From breakfast, lunch, to dinner, the most common food you eat may contain hazards that may be slowly hacking away at your health. We’ve compiled a list of the most common meals taken by Filipinos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and present the serious risks that these meals pose to your health.
For Breakfast: Bacon, Hotdogs, Toast
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but the most common breakfast items you eat may contain the most unhealthful additives.
Bacon: This irresistible breakfast favorite may contain nitrite, which is a known carcinogen, and also associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. You want your bacon to be naturally preserved through smoking or salting. Check the label for any presence of sodium nitrite before buying.
Hotdogs: This is another red-handed culprit in your set meal for breakfast, not just because of its artificial red color, but also because of its high amounts of nitrite and sodium. The use of synthetic dyes on food is a suspect for cancer in humans. According to Dr. Stan Chua, MD, Health Optimization Medicine Specialist at the BioBalance Institute, there is some speculation that some types of dyes may be cancer causing in humans as well, particularly the yellow dyes. Yellow and red dyes are commonly used for hotdogs.
Watch out for the presence of colorants in your food’s ingredients. Colorants like FD&C Red No. 30, and FD&C Yellow No. 5, among others, are linked to hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and even cancer.
Toast: Whether you’re a fan of tasty bread, or one of pandesal’s, check the label of your favorite bread before buying, to make sure that it is bromate-free. Bromate is a very common preservative used in a wide range of bread products, and is a known carcinogen. According to the Food Standards Agency of the UK, bromate is “a chemical that could cause an increased cancer risk as a result of long-term exposure.”
For Lunch: Rice, Adobo
Surprisingly, we list unsuspecting items for lunch. It’s not so much about how it’s prepared, but what’s in the food you are eating.
Adobo: What? The almost-national Filipino food is unhealthful? Well, it depends on the soy sauce you are using. Before buying your soy sauce, check the label to make sure it does not contain artificial flavors, artificial caramel color, nitrite, and other chemicals that could cause cancer. You want your soy sauce to be honestly organic to enjoy the healthful benefits of fermented soy.
Rice: We know that you already wash your rice three times before cooking it. However, this may not be enough to get rid of chemicals that have been absorbed by the grains during their growth. Such chemicals may include arsenic and pesticide. Ask where your rice is sourced. Make sure that it is nowhere near a poultry farm, or a mining site.
Dinner: Sinigang, Chicken
Ah, other Filipino favorites. You should really watch how these food are prepared, or where they come from.
Sinigang: Many Filipino households serve sinigang as a comfort food, especially at dinner when tired family members arrive from school or work to the wafting smell of hot tamarind soup with pork or fish. However, try to avoid using instant sinigang mix as it contains chemicals that can harm the kidney with regular use. Look out for natural flavor and natural coloring. Added flavoring like natural flavor, could contain 50 to 100 ingredients, which often include solvents and preservatives that make up 80 to 90 percent of the volume of the “natural flavor” ingredient. Aside from checking the label, we highly encourage the use of natural ingredients, such as, say, real sampaloc (use young sampaloc leaves). You can also be playful with singkamas, unripe santol, and unripe mango.
Chicken: When buying chicken, do research about the sources of your poultry. Free range chicken are almost always good option, but for some commercially-produced poultry, you want to avoid those that use arsenic to make chickens grow faster. Although it is harmless in organic form, arsenic becomes highly toxic to humans when found in chicken manure. Unfortunately, farms with no proper sanitation often mix this with their poultry products. When mixed with poultry products, arsenic in chicken manure can cause cancer, dementia, and neurological diseases, among others.
Side note: Wash your eggs very well, especially if you see marks of bird droppings on the shells. Aside from the fact that bird feces is already highly dangerous when ingested by humans, this may also contain toxic substances such as arsenic.
Other Hidden Hazards in Your Daily Habits
In 2004, a study revealed that 28% of lipsticks in the market contain cancer-causing chemicals. This was followed up in 2007 by another study by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which revealed that 50% of lipstick brands it tested contained lead. Lead is a metal that is extremely toxic to humans, and accumulates in the body over time. It affects the liver kidneys, nervous system, and reproductive system. Check the label of your brand, or do research if they use lead or other harmful chemicals in their products.
Taking Vitamins or Supplements
Many vitamins and supplements contain very harmful ingredients. Some of the toxic ingredients commonly used in supplements include lead, mercury and inorganic form of minerals, colorants like FD&C Red No. 30, FD&C Yellow No. 5, talc or magnesium silicate, and titanium dioxide.
Furthermore, if you are taking health supplements that you saw on TV or heard from a friend of a friend or a friend who had a near-miraculous healing attributed to the said supplement, you should probably check with your nutritionist whether this supplement will be okay for you. Between 2007 and 2012, there were 115 deaths and 10,300 serious outcomes in the US that were linked with health supplements. Some supplements available in the Philippines have adverse effects on cardiovascular health, and should be first checked with the FDA for involved risks before deciding to buy it.
Lastly, megadoses of Vitamin A, D, and E can lead to adverse health conditions, causing more harm than good. Never self-medicate with vitamin doses, and only take what is prescribed by your doctor or nutritionist. It is also ill-advised to take megadoses of Vitamin C when you are feeling a bit under the weather, believing that this will increase your body’s ability to fight off the flu. Your body will only be able to absorb a limited amount of any amount of Vitamin C you ingest, and the rest will just burden your kidneys and liver.
Always listen to the advice of your nutritionist, and check the label of your food supplements for correct intake or dosage.