Have you looked at the ingredients on your cereal box lately? Today’s supermarkets are often stocked with packaged foods plagued with nasty additives, used to increase flavor and maintain freshness – they may add to shelf life, but these additives subtract from your life span. Read on to find out more about these hard-to-pronounce common food additives, and why you should avoid them if you want to increase your own longevity.
Natural sources of sugar that come from fruit, milk, and some vegetables contain multiple nutrients. However, consuming added sugars from processed foods can lead to weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. Baked goods, yogurt, salad dressings, sauces, and bottled drinks often contain excessive amounts that will surely give you a sugar rush! Watch out for these names in the ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, glucose, confectioner’s sugar, dextrose, maltose, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, powdered sugar, sucrose, syrup, invert sugar, malt syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup.
Most “sugar-free” and diet drinks, gums, candy bars, gelatins, and low-calorie desserts compensate for the lack of sugar with artificial sweeteners. Equal, Sweet n’ Low, Splenda and most other artificial sweeteners contain one or more of the following: aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-K. Some studies show that they may cause cancer in rats. Those with an enzyme disorder known as phenylketonuria should avoid aspartame because it contains phenylalanine.
Did you ever wonder how that same blueberry muffin you saw six months ago on the grocery shelf can still look so good? In order to preserve its freshness, manufacturers will often transform an oil into a solid fat. This process, known as “hydrogenation,” increases inflammation and can increase your risk for heart disease. That muffin may make your mouth water, but it will elevate your “bad” LDL cholesterol, and make your “good” HDL plummet. Extra caution should be taken when a package boasts “trans fat free.” Anything below 0.1 grams of trans fat per serving is acceptable on food labels. So if you end up eating enough servings, you could be consuming more grams of trans fat than you think. To be on the safe side, read the ingredients and stay away from anything with the words “partially hydrogenated.”
Most luncheon meats, hot dogs, bacon, and smoked foods contain this additive in order to add flavor and enhance the red color. Although the preservative may prevent bacteria growth, it has been linked to various types of cancer, so it is best to steer clear.
Colorful foods are just as much a treat for our eyes as they are for our taste buds. However, it is best to rely on Mother Nature’s rainbow palette of foods. Artificial colors are often made with petroleum and have been linked to cancer. Blue 1 and 2, found in beverages, candy, baked goods and pet food, have been linked to cancer in mice. Red 3, used to dye cherries, fruit cocktail, candy, and baked goods, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats. Green 3, added to candy and beverages, though rarely used, has been linked to bladder cancer. Studies have linked the widely used yellow 6 – added to beverages, sausage, gelatin, baked goods, and candy – to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. So think twice the next time you reach for that hot pink cupcake that looks like it can glow in the dark.
This chemical leavening agent is added to white flour, breads, and rolls to increase volume. It is banned in Europe, Canada, and the United Kingdom but legal in the United States. Like most food additives, it is a carcinogenic and caution should be implemented because small amounts in bread can create a risk for humans.
Remember to be a knowledgeable grocery shopper and always read the ingredients. I hope that you will continue to choose whole, natural foods and give your body the gift of longevity. If you would like more information about nutrition and how to take control of health with good eating habits, pick up my book “The Tao of Nutrition.” The advantage of Chinese nutrition lies in its flexibility to adapt to every individual’s needs in the prevention of disease by treating the whole person rather than only the symptoms.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared on Dr. Oz, the Doctors and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit taoofwellness.com To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]