Media scares you. Every day, newspapers and magazines tell us that our food is bad, chemically treated and unfit to eat.
As mothers, we have the responsibility to provide healthy and nutritious food to our families. Reading through the overload of information is many times confusing and sometimes horrifying.
The recent Maggie Nestle controversy created discussions and debates. The food we eat comes laden with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. And above all, we get processed artificial and chemically treated stuff. It’s ironical to observe that detergents have the goodness of lemon, and toothpastes contain clove oil while drinks have of synthetic colour and flvour.
Where are we heading?
Becoming aware of food facts and changing eating habits is the first step towards conscious living.
How to Read Food labels?
Natural can mean lots of different things. When a food product derived from a plant or an animal, it can be called natural. However, that means something like processed corn snack with naturally-derived flavour, and high-fructose corn syrup could be considered natural.
Any food grown, harvested, and shipped with zero artificial chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides is called organic.
Modified grains stripped of their fibre iron and B vitamins to increase their shelf life are termed as refined.Foods made from white flour like bread, regular pasta, cakes, biscuits, cookies, breakfast cereals and snack food are products of refined grains. These foods can lead to weight gain diabetes and hypertension.
Antioxidant and Preservatives
Synthetic antioxidants BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT( Butylated Hydroxy toluene) are used in cereals potato chips chewing gum, vegetable oil, preserved meat, baked goods and dessert mixes to keep them from going rancid.
These chemicals negatively impact sleep and appetite, have been associated with liver and kidney damage, hair loss and are carcinogenic.
Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite
These are the most dangerous additives. Used as colorants and as preservatives, they enhance shelf -life of the packaged and cured meats. Nitrates are also used to stabilize the colour of the product.
High levels of nitrites can lead to nitrite poisoning and can cause serious cardiovascular problems. Mixed with stomach acids, they form nitrosamines, which are associated with brain, oral, esophageal, stomach and bladder cancer. Other side-effects like dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting may be experienced.
Precautions- Look for meats that are additive free.
Artificial colours and Flavours
Found in junk foods as cookies, chips and other fried packaged food and are extremely harmful. Check for brilliant blue, indigotine, tartrazine, and sunset yellow
These can cause behavioural problems allergic reactions, hyper activity disorders and are carcinogenic.
This is a binding agent commonly found in ice-creams bread biscuits and mayonnaise. Consumption in large quantities can induce inflammation of the intestines.
Monosodium Glutamate MSG, Glutamate acid, Glutamate, Calcium Glutamate
A chemical compound used to enhance flavour and is most commonly found in Chinese foods, potato chips frozen foods and salty flavoured snacks.
Consumption in large quantities may cause headaches, numbness chest pain lead to alleviated blood pressure.
This is an artificial sweetener mostly added to snacks, sweets, desserts, and diet foods. Long-term high consumption is observed to cause headaches, blindness and seizures.
This is a preservative added to foods like, cereals, meat products, low sugar products and drinks. It can deplete glycine levels and affect digestive enzymes.
This is used in dried fruits and vegetables, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages as a preservative and an antioxidant. It may cause low blood pressure, bronchial problems, and flushing/tingling sensations.