Would you ever drink flame retardant? Would you eat lice shampoo? If the thought of consuming these products sounds crazy to you, you might be surprised to discover if you eat the Standard American Diet (SAD, which it is indeed!) full of processed foods, there’s a good chance you do eat or drink these chemicals… and more. It’s one of the scary (and gross) things about processed foods – they many contain chemical ingredients we would never consider eating if we knew what they were. But that’s the problem isn’t it? With the ubiquity of processed foods, in our busy lives our consciousness is not awake to what we are actually consuming. It’s time to wake up!

A number of the ingredients are banned in other developed nations because of their potential to harm human health- but not in the U.S.! I know…what the heck!!  Let’s take a look at some toxic ingredients in processed foods, as well alternatives that support health instead of harming it.

Ingredient: Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Foods that contain it: Sports drinks, citrus sodas

Also found in: Flame retardant

Where it’s banned: Japan, European Unionsports drinks

PepsiCo recently announced they would discontinue the use of BVO in several of their Gatorade flavors, although the ingredient will remain in both Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew. Gee thanks PepsiCo! So what’s the problem with BVO? BVO can build up in body tissue, leading to toxic effects including:

  • Memory loss
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Hormonal disruption
  • Lesions
  • Kidney disease
  • Delayed or stalled brain development

Alternatives: Skip the soda, energy drinks, and other bottled beverages altogether. Instead, carry a BPA-free water bottle with you filled with clear, fresh water.

Ingredient: Azodicarbonamide

Foods that contain it: Dried pasta, bread, other wheat products

Also found in: Foamed plastics and synthetic leatherdried pasta

Where it’s banned: Australia, European Union, Singapore.

This ingredient is used to speed up how quickly flour bleaches. According to the World Health Organization, “Case reports and epidemiological studies in humans have produced abundant evidence that azodicarbonamide can induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers.”

Alternatives: Skip products containing bleached wheat. Instead, enjoy organic whole grains like quinoa or amaranth, which are delicious and full of nutrients.  

Ingredient: Artificial coloring yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1, blue 2(mostly made from coal tar)

Foods that contain it: Too many to list! But here’s a few: candy, sports drinks (those nasty things again!), fruit snacks, powdered drink mixes, cake mixes, some yogurts, ice cream…

Also found in: Lice shampoo, floor seal coating

Where it’s banned: European Union

Artificial colors have long been scrutinized as potential health hazards. Over the years, a number of artificial coloring ingredients have been banned because of their potential health risks. Recent studies suggest artificial colors and preservatives may aggravate ADHD symptoms in children. Likewise, a study on food color consumption showed an increase in inflammation, as well as possibly causing liver and kidney problems.

Alternatives: The great thing about natural, organic produce is it is colorful and appetizing without any chemical colorings or additives. If you’re looking for food that looks as pretty as it tastes, load up on fruits and veggies across the spectrum of color. The different colors in these natural foods indicate different vitamin and minerals. By eating a broad range of colorful produce, you’ll be certain you’re getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs – without artificial coloring.  

Ingredient: Brominated flour (bromates)/potassium bromate

Foods that contain it: Breads and tortillas, crackers, other baked goodsbread

Where it’s banned: United Kingdom, Canada, China, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Peru

There’s a good reason so many countries have banned potassium bromate. Studies show it is both carcinogenic and toxic to the kidneys. It may also induce thyroid and kidney tumors. If you live in California, this ingredient is a little easier to avoid. The state requires warning labels on foods containing it.

Alternatives: In The Beauty Detox Solution, I recommend avoiding wheat flour and products containing wheat flour. Instead, try organic gluten-free crackers, or use lettuce or a collard green or nori wrapper as a “wrap” when you really want a sandwich.  

Ingredient: GMOs Foods

According to Mother Jones, at least 70 percent of processed foods in the United States contain GMOs

Where they are banned or restricted: Algeria, Thailand, Sri Lanka, European Union, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Paraguay, Australia, New Zealand

Genetically modified foods are pretty scary, given their relative short time in the food supply. GM foods weren’t even around until 1996. Now, thanks in large part to the patents chemical giant Monsanto has placed on seeds, it is becoming increasingly difficult for American farmers to keep GMOs out of their crops. (I highly recommend watching the documentary, David vs. Monsanto to learn more about this). According to a 2009 article in Critical Review of Food Sciences in Nutrition, GMOs may have a number of potential health risks, including:

  • Kidney and liver issues
  • Pancreatic problems
  • Reproductive affects
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Cancer
  • Reactivation of viruses
  • DNA damage or alteration

Alternatives: I recommend avoiding processed foods and any supplements like fish oil capsules because they have such a high rate of GMOs in them. Instead, eat organic natural foods such as fruits and vegetables, organic raw nuts and seeds and organic grains. What’s the bottom line?

The FDA continues to allow these ingredients in our processed food supply in spite of very real health concerns. There’s some scary stuff out there, and you have to be your own health advocate. Avoid processed foods, and when you do eat them, read labels carefully. If there’s an ingredient you don’t recognize, find something else to eat. In The Beauty Detox Solution and The Glowing Lean System, I teach you how to eat for vibrant good health, avoiding potentially toxic ingredients.

Let’s partner together to raise our consciousness between our diet and our overall health and well-being! Changing your diet will improve all aspects of your life.