Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Introduction to Food Ingredients That You Can't Pronounce

Below we identify and explain a few common ingredients that may raise questions in your mind when you see them on a food label. While it may be impossible to cut these ingredients out of your diet completely, it is wise to limit them as much as possible - especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or feeding your children.

First on the list is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Entire articles can - and have - been written on this one ingredient alone. It is a flavor enhancer often found in salad dressings (and dressing/dip powders and mixes), taco seasonings, enchilada sauces, instant rice meals and mixes, soups (and soup mixes), and the list goes on and on . . . It is common in Asian and Mexican items. When you find monosodium glutamate on a food label, look at the alternatives - often the higher-priced, name brand equivalents do not contain MSG. And in this case, it is worth paying more. Please note: hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) and autolyzed yeast extract, which you may also see on ingredient labels, are the same as monosodium glutamate.

Over the years, many claims have been made regarding the possible negative consequences of MSG. Adverse reactions have been reported, including headache and migraines, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and numbness or tingling of the face, neck and other areas. It has been widely acknowledged that some people may have a sensitivity to this additive and, in that case, should avoid it. Furthermore, some experts suggest that MSG may be linked to various health problems such as obesity and certain neurological disorders; however, further research is necessary to make any definitive conclusions.

Although research has not proven that there are any risks of ingesting monosodium glutamate, neither have studies shown that there are any benefits associated with it. Thus, common sense dictates that it is prudent to avoid products containing this ingredient.

You will find Powdered Cellulose on the ingredient statements of shredded cheese; it is added as an anti-caking agent to prevent the cheese shreds from naturally melding back together into a brick of cheese. Cellulose is primarily obtained from wood pulp or cotton and is largely used in the manufacture of paper, paperboard, and cardstock as well as fabrics derived from cotton, linen, and other plant fibers. Water-soluble adhesives, such as those present in wallpaper paste, are composed of cellulose. Powdered cellulose is a white powder; it is a purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose obtained by processing the pulp of a fibrous plant material. Essentially, it can be likened to sawdust. This is something I choose not to ingest, and I definitely do not want my children to ingest - ever! The simple alternative is to shred your own cheese in large batches using a food processor, then freeze the cheese in smaller, individual freezer-safe containers to be used as needed. The containers of cheese will last in the fridge for more than a few days, or can be placed back in the freezer after a single use.

Sodium Tripolyphosphate (STPP) is a preservative found in highly processed instant foods such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Kraft Easy Mac; it is also added to soaps, detergents, and a large variety of household cleaning products to enhance their cleansing abilities. STPP is a strong cleaning agent that is widely used in laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, toilet cleaners, and surface cleaners. As a food preservative, it is often added to red meat, poultry, and seafood products in order to retain moisture and tenderness; it has also been used in beverages, including milk and fruit juice, to preserve quality. As hard as I try to keep my children safe and away from my dishwashing detergent and toilet cleaner, why on earth would I allow them to consume this food ingredient?

Bottom Line
This list of questionable food additives could go on and on. The purpose of this article is to make you aware that these ingredients exist, alert you about the necessity of always reading food labels, and to cause you to analyze and re-think what you may be putting into your body and your children's bodies. Moderation in everything is always the key - however, there may be some items that you prefer to cut out altogether.


Copyright © 2013 Keeley Drotz, RD – TGBG Nutrition. All rights reserved.

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The Purpose of TGBG Nutrition

TGBG stands for "To God be the Glory." The purpose of TGBG Nutrition is to bring glory to God by helping families improve their nutritional status and fitness level, thus improving their overall health and well-being.

Keeley's specialization is working with children and
their families, specifically regarding weight issues. A mother herself, she is passionate about fighting the epidemic of obesity plaguing our country, especially among children and adolescents. This website it meant to be a supplement to her book, The Poisoning of Our Children ~ Fighting the Obesity Epidemic in America (PoisoningOurChildren.com), and to provide families with the practical tools they need to pursue and implement a healthier lifestyle.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31