Are You Eating Any of These Scary Ingredients?

If the label says it is healthy and good for you, be cautious of what they consider “healthy”. There are hidden ingredients in packaged products that cause more harm than good. Be on the look out for these!

Mark this post as one of your go-to resources for ingredients to watch out for. Here’s our list:

Partially Hydrogenated oil – Trans-fatty acids raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL) cholesterol. Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. However, this oil causes sever inflammatory reactions. Even if the label states “0”Trans fats, look at the ingredient list for hydrogenated oils. Manufacturers like it because it reduces costs, increases shelf life and stabilizes flavor, but it’s a lose-lose for consumers.

Soy Lecithin – Most soy grown in the U.S is GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). Soy contains phytates that bind to metals and prevent the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Also, soy contains goitrogens, they block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with the metabolism of iodine which impairs thyroid function. Soy  lecithin is used as a emulsifier in many foods and supplements. Most lecithin in the US is derived from soy but there are some newer products that extract it from organic sunflower. Check labels on products such as dark chocolate, nut milks, nut butters, and your other favorite packaged staples. In the past ten years, I have seen a dramatic increase in thyroid issues with my clients, and I have noticed soy lecithin on more food labels. The best soy products to consume are fermented such as miso & tempeh.

Glutamate and MSG – Remember MSG in relation to Chinese Food? In 1959, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeled Monosodium Glutamate as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS).  Yet, there are numerous side effects, from numbness to heart palpitations, that people experienced after eating MSG.

Today that syndrome is called “MSG Symptom Complex,” which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identifies as “short-term reactions” to MSG. MSG is considered an excitotoxin, and abnormal functions of glutamate receptors are over-stimulating to the nervous system which can affect cardiac arrhythmias, the fast heart beat and flushing you may feel after eating something containing MSG.

Sugars – This is the #1 ingredient to look for on ANY label. We want you to experience sweetness in its natural form and not hidden in labels where it should not be. Sugar comes in many different terms: dextrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, corn syrup, maple sugar, invert sugar, maltose, diastase, sorbitol, caramel, date sugar, dextran, fruit juice concentrate, ethyl maltol, sorghum syrup. Be cautious of these forms of sugar, and look for sweet products containing dates or organic honey.

Maltodextrin – Maltodextrin is a sugar, specifically a polysaccharide that breaks down into glucose as it is digested, and can spike insulin just like sugar. For most people, maltodextrin can have the same effects as those of sugar in general, including the stimulation of the secretion of insulin, a hormone that has a number of functions, one of which is to increase the storage of fat in the body’s fat cells.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – You may have seen the commercial of the corn fields producing a “natural sugar” called high fructose corn syrup. In 1970, zero pounds of HFCS existed in the United States. Today HFCS is about 68 pounds per year per person. The research on refined man-made fructose shows that it metabolizes to triglycerides and adipose tissue.

Sucralose and Aspartame – Splenda took the market by storm, for being the next best sugar substitute. Now, you won’t find it on the front of labels as often, but hidden in the ingredients as sucralose. Sucralose starts off as a sugar molecule in your body, however it is the processing that it went through prior that.  A sucrose molecule is a disaccharide that contains two single sugars bound together: glucose and fructose.  The body does not process this type of sugar molecule.  These sugar substitutes cause 10 pounds of weight gain per year and have shown to distress the nervous system as a neurotoxin.

Food Coloring – Blue #1, #2, Red #2, #3, #40, Yellow #5, #6, and Green #3 … I apologize to all the Easter egg dyers out there. However, these food coloring have been noted to cause hyperactivity, thyroid issues, bladder and kidney issues. There are healthier alternatives available to give the kids the joy of the hunt without the side effects of hyperactivity.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) – You may have noticed a campaign or a bill called “The Right to Know”. California tried to pass that we have the right to know if food is GMO’d or not. The bill did not pass in California yet, however, Oregon and Hawaii have taken the lead. GMO’d foods include, soy, beets, corn, and peanuts. High quality companies will label that their products are non-GMO. Look for this label and to learn more about the project, check out the Non GMO Project (

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene(BHT) – BHA and BHT are commonly used preservatives that can be found in breakfast cereal, nut mixes, chewing gum, butter spread, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Toxicology Program’s 2011 Report on Carcinogens, BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It may also trigger allergic reactions and hyperactivity, while BHT can cause organ system toxicity.

Propyl Gallate – Propyl Gallate is common in foods containing fat such as vegetable oil, mayonnaise, chips and many more. It prevents fat and oil from oxidizing. Propyl Gallate can trigger an allergic reaction in people which causes an inflammatory response such as asthma, stomach ache and skin irritation.

Sodium Nitrate – Sodium nitrate is present in foods such as hot dogs, lunch meat, bacon, ham, smoked fish, salami and beef jerky. There is controversial research saying that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease.  Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar.

Sodium Benzoate and Benzoic Acid – Sodium benzoate is actually the sodium salt of benzoic acid. While benzoic acid is found naturally in low levels in many fruits, the sodium benzoate listed on labels is synthesized in a lab. Benzene is a known carcinogen, it starves the cells of oxygen. It is used as a cheap mold inhibitor on the market.

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) – BVO is a synthetic chemical that is created when vegetable oil is bonded to the element bromine. Bromine is heavy, and it keeps the oil from floating to the top of water-based solutions, like soft drinks. Scientists are studying brominated flame retardants because blood tests show that these chemicals can build up in our bodies. Early studies suggest that flame-retardant chemicals disrupt normal hormone function, leading to problems with brain development in children, fertility, thyroid function, and possibly cancer.

Carageenen – Carrageenan is a common food additive that is extracted from a red seaweed. Carrageenan, which has no nutritional value, has been used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the texture of ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, soy milk and other processed foods. Dr. Tobacman’s research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation in the gut, and chronic inflammation causes many disease symptoms.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) – is the largest selling dairy animal drug in America. rBGH is a synthetic version of natural bovine somatotropin (BST), a hormone produced in cows’ pituitary glands. rBGH is injected into cows to increase milk production, but it is banned in at least 30 other nations because of its dangers to human health, which include an increased risk for colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer by promoting conversion of normal tissue cells into cancerous ones. Non-organic dairy farms frequently have rBGH-injected cows that suffer at least 16 different adverse health conditions, including very high rates of mastitis that contaminate milk with pus and antibiotics.

Potassium bromate – as an additive to commercial breads and baked goods has been a huge contributor to bromide overload in Western cultures. Bromated flour is “enriched” with potassium bromate. Commercial baking companies claim it makes the dough more elastic and better able to stand up to bread hooks.  Studies have linked potassium bromate to kidney and nervous system damage, thyroid problems, gastrointestinal discomfort, and cancer.

I hope this blog leaves you empowered VS. depressed. There are a common side effects to all of these food additives; inflammation and thyroid issues. If you are consistently feeling tired, can’t stop gaining weight, or experience mental fog, one or more of these ingredients may be causing you distress.

In conclusion, eat whole, real foods.

Heather Fleming

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