It was reported recently that the Subway chain of sandwich restaurants has decided to remove the chemical Azodicarbonamide (ADA) from breads. Most consumers would prefer not to eat a chemical found in shoes and rubber mats.
The most common symptom if you are sensitive to this chemical is asthma along with increased cancer risks.
As a side note, ADA's use is not allowed in Singapore according to food regulations but are commonly used in food products in the United States.
This is a good sign of a company listening to the voices of informed customers. As a side note, the breads in most other fast food chains like Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King and McDonald's also contain this chemical - so now you are a more informed customer as well!
Hopefully our desire for healthier, non cancerous food choices will make food producers give us what we want.
But there are a bunch of other things in processed food that we should be aware of!
Maybe if consumers give feedback about these we will find less of them in our foods. Here are some other common chemical additives that we should try to avoid.
This is a chemical found almost everywhere there is a plastic container. And it also used in the linings of canned food.
It is especially bad if the canned food is acidic as this increases the amount of BPA that gets into the food.
The negative side effects are mostly in your hormones as BPA is close in form to female sex hormones. Things like reproductive problems, increased forms of female specific cancers and brain related problems like ADHD in children are common issues with excess BPA intake.
At Genesis Gym Singapore, we have found that people with poor detoxification systems for female-like hormones like BPA have particular problems with burning body fat, especially in the lower body.
Helping a person to clear excess "fake" female hormones like BPA helps them with this fat storage pattern.
A good start for this is to take in a larger than usual amount of fibre and cruciferous veggies, along with making sure their digestive system is working well (pooping 1-2x per day smoothly with no constipation and or loose stools) is a good start.
Propyl gallate, Butylated Hydroxyanisole/Hydroxytoulene (BHA/BHT)
Most food can rot, rust, and go bad. This includes all kinds of fat in foods. Natural fats are certainly necessary for health. However in processed foods that need to last a long time on the shelf, manufacturers need to prevent the fats in these foods from going bad. Propyl gallate, BHA and BHT are good chemicals for doing that.
However they are also good for increasing cancer risk. This is not necessary because if you choose good foods and supplements, they use vitamin E to preserve fats and that is a natural and healthier choice.
These go by names such as Blue #1, Blue #2, Red #3, Red #40 Yellow #6, etc. After all a blue M&M can't be grown in the ground.
These can cause allergic reactions in some people who are sensitive to them. And they can also be related to increased birth defects in babies and cancer risk.
There is a wide variance between people in their ability to tolerate chemicals in our food. These chemicals are probably not good for anyone, but how bad they are for you and how much they affect your long term health will depend on things like how good your genes are, how capable your digestive system is at eliminating them, and how good your anti-oxidant defences are.
I have seen clients who will get asthma attacks with the smallest dose of artificial food preservatives, or food colourings. But I have also seen people who maintain a lean body even with quite high levels of consumption of processed food.
No matter who you are though, keeping your food home cooked, unprocessed and full of lean meat, fruit and veggies is great way to stay healthier and chemical free!
Coach Jonathan Wong has a Doctorate of Science in Holistic Medicine, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist and is the author of "The Happy Body - Getting to the root of YOUR fitness, health and productivity". He is also the founder and CEO of Genesis Gym Singapore (tm), which aims to provide the best personal training and fitness services in Singapore. (Intro Video to Genesis Gym Singapore HERE) The views expressed are his own.