Food and Nutrition

Do you read the ingredients list?

It's a sad fact, but food is not just food anymore. Over the past 50 years the use of food additives has skyrocketed to the point where very few of us have any real idea of exactly what's in the food we eat. Alarmingly, the rates of diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, autism, depression, asthma and ADHD has also increased dramatically over this time. How many of us really know what these chemicals do, which ones are safe and which ones are known to be harmful?

The use of food additives in our everyday foods has increased so rapidly that it is getting increasingly difficult to find foods which are additive free. What is most concerning is the fact that there are many food additives used in our foods which are known to be harmful. Many are known to be bad for children and asthmatics, many are not recommended during pregnancy and some additives are actually banned overseas and are yet still permitted for use in Australian foods. Thankfully, not all food additives are harmful. However, there are at least 60 food additives used in our foods which are at best questionable in terms of safety, or at worst, known to be harmful.

As an example, many brands of peanut butter contain a  chemical called Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA or 320).

This very nasty chemical, which is a known carcinogenic (ie cancer causing) is also found in many sweet and savoury biscuits, margarine and mayonnaise. Even more frightening is that this additive actually accumulates in the body, so its effects are long lasting.

Another example is instant noodles.

Most of us would assume this to be a great snack or quick meal.  However, if you look closely at the list of ingredients on the package, you will find:

319 (butylhydroquinone)
621 (monosodium glutamate or MSG)
635 ( ribonucleotides), and
320 (butylated hydroxyanisole)

These additives are all linked with children's behaviour problems, asthma symptoms, headaches, heart palpitations, irritable bowel symptoms and skin rashes.

These are just two examples of the many detrimental effects of food additives.

More information on food additives (and for a list of the ones to avoid) is available at You can also download Chemical Maze from the App Store. It's the ultimate shopping guide - just enter the ingredient name or number and it will provide you with all the information you need.

Don't be fooled by clever marketing tactics either.  When you're at the supermarket, don't look at the front of the packets - manufacturers often use misleading statements to make you think the food is healthy.  If you really want to see what you are eating, turn the item over and read the ingredient list. If you see any suspect numbers or words you can't pronounce, put the item back on the shelf.

Try to buy foods that are as close to their natural state as possible: the less refined and processed the better. These include lots of organic fruit and vegetables. Same goes for meat and eggs. When it comes to milk, I only buy the full cream unhomogenised variety. Luckily in SE Queensland, there are a number of boutique dairies that supply our local shops with this unadulterated milk -  you know the milk with the cream on top.  These include Barambah Organics, Maleny Dairies and my No 1 favourite Cooloola Milk.

Once you have determined the good and bad across the various brands of the foods you buy, you won't need to reference any longer - you'll know what to buy. A little work for a lot of gain - improved health for you and your family....

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this useful and eye opening informations.