I was reading Forbes Magazine this morning. It is a business and Wall Street magazine and normally not something that I would look at, but this morning there was this headline:
Made me instantly wonder what the Masters of the Universe were thinking about how the poor are getting fat. It turns out that they are finding out now what we have been discussing here for the last eleven months. Processed foods contain artificial ingredients that disturb the gut microbes. Even foods that contain no ‘calories’ are doing things in the human gut that create fat.
To make matters worse, processed foods often have additives that can themselves cause weight gain from another angle: Gut microbes. Another new study, in Nature, found that emulsifiers – “detergent-like” compounds used to keep foods like mayonnaise from separating into its separate parts, oil and water – even at low doses caused massive disruption to the gut bacteria of lab mice. The two common emulsifiers used in the study, polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulsos, also triggered obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. Since more research has suggested that our gut bacteria are critical to our health and body weight (earlier this month a woman with a fecal transplant reported a huge weight gain in the months following), the new study adds an interesting piece to the puzzle, suggesting that certain food additives may also play a role in their health.
Clicking the link above takes us to this headline:
The intestinal tract is inhabited by a large and diverse community of microbes collectively referred to as the gut microbiota. While the gut microbiota provides important benefits to its host, especially in metabolism and immune development, disturbance of the microbiota–host relationship is associated with numerous chronic inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and the group of obesity-associated diseases collectively referred to as metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is the presence of any of three out of five of the following medical conditions: abdominal obesity (beer gut), elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting plasma glucose (high blood sugar), high serum triglycerides, and low high-density cholesterol (HDL) levels. Something that disturbs the composition of the germs living in your intestines will cause you to get fat, diabetic, or at risk for heart disease.
This report implicates two emulsifiers, which are in foods to make things that normally want to separate, like oil and water, stay together. I looked up one of the emulsifiers, Polysorbate 80, and found a good article at WiseGeek.org
One of the most common uses for Polysorbate 80 is as a stabilizer in ice cream and other frozen desserts. Not only will it help the foods stay frozen, it will also help prevent them from completely disintegrating during the melting process. As things warm up, their natural tendency is to separate, which in the case of ice cream could result in pools of cream, water, and gelatinous flavoring or coloring additives. The compound helps make sure that everything melts together and remains cohesive.
Looks like the sugar in your processed food ice cream is not the only thing that will make you fat, diabetic, and lead to a heart attack. One of the artificial ingredients will have that unintended consequence. There will certainly be other artificial ingredients in that ice cream, and none of them will have been adequately proven safe before the maker informed the FDA that they are safe, or Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) ingredients that everyone just knows is safe.
If you want all the disgusting information about the process by which your food additives are ‘proven’ to be safe and approved for use in foods, I recommend the excellent book “Pandora’s Lunchbox”, by Melanie Warner. Long story short, they aren’t tested for side effects like they would be if they were drugs. I suppose they are tested to make sure that they don’t kill you right away in low doses, but they certainly aren’t tested to see if they screw up the biology of your guts with regard to the effect on beneficial bacteria that live there.
I mention all of this so that I can remind you that if you eat processed foods with artificial ingredients you are taking an uncalculated risk with your health, and the health of your family. You will find foods with artificial ingredients in your vegan store, your health food store, your grocery store. No matter where you shop, if you buy foods in bags or boxes you are going to be getting processed foods. They will be dead, and they will last forever on the shelf, because they contain chemicals to make sure that microbes can’t live in or on them. Do I need to tell you that these chemical adders will have a similar effect on the microbes in your body?
I know that every added chemical is not dangerous. I know that every added chemical will not harm every diner. I don’t know which is which, though–nobody does. So I just avoid them all, because the convenience they provide is not worth the risk. I am not calling for better testing, I am calling for real foods that are raised on nothing but real food. GMO corn and soy are not real, so that rules out industrial meats. Artificially fertilized vegetables are not fed real food, so they are out.
I still haven’t figured out how to eat only foods in season. Meats are always in season, but if I want to eat vegetables in February, which ones are those. I continue to research and by this time next year I will know how it is done. For now I still stick to my own advice to only shop the exterior walls of the grocery store. I will go down and aisle to get coffee and tea. I still buy dog food down one aisle but I am looking for pet food that doesn’t contain grain now, too. I think that’s why my pet is gaining weight.