Food Additives? Subtract Them From Your Diet!

The dangers of common food additives are increasingly revealed by science.

Dangerous additives lurk in our food supply and cause havoc with our bodies. The effects of these nasty toxins are most obvious in young children. But make no mistake: They’re harmful to us all. These chemical compounds not only alter our moods and behavior or cause headaches and other symptoms, but can even cause life-threatening illnesses like cancer.

Food additives are chemical substances that manufacturers use to color, preserve, flavor and modify commercially sold food in order to make it look better and last longer. Fake food colors, flavors and preservatives are added to foods for the convenience and profit of the manufacturer and retailer but at the expense of your health.

A major new study funded by Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) and conducted by the University of Southampton show that artificial additives, such as colorings and preservatives, can significantly increase hyperactive behavior in children.

Researchers found that when children aged 6 to 9 were given fruit drinks containing artificial additives, including sodium benzoate (a very common preservative recently linked to cancer) they showed a sharp rise in hyperactivity. According to the researchers, the effects of these artificial chemicals can be seen not only in children diagnosed with ADHD — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — but also in otherwise normal children.

All the food additives tested in the study, with the exception of quinoline yellow and carmoisine, are deemed as safe to eat by the Food and Drug Administration. But some additives approved as safe in the U.S. are banned in Britain.

The researchers did not name specific foods containing these additives. But most commercially sold foods and beverages, especially those targeted at children, are loaded with these toxic substances.

The findings raise disturbing questions. Among them:

  • Are children being diagnosed with (and prescribed drugs for) learning and hyperactivity disorders as a result of behavior caused by food additives?

  • What is additive-induced hyperactivity doing to early learning?

  • What is hyperactivity doing to kids' self awareness and esteem?

While this study shows the immediate impact chemical additives have on children, it’s important to understand that teenagers and adults are affected as well, but with Amira Elganless obvious symptoms.

Food additives are found in cookies, cakes, breads, candies, canned foods, cured meats, frozen meals, convenience foods, chilled foods, fruit yogurts, sodas, health bars, flavored dairy products, alcoholic beverages and sports drinks, to name a few.

A previous study in Britain found that people ingest about 20 different food additives each day, and some people as many as 50. The study found that most people don't know which foods contain chemical additives. Many believe, for example, that frozen foods contain more preservatives than refrigerated convenience foods when in fact the opposite is generally true. Chilled foods contain on average six times more preservatives than frozen.

What about foods labeled with the word "Natural"? Watch out. This can be an old form of "greenwashing." Natural additives might be OK, and they might not be. I'll cover this in greater depth in a future issue.

Some argue that food additives taken in small amounts are harmless. But as research increasingly shows, our health is affected not just by a single "approved" additive in a single meal, but by the cumulative impact of a diverse range of daily additives multiplied by years of consumption and compounded by other toxins in our food, homes and environment.

The best and most effective way to protect against additives is shockingly simple: Feed your family and yourself homemade meals made from scratch using whole, unadulterated organic ingredients as close as possible to their natural state. Buy fresh produce as local as possible, and avoid buying packaged food or commercial foods of any kind. If you do buy prepared or packaged foods, read the labels and don’t buy anything that lists additives and other non-food ingredients.

It couldn't be simpler: Eat real food, and eat SLOW (seasonal, local, organic, whole).. Don't eat substances that are not food. The bounty that nature provides is perfect, and cannot be improved with additives.

New Blog! New Store!

I'm very excited to announce that I have renamed, redesigned and relaunched the blog associated with this newsletter. The new blog is called Vegetarian Organic Blog. You can now find it here.

The new look and feel -- which I designed with Sekimori Design -- is simple, beautiful and easy to navigate. It's also really fast.

I invite you to check out the blog every day -- I'd love to hear your comments on each posting (just click on the "Comments" link at the bottom right of each item).

The blog covers vegetarian and organic news, with an emphasis on new health research. Check it out!

I've also opened a new store on Cafe Press. The store offers shirts, hats, bags, accessories and other goodies adorned with the "Zen Heart" logo of my health counseling business -- as well as Vegetarian Organic Life, Vegetarian Organic Blog branding.


I'd love to hear from you. Click here to send e-mail!

Navigating a Sea of Uninformed Doctors and Unhealthy Foods

I've been reading your site for almost a year now and am so happy to see someone who sees the entire big picture of the nutritional dangers out there for unsuspecting foodies.

