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Are Food Additives And Artificial Ingredients Safe?

Aug 17, 2007
There are a number of reasons for food manufacturers to add artificial and natural additives in food. For example, to lengthen shelf life, to make the food more appealing by enhancing color, texture and taste, to facilitate food preparation, or otherwise make food more marketable. An increasing number of additives are made synthetically, and some are from natural sources.

You may think many additives are used only in small amounts, and will do no harm, but it has been estimated that an average American consumes about 5 pounds of additives every year. When plain sugar is added, which is the most common used additive, the number rises to 135 pounds per year. This means that anyone whose diet includes a lot of processed food will consume a significant amount of additives and artificial ingredients. The numbers are rising.

Additives and artificial ingredients add very little or no nutritional value to the food product. Instead they pose a threat to your health. Some earlier approved additives have later been pulled off the market, or their use is allowed only if accompanied with warnings. Saccharin and Syclamate, which have been used as artificial sweeteners, are good examples. Some additives are used without warnings like Monosodium Glutamate and Aspartame, yet they have been known to cause health problems. Some reported disorders are head ache, diarrhea, confusion, memory loss, and seizures.

There are three main components in Aspartame; the amino acids Phenylalanine and Aspartic Acid, Methanol which is also known as Methyl Alcohol or as Wood Alcohol. It has been claimed that the amino acids in Aspartame are metabolized the same way as the natural amino acids in the food, but research suggests otherwise. Aspartame appears to cause a fast rise of these amino acids in the bloodstream. This will not happen when consuming natural dietary proteins.

No one disputes that Aspartame is not safe for people with PKU (Phenylketonuria). These people lack the enzyme required to convert Phenylalanine into Tyrosine, which is an amino acid. High concentrations of Phenylalanine can cause brain damage. It could also be beneficial to avoid food products containing Aspartame and other artificial ingredients for people who have other kind of disorders.

Methyl Alcohol is known to be toxic even in modest amounts. Disorders caused by toxic levels of Methanol include brain swelling, blindness, and inflammation of pancreas and the heart muscle. The cumulative effects of Aspartame are unknown.

The FDA states that the exposure to Methanol is not of "sufficient quantity to be of toxicological concern". Regardless of any claims by the FDA, significant number of people have reported bad reactions to Aspartame like head aches, mood swings, nausea, diarrhea, sleep disorders, memory loss, changes in vision, confusion, and even convulsions. Aspartame appears to be especially dangerous for children.

Needless to say, it is wise to avoid food with additives and artificial ingredients, and eat fruit and natural whole food. Those are free of artificial colorings, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Instead they are full of nutrients you need to stay healthy.
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