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Food Part 2: Easily Found Chemicals to Keep Out of Your Diet

By Dr. Molly Casey

Your Diet and its Chemicals

Health is a journey, not a destination. Food -- and how we approach it -- plays a big role in that journey. Type, quality, and amount of food all play a role in how well the journey of health goes -- or whether it is a journey of sickness.

It is so important to have a great relationship with food. Food is your body’s fuel. What you put into it matters. One of the most important things you can do is be aware of chemicals added to foods -- long shelf lifes don’t happen naturally -- and understand the harmful effect they have on your body.

In Part 1, I offered a different way of approaching food and diet. There is so much information it is hard to tell what is or isn’t right for you. My recommendation is to develop your own process of approaching food; get clear on what you value in food, what it does for your body, and then create your own guidelines.

While that is the foundation to creating a great relationship with food and health, there are certain chemicals that clearly should be steered away from if they are found in the foods you want to consume. Unfortunately, they are found in a lot of foods.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an artificial sugar made from corn syrup.

Most people will not dispute that obesity is an epidemic in society today. Although one chemical is certainly not responsible for the entire epidemic, HFCS is linked to weight gain and obesity, and it is found in many processed foods as a sweetener. HFCS drops a very concentrated amount of fructose into your system but more steps are required to break it down to make it usable for energy. Because the body finds the most effective way to do the least amount of work, a chemical that adds excess steps makes it more likely for the body to simply store it and, as a result, contribute to weight gain.

HFCS also pushes Inflammation, which is known to be a contributing cause of a variety of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Excessive HFCS intake contributes to insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone required to help break down and use sugars, properly carrying them in and out of cells or storing them when necessary. When HFCS is consumed in excess, cells are more resistant to insulin, so sugar that may have previously and properly been used for energy is stored and ends up as fat because the cells that utilize it for energy are not reacting as actively to the insulin. Insulin resistance is closely linked with diabetes.

HFCS is one chemical to search for on your food labels; be extraordinarily judicious about ingesting high fructose corn syrup or cut it out completely without exception.

Artificial Colors

Colors are used to attract. They add vibrancy and allure. Colors are often used as the bait to entice buyers. Think of the Fruit Loop box and your kids; they’re drawn to the array of colors. If they opened the box and all the contents were without the red, blue, yellow, and green, it wouldn’t be as exciting an eating experience -- or at least that is what advertisers lead buyers to believe. Fruit Loops aren’t the only thing with added colors; caramel colored soda is artificial in color, and so is green gum or your favorite colored candy.

Although it may make the food more appealing, there are side effects. Artificial colors are a combination of seven different dyes: blue 1, green 3, blue 2, red 3, red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6. These dyes are linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children. Blue 2 is linked to brain tumors in mice. Yellow 6 was linked to adrenal and kidney tumors.

Food and health can be a confusing journey because of all the information that’s available and coming at you from every direction. If you create your own values of health with a process to approach the information, the journey with diet can be far less confusing. You will need to stick to your process and be committed to it. If you are able to steer away from high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors, you will be on solid footing with your process on your journey of health.

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