How to improve your mood by avoiding food additives

Some food additives mimic your hormones, while other directly affect mood, and who needs that? Find out how to avoid them and healthier replacements

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How can you figure out whether or not something is safe and good to eat? Most people (I would like to think) know there are things added to our foods, but they may not know what they are or the impact they have on our bodies and long-term health. In fact, most people believe that food additives serve a beneficial purpose and are good for our products and our health.

Well, I’m here to tell you that this is unfortunately not the case. Additives can do way more harm than good over the long term, and often even in the short term. More than 300 additives, preservatives, flavourings, colourants and other ingredients are added to foods in Canada. As a result, most Canadians spend 90 percent of their money on processed foods that are loaded with these additives. Even though they are legal to use, they are not necessarily safe.

Some common food additives:

  • Sodium nitrate
  • BHA and BHT
  • Propyl gallate
  • Trans fats
  • Asparatame
  • Acesulfame-K
  • Food colourings (Blue 1 & 2, Red 3, Green 3, Yellow 6)
  • Potassium bromate
  • MSG

Does that list sound appetizing? I didn’t think so! Most of these additives are found in anything from baked goods and chewing gum to chicken soup, cereal, lunch meats, vegetable oils and potato chips. If you eat a highly-processed diet, you are exposing yourself to potentially harmful toxins at every meal!

Also be mindful that some additives may mimic your hormones. According to the Chemical Journal of Toxicology, there are 31 potential estrogen-mimicking food additives, known as xenoestrogens. These chemicals may be linked to all kinds of human health effects, including reduced sperm counts in men and increased risk of breast cancer in women. The food you eat can also directly affect your behaviour and mood. Don’t we have enough natural stresses in our life that affect our emotions? Do we need our food to contribute to that too? I think not!

Processed food is also high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates, which can lead to excess insulin release, followed by falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. This can lead to agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, panic, and even an increase in risk of suicide. Once again, it is baffling that we have complete control over this and yet people still eat processed foods. You can choose the potato chips, soda pop or fruit juice, or you can simply choose to live more naturally and additive-free. You will feel better, look better, and may just preserve yourself naturally and live to a ripe old age!

Have a look and see my approved list of packaged food, so that you know what to buy when it comes to healthy snacking! These are packaged foods that are safe by my standards and are not heavily processed or loaded with sugar, salt, and preservatives.

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.