About Additives and Preservatives
The period of time post World War II marked an era of change for the food industry. During this time, manufacturers began to investigate and employ all sorts of chemical substances into food products in order to increase shelf life, flavor and consistency. However, limited studies were performed during this time regarding the actual safety of these additives. Naturally, the bulk of these chemicals underwent laboratory testing, typically on animals, and if they passed a certain amount of surveillance, they were deemed fit for consumption. Some of these chemicals were deemed appropriate for human consumption but only in specified amounts.
The trouble with such tests at the time was that they were not conclusive regarding long term safety of certain substances. Some additives are not always excreted by the body and, instead, are stored in small amounts which over time can cause toxicity within the human system. Sometimes, as decades would pass and more information became available about the long term effects of certain preservatives and additives, some of these substances lost their stamp of approval and were banned from the food industry.
The Dangers of Food Additives and Preservatives
The additives and preservatives in commercial foods today have typically received the Food and Drug Administration's approval. However, consumers are catching on to the inconsistencies of the FDA's surveillance. It is not an uncommon occurence whereby the FDA will approve a substance that will later become is removed due to the outcry of medical professionals. The FDA will also approve substances said to be safe, but only in very small amounts. This means that studies exist which indicate larger amounts of the substance in question are not safe. Moreover, there is little done to control the consumption of these foods within the human population. The average American who lives on a processed and fast food diet may be consuming undetermined amounts of a chemical substance that simply hasn't been tested proficiently at certain levels for long periods of time.
The rise in cancer since the 1940s has been used as an indicator for many alternative health professionals to deem the condition of most processed commercial food to be adulterated, unnatural and unsafe. So, what exactly are the dangers of food additives and preservatives? Again, this question lies in an ambiguous field. Certain preservatives such as BHT are very prominent in packaged foods as they are an excellent preservative agent for fats. BHT is an antioxidant and many consumers will hear the word "antioxidant" and feel this chemical must be a good thing. However, scientific studies have yielded information regarding BHT's negative effects on human behavior and health. These studies are not fully conclusive because some individuals metabolize the agent differently than others.
The Gray Zone
There are many naturally derived preservatives and additives that still have a negative effect on human health. Oftentimes it is difficult to truly test these agents in a realistic medium because, as mentioned previously, various individuals metabolize these substances differently than others in their test group. Some chemicals are outright toxic, while others fall into a gray area where only a small percentage of consumers experience detrimental effects.
The safest approach regarding additives and preservatives is to avoid them in favor of whole foods and a healthy diet that steers away from processed food products. The live active enzymes found in raw plant based foods not only avoid the additives issue, but they promote a healthy body as well. Unfortunately, if you aren't buying organic, you may find yourself dealing with issues like pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics in your produce, meat and dairy foods. It is very difficult for the average consumer to fight the additives craze that currently affects a gigantic portion of the food industry.
Researching any suspicious ingredients on nutritional labels is the second line of defense. The Internet contains a wealth of information regarding additives such as caramel color, maltodextrin, and modified food starch. Some ingredients can secretly harbor substances like MSG and gluten which can be highly problematic for sensitive individuals. Diligence and knowledge are the most effective weapons of a wary consumer.
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