I embraced vegetarianism on September 1, 2006 because my cholesterol level (for a 29 year old) was excessive and my first time visit with a new internist I wanted to try out, turned out to be a total nightmare-- she indicated she did not have much experience at all with nutritional alternatives instead pushing a lifetime of pills on me because my supposed cholesterol issue was congenital? How do you figure that a cholesterol issue is congenital if you only take a lipid panel, I will never know. In general, at that time, I was very sensitive to my irritable bowel disorder, and I really needed a healthy lifestyle makeover.

I took soda, junk food, and milk out of the equation about four years ago, because of the gastric issue, so it was just a matter of taking the next step from pescatarian and sometime filet-mignon-atarian to complete vegetarian. I felt very, very lucky when the doctor (she did do something good in the end!) got me a nutritionist referral to a vegetarian nutritionist out of pure luck. We had great discussions about protein sources and cholesterol lowering spreads... but I do not use any corn syrup (it's a personal choice) and she was impressed at how much I read labels. She gave me her home number (!) should I have any questions after our meeting.

If I miss anything from the olden days it might be fish and seafood, and slowly, my mom and dad have accepted the fact that those are no nos, and that eventually, I'm going to outlive everybody on my new healthier lifestyle ;o)

On the super rare, and hopefully never to be repeated again, occasion that my (Italian, native born) family has forced a shrimp down my throat I really don't enjoy the taste and texture at all! This coming holiday season I plan to have a little animal protein for my family members and then pure vegetarian options for those of us who want them. This brings me to my husband.

My husband is Hindu and is a non-vegetarian eater when we go out to restaurants on the weekends, but will not touch beef or pork. It is not as hard for me to cook for him as I had thought, I just make sure there is enough veggi protein, some chile spice, and that the serving size is a little larger for him... he makes it easy for me: if there's rice he's happy!

I'm also moving away as much as possible from any residual dairy that sneaks in every now and again such as cheese and ice cream. I will however continue to eat fat free organic Stonyfield farm plain yogurt because it helps my gastric issue A LOT, and I truly believe that is a conscious and sustainable company that deserves my patronage. I am not overly thrilled with some of the soy cheese options, but I found a chilied version that wasn't half bad at my local health food store. I can keep trying different types until I find one that I like.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story and to learn A LOT about vegetarianism and the propaganda machine going on in today's consumer goods marketplace. Thank you even more for the excellent public service you do by educating people about the need to be a thoughtful consumer in today's stormy seas of consumer packaged poison/goods.

All the best for your continued success!

Warmest wishes,

Jessica D'Amico


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I invite you to contact me and let me help you make the changes you always wanted to make, one step at a time. The first one-hour consultation is free.

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Added Sugar, But Not Natural Sugar, Increases Diabetes Risk - Study

A new study suggests that added sugar in a diet -- but not the natural sugar found in fruit and 100 percent fruit juice -- can cause insulin resistance, which may lead to Type 2 diabetes. Researchers warn that despite findings, increasing intake of 100 percent fruit juice is not advisable because, “while 100 percent fruit juice can be a healthful beverage, too much fruit juice can add excess calories and sugar to the diet. Whole fruit is often a better choice.”

Stay motivated - Read health-related research news, events and commentary every day. Check out Amira's Vegetarian Organic Blog.


Flax Seeds: The Super Seed Super Food

Flax seeds, one of my top 15 super foods, are a wonder food with super nutritional powers. These unassuming little seeds, not much bigger than sesame seeds, have been shown, by mounting research, to have substantial protective effects on health.

Flax seeds have been known for millennia, and their culinary use dates back at least to ancient Greece. According to some sources, even Hippocrates wrote about the soothing effects of flax seeds on gastrointestinal conditions. Flax seeds not only offer healing properties but with their sweet and nutty flavor also add great flavor and texture to any meal.

Flax seeds vary from golden to deep brown in color. They need to be ground before eating for proper digestion and optimal nutrient absorption.

Ground flax seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the precursor to the form of omega-3 fatty acids or EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) found in cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel fish (though it’s important to stick to wild fish and be aware of mercury contaminated fish). The body synthesizes ALA to omega-3s.

Omega-3s are unsaturated essential fatty acids that help protect against cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, ADHD and depression to name a few. Ground flax seeds are also rich in fiber and lignans, a type of phytoestrogens that help fight off breast, prostate and colon cancers.

