Wisdom Magazine's Monthly Webzine Skip Navigation Links
Wisdom Magazine, a bi-monthly compendium of information and resources related to holistic health, spirituality and metaphysics, is the largest free holistic publication serving New England with 50,000 copies printed and distributed to over 2,000 locations throughout Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Home  About  This Month's Articles  Calendar of Events  Classified Listings  Holistic Resource Directory
 Educational Programs  Sacred Journeys & Retreats  Reiki Healing
 Article Archives  What's New in Books, CD's & DVD's  Wisdom Marketplace
 Where to Find Wisdom Near You  Subscriptions  Web Partner Links
 Advertising Information  Contact Us
Denali Institute of Northern Traditions
Ellie Pechet
Margaret Ann Lembo
Wisdom Magazine
Bach Flower Education
Wisdom Magazine
Circles of Wisdom
Light Healing
Wisdom Magazine
Alternatives For Healing


by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Dear EarthTalk: What is the"Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives?"

 -- Meredith LaGarde, New Orleans, LA


The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profitdedicated to protecting human health and the environment through research, education and advocacy, launched its “Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives” in November 2014 to educate consumers about which food additives are associated with health concerns, which are restricted in other countries, and/or which just shouldn’t be in our foods to begin with. EWG hopes the new guide will help consumers avoid unhealthy foods and also influence policy makers to develop more stringent rules for food producers moving forward.


According to EWG, more than 10,000 food additives are approved for use in the U.S., despite potential health implications. Some are “direct additives” deliberately formulated into processed food; others are “indirect,” that is, finding their way into food during processing, storage or packaging. Either way, some have been linked to endocrine disruption, heart disease, cancer and a wide range of other health issues.


Topping EWG’s list are nitrates and nitrites, both typically added to cured meats (like bacon, salami, sausages and hot dogs) to prolong shelf-life and prevent discoloration. “Nitrites, which can form from nitrates, react with naturally occurring components of protein called amines,” reports EWG. “This reaction can form nitrosamines, which are known cancer-causing compounds.” The group reports links between nitrite and nitrate consumption and cancers of the stomach, esophagus, brain and thyroid.


The World Health Organization considers nitrites and nitrates to be probable human carcinogens; California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is now considering a similar designation. Interestingly, some nutritious foods like spinach and other leafy vegetables contain nitrates naturally, but EWG says that “human studies on nitrate intake from vegetables have found either no association with stomach cancer or a decreased risk.”


Another troubling but nevertheless common food additive is potassium bromate, used to strengthen bread and cracker dough and help such items rise during baking. But potassium bromate is listed as a known human carcinogen by the state of California and a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Animal studies have shown that regular exposure to potassium bromate can cause a variety of tumors, is toxic to the kidneys and can even cause permanent DNA damage.


Most of the potassium bromate added to foods converts to non-carcinogenic potassium bromide during the process of baking, but small but still significant unconverted amounts can remain, putting eaters everywhere at risk. EWG would like to see the U.S. government follow Canada’s and the European Union’s lead in banning the use of potassium bromate in foods altogether.


Other additives on the Dirty Dozen list include propylparabens, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, theobromine, diacetyl, phosphates and aluminum. Many artificial colors can also cause health issues, reports EWG, as can thousands of “secret flavor ingredients” that food makers add to foods without oversight in the name of protecting trade secrets. For more information on these foods and how to avoid them, check out EWG’s free “Dirty Dozen Guide” online.


CONTACT: EWG,www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives/food-additives-linked-health-risks.

 Dear EarthTalk: How is it that antibiotics are being “overused,” as I’ve read, and what are the potential consequences?                                                                             -- Mitchell Chase, Hartford, CT


The development and widespread adoption of so-called “antibiotics”—drugs that kill bacteria and thereby reduce infection—has helped billions of people live longer, healthier lives. But all this tinkering with nature hasn’t come without a cost. The more we rely on antibiotics, the more bacteria develop resistance to them, which makes treating infections that much more challenging.


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overuse of antibiotics by humans—such as for the mistreatment of viral infections—means these important drugs are less effective for all of us. Besides the toll on our health, researchers estimate that antibiotic resistance causes Americans upwards of $20 billion in additional health care costs every year stemming from the treatment of otherwise preventable infections.


