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Top 6 Food Ingredients that is making you sick… (and more likely to get Cancer)

Before my mum was diagnosed with cancer, I hardly read food labels. Because I struggled with my weight, the most I would do is to glance at the calories and fat levels before deciding on the purchase. Now that I am aware and actively checking ingredient lists, it shocks me how much potentially harmful ingredients I was ingesting without realizing. So I took a walk around a random supermarket in Singapore today to see common ingredients we should avoid to improve our health to share with all of you. And I hope you too, will start looking at food ingredient labels when purchasing food for yourself and your families.

Singaporeans, Lacking Fruits and Vegetables

On top of not eating enough fruits and vegetables, 60% of Singaporeans consume 2 or more sweetened drinks a day! Source: Lifewise (Sep-Oct 2014) magazine by Singapore Singapore National Healthcare Group.

 1) Sugar (and refined sweeteners)

If you have cancer, sugar in any form is a big no-no. All cells, including cancer cells, need glucose in order to produce the energy necessary for survival. Cancer cells have developed a very effective strategy (glycolysis or fermentation), to ensure they survive; they grow many extra insulin receptors – 10-19x more than regular cells – on their surfaces in order to attract and utilize more of the circulating glucose than the other non-cancerous cells in the body.

Because cancer cells have more insulin receptors to uptake sugar, it is also how cancer cells are detected in a pet scan. A patient is injected with radioactive glucose that is preferentially taken up by cancer cells, which is why it shows a light up in the scan where there is cancer in the body. More insulin receptors on cancer cells is also why cancer patients with aggressive cancers lose weight rapidly – all the glucose is feeding the cancer cells rather than normal cells, leading to cachexia, which leads to death if untreated.

For healthy people, sugar is still bad in many ways for our health! John Yudkin, who was the founding Professor of the Department of Nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College, London, published Pure, White and Deadly, in 1972. In his book, he showed that consumption of sugar and refined sweeteners is closely associated with long-term disease. In fact, the closest relationship between coronary deaths and any single dietary factor was with sugar.

A recent report from the Nurses’ Health Study showed that women who consumed diets with a high glycemic load had an increased Coronary Heart Disease risk, with those in the highest quintile having a >2-fold risk during 10 years of follow-up. (1)

Source: Lifewise (Sep-Oct 2014) magazine by Singapore Singapore National Healthcare Group.

Higher glucose marker levels corresponded with worse memory, as well as shrunken compropised parts of the brain. Source: Lifewise (Sep-Oct 2014) magazine by Singapore Singapore National Healthcare Group.

fructose overload infographic

Healthier alternatives: Organic honey, organic coconut nectar, stevia

2) High Fructose Corn Syrup

Firstly, what is the difference between High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and regular sugar? Most HFCS has 55 percent fructose, compared to 50 percent found in table sugar. This means that if you eat the exact same foods, you would be consuming 10 percent more sugar in the foods with HFCS than the one with regular sugar. (2) So HFCS makes us FAT.

Hear from Dr Hyman on the harmful effects of HFCS

HFCS can cause high triglycerides and fatty liver. Glucose can be metabolized a number of ways by your body but fructose is only metabolized by your liver. When the liver receives more fructose than it can handle, the excess sugars are turned into fats in the form of triglycerides, which are harmful to your arteries and your heart. (3) The rapidly absorbed fructose triggers big spikes in insulin–our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more. (4)

On top of all the health hazards, HFCS contains contaminants including mercury, which we all know is detrimental to our health. Read more about the harmful effects of HFCS here.

Healthier alternatives: Organic honey, organic coconut nectar, stevia

3) Aspartame

When people started realizing that sugar was bad, many (including myself) switched to artificial sweeteners, which contain aspartame. Unknown to many of us, aspartame has been linked to birth defects, cancer, diabetes, emotional disorders, migraines, Parkinson and epilepsy/seizures. (5)

Watch: Aspartame: The Bitter Truth Behind This Toxic Sweetener

My friend who has been consuming this food regularly for last 10 years got diagnosed with nose cancer recently.  Of course, aspartame might not be the only reason, but better be safe than sorry!

My friend who has been consuming this food regularly for last 10 years got diagnosed with nose cancer recently. Of course, aspartame might not be the only contributing factor to his cancer, but better be safe than sorry!

For list of scientific studies that have proven the dangers of aspartame, please refer here.

Healthier alternatives: Organic honey, organic coconut nectar, stevia

4) Gluten

Gluten-free is not just a latest food fad. The group on the gluten-containing diet had more pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and fatigue compared to the other group  (6). There are also studies showing that gluten can cause inflammation in the intestine and a degenerated intestinal lining (7,8). And inflammation has a very strong link to cancer.

“In certain people who are sensitive to gluten, this causes the immune system to mount an attack against it.

