Do you really know what you are eating?

Author : teriann

Recently I had a health scare that had me contemplating how best I could adjust my eating habits.  The first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to  decide what I really needed to eat. There is so much information that bombards you as a consumer it can become really confusing. It seemed as if everything that I liked to eat wasn’t good for me.

As I tried to navigate through all the advice about healthy food I wondered if I really wanted to know what was in the food I ate. Of course since I decided that ignorance was not an option I started out by researching the ingredients in some of my favourite products.

What is in your food?

While on my healthy food journey, I started paying attention to the ingredients listed on the labels of my favourite drink and snacks.

What I read on those lists was not very comforting. Among the ‘natural’ ingredients was a reference to either red or yellow dyes along with a number of preservatives which made me feel very uneasy. Many of the listed ingredients were words that I had never heard of before and could not pronounce.

So if you start really thinking about it what are we really putting in our bodies? What harm could these preservatives cause to our immune systems?

Safety

The first thing to realize is that most drinks need preservatives as they sit on shelves for long periods of time . Consumers expect that the product will have still have a delicious taste despite how long ago it was manufactured.

Are food preservatives harmful? Well food preservatives are meant to improve food safety and that is why laws authorized their use, in limited amounts. In general, preservatives limit, retard or arrest the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, fungi, mould, present in or that may enter into the food which prevent spoilage or toxicity and increase shelf-life and delicious taste of the food product.

There have been studies which show  link to some preservatives and instances of increased allergic reactions and some cancers, however the studies do not outweigh the benefits of their use. My opinion is the less preservatives that you use in your food then the greater your chances are of having less health issues.

Preservatives such as Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHA and BHT) are the synthetic antioxidant preservatives that have caused cancers in rats (however, this is a debatable issue as some studies have even showed that they may actually protect against the development of cancers). The food preservative BHA is used in in meats, baked goods, cereals, snack foods, and beer.

Regardless of these studies, I decided to cut out as much processed food out of my diet as much as I could and increase my consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

So what’s your take? Do you really know what you are eating? Do you worry about the widespread use of preservatives in your food and drink? Let me hear from you!

Teri Ann Renee Paisley

Gleaner online writer

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