10 Food Additives to Avoid and Why
1. Benzoic Acid
Benzoic acid is a common preservative in food and drinks, but it is thought that benzoic acid when in the presence of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in food and drinks can produce small amounts of the carcinogen benzene in the food or drink.
Since a lot of foods contain Vitamin C as a health additive while still use benzoic acid as a preservative, this can be worrying.
It has been suggested that small amounts of the carcinogen benzene can be formed in soft drinks and fruits drinks containing the benzoic acid and the vitamin C, and laboratory tests indeed prove that under certain reaction conditions benzene is formed from benzoic acid.
Certain catalysts present in many drinks that can initiate the production of benzene include copper or iron sulphate but also beverage pH, storage temperature and exposure to UV light can initiate the production of benzene .
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of benzene in water is 5 ppb for drinking water.
But recent studies on over 100 soft drinks and other beverages collected from retail stores in the US found that 4 of beverage products containing both added benzoates and ascorbic acid had benzene levels above the limit of 5 ppb EPA .
2. Sodium Benzoate
As well as the carcinogenic concerns existing for foods and drinks containing benzoic acid with vitamin C (ascorbic acid), the same carcinogenic concerns exist for food and drinks containing Sodium benzoate and vitamin C through the similar production of the carcinogen benzene. Drinks containing sodium benzoate and vitamin c together will more than likely contain some benzene as they interaction of the sodium benzoate and vitamin C will result in the production of benzene. The concentration of benzene may be below the 5 ppb EPA limit, but is still present and should be taken into consideration .
3. Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate
Sodium Nitrite (and Sodium Nitrate) are preservatives also used to colour and flavour meat products. However they have been linked to various types of diseases.
Sodium Nitrite: On tests with mice, it was found that Sodium Nitrite significantly increased DNA damage in the stomach due to the formation of free radicals. Free radicals have been associated with cancer .
The most striking finding with Sodium Nitrite was from an experiment that showed that in rats, tumors of the lung could be caused by ingestion of sodium nitrite .
Could it be possible that these carcinogenic effects could establish in Humans, considering sodium nitrite has this type of effect in smaller mammals such as mice and rats?
Sodium Nitrate: Studies in conducted in rats supplemented with sodium nitrate showed that sodium nitrate results in testicular toxicity with decreased sperm count and motility, decreased testis weight, inhibited activity of spermatogenesis enzymes and so on . Could Sodium nitrate causes a decreased sperm count in Humans and could it be associated with sterility?
4. BHA and BHT
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisol) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic antioxidants, commonly used to maintain foodstuﬀ, but have been suspected of cancerous toxicity . Tests show that BHA administered to rats, mice and golden Syrian hamsters can cause cancer, more specifically papillomas and squamous cell carcinomas of the forestomach . But further tests on BHA and BHT need to be conducted to finalise their negative affects on humans.
5. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is an amino acid flavour enhancer used in many foods and especially in asian food and is connected to various disorders. One disorder connected to MSG is asthma and studies have shown that MSG does in fact trigger asthmatic effects. In one study, 32 subjects with asthma had specific intakes of MSG and others with placebos. The results showed that some subjects developed asthma symptoms 1 to 2 hours post MSG ingestion with others developing these symptoms 6-12 hours after ingestion .
Findings by the FASEB in 1995 outlined that MSG can also be associated with
- Burning sensation of the back of the neck, forearms and chest.
- Facial pressure or tightness.
- Chest pain.
- Upper body tingling and weakness.
- Numbness in the back of the neck, arms and back.
- Bronchospasm (in asthmatics only).
- Drowsiness. 
6. Trans Fats
Trans fat are an artificial abomination added to foods and have been shown to increase concentrations of the ‘bad’ low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and reduce concentrations of the ‘good’ high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
This increases the risk of coronary artery disease, heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases and is estimated that 30,000 premature deaths per year in the United States are linked to the consumption of trans fats .
Trans fats have also been shown to possibly have a negative effect on the human fetus and on newborns and an increase in colon cancer risk in adults .
Aspartame seems to be a safe sugar substitute but in trials on aspartame fed rats it was shown that aspartame caused an extremely high occurrence of brain tumours compared to no brain tumours found in the controls. This shows that aspartame has mutagenic potential and may explain the recent increase in incidence and degree of malignancy of brain tumours in humans .
Other than carcinogenic effects, Aspartame may also cause neurochemical changes that could have functional or behavioral consequences, particularly in people with certain underlying diseases .
8. Food Colourings
The evidence accumulated suggests that food additives such as artificial colourings do for some children with ADHD make their condition worse, but the evidence doesn’t fully suggest that the food colourings cause ADHD and behavioural disorders .
A significant downfall for children with ADHD is that they often have poor scholastic performance, diminished family and peer relationships, and other psychiatric and developmental disorders.
In a recent study of pediatric practices in North Carolina, 15% of children were found to have behavioral disorders, with ADHD as the most frequent diagnosis . Food colourings should be avoided in children with behavioural disorders such as ADHD.
9. Potassium Bromate
Potassium bromate (KBrO3) is used as an additive in foods such a white flour and breads to increase their volume. But Potassium bromate is known as well-established rodent kidney carcinogen to which its oxidising activity is thought to be a main factor in its mechanism of action.
Potassium bromate also shows some genotoxicty and is associated with induction of gene mutations and chromosome aberrations in mouse lymphoma cells, both potentially leading to cancer .
10. Calcium Propanoate
In trials it was found that Calcium Propanoate and other preservatives can cause irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in some children if consumed daily. If processed foods minimised their concentrations this would reduce adverse reactions . Calcium propanoate can be toxic to certain species and it can actually be used as a pesticide. Do you want to consume a pesticide? .
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