We have all heard about the potential dangers of toxins and chemicals in our food. But, do you really know why we’d better keep some foods out of our reach? In this article we’re going to tell you which ingredients you should definitely avoid if you want to stay healthy and fit.

What are toxins?

Toxins are poisonous substances that can be found in our body and our food and which can harm our body organs.

The toxins we’re going to talk about here are called “external toxins”, the ones added artificially to what we eat. These substances can be found basically in EVERYTHING we use day-by-day, from our shampoo to drinking water.

Chemical food additives and weight gain

Every step of the process that puts food on our table (production, harvesting, processing, packing, transport, marketing, and consumption) uses all kind of chemicals. The problem is that some of these chemicals remain in our food and would even persist in our bodies, damaging our overall health.

Recent research has shown that chemical agents in our food can affect our metabolism and trigger the body to pack on pounds. According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, a factor contributing to the obesity epidemic is our exposure to obesogens.

The term obesogen was coined in 2006 to refer to industrial chemicals and the non-caloric components of food that may contribute to weight gain. That’s why it is important to know which of the ingredients in our day-to-day food should be avoided.

Food toxins you should avoid

Most of the chemicals present in American processed food were created in the lab to improve shelf life, reduce mass food production costs or enhance visual appearance of colorful additives.

The bad news is that most of these chemicals make more harm than good, and that’s why we should take some time to read nutritional labels (you can learn here how) and find out which products deserve a place in our shopping trolley.

When you buy your food, it’s very important to make sure they DON’T CONTAIN the following ingredients:

  1. Trans Fats: Food with trans fats raises your “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and lowers your “good” HDL. They also increase your risk of blood clots and heart attack. Most of “junk” food, doughnuts, pizzas, and margarine sticks contain trans fats.
  2. Vegetable shortening: Shortening or partially hydrogenated oil clogs your arteries and cause overweight and obesity. They also increase your risk of metabolic syndrome. It’s commonly found in cookies, pasta, snacks, and microwave popcorn. You’d better choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive, peanut and canola oils and foods that contain unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids instead.
  3. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): According to researchers at Tufts University, Americans consume more calories from HFCS than any other source. It’s in practically EVERYTHING: sodas, ketchup, bottled juices, sweetened yoghurts… everything tasting sweet. It increases triglycerides, boosts fat-storing hormones, and drives people to overeat and gain weight.
  4. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) & BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene): These food preservatives have been declared carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It’s also been found they disrupt hormones and impact male fertility. They’re found in processed meats, chewing gum, butters and margarines, cereals, and frozen potatoes.
  5. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST): Produces elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in dairy products. Besides, it’s a significant factor in breast, prostate and colon cancers. These are commonly found in dairy products, such as milk, yoghurts, ice creams, etc.
  6. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Almost 70% of processed foods are made of GMOs, which may cause organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. As basically no product clearly states being a GMO, you should look for a certified USDA Organic, then you’ll know it’s not a GMO.
  7. Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate: Benzene is a known carcinogen linked with serious thyroid damage. They’re normally found in sodas, juices, jams, and syrups. Dangerous levels of benzene can build up when plastic bottles of soda are exposed to heat or when the preservatives are combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C contained in any citrus fruit).
  8. Monosodium glutamate (MSG): This is a processed “flavor enhancer”, so it’s common to find them in packed snacks, instant soups, chicken-broth substitutes, etc. High levels of free glutamates have been shown to seriously screw with brain chemistry.
  9. Artificial colors: Added to supplements and foods to make them look more attractive, some of the artificial coloring comes from toxic coal tar (used inside the exterior paints and roofing), and have been linked to many health problems such as autism, ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and cancer.
  10. Artificial Sweeteners: Many of our supposedly diet-friendly sweeteners may actually be doing more harm than good! Studies suggest that artificial sweeteners trick the brain into forgetting that sweetness means extra calories, making people more likely to keep eating sweet treats without abandon.

As you can see, most of the foods we buy at the supermarket contain one or more of these ingredients. However, eating wisely can become a lot easier than you think. It’s just a question of being aware of the portions and ingredients that best suits a healthy lifestyle, so #DecideItNow.