Chemist in scrubs and mask pipette liquid into test tubes

Your diet is obviously one of the most important parts of your overall level of health. Along with getting enough sleep and exercise, eating a natural, balanced diet is key to staying healthy and avoiding many potential health issues. In this sense, it is extremely important that you understand the role that food additives play and learn to avoid the additives that could potentially harm your health.

The Issue of Food Additives

Technology has provided many benefits to our lives. Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, many scientists and chemists started coming up with various new dietary chemicals and other food additives. Many of these additives were used to help extend the shelf life of certain food and non-food products or to improve the taste, texture, consistency, and other attributes. Unfortunately, many of these products were almost immediately approved for use without studying their long-term effects. As a result, we are now bombarded with a huge number of food additives that may potentially be harming our overall health and well-being.

The problem is that some of these additives have become so commonplace and widespread in their use that trying to avoid them can become something like a full-time job. Nonetheless, the old saying that ‘you are what you eat’ still holds true today. In this sense, it is important that everyone pays close attention to what they put in their body, and if possible, attempts to avoid all of the following potentially dangerous additives.

Potentially Dangerous Food Additives to Avoid

Although they continue to be used in a wide range of products, artificial sweeteners have been shown to potentially cause numerous health issues. Particularly worrisome is aspartame, which evidence shows is both a carcinogen and a neurotoxin that may potentially lead to brain tumors, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, lymphoma, depression, and many other health issues.

MSG or monosodium glutamate is another common food additive that has the potential to adversely affect your health. Used primarily as a flavor enhancer, MSG has been shown to cause a wide range of side effects with long-term use. Among the potential issues this additive can lead to are depression, chronic fatigue, headaches, obesity, and eye problems.

Trans fats are other food additive elements best avoided. These substances are often used to enhance flavor and prolong the shelf life of various products, and studies have shown that trans fats can raise your level of bad cholesterol while lowering the amount of available good cholesterol. As a result, consuming too many trans fats raises your risk of heart attacks, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and many other health problems.

Artificial dyes like yellow #5, blue #1, blue #2, and red #40 have also been shown to potentially cause a wide range of health issues. Some of these artificial dyes have been classified as carcinogens, and as such, many of them are banned in various countries around the world. Despite this evidence, these dyes continue to be listed as safe for food use by the US FDA. Nonetheless, the overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that you are best to avoid them whenever possible.

Use Science as Your Guide

The more that science continues to study food additives, the more that we learn about the potential hazards and health risks many of these additives may lead to. Unfortunately, scientific studies are not perfect, and there have been plenty of cases where a study seemed to show that a particular additive was dangerous only for it to be later shown that the substance is question was harmless. This is the case with the common food additive carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed and is used to improve the stability and texture of a wide variety of food and non-food products. A study in 2008 seemed to show that this additive was a potential carcinogen, only for later research to show that it is safe and has never contributed to any cases of chronic illness.

This example shows that science is not perfect, and it is important to not believe something just because one scientific study seems to show a particular additive is dangerous. Instead, you are far better to do your own research and look for multiple studies that confirm the result before jumping to conclusions. Although there are undoubtedly many common food additives that should be avoided, not all additives are dangerous. Therefore, it is essential that you don’t simply believe everything you read, and instead be diligent about doing your own research.

Unfortunately, it would truly be impossible to list all of the potentially dangerous food additives. The fact is that there are literally thousands upon thousands of food additives approved by the FDA. At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence showing that many of these additives could potentially be dangerous. For this reason, it is recommended that you do your own research and try to eat naturally and avoid additives whenever possible.

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About The Author

Mikkie Mills's picture

Mikkie Mills is a freelance writer who's passionate about health, fitness, organic cooking and eating, and yoga. When not writing she loves traveling, hiking, and cooking. Find more from Mikkie on Google+.

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