People often ask me to give them a list of food additives to avoid. My quick reply – eat only whole, fresh, natural foods that don’t contain additives and you don’t have to worry about them! But I’m also a realist and know that for many, eliminating processed foods isn’t going to happen any time soon – if at all. So the wisest thing to do is, at least make the switch to natural-brand processed foods that don’t contain toxic additives.

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Monosodium Glutamate / MSG

Neurotoxic flavor enhancer known to cause migraine headaches, brain fog, fatigue, depression, irritability, seizures, weight gain, and more. Found in 60-90% of processed foods, including soups, broths, snacks, chips, salad dressings, cookies, seasonings, frozen meals, ice cream, lunch meats, Chinese, and other Asian foods. Your solution: purchase only natural-brand processed foods that don’t contain MSG. Check labels, however, as some contain MSG listed as “autolyzed yeast extract”, “yeast extract”, or “natural favoring”.

Artificial Sweeteners

Whether it’s aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet, Spoonful), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’n Low), acesulfame K (Sunette, Sweet One), each one is shrouded in controversy and reports of adverse reactions including anxiety, depression, seizures, headaches, asthma attacks, liver and kidney damage, fibromyalgia, brain tumors, weight gain, and more. Artificial sweeteners are found in diet or sugar-free sodas, flavored yogurts, Jello, desserts, sugar-free gum, candy, cookies, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, pudding, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, and more. Your solution: check labels and generally avoid all processed foods and beverages that are labeled “diet” or “sugar free”. Consider using Stevia, a natural herbal sweetener, instead.

Sulfites / Sulphur Dioxide

Carcinogenic color fixatives and preservatives known to cause acute reactions ranging from severe to mild, including acute asthma attacks, seizures, anaphylactic shock, diarrhea, nausea, brain fog, muscle aches, headaches, and extreme fatigue. This is found in dried fruit, wine, beer, hard ciders, soft drinks, juices, cordials, vinegar, and potato products. Your solution: avoid brightly colored dried fruits. Choose un-sulphured dried fruits, usually dark in color instead. Choose wine, beer, and hard ciders that don’t contain added sulfites.

High Fructose Corn Syrup / HFCS

Highly refined sweetener that packs on pounds faster than any other ingredient, increases bad cholesterol, and contributes to the development of diabetes, tissue damage, and more. HFCS is found in soda, sweetened beverages, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned fruits and vegetables, cereals, and more. Your solution: choose natural-brand beverages and treated that contain less harmful sweeteners – or natural, unsweetened juices and herbal teas.

Artificial Food Colorings

Linked to cancer and may contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Even in a very small amount, such as that contained in gummy or tablet vitamins can cause reactions. Food colorings are found in vitamins (gummy and tablets), candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks, pet foods, fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, ice cream, candy, bakery products, American cheese, macaroni cheese, and more. Your solution: stick with quality, whole food supplements and natural-brain processed foods that use natural, nontoxic find colorings or none at all.

Trans Fats / Hydrogenated & Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Trans fat, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils extend the shelf life of products. They’re known to raise bad cholesterol contributing to heart disease and strokes, inflammation, diabetes, and more. These are found in margarine, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods, protein, and other snack bars. Your solution: check labels on processed foods and go with natural fats and oils whenever possible, such as extra virgin coconut or olive oil or raw organic butter.

Brominated Vegetable Oils (BVO)

This is a toxic chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks know to increase triglycerides and cholesterol. It’s also associated with damage to the live, testicles, thyroid, heart, and kidneys. BVO is found in citrus flavored sodas and sweetened beverages. Your solution: choose non-citrus sodas or those mad by natural food brands that don’t contain BVO.

Potassium Bromate / Bromated Flour

Potassium bromate is a carcinogenic additive used to increase volume in products made with white flour that’s banned in countries around the world. It’s also associated with thyroid problems and one of the reasons there has been such an increase in thyroid issues in recent decades. This is found in white breads, rolls, and other baked goods made from dough. Your solution: avoid or minimize baked goods that contain this substance. In California, products containing this additive are required to bear warning on their labels.

Nitrates / Nitrites

Carcinogenic color preservatives that are also k now to cause acute reactions such as headaches, irritability, and fatigue. Nitrates are found in meats including hotdogs, bacon, ham, luncheon meat, cured meats, corned beef, and smoked fish. Your solution: choose processed meats that are labeled “no added nitrates or nitrites”.

BHA & BHT (E320)

Potentially carcinogenic preservatives that affect the brain and known to cause hyperactivity, asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors, hives, and hormonal imbalance. BHA is found in potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, and Jello. Your solution: choose natural-brand processed foods that don’t contain these toxic preservatives.

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