In my last article I talked about the amount of toxins in our environment and I promised you some ideas on how to improve your health.

First I am going look at how we buy our food. Where do you shop? At a supermarket? Local farmers shop/market? Or maybe you even grow some of your own. Sometimes, you might decide to eat out and let someone else do the cooking!

If you’re like me, you’ll likely do a bit of each.

I’ll start with a trip to the supermarket. What kind of food are you buying? Do you mostly shop in the outer aisles or do you tend to buy most of your food in the centre ones?

If you look at the layout of the average food store, you’ll find that food on the peripheries is the stuff we buy by weight or volume. You look at it and you know what it is. Simple stuff like fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese. These items contain just one ingredient each. You buy your food, then you take it home and turn it into a meal. So far, so good.

But what if you’re in a rush or you don’t want (or know how) to cook? Well, that’s when you’ll likely shop in those centre aisles, where you will find stuff packaged in convenient neat little boxes and cans.

And that’s where you may run into trouble. Packaged and processed food can be an absolute minefield of toxic (non)nutrition.

Just pick up a box and read the ingredients. Can you even pronounce them, let alone know what they are, or what they do to your body and mind?

Food is BIG business, right? Everyone has to eat! So food manufacturers tend to use the cheapest ingredients they can find and then add chemicals to make them taste good and last longer on the shelf.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of over 3000 ingredients in its data base that are allowed in food. Obviously, space doesn’t permit for me to list them all here, so I’ll just deal with a couple of the most important ones.

One of the most widely used additives is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Sometimes you’ll see it listed as a ‘flavour enhancer.’ It’s used in many foods like soups and stock cubes. And especially those highly coloured chips and snacks that kids love to eat. And it’s addictive.

I remember a story told to me by a Korean friend about when he was studying to be a Chef. His Professor was teaching the class about the use of MSG. He had them all put a little on their tongues to see how it tastes. What he didn’t tell them was that whatever taste they had in their mouths, it would be greatly amplified by the chemical. My poor friend has never forgotten that experiment since he had missed breakfast that day AND had neglected to clean his teeth…… Needless to say, he doesn’t use MSG in his cooking!

But all joking aside, MSG is an other than a benign flavour enhancer. It is what is known as an ‘excitotoxin’ – (a term coined by Neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock, in his book “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”).

Simply put, it actually explodes brain cells! (If you want to know how, read the book). That’s why some people experience headaches, dizziness and even psychotic behaviour. What I call ‘Irritable Brain Syndrome’.

Think of the implications of that in our prisons and schools!

As manufacturers are required by the FDA to list MSG as an ingredient, you will many times find it hidden in other ingredients like Hydrolized Vegetable Protein, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Broth, Stock, Natural Flavourings and many others. That way, they don’t have to list it on the label, even though it’s contained in the flavourings they use. Sneaky, huh?

Another major offender is aspartame (trade name ‘Equal’). This chemical is used extensively in sugar-free foods. And especially diet sodas. Aspartame is another ‘excitotoxin’, which can wreak havoc on the body’s central nervous system, causing headaches, seizures and weakness. It can also mimic other neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.

Not exactly what they tell you on the label!

There are many, many, chemicals used in our foods. I could write for days on the subject! But my purpose here is to simplify matters and help you make sense of it all.

Bottom line: Stay away from processed and packaged foods as much as possible. Eat stuff you can recognize.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favour and learn how to cook.

That way, you’ll know you are eating REAL FOOD!

By Lynda Hartley Lynda Hartley is a Certified Health Coach at the Raw Food Edge, an entity which specializes in Individual Coaching, Group Workshops and Motivational Speaking for Healthy Living. She and her husband also own and operate Bermuda Green, a local business providing fresh salad sprouts to Supermarkets, Delis and Restaurants throughout the Island. For more information or comments email or telephone 2343535 or 3352981.