By Meadow Clark
The Whole Home Detox series is dedicated to removing the causes of chronic illness from our homes, one room at a time.
The sad irony is that in the effort to get healthier some people are actually exposing themselves to more toxins that are messing with their brain, weight, hormones, and reproductive health. If not from their food storage containers than certainly the food itself.
This article isn’t going to make judgement calls on foods that Crunchy-Granola-Hippy-Mamas might deem bad, i.e., flour, dairy, alcohol or caffeine. No way! Those items are more preferable in a real food diet than the nasty hidden ingredients we’re about to talk about below.
And don’t get us wrong. In this economy, we’re not suggesting you throw things out and go hungry. Just replace the items below with a better alternative in the future, as you’re replenishing your food.
Toxic Foods and Ingredients to Avoid in Your Pantry
Reading labels isn’t enough these days. The modern consumer has to read between the lines and dodge the pitfalls of a shady, corporatized food system.
“Chemicals used in everyday products need to be rigorously evaluated for their full potential of human health impacts before they are made widely available in the marketplace,” Dr. Maida P. Galvez, an associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told CNN. But that’s not how the system works.
That’s okay! We’ve got you covered with our very own “cheat sheet” to navigate your next grocery trip.
Without further ado, here are the food items and ingredients you’ll want to phase out of your newly detoxed home:
GMOs & Glyphosate (aka Monsanto’s Roundup Weedkiller)
Genetically engineered crops are made by splicing DNA from other species of things like e.Coli and injecting it into the DNA of crop. Bt corn is engineered to withstand massive dousing from Roundup without dying. GMO crops include: Corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets, some zucchini, some yellow squash, some potatoes, and some apples. That also means that many vegetable oils, packaged ingredients and meat/dairy contain GMOs.
Many GMO foods are “processed further into ingredients found across various commonly packaged products, including amino acids, alcohol, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol, flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrins, molasses, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sucrose, textured vegetable protein (TVP), xanthan gum, vitamins, vinegar, and yeast products. ” (source)
Buying non-GMO food doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed to weedkiller in your breakfast! Because of desiccation, many non-GMO crops are also hosed in Roundup to speed up drying for harvest. That means it’s especially important to buy organic because glyphosate is linked to cancers. GMOs and glyphosate are also in meat and dairy because of what the animal eats.
Another one you don’t even want in moderation. If you think rock stars lose brain cells by head-banging over their guitars, it may surprise you to find out that a person stands to lose a LOT more brain cells if they allow MSG to sneak into their pantry. The glutamates released in the brain from MSG are incredibly difficult to break down by the body’s normal enzymes.
Increased glutamate activity in the brain can cause harm. Glutamates are also released during a stroke and head trauma.
Avoid using ramen packets and boxed, stove top convenience foods. Use stock or broth to flavor your dinners.
Like MSG, artificial sweeteners like aspartame are excitotoxins. That means they excite brain/nerve cells to death. Whether it’s aspartame, saccharin, or sucralose (Splenda) it’s all toxic and should be avoided. Splenda fought for decades to get FDA approval and only not is it found that it stays in fatty tissue and produces previously unknown metabolites. It is also implicated in thyroid issues and weight gain. Acesulfame potassium is linked to lung and breast cancer in rats.
Avoid chewing gum, diet sodas, diet foods, and sugar-free anything. Even cane sugar is better if all else fails.
Most “vegetable” oils are from GMO crops and go through heavy duty processing that includes chemicals, bleach and high heats. They should be avoided at all costs, but especially canola oil for its proven heart damaging effects. Avoid margarine and shortening too.
(You need to grow what you can and preserve what you grow! Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to home canning to learn how.)
Artificial Colors, Artificial Flavors & “Natural” Flavors
European countries have decided to restrict and use warning labels for artificial food dyes saying they may exacerbate behavioral and attention problems in children. The U.S. FDA refuses to acknowledge the evidence. Colors are often derived from petroleum.
