If you we compare Life then and now, I would say there is a very significant difference. Life before can be described in one word: Natural while living life today means living in a Non-natural environment. Breakthroughs in science, especially food studies have introduced us to an easier and faster way to do things that in the past normally required an investment of time, but we must accept this modern notion of living in today’s world to put up with all the demands of this modern life.
However, in our attempt to make our lives adapt to the changing times, we unknowingly sacrifice our health. Everything happens so fast and it makes our life easier BUT with a big toll to pay.
Sadly, along with the amazing breakthroughs in those different sectors, more diseases are showing up, obesity is more common than in the past not just for adults but also for kids, and the quality of life is also affected in a significant way.
In the food technology sector, experts develop “additives”. People started using additives to enhance flavor, food appearance, “nutritional” value, and extend shelf life. These reasons may sound harmless to us. However, a number of studies show that additives, or commonly known as preservatives, can trigger different negative effects in a human body such as allergies and more severe illnesses.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that: “Most additives have little or no nutritional value.” In addition, processed food has a strong relationship with additives. We should all remember that the more food undergoes different processes the more additives are added to it.
Surprisingly, there are about 350 food additives allowed in Australia as well as New Zealand. Here is a short list of additives that are a great matter of concern.
A study shows that emulsifiers can cause damage to the gastrointestinal barrier—leading to inflammation and an increase risk to chronic diseases like stroke, heart problems, high blood level and poor control of blood sugar content. The gastrointestinal barrier is like a security guard that lets the good stuff into our stomach and keeps the bad ones out. This barrier is weakened every time we drink too much alcohol, expose ourselves to radiation and take drugs as well as viral infections. Emulsifiers are used on ice cream so that they don’t melt that quickly as well as in making mayonnaise.
Another research shows that adding of food coloring and preservatives have indicative factors that increase hyperactive behavior in children and can even worsen asthma symptoms. Although there is no evidence yet to prove this claim, discussions about this matter are held to be of much importance driving in the idea of cooking with fresh ingredients, eating organic produce and therefore minimizing the consumption of processed food.
1. Health experts claim that fructose that is found in corn syrup metabolizes very differently as compared to sucrose, a sweetener found in sugar cane. Fructose can raise the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes—an observation noted by the increase of corn syrup consumption and obesity in the US.
2. Another sweetener called “Aspartame”, commonly used for diet soft drinks, has been reported to cause cancer. While nutrition and public health professor state that “It is only sugar…the body cannot tell apart from either, therefore making no difference,” there is a study reporting effects such as seizures and an increase rate of brain tumor cases in the United states correlating to the increase of consumption of the said sugar.
3. Another additive that raises major concern is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) that is used to enhance flavor for most Asian cuisine. Dr. Nestle says that people having allergic reactions to these foods that have been enhanced to achieve the “umami” flavor are rare and isolated. People with such reactions should avoid food where MSG is used generously.
4. Soft drinks with Sodium Benzoate contents are suspected to increase hyperactive behavior among children. If added with vitamin C, it will result to benzene that can cause cancer. The FDA says that as long as a beverage with sodium benzoate content remains at the required standard safety level, then it is okay for consumption.
5. When curing meat products for preservation like sausages and canned meat, the additive Sodium Nitrate is commonly used. Eating meat with the said additive is rumored to have caused gastric cancer. In the 1930’s, among all the cancer cases in the United States, gastric cancer caused the most number of deaths. Although this is historical evidence, the concern is still in open debate among health experts.
6. Adding hydrogen to vegetables creates the additive Trans Fat. Trans fat is often used for baking and deep-frying food which we know ends up in increasing the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. It is already agreed upon by most scientists that these partially hydrogenated oils are highly detrimental to the health of the human body. They recommend lessening the intake of trans fat to less than 1% of our daily cholesterol count and limiting our consumption of fried foods and baked goods.
As mentioned earlier, the additives listed above are still open to debate—some are even dismissed by most health experts and are deemed discarded for the moment. However, the concern for health is real and the evidence provided by some studies are notably significant.
People all over the world are becoming more health conscious. As the years go by, we seem to be returning to basics. This is a positive tendency that is just in its early stages. We deserve a better quality of life not just for ourselves but for our future generations. If we strive for a better life, we must introduce into our daily diets natural food products that will enhance our health and reduce the chance of illnesses developing in our bodies.