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The Disadvantages of Food Additives

As farmer's markets give way to industrialized grocery store chains, the act of processing and preserving foods has become mainstream practice. Food additives can increase the shelf-life of perishable foods, alter their appearance and affect marketability. The disadvantages of food additives is a growing concern, as studies continue to show adverse effects from these chemicals.

Commonly mistaken for true food allergies, immune-mediated responses, such as skin rashes, might originate from the additives in the food as opposed to the food itself. Frequent offenders include the food additives used to preserve dried fruits, canned goods and wine, according to the MayoClinic.com. A physician or an allergist can help to determine if food allergies stem from the food or the additives.

Read the back label on any canned good in the pantry. Chances are, there will be a number of chemical names, food colorings and artificial sweeteners listed. These chemicals, such as monosodium glutamate, or MSG, can trigger adverse health effects in some people. The food additive Olestra is used to decrease dietary fat absorption but can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems. Historically, many food colorings have been banned due to their propensity to cause cancers and organ damage.

Fresh foods, or those that have not been refined, processed or altered in any way, provide healthy basic nutrients without the extra chemical cocktails. However, once chemical preservatives are added, a canned vegetable suddenly gets a shelf-life of up to 10 years. Although the benefit of not shopping frequently for fresh produce is enticing, think about what is added to those canned goods. Salt is frequently used in food additives as a preservative. Consuming too much salt may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Concerns continue to mount over the increasing hyperactivity disorders diagnosed in children. One theory considers the host of food additives and their potential to make children hyper. Think about foods marketed towards children -- most of them are at least artificially colorful if not sparkly. Almost all processed foods geared toward children will contain food additives. The ones most accountable for hyperactivity are sodium benzoate, FD & C Red and FD & C Yellow, according to the MayoClinic.com.

Photo Credits:

  • canned fish studio isolated over white image by dinostock from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.