“As part of a healthy diet are there certain ingredients I should be avoiding entirely?”
Eating right is definitely one of the most critical steps to living a healthy lifestyle. Ideally, you would take control over what you ate by reading ALL ingredients on food labels. This is usually not practical. Instead, start simple by trying to categorically avoid the following:
1. Artificial Sweeteners: Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Sucralose, Neotame
While it may be counterintuitive to avoid sweeteners since the whole point of using them is to avoid gaining weight, these chemicals do not exist in nature and our bodies don’t have the proper resources to process them. For example, methanol, the primary ingredient in artificial sweeteners, is carried into susceptible tissues in your body, such as your brain and bone marrow. There, the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme converts the sweetener into formaldehyde, which reportedly wreaks havoc with sensitive proteins and DNA. Headaches, dizziness, DNA alteration, weight gain and sweetener addictions are just a few of the potential side effects of artificial sweeteners. Instead of drinking a diet soda, opt for a bottle of water or unsweetened iced tea. Try agave nectar as sweetener for coffee in place of artificial sweeteners.
2. Coloring Agents (blue 1 or 2, yellow 5 or 6, red 40)
Today most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat products and to preserve and protect the shine of industrial floors. Artificial coloring is found in everything from various kinds of candy to common household remedies such as oragel. Some countries have outlawed these agents. Try to avoid artificially colored foods all together – if the color of your food is something not found in nature, chances are it is artificially colored and should be avoided altogether.
3. Brominated Vegetable Oil (aka BVO)
BVO is found in some sports drinks and citrus-flavored drinks. Because it competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, elevated levels of the ingredient can reportedly lead to thyroid issues, such as hypothyroidism, auto-immune disease, and cancer. That’s not all. BVO’s main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous chemical that is considered both corrosive and toxic. It has been linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss, which explains why it’s been banned in more than 100 countries. Looking for a healthy alternative? Replenish electrolytes by drinking regular water throughout the day.
4. Synthetic Hormones
Synthetic hormones, commonly found in meat and milk, are used to speed up the process of fattening up cows and other livestock. Animals injected with these hormones usually go lame and infertile. The milk is supercharged with IGF-1 (insulin growth factor -1), which has been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers. You can avoid synthetic hormones by opting for organic dairy and meat products. Although organic products cost a little bit more, the health benefits of eating organic are well worth the marginally higher cost.