Food Additives Harmful to Our Health

What is “chemical body load”?

A 2005 study found that various chemicals are contaminated with many foods in the human food chain, including meat, dairy products, olive oil and honey. In other studies conducted in the recent past, chemicals that have negative effects on the endocrine system have been detected in foods. Chemicals enter our bodies through the food we eat or drink, the air we breathe, or the things our skin, nails, and hair touch daily. Some chemicals leave the body very slowly and are stored in body tissue, blood, or bones, creating a body load.

Chemical body load describes the amount or concentration of chemicals detected in the human body at any given time. This chemical load can be detected through blood, urine, breast milk sampling, or biological monitoring activity. Chemicals in the body can have numerous harmful effects and weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to diseases.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a food additive commonly used to enhance flavor in restaurant dishes, soups, salad dressings, chips, some frozen foods, canned vegetables, and some other food products.

A study in 1969 found that high amounts of MSG cause harmful neurological effects and impair growth and development, and its adverse health effects have been controversial ever since.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received many reports of symptoms developing in some people who consume foods containing MSG.

These symptoms, called the MSG symptom complex, consist of:

• Headache

• Redness

• Sweating

• Numbness, tingling, or burning

• Rapid heart palpitations

• Chest pain

• Feeling sick (nausea and weakness)

However, the researchers found no evidence of a definitive association between MSG and these symptoms. On tje other hand, researchers also acknowledge that certain reactions may occur in some people after consuming foods containing MSG. The only way to prevent symptoms that may occur is to avoid consuming foods containing MSG.

Synthetic or artificial food dyes

Artificial food dyes are food additives used to brighten the appearance of food products and make them more appetizing.

Serious concerns have arisen in recent years about the adverse health effects of artificial food dyes. In research, some food dyes, such as blue 1, red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6, have been associated with allergic reactions in some people. In another study, it was reported that artificial food dyes can increase hyperactivity in children. Concerns have also been raised about the potential cancer-causing effects of some food dyes.

Although the studies cannot reveal very conclusive findings, processed foods with artificial food coloring should definitely be avoided. Foods with higher nutrient content and natural and artificial food coloring-free foods should be preferred.

Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate

In nitrite compounds (NO2), nitrogen is attached to two oxygen atoms, while in nitrate compounds (NO3), nitrogen is attached to three oxygen atoms. Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is a food additive used as a preservative, coloring, and flavoring in processed meats.

When exposed to high heat and in the presence of amino acids, nitrites can turn into nitrosamines, a compound that can have many adverse health effects. A study has shown that high nitrite and nitrosamine intakes are associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic substances.

Many studies have reported that processed meat consumption may be associated with a higher risk of colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer. The real reason behind the World Health Organization’s declaration that processed meats are carcinogenic is due to the potentially cancerous effects of nitrites and nitrates.

High fructose corn syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is an artificial sweetener made from corn that is rich in a high-sugar simple sugar called fructose. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is added to most processed food products, such as soda, juice, candy, breakfast cereals, and snacks.

In some studies, high fructose corn syrup has been associated with health problems, especially weight gain and diabetes. One study reported that fructose-sweetened beverages caused significant increases in belly fat and blood sugar levels, as well as decreased insulin sensitivity compared to glucose-sweetened beverages. An animal study found that fructose can trigger inflammation in cells.

High fructose corn syrup does not add important vitamins and minerals your body needs to food products and only contributes to the addition of empty calories. High fructose corn syrup is a food additive to avoid because it is associated with health problems such as weight gain, diabetes, and inflammation and adds nothing more than empty calories to your diet.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are food additives that increase sweetness while reducing calorie content and are therefore used in most diet products. Commonly used artificial sweeteners include aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium.

Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can help with weight loss and manage blood sugar levels. On the other hand, studies have reported that certain types of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, can cause headaches in some people, and some people may be more sensitive to the effects of these artificial sweeteners.

Aspartame is converted to phenylalanine in the body. Those with the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU), advanced liver disease, and pregnant women with hyperphenylalanine (high blood phenylalanine levels) cannot effectively metabolize phenylalanine, one of the components of aspartame, which can cause health problems in these individuals. High levels of the amino acid pheninal in body fluids can damage the brain. 

Trans fat

Trans fats are a type of hydrogenated unsaturated fat that increases shelf life and improves the consistency of products. They are food additives used in the manufacture of high-fat foods such as baked goods and fried foods.

Consumption of trans fats has been associated with some potential health risks, and the FDA recently made the final decision to withdraw the GRAS (generally considered safe) status of partially hydrogenated oils. Numerous studies have linked high trans fat consumption to an increased risk of heart disease. Another study found that consuming foods high in trans fats increased several markers of inflammation, one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Studies also show that there may be a relationship between trans-fat consumption and diabetes.

Consuming trans fats has many negative effects on health, including inflammation, heart disease, and diabetes. For this reason, it is recommended to remove processed foods containing trans fat from our diet and to consume butter instead of margarine and olive oil instead of vegetable oils.

Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a preservative food additive often added to acidic foods such as sodas, salad dressings, pickles, juices, and seasonings.

In a study, it was shown that higher consumption of drinks containing sodium benzoate was associated with a higher rate of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In the presence of vitamin C, sodium benzoate can convert to benzene, and researchers think that benzene may be associated with cancer development. Sodas have the highest concentration of benzene, and diet or sugar-free sodas are even more prone to benzene formation. In a study analyzing the benzene concentration in various foods, cola and coleslaw samples were analyzed and found values above 100 ppm. These values are more than 20 times the maximum pollutant level specified in drinking water by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Researchers recommend avoiding foods and beverages that can form compounds such as benzoic acid, benzene, or benzoate, especially when combined with a source of vitamin C such as citric acid or ascorbic acid.