We were shocked to find out recently that foods we love to eat can be potentially dangerous for our health, thanks to the additives that large food production companies are putting in them. Not just the preservatives, artificial coloring, high fructose corn syrup, or even the added sugar or fat to make them tastier and more addictive, processed edible items are now even being bulked up with fillers for various reasons.
We broke down a list of some of the fillers and the reasons they’re used in modern food production:
- The most common one is to increase the weight of the food using less expensive ingredients and to charge more for the item. Adding breadcrumbs and maltodextrin to ground beef can make it heavier and seem more packed.
- Adding fillers like cellulose, starch or soy derivatives can help meat products like chicken look plumper and fresher since it then retains water instead of getting flaccid and pale.
- Frozen yogurt and potato chips are common items that end up with fillers. Fro-yo, ice cream, cottage cheese, and chocolate milk tend to have carrageenan, which is extracted from seaweed and helps to bind together or emulsify ingredients and not let them separate. Chips are laced with fat substitutes like olestra that have no calories and no fat but cannot be digested by the human body.
The side effects are horrible and far-reaching on our health:
- Seaweed doesn’t have any adverse side-effects but too much carrageenan in our diet affects our ability to absorb nutrients from foods. Olestra’s large molecules passing undigested through the human system cause diarrhea and interfere with our absorption of critical nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene.
- Titanium dioxide is present in dairy products and several edible items such as whipped cream and salad dressing, where it is employed to make them appear whiter, creamier and prettier. Classified as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), it can cause cancer, allergic reactions, biochemical and cellular changes, organ system toxicity and irritation, and especially respiratory and cardiovascular harm.
- Phthalates are present in almost everything edible, from dairy products, meats and cheeses, to even tap water. They are now widely known to be endocrine disruptors and exposure to them, even in small amounts, has been linked to behavioral and health problems in children and adults.
Being aware of what goes into your body and what you’re feeding your loved ones is the first step towards living a healthier life. Cutting down on your consumption of junk food, avoiding fizzy sugary drinks and being careful when it comes to food prep at home all help in this process.