In celiac disease (the most severe form of gluten sensitivity), the immune system attacks the gluten proteins, but it also attacks an enzyme in the cells of the digestive tract called tissue transglutaminase.” (9)

Gluten - common ingredient in many of our foods

Gluten – common ingredient in many of our foods

5) Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

MSG is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid, 21 percent sodium, and up to 1 percent contaminants. (10) Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, explains that excitotoxins like MSG can, quite literally, excite your brain cells to death. In his book, he cites over five hundred scientific studies, Excitotoxins explores the dangers of MSG, aspartame, and other substances added to our food.

“Research has documented several effects related to MSG, including burning sensations of the mouth, head and neck, weakness of the arms or legs, headaches and upset stomach approximately 15 minutes after the MSG is consumed. Further research again points to problems such as flushing, headaches and hives or allergic-type reactions with the skin…

One of the most important factors in MSG research is that some of the effects can occur very quickly while others, that are perhaps much more detrimental, might be more cumulative over time with subsequent exposure. For example, a study done with animals found that MSG exposure over a period of 3-6 months led to significant risk for damage to the retinas of the eyes.”(11)

Watch out for these MSG labelled as E621 etc. Very common in many of our foods especially snacks.

Watch out for these MSG labelled as E621 etc. Very common in many of our foods especially snacks.

I am a bit perplexted how this food that doesn't quote its source of "monosodium glutamate"but yet claim to have "no artificial flavouring".

I am a bit perplexted how this food that doesn’t quote its source of “monosodium glutamate”but yet claim to have “no artificial flavouring”.

Healthier alternatives: Organic Nama shoyu (unheated soy sauce), organic seaweed or wakame

6) Hydrogenated Oils

Most of us know that trans fat is bad. What fewer of us know is that hydrogenated oils are a big source of trans fat in our food! And what even fewer of us know is that hydrogenated oil is only one molecule away from being plastic, which is difficult for our bodies to break down

“When you eat anything containing [hydrogenated oil], just as the oil is now thicker and more viscous (dense), so too does your blood become thicker and more viscous right along with it. The heart now has to work so much harder to pump blood throughout the system. This is one of the major ways that consuming hydrogenated oils contributes to high blood pressure.” – http://www.naturalnews.com/

The process of hydrogenation of oils involves the addition of hydrogen atoms to the oil’s available double bonds. As the level of hydrogenation increases, the level of saturated fat increases and the level of unsaturated fat decreases.  The hydrogenation process converts what are known as “cis” double bonds to “trans” double bonds. This is where the term “trans fat” originates. (12)

“Trans fats work against the body in many ways. They increase bad cholesterol –low-density lipoprotein, or LDL — and decrease good cholesterol — high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. Furthermore, they block the production of chemicals that combat inflammation and benefit the hormonal and nervous systems, while at the same time allowing chemicals that increase inflammation. This means that trans fats promote inflammation and negatively impact cholesterol levels.”

Hydrogenated Oils are very common. This is a ingredient label of a very common food we feed our kids!

Hydrogenated Oils are very common. This is a ingredient label of a very common food we feed our kids!

Watch what happens when canola oil is exposed oxygen (just as it will be exposed to oxygen in our bodies when we consume them!). It thickens and becomes sticky and has a plastic texture. The same oxidized canola oil would be difficult to break down in our bodies as well!

Watch how even 5700 degs heat cannot burn a “Twinkie” with hydrogenated fats

Healthier alternative: Coconut oil (that does not turn rancid on heating)

I will be adding to this list as I do more research. In the meantime, please read the food labels and ensure we are picking the healthiest foods for ourselves and our loved ones!

Read more on why I turned 80% Raw100% Vegan and am a Juice Fast enthusiast!! :)


Sources:
(1) – Liu S, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, et al. A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women.Am J Clin Nutr. 2000; 71: 1455–1461.
(2), (3) – http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/high-fructose-corn-syrup2.htm
(4) – http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/
(5) – http://www.mercola.com/article/aspartame/hidden_dangers.htm
(6) – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21224837
(7) – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6111631
(8) – http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v107/n12/full/ajg2012236a.html
(9) – http://authoritynutrition.com/
(10)  – www.mercola.com
(11) – http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/the-dangers-of-monosodium-glutamate.htm
(12) – http://www.livestrong.com/article/272066-why-is-hydrogenated-oil-bad-for-you/

Feature image source: http://ihwcenter.com/

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Top Vegan/ Vegetarian Restaurants in Singapore (and more!) | Eat | Pray | Fly -ing

  2. Carmelita Cabarrubias says

    Very informative. Thank you so much. Keep on publishing health topics that helps the readers to be aware of their food intake.

  3. Pingback: Top 23 Vegetarian Restaurants in Singapore (you won’t realize there is no meat!) | Eat | Pray | Fly -ing

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