Artificial flavors and colors are often found together. Artificial flavors are chemical bombs but “natural” flavors aren’t much better at all and both may contain GMOs, MSG and hundreds of other unlisted additives since the flavors are not solitary ingredients, but proprietary chemical cocktails. Thus, Big Food dupes people by the term “natural.” Natural flavors are anything but and should be avoided always. Avoid vanillin, candies, ice cream/shakes, and store bought orange juice.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Arguably one of the worst ingredients in recent memory. Not only is this a highly processed GMO corn product, but it has been proven to cause obesity much faster than regular granulated sugar. It has been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrite
These are found mostly in deli meats and preserved meats in order to inhibit bacterial growth. They affect the heart and are one of the worst carcinogenic offenders.
Bromates, bromines, bromides and/or brominated vegetable oils suppress thyroid function and displace iodine in your thyroid just like chlorinated water does. Protect your thyroid and other organs from damage by avoiding bread, brominated flours, sports drinks and sodas.
Sodium Benzoate, Benzoic Acid and Citric Acid
“Benz” preservatives are linked to cancer. Citric acid is made from GMO black mold – NOT lemons!
Of course, there are more chemical ingredients out there that should be avoid, but these were the most common.
Best Way to Avoid the Ingredients Above
It’s simple, but not easy, to avoid the ingredients above.
The more you can stay away from packaged goods, the better are your chances of having a clean diet. Stay on the outskirts of the grocery store and buy things that need to be prepared instead of unwrapped.
Never buy anything with an ingredients list thicker than your pinky and if you can’t pronounce it don’t eat it.
The less something is processed the better. Thus, grass-fed meats are worlds better to eat than deli meats with heart-damaging nitrates.
“If it comes from a plant you can eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t eat it.” -Unknown
Best Whole Foods for Your Non-Toxic Home
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash
- Brown rice, wild rice
- Dry beans, split peas, lentils
- Produce – fresh fruit, vegetables and leafy greens. Perfect for smoothies.
- Whole food grains and whole grain flours like: Millet, oat, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt, and organic corn. Organic wheat can work but is not always a guarantee that it is glyphosate-free. Try Einkhorn instead.
- Grassfed and pastured meats
- Herbs, spices and mushrooms (fresh & dried)
- Organic canned goods and sauces – beans, chickpeas,
- Nuts & Seeds: Walnuts, hemp seeds, cashews, macadamia, flax, pecans, chia, pistachios etc… Almonds are great, however, keep in mind that they are irradiated.
- Wild honey, maple and other sweeteners
- Good oils like coconut, ghee, olive oil, peanut oil, butter and/or lard
- Soup and Stock
- Frozen vegetables – so you can quickly throw them into just about any meal. Green beans are especially versatile. Don’t forget that frozen berries are a great way to keep fruit for long periods of time.
Become a regular at your local farmers market and herdshare groups. Raid the bulk sections at the health food stores and freeze what you can. Be sure to check out our safe food storage container options.
Make Your Own Snacks
The more you can meal-prep and have real-food grab-and-go items on hand, the less likely you are to rely on convenience foods as your blood sugar crashes.
Consider making some trail-mixes with dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. Hummus and veggies are always friends. Bananas are the ultimate fast food.
Yet, there are times when you can’t stop and make a pre-prepared snack and maybe you’ve used up your bananas for smoothies.
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Here are Some Good Snack Choices:
We all lead busy lives, but our mealtime should be a daily sanctuary, not a source of stress.
Regardless of personal eating styles, our families should be able to rest in the abundance of good nutrition. Let’s make our kitchens a fun, refueling station. By rooting out all the toxins, you’ve just eliminated one of the biggest daily stressors across the globe.
By making your kitchen a real food oasis, you eliminate decision-paralysis and free up more energy and creativity to face the day.
What foods do you ban from your own kitchen? What are your favorite ways to use real food? Tell me what you use and why you like it in the comments section.
Check Out the Other Articles in the Whole Home Detox Series
- Home Detox: How to Rid Your Environment of the Sources of Chronic Illness
- Are These Dirty Little Secrets Lurking in Your Toxic Laundry Products?
- The 10 Safest Laundry Detergents (And Brands to Avoid)
- The Safest Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softeners (and the ones to avoid)
- The Healthy Cookware Shopping Guide (and What to Avoid)
- The Healthy Baker’s Shopping Guide to Non-Toxic Ovenware