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Reading Labels, part 2: what the chemicals are/do

With the last post, I gave you some guidelines on what to avoid in food and health/beauty care products. Today, I’ll tell you the rationale. If you can avoid the following, you’ll be a huge step ahead of the game:

Avoid hydrogenated oils, trans fats, chemical sugar substitutes (Splenda, Nutrasweet, Equal), nitrites/nitrates, artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, and anything you cannot pronounce. Topically, avoid sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, aluminum.

Let’s break that down.

The body absolutely must have fat. In fact, your brain is about 55% fat! But the fats the body needs are quite specific: they’re cis fats. This is a chemical name talking about how the fats are shaped; cis means curved, or C-shaped. Cis fats also contain a multitude of double bonds, making them very flexible, fluid, and stackable. Think about spoons in your flatware drawer.

Now, the body will take whatever fats you give it, because they are essential to life. But if the fats are trans-fats, that beautiful fluid C-shape has been broken/bent down to resemble something more like an S. Trans-fats are less fluid, less flexible, less stackable. That means communication within the cell becomes more difficult. With difficult communication comes failure on behalf of one or more parts of the cell to perform the tasks assigned them. Once a cell begins experiencing difficulty, cell-to-cell communication begins to falter. Now the domino effect begins, with tissue, then organ, then entire system damage. Think about the drawer of jumbled items. Avoid trans-fats.

Hydrogenated oils take that chemical corruption another step further, breaking the lovely, flexible double bonds and attaching a plethora of hydrogens at the ends of the single bonds. Think bottle brushes in your drawer. Can you imagine bottle brushes in your cells, where lovely stacks of spoons are designed to be? Avoid hydrogenated oils.

Chemical sugar substitutes. If you want something sweet, why not make it at home? Use real ingredients, as close to their natural state as possible. Try honey, for example, or less processed cane sugar (sucanat or demerara). The human body, as wonderfully designed as it is, doesn’t recognize the chemicals nor process them overly well. The very chemicals designed to keep Americans skinny, therefore out of risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are pushing folks into obesity and subsequent diabetes like never before! AND, they cause their own issues: saccharin can cause cancer, aspartame is a nervous system toxin, and sucralose–a chlorinated sugar molecule–damages the immune system. If you want something sweet, opt for straight-up sugar! It can be more addicting than heroin or cocaine, so use with caution.

Nitrates/nitrites are preservatives that are routinely put into deli meats. They damage heart muscle. Consider buying fresh, non-preserved foods and eating them within just a few days. In Europe, it’s still common to go to the market on a daily or every other day basis to buy fresh groceries. Spare the heart; skip the nitrates and nitrites.

Artificial ingredients–whether flavorings or colorants–are at best, unnecessary and at worst, downright harmful. Some of the chemicals cause headaches and stomach aches, others cause hyperactive behavior. Anything the body cannot use becomes something the body must eliminate. The body can’t use artificial anythings!

High fructose corn syrup is made from corn. Most of the corn grown in this country is genetically modified. Two of the three enzymes used to put the extra fructose (fruit sugar) in the corn syrup are also genetically modified. We’re now naming diseases we’ve never seen before and thinking that they’re the result of generically modified foods! What can be made in a controlled laboratory setting cannot be expected to remain unchanged once outside the lab and inside a constantly shifting environment. It is the environment’s influence on the cell that causes certain genes to turn “on” or “off”!

Sodium benzoate is another popular preservative put into most sodas and sauces. It’s also a known tumor potentiator. If you are growing a tumor–either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous)–sodium benzoate will help that tumor grow faster.

Anything you cannot pronounce. This is the summation of all of the above. If you cannot pronounce it or don’t know what it is, please don’t eat it or rub it on your skin!

Give yourself only good! It’s what your amazing body, mind, and spirit deserve!

Next time: the stuff to avoid putting on your skin….

Wishing you WELLness,

Christie Fleetwood, ND, RPh



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