When you grocery shop for processed foods, are you constantly looking at ingredient labels before you add items to your cart? If your answer is “no,” this post is an especially important one for you!
First, the most important question: Why are toxins in processed foods…toxic?
This article by psr.org (Physicians for Social Responsibility) puts it best: “Preservatives are added to many processed foods including breads, cereals, and meat. Studies have found additives are a source of headaches, nausea, weakness and difficulty
breathing. New research has shown that they may damage human nerve cells. We do not fully understand all of the long-term effects that additives could have on our health because synthetic additives are a relatively new invention.”
We are not conditioned–in an evolutionary sense–to handle the bombardment of additives that our bodies confront on a day-to-day basis in this age of processed food. Personally, I would rather not function as a human guinea pig while we all sit around and wait for the more conclusive evidence to surface, re: the effects of toxins (like the preservatives found in most processed foods) on our bodies. If there are healthier alternatives available–and there are!–I’d much rather eat those.
Even though the most conclusive evidence is still not readily available, there is still noteworthy research surfacing, such as this study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: “How food preservatives may disrupt human hormones and promote obesity“
To be clear, I am not recommending the avoidance of all processed foods. Living in 2018, that would be a crazy suggestion! Rather, I am advocating the purchase of the most pure processed foods. Though slightly more difficult to find, they do exist!
Which harmful toxins should I avoid when purchasing processed foods?
I’m so glad you asked!
First of all, many foods contain highly processed vegetable oils like canola oil. Steer clear of those oils and purchase foods containing only the following fruit oils: olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. (Be sure to see my previous post–linked in the text above–for a full explanation as to why these oils are harmful to our bodies.)
If you put any processed foods containing vegetable oils back on the supermarket shelves, you’ll already clean up your diet in a major way. However, there are still other toxins to avoid.
An article on mindbodygreen.com details preservatives you can easily avoid by simply reading ingredient labels:
- BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) & BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
- Sodium Aluminum Sulphate and Potassium Aluminum Sulphate
- Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate
- Artificial Food Coloring/Dyes
(Also, in the same article, see additional toxins you can avoid by eating organic foods, avoiding fried and canned foods, etc.!)
And now for the still unanswered question: Does it really matter if I eat some toxins here and there?
Are toxins okay here and there? Hopefully! I still enjoy my free bag of Blues Terra Chips on my JetBlue flights, and those contain “