A bigger issue,though, is our growing reliance on feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion, weight gain and to treat, control and prevent disease. This increasingly common practice is a significant factor in the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which the U.S. Food & Drug Administration( FDA) acknowledges can get passed onto humans who eat food from treated animals. The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that the majority of the ground beef and ground turkey sold in the typical American grocery store contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


Last year, 26 animal pharmaceutical companies voluntarily complied with an FDA request to re-label medically important antibiotics used in food-producing animals to warn against using them for growth promotion and weight gain. FDA also recommended that medically important antibiotics be prescribed by licensed veterinarians and only to treat, control and prevent disease. “We need to be selective about the drugs we use in animals and when we use them,” says William Flynn of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Antimicrobial resistance may not be completely preventable, but we need to do what we can to slow it down.”


Still some worry that the FDA’s action doesn’t go far enough, given that farmers will still be able to administer antibiotics to their livestock for disease prevention. The fact that more and more livestock operations are switching over to Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) whereby animals are confined in crowded enclosures (instead of allowed to graze at pasture) means that antibiotics will play an increasingly important role in disease prevention.


For its part, the FDA argues that since veterinarians need to authorize antibiotic use for disease prevention, farmers and ranchers are less likely to overuse antibiotics for their livestock populations. The same can be said about doctors’ limiting the prescription of antibiotics for their human patients, but only time wil tell whether such new found restraint is enough in the fast evolving arms race between bacteria and our antibiotics.


Of course,consumers can do their part by avoiding antibiotic medications unless absolutely necessary and eating less meat (or giving it up entirely) to help reduce demand.


CONTACTS: CDC, www.cdc.gov;EWG, www.ewg.org;FDA Center for VeterinaryMedicine, www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary.



Dear EarthTalk: What's the skinny on fat these days? I saw a major magazine cover image recently that was suggesting fat wasn't so bad for us after all?                     -- Marcy Bellwether, Taos, NM


Going “fat-free” might seem like an effective, safe way to lose weight when considering that fat contains nine calories per gram, compared to four calories per gram in carbohydrates and proteins. But if you take into account the fact that approximately 60 percent of human brain matter consists of fats, eating reduced fat or fat-free foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates no longer seems as appealing for our health.


“The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low carbohydrate diet, which unfortunately is relatively uncommon in human populations today,” reports David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain.“Mayo Clinic researchers showed that individuals favoring carbohydrates in their diets had a remarkable 89 percent increased risk for developing dementiaas contrasted to those whose diets contained the most fat. Having the highest levels of fat consumption was actually found to be associated with an incredible 44 percent reduction in risk for developing dementia.”


Granted, certain types of fats are more beneficial than others. “Good” fats include monounsaturated fats, found abundantly in olive oil, peanut oil, hazelnuts, avocados and pumpkin seeds, and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6), which are found in flaxseed oil, chia seeds, marine algae oil and walnuts.


“In the '70s and early '80s…we were not talking about low-fat diets. We were talking about replacing saturated fat with a healthy fat, polyunsaturated fat," says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “But somewhere in the mid-1980s, we lost that message. It’s perhaps partly because some nutritionists felt it was too complicated to talk about different types of fat, and developed the notion we should just reduce all types of fat across the board.”


With over five million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are examining which dietary fats may help prevent dementia. Olivia Okereke at Brigham & Women’s Hospital tested how different types of fats affect cognition and memory in women. Over the course of four years, she found that women who consumed high amounts of monounsaturated fats had better overall cognitive function and memory. A study by researchers from Laval University in Quebec revealed similar findings: Diets high in monounsaturated fats increased the production and release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is critical for learning and memory. The loss of acetylcholine production in the brain has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.


Unfortunately, canola oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats in its natural form, is often hydrogenated so it can stay fresh longer in processed foods. Partially hydrogenated oils—also known as Transfats—were shown to be detrimental to memory in a recent University of California San Diego study. “Trans fats increase the shelf life of the food but reduce the shelf life of the person,” reports study author Beatrice Golomb.


Of course, a well-rounded diet with plenty offruits and vegetables may still be the best way to stay healthy. But it’s goodto know that a little fat here and there won't kill you. In fact, it might wellhelp you live a healthier, more productive life.


CONTACTS: David Perlmutter, www.drperlmutter.com;Harvard School of Public Health, www.hsph.harvard.edu;Brigham & Women's Hospital, www.brighamandwomens.org.


EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com.





Add Comment

Article Archives  This Month's Articles  Click Here for more articles by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
Bach Flower Education
Wisdom Magazine
Light Healing
Circles of Wisdom
Wisdom Magazine
Alternatives For Healing
Wisdom Magazine
Ellie Pechet
Denali Institute
Margaret Ann Lembo

Call Us Toll Free: 888-577-8091 or  |  Email Us  | About Us  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map  | © 2021 Wisdom Magazine