Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You know what you're drinking, but do you really know what you're drinking?

A huge part in why I wanted to start this page on my blog is to expose the harmful additives lurking in our common, every day food choices and explain associated health concerns.  This is a topic that has influenced most of my lifestyle changes.  Once the connection was made in my own life between lifestyle, more specifically food choices, and health/wellbeing, my passion for holistic and alternative medicine grew.  And so did my passion for spreading awareness, so that others can make educated decisions about what they eat and possibly yield a change in the food industry as we know it today.  Today, you can't simply assume the food you buy is good quality.

My experience with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder)

This obviously isn't an acute life threatening condition, though it can be when it continues over many years.  It is something I had so severely growing up, that on top of going to bed every night with an intense burning throat sensation, sometimes the acid would make its way up to my nose with a belch.  Obviously not something you want happening.  So, I went on Nexium for a couple of years until I read about what it silently can do to your body, such as deplete your body of magnesium, an extremely crucial mineral needed for living. Also, it can cause the decrease in absorption of nutrients, also not good. Nexium decreases stomach acid, food needs stomach acid to digest and to absorb nutrients, so it makes sense that with less of it you'll absorb less nutrients.  I had already started my transition to clean eating, so I stopped taking the medication and had no more heart burn.  The test came when I was craving a turkey hoagie.  A stop at a local deli "Proudly Serving Boar's Head" and a turkey hoagie later, yielded terrible heart burn for days.  There were a couple more instances like this, where I isolated the lunch meat, with the same results.  Traditional lunch meats are very much processed and contain a long list of additives that always cause a reaction for me in the form of heart burn.  Now I know that I have a sensitivity to any one or all of the common preservatives and additives that, for me, cause gastritis.  The trigger, a food/drink additive and the resulting symptoms are individual and can be anything a person consumes.

So what can be hidden in your favorite beverages?

I read a blog post by Vani aka Food Babe yesterday that really resonated with me.  I stopped ordering Starbucks beverages with syrups or flavorings a couple years ago but I was disappointed on how it is was nearly impossible for anyone Vani to get an ingredients list from their company.  Also a disappointment, how they use coffee from countries that do no restrict pesticides that are restricted in the US and EU.  She also noted that they do not have organic soy/dairy milk options and only recently stopped serving milk from cows treated with hormones.  Though, the main point of the post was that Starbucks uses a known carcinogen in their syrups and flavorings, in the form of caramel color (4-Mel).  This chemical, that's sole purpose is to make things a caramel color, has been linked to cancer.  In California under Prop 65, any food product that contains over 29 micrograms of 4-Mel must contain a warning on its label, saying that it contains an ingredient that may cause cancer.

Starbucks isn't the only big company putting this in their food or beverage.  Coka Cola and Pepsi are also doing it.  After Prop 65 was going into effect, the makers of Coke and Pepsi announced they would use a different caramel coloring for their beverages.  In this post, a study performed by Consumer Reports, shows that Coco Cola and Pepsi, among other soda beverages, all contained 4-Mel.  Pepsi and Malta Goya showed higher amounts than 29 micrograms, and there was no warning on their labels. These tests were run on samples in 2013 and did show a decrease in 4-Mel amounts later in the year compared to the beginning, but still remained above 29 micrograms.  Consumer Reports used a relatively small sample size of sodas and did not look at popular iced teas and other types of brown sodas. Though California set 29 micrograms as the cut off because at that level, the associated risk of cancer is 1 in 100,000, some researches say that even 29 micrograms of 4-Mel is too much.

What about bottled water?

Yup, there's additives in there too.  I saw this blog post a couple months ago and people were surprised and angry that bottled water could contain additives.  My first thought was, why would water be different, all other packaged or processed food and beverages have additives.  But I realized that a lot of people don't read food labels and even if they do, don't know what more than half the additives are.  This is an article from TIME, it states that the same ingredients listed within Dasani, are in many bottled waters but doesn't make it seem as terrible.  You be the judge!

Vote with your wallet

It often feels like we have little to no power in how our food is handled, prepared, processed or packaged.  The fact is, that without consumers, there would't be these products.  If everyone voted with their wallets, stopped buying poor quality, pre-made products, maybe then a change can be initiated!

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