We all know that if we consume too many calories, we get fat. But there is more to it: it is not just the calories but the chemicals in our food that contributes to weight gain.
Some of the chemicals which are known as obesogens trigger the body to store fat despite the fact that we might be restricting calories. The effects of these chemicals are complex as some expand the size of fat cells, increase the number of fat cells and influence appetite, fullness and cravings. Besides obesogens, there are other food ingredients that contribute to adding weight leaving us depressed even when we think we are eating healthy.
These are the five chemicals that should be avoided in food
1. Growth Hormones and Antibiotics
There are several growth hormones, drugs, antibiotics and steroids that are given to animals so that they can become fat on less food. Residues from these drugs have been found in meat meaning, you might be eating these growth promoting drugs every time you eat meat. These drugs are known to contribute to obesity and they are not well regulated in the US.
How to avoid: Select only meat and dairy products that are certified as being organic grass fed. With organically grown animals, treatment with growth hormones and antibiotics is not allowed. As an added advantage, organic grass fed beef contains a lot of conjugated linoleic acid that helps with weight loss.
2. Artificial and Natural Flavors
All the chemicals which make processed food taste good such as artificial flavors, natural flavors and monosodium glutamate are cheap replacements of the real thing. They cause one to eat a lot more than they would otherwise.
With the term natural flavors, there are companies which can put anything they want in your food that is generally deemed as being safe including glutamate bi products such as MSG. These excitotoxins cause taste buds to experience irresistibility when it comes to food.
How to avoid: Stay away from processed food and mostly those that have artificial flavors, natural flavors and other additives such as hydrolyzed proteins and yeast extract.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
If you think you will lose weight by switching from regular soda to diet soda, you should think again. Studies show that artificial sweeteners like those in diet coke affect bacteria in the gut which leads to more weight gain. If that is not bad enough, an artificial sweetener known as Aspartame has been linked to depression and mood swings.
How to avoid: Do not eat anything that has artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin in their ingredients list. You should also limit your overall intake of sugar. Opt for unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup, raw honey and dried fruits like dates.
Out of all the common pesticides that Americans are usually exposed to, a majority of them are endocrine disruptors which make them obesogens. Even in small amounts, endocrine disruptors have the ability to destabilize major weight controlling hormones. They also interfere with natural hormone systems that are known to regulate metabolism and lead to increase in weight.
How to avoid: Limit your exposure to pesticides by opting for certified organic products and produce. Synthetic pesticides are not allowed in organic farming. If organic is not available, choose fresh produce that is on the Environmental Working Groups, “Clean 15” list of produce that have the least residue of pesticides.
Whether it is a container of leftovers or a bottle of salad dressing, most people are exposed to plastics on a daily basis. Most of these plastics contain substances like bisphenol and phthalates known as endocrine disruptors which have been linked to increase in fat storage. These chemicals can leach into food and they have infiltrated the society so much that there have been found in about 93% tested urine samples in US.
How to avoid: Choose storage containers, water bottles, eating utensils and straws carefully. Opt for those that are made from stainless steel or glass instead of plastic. Glass jars are an affordable alternative for storing food.
Vani Hari is a revolutionary food activist living in North Carolina and the author of the new book, “The Food Babe Way” that contains 21 essential habits that she taught herself to take control of her health.
BY VANI HARI