be MORE prone to benzene formation. Now, another famous food additive is artificial food flavoring.

Artificial food flavoring are chemicals made to mimic the taste and similarity of other components in food such as: caramel, fruit, and popcorn etc. That’s why they add food flavoring in the food, because if it tastes like the real thing and most people will keep eating it. Studies composed on rats resulted in significantly reduced red blood cells and certain flavors caused a toxicity to their bone marrow. They do these tests on animals first to see if the product will cause any harm and they do, yet somehow, they manage to pass a system that is supposed to care for our well-being (American’s well-beings) and it still passed on through to our food. Now, these were just three of the food additives in food that I mentioned. When one realizes how much more food additives there actually is and how there can be more than one food additive in a single drink or meal, it can become a little daunting to think about what hidden “chemicals” we are eating collectively.

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Furthermore, the thing is we live in such a fast-paced life that most food that we consume will have food additives. The alarming part is we are ignoring our growing waist lines and our dollars rapidly leaving our wallets, but we must ignore severe health problems like diabetes or obesity. Once someone has been diagnosed with an incurable disease there is no turning back, it is stuck with you for life. Sure, people can say that diabetes is manageable, but you must always take extra precaution/measurements to make sure your sugar does not raise significantly or get to low daily. The culprit to blame is high-fructose corn syrup. It is in everything. Your cereal, soda, yogurt, bread, salad dressing… it really sneaks up on you. Not just that but it’s been said that 75% of all foods and beverages contain added sugar in a large array of forms (Bray). So, high-fructose corn syrup is not alone here but has some help as well. All leading factors that come together to make diabetes, obesity, and an array of health complications.

Furthermore, Meta-analyses suggest that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is related to the risk of diabetes, the metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease (Bray). Were not to blame though this was brought up through the years, sugar has immensely increased. It is a system that has been created to get us use to the excessive amounts of sugar, therefore building up our tolerance and each time the amount increases more each time. Personally, that’s why when I hear of someone dealing with a sugar addiction, I believe them because our body is only asking for what we are giving it repeatedly. In 1776—at the time of the American Revolution—Americans consumed about 4 lbs of sugar per person each year. By 1850, this had risen to 20 lbs, and by 1994, to 120 lbs.

The food industry has used sugar as a major sweetener for delivery for increasing amounts of beverages and food over the past half-century. The result has been that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) rose by a startling 38.5 gallons per person between 1950 and 2000 (10.8 gallons per person in 1950 to 49.3 gallons per person in 2000). We have seen small declines since then; however, the industry continues to find new ways to increase liquid sugar consumption by constantly adding new products, be they in fruit juice, energy drinks, vitamin waters, protein waters, sports drinks, and hundreds of new options (Bray). This inflation of sugar has sets it root and only plans to multiply. All these familiar sugars, dextrose, maltodextrin, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, dextrin, ethyl maltol are in our daily food, plus tons more. It can be easy to understand why most people develop a “sugar addiction” because once eaten in large amount repeatedly it can physically become an addiction. One that is very hard to break.

Sugar affects the part in our brain where opioids and dopamine are released. It stimulates the mind, and once the brain has something over and over it will ask for it again. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the “reward circuit” associated with addictive behavior. When a certain behavior causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable “high” that you are inclined to re-experience, and so repeat the behavior. As you repeat that behavior more and more, your brain adjusts to release less dopamine (Pletcher). Thus, your body wants that feeling again but this time will ask for a greater amount in order to achieve it.

Cassie Bjork, R.D., L.D., founder of Healthy Simple Life shows that “Research shows that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine”. “Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances, and more” (Pletcher). Yet, with all this being known to the FDA, why is this still present in our foods? Highly addictive? Similar to cocaine? This is crucial, this could lead to life or death and we must realize that. This really shows the severity of the issue. If the symptoms of eating this kind would appear sooner and more quickly it could really show that overall picture, and unless it is consumed in little amounts this food is second-rate and makes our health very poor and poses serious addictions and risks.

In conclusion, food additives cannot be completely removed from life, but they can be put on a leash. Moderation is our friend and we must strive to do better. We need to learn what to look for amongst nutrition facts and ingredients. Being proactive and taking a deeper look into what is in our food and not just putting it in our mouths gives us a new sense of self control and empowerment. Once our eyes have been opened to what is corrupt and wrong, we most likely do not want to go back from where we came. Food is sensational, with proper knowledge, proportion control and more natural ingredients we can begin a new chapter in our lives to where we have not yet explored but have been longing for. The key also is to keep learning more and more about what to avoid and what is okay in tiny amounts. It also opens a more artistic culinary arena in an individual because most foods that contain food additives are usually prepackaged. When a person really begins to learn the importance of heath it changes their life in all aspects. How they view food, how they cook it, increased physical activity, everything. That’s why we must continue learning together how to better ourselves in this world of food.

Works Cited:

  1. “Benzene and Cancer Risk: What is benzene?” American Cancer Society. Web. 5 January 2016. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/benzene.html#written_byAccessed October 2018.
  2. Bray, George. “Dietary Sugar and Body Weight: Have We Reached a Crisis in the Epidemic of Obesity and Diabetes?” April 2014. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/4/950Accessed October 2018.
  3. Pletcher, Peggy. “Experts Agree: Sugar Might Be as Addictive as Cocaine” 10 October 2016. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drugAccessed October 2018.
  4. Link, Rachel. “12 Common Food Additives- Should You Avoid Them?” 23 April 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-food-additivesAccessed October 2018.
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