Omega-3 fat also helps inhibit inflammatory reactions associated with various conditions including lupus, migraine headaches, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and gout. Flax seeds are also rich in magnesium and help lower the severity of asthma.

Flax seeds are the richest source of omega-3s in the plant kingdom, and essential as part of a healthy diet for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Many studies have shown the significant benefits of dietary intake of flax seeds. For example, research has shown that omega-3s from plant sources such as flax seeds offer protection against bone loss.

Other studies linked higher blood levels of omega-3s with positive mood, decreased risk of depression and a reduction in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Many other clinical studies, using control groups, also show that Omega-3s have cholesterol lowering properties, decreasing overall cholesterol as much as statin drugs.

Omega-3s also reduce the risk of cancer in men and women. According to a study conducted at Duke University, “the omega-3s in flax seed alter how cancer cells lump together or cling to other cells, while flax seed's anti-angiogenic lignans choke off the tumor's blood supply, thus helping to halt the cellular activity that leads to cancer growth.”

To promote good health and healthy aging, it’s beneficial to eat flax seeds daily—not in the form of supplements but in their unprocessed form.

It is best to eat foods as close as possible to their natural state and flax seeds are no exception. While flax seed oil is a more concentrated form of ALA than the seeds themselves, it lacks the whole nutritional value that the seeds contain, including valuable disease fighting fiber, which also provides laxative effects.

Eating ground flax seeds is more beneficial than taking oil but using flax seed oil in place of less nutritional oils in raw foods, smoothies or already cooked meals, for instance, it’s a great way to nutritionally spike your diet.

It’s important to select the right flax seed oil, however. It should contain lignans and should be organic, unrefined and cold-pressed. flax seed oil should be kept refrigerated, as it can get rancid with air and light. It’s highly unstable at high temperatures and should never be used as a cooking oil. You can find it in the refrigerated supplement section of most health food stores.

Flax seeds can be found prepackaged or at the bulk or bin section of many health food stores. Buy whole flax seeds and grind them at home. Grind about a cup of it at a time in a clean coffee grinder (one not used to grind anything else). Store ground flax seeds in a dark glass jar that closes tightly or in a black plastic container that doesn’t react to food.

Whole flax seeds can be stored in a cool dark place, but freshly ground flax seeds should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, as they are highly susceptible to oxidation. Once they go bad they’ll smell rancid and must be discarded.

Eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds daily by adding them to cold or hot cereal, dressings, salads, soups, smoothies, home-baked goods or any other already cooked meal. They add good flavor and high nutrients to everything.

Take up to one tablespoon of flax seed oil daily straight up or in smoothies or drizzled over a cooked meal or salad.





Fresh Harvest Ratatouille
(Serves 6)

Click on the picture for a closer look!

This fresh harvest ratatouille makes a wonderfully nutritious and flavorful accompaniment -- and also a complete meal on its own. This versatile dish constitutes the epitome of eating SLOW (seasonal, local, organic, whole). It can be made into a more complex but complete protein meal by adding sautéed tempeh or diced baked tofu. Make it even more appealing and nutritious by serving it over cooked quinoa. My fresh harvest ratatouille is made using fresh tomatoes instead of stewed canned tomatoes to bring out fresher flavor. Fresh herbs make it not only more beautiful and aromatic but also richer in powerful antioxidants for a healthy body and strong immune system.

Cook’s Tidbits:
Chill leftovers to last up to 5 days. Combine with any white beans (such as garbanzo beans), add to soups, make sandwiches with it or eat over salad.

Get organic ingredients ready:
1 tablespoon safflower oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 medium white onion, chopped, cut in ½–inch pieces
1 dried bay leaf
2 cups diced eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced yellow squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into 1-inch squares
1 cup yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into 1-inch squares
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups heirloom or regular cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste

1. In a heavy large skillet or pot heat oil over medium heat and add 3 cloves of pressed or minced garlic, onion and bay leaf sautéing and stirring for 5 minutes.

2. Add eggplant, zucchini, squash and dried herbs sautéing for 20 minutes over low to medium heat. Cover lightly and continue to stir occasionally.

3. Add bell peppers and sauté for 10 more minutes keeping it lightly covered. Add all the fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, remaining pressed garlic, black pepper and sea salt. Cover with lid and let it simmer for 5 more minutes over low heat. Taste for correct seasoning, remove from heat and serve over quinoa or as a side dish. 



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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.

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