Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Would You Eat Your Yoga Mat? (You probably already have)

Happiness is still hot. This time last year, I was delving into the book The Happiness Project. I found so much gold there I led several book discussions on it and even developed a retreat utilizing the research presented in the book. This year my new favorite, dog-eared book is The Happiness Diet.

I was driven to purchase a diet book by the weather. Really. This eternal, maddening deep freeze that is holding my state in its clutches is seriously limiting my running and has led me to put on a few extra pounds. I’m not a good dieter. It makes me grumpy, so this “Diet” seemed like it had potential. The subtititle: “A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body” hooked me immediately. Who doesn’t want all that?
I spent the majority of the book muttering, “Uh, huh,” “Amen,” and “Wow- I could use that on the blog.”  Which means that you good people are going to vicariously read this book whether you like it or not. You might as well go out and buy a copy.

The book makes a huge case for avoiding processed food. In fact, it lists 100 solid reasons why you should put down your twinkie and Super-sized coke. Being the skeptic, I looked up many of them. The authors are definitely playing on your fears, but for good reason. Here are a few of my favorites –

A Dunkin Donutsglazed chocolate cake stick contains more than 40 ingredients, including five different kinds of gum and TBHQ, a form of butane (lighter fluid) that’s used as a preservative.”

It’s also found in kid food like Cheezits, Oreos, and McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets, and most frozen fish products, bread, waffles, potato chips, margarine, and ice cream.

One of the first things I discovered about TBHQ is that dog owners don’t like its common use in dog food.  

TBHQ is used in foods to prevent them from going rancid too soon thus extending storage life. That’s why you can buy processed food, put in your cupboard, and eat it a year or two later with no real change to its condition.

The USDA approves of its use in limited quantity. Here’s the problem: When you eat one product with a limited quantity of a dangerous substance, it’s no big deal. When almost every product you eat contains a “limited quantity” of said substance it becomes dangerous. Too much TBHQ can add up to aggravated ADHD symptoms in kids and restlessness. It can also cause nausea, delirium, collapse, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vomiting. Long term high doses in laboratory animals led to DNA damage and cancer precursors. It is also suggested that it may be affecting estrogen levels in women.

Which foods contain TBHQ? Here’s a partial list: 

Keebler cookies, TastyKake, Little Debbie, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, McDonald’s McNuggets, most Taco Shells (I can attest to this one, since I have a box of El Paso Taco Shells in my cupboard for at least two years and they still looked fine when I discovered them and threw them out!), Eggo Waffles, Wheat thins, PAM cooking spray, Ramen Noodles, some girl scout cookies, Cheeze its, Nestle Crunch, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfinger, most brands of microwave popcorn, Teddie Grahams. 

Basically, it’s in nearly all processed snack food. Now, if your kids only ever have ONE SERVING of any of these products on a given day, maybe you don’t have to worry too much.

 “The ingredient list for Strawberry Fruit Roll ups doesn’t include….strawberries.”

No strawberries are the least of your worries. You don't need me to attack the list of “ingredients” in a fruit roll up, you can see for yourself.

“Excess antibiotics use by factory farms is largely to blame for the development of superbugs like MRSA, a flesh-eating bacteria that kills 18,000 Americans a year.”

This one really freaked me out. While most of the research out there is about how to combat MRSA now that we have it, most of the studies also sighted MRSA’s origination with the heavy use of antibiotics in animals (and people). Antibiotic use is down in meat producing farms, but the damage is done and the monster has already been unleashed. When factory farms cut corners in the name of profit, it’s a no-win situation for consumers. Rest assured, there are plenty of other drugs and shady practices still being used on these farms that could unwittingly come to fruition on the Public’s health.

“Many citrus-flavored sodas and energy drinks, like Mountain Dew and Gatorade, contain brominated vegetable oil. Bromine is primarily used as a flame retardant. Bromine interferes with your thyroid, the gland that helps regulate your mood and body weight.”

There was plenty of documentation for this one all over the internet at reputable sites. Pepsi-Co did remove brominated vegetable oil from their Gatorade products after public pressure, but has not removed it from Mountain Dew and its other sodas. If you or your kids drink a lot of Mountain Dew or other sodas, you might think again. My advice – start reading your labels more carefully.

“Azodicarbonamide is used to manufacture plastics and foam. While banned as a food additive in the European Union and linked to developing asthma, you’ll find it in Wonder Bread and Stroehmann Dutch County 100 percent whole wheat bread.”

You’ll also find it in the bread used at McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, plus plenty of other mass produced breads and snacks.

And what’s so bad about aziodicarbonamide? Well, would you eat your yoga mat? It’s found in synthetic leathers, rubber, and foamed plastics which are used to make items like shoe soles and the gaskets of window frames. The World Health Organization studied azodicarbonamide and linked it to asthma and other allergic reactions. It’s also been linked to skin sensitization in exposed workers who handled azodicarbonamide. It’s been banned in Europe, the UK, and Australia, but not the good old USofA.

You freaked out yet? And there are 95 more reasons listed why you should pull the plug on processed food. I’m slowly working my way through the research and plan to write periodically about what I discover.  

Enough about what you shouldn’t eat, the book is mostly about what you should eat for your health and happiness. I’ll dig into those ingredients in the next few weeks!

1 comment:

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