We rely on food to fuel our bodies and provide us with the nutrients we need to stay healthy. But in some cases, the food we consume is what causes our health issues in the first place because they contain ingredients that boost flavor or prolong shelf life yet have a negative effect on your body in the long term. That’s why we need to take a good look at nutrition labels and ingredient lists to know what makes up our food. But although some labels cannot lie, they also don’t tell the whole truth.
Stanley “Stan” A. Chua, MD, Health Optimization Medicine Specialist at the BioBalance Institute, fills the gaps on what’s in your food that’s not good for you. He shares practical advice to protect yourself from toxins that you innocently consume, simply because of what you eat:
- Look out for treated livestock. Consumers often want value for money, so they look for large portions of meat. But be wary of antibiotics, whether they are used to make animals gain weight with less feed or to prevent illness in dirty ‘factory farms.’ Dr. Stan says that eating meat treated with antibiotics exposes you to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “Since most of the antibiotics used in animal products are also used for human infections, there is an increase in likelihood of creating antibiotic immune microbes (in our bodies). This can definitely alter human health,” he says.
- Avoid artificial coloring. The use of synthetic dyes is prevalent especially in products that are popular among children, such as soda pop, gelatin, and candy. Dr. Stan warns, “The most common side effect from food dyes are hypersensitivity reactions, such as allergies or autoimmunity. [And] there is some speculation that some types of dyes may be cancer causing in humans as well, particularly the yellow dyes.” Remember that not all artificial coloring is found in neon-colored drinks or colorful sweets for kids. Your chewy bars, flavored instant oatmeal and cereal, junk food, and a jar of pickles might also have them, too.
- Say no to nitrite. Sodium nitrite is often used as a preservative in processed meats and fish. It also promises to stave off bacterial growth while enhancing the color and appearance of food. “The most common diseases linked to consumption of heavily processed meat include cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, and even food allergies,” says Dr. Stan.
- Be seafood-savvy. The World Wildlife Fund has warned the public about the threats of aquaculture to the environment and the industry. One such threat is its effect on wild fish populations, marine habitats, and water quality, which compromises the marine resources that make it to your table. Dr. Stan points to the perks of wild caught seafood. “The ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is generally better compared to farmed seafood,” he explains. “In the modern human diet, where consumption of seafood cultivated with unnatural foods, the omega 6 fatty acids tend to be higher and this imbalance can increase the risk of heart disease.”
- Check the source of store-bought rice. Dr. Stan offers a word caution about the Pinoy staple, noting how arsenic and other heavy metals seep into the food supply because of the water supply and use of pesticides. Avoid suppliers that source from farms located near mining areas as the water may have already been contaminated. Also, opt for organic rice that’s free from pesticides.
Here are some tips from Dr. Stan to help keep your daily diet—and your body—toxin free:
- Mix up your shopping list. Varying your consumption can help minimize toxins. Avoid consuming the same food item more than three times a week to limit your exposure to the toxins.
- Go organic. Organic should be your first option for safety. Just keep in mind that organic food usually costs more than regular food. In addition, organic food costs more; just consider it an investment in your health.
- Avoid ingredients that are hard to pronounce. Some examples are aflatoxin in peanuts, which is quite common and can cause food poisoning; bromate, which was once widely used in bread making; and azodicarbonamide, which is used to whiten flour and is common in baked goods. Although some additives are safe to consume, you should still make an effort to look up what they are used for and how they are developed to make the best food purchasing decisions.
- Drink plenty of water. Drink eight glasses or more a day. It’s the easiest and cheapest yet best way to rid your body of toxins.
- Check for toxic chemicals and metals in your body. Exposure to toxicity is inevitable, so it’s a good idea to have yourself tested for your level of toxic exposure. Toxic metals come from various sources. For example, aluminum can be found in cookware and deodorant. Lead may also be present in toys, canned food, and cosmetics. Another toxic metal to be wary of is mercury, which exists in dental amalgams, fish, and preservatives.
With advancements in technology, there are available tests to find out how much toxic metals, if any, are present in your system and to determine your ability to detoxify or rid of these toxins. From the results, appropriate intervention can be implemented by taking appropriate antioxidants and other lifestyle changes and treatment.
By taking Dr. Stan’s prescriptions for avoiding toxins and becoming a smarter shopper, you can keep your body clear of toxins and learn more about the food you eat to stay healthy.
Want to keep your body clear of toxins and learn more about the food you eat?
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