Recently a popular packaged food was banned by the Indian government following the excess levels of lead present in it. I do not want to mention its name. But, in no time it made its re-entry into the market with a warm welcome from people all over India. Why are we so much obsessed with packaged food even after knowing clearly that it is not good for our health?
Many flavor enhancers and food preservatives that are banned all over the world are still thriving in the Indian consumer market without any visible threats. This is one of the main reasons why Indians fall victims to diseases that has its source in their foods. Once up a time Indians used salt, spices, and sugar to preserve their foods naturally. But this is a long gone history now. We replaced homemade rice fryums with prepackaged chips, tender coconut with tinned chemical soft drinks. Colorful snacks and drinks seduce us into consuming them. But all the prepackaged and unnaturally colorful foods are harmful to our health.
MSG – Monosodium glutamate
MSG is a popular flavor enhancer. This is added to foods prepared in restaurants, potato chips, readymade soups, and almost every packaged food items. But, since it gathered a lot of criticism worldwide, most food items do not use the name “Monosodium glutamate” on its label. Instead, they use names such as Natural flavoring or glutamic acid. When we consume high levels of MSG, it can lead to headache, palpitation, heart pain, tiredness, and many other health problems. When consumed for longer time duration it can induce weight gain and problems in the liver.
Arsenic has toxic qualities. Water and air naturally contain arsenic. Rice takes in high amounts of arsenic from water during its growth over other food grains. So, people who consume rice regularly will increase its levels in their blood. For better health, it is good to reduce rice intake and replace it with other healthy food grains. Doing this will prevent the harmful effects of arsenic.
BVO – Brominated Vegetable Oil
This is not an oil that we use to cook foods. Every kind of carbonated drinks, sports drinks, packaged fruit drinks contain BVO.
Contents of these drinks will usually settle down to the bottom of the bottle or package, revealing water on top. When this happens, drinks are usually spoiled very rapidly. BVO is added to these drinks to prevent this. This will settle down over fats present in brain and liver. This will lead to a skin problem, nerve damage, and memory problems. Though there are a lot of health problems that arise due to its usage, many packaged drinks still continue to use it.
Potassium bromate is added to most food items prepared with all purpose flour to make it soft. Some studies reveal that the use of this chemical induces cancer formation. Apart from India, most other countries in the world have banned its usage. It is better to avoid eating bread completely. For those who cannot avoid it, can have wheat bread or multigrain bread that are not white in color.
Many advertisements claim artificial sugar tablets are low in calories, so it is good for health. This is widely used by people who want to lose weight. These sugar tablets contain a chemical substance called aspartame. When there are high levels of aspartame in the body, it will damage neurons in the brain. For some, eating this sugar will lead to fainting, headache, and allergy. Aspartame will increase the craving for foods, and also suppresses hormones responsible for keeping weight under control.
Acesulfame K is an artificial sweetener that is added to chewing gums, gels, and bread. This chemical is proved to induce blood cancer, breast cancer, thyroid cancer in animals.
Artificial coloring agents
Blue 1, red 40, red 3, yellow 5, and yellow 6 are popular artificial color enhancers. These are added to food items like cakes, chocolates, and cool drinks to make it appear attractive.
- Blue 1 will induce cancer
- Red 40 will cause physiological problems in children
- Yellow 5 and 6 will cause inflammation, and irritation in the body.
So, before purchasing colorful foods, it is essential to check their labels for these coloring agents.
Red colored foods, in particular, are highly harmful to our health. Most people believe that these coloring agents have their source in strawberries, but in reality, these are manufactured from some dead insects. Food items with these coloring agents will have clear mentioning of “carmine” and “cochineal” in them. When you find these names on the label, be sure to avoid it at all costs.
Chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA) are present in most plastic boxes. Phthalates are found in fat-rich milk products other than plastic boxes. When we store food items in these boxes, these chemicals get mixed with it. This will affect our reproductive system in a big way. It mainly affects children. Storing foods in glass containers is the best way to avoid its effects. Also, before purchasing bottled sauces, make sure there is a mentioning as BPA free in its label.
Chlorpyrifos is the most commonly used pesticide for apples, bananas, berries, watermelon, and many other fruits. This chemical can affect the brain and lead to epilepsy, and stroke. These fruits will appear fresh on the outside, even if we wash off this chemical on its surface, it will still be present inside the fruit. The best way to avoid this is to buy organic fruits and vegetables.
Problems in Children
It is a known fact that children are most affected by these chemicals over adults. Many children have developed a special affinity for packaged foods. So, kids have started to consume high levels of these chemicals over advised quantities. This can lead to the following problems.
- High levels of lead will reduce kid’s IQ
- BPA inside our body will lead to hormone problems. It can also affect the growth of the fetus in pregnant women.
- Pesticides such as Chlorpyrifos and DDT can affect the nervous system.
- Arsenic will cause problems in children with their memory recalling abilities, and grasping ideas. When pregnant women consume arsenic-rich foods, their babies can have a hyperactivity problem.
- Big fishes have high levels of methylmercury when pregnant women consume these fishes, their babies will have problems in its nervous system.
Next time when you buy your foods in a supermarket, make it a habit of reading its label for its contents. The main purpose of foods is to make you stay healthy over its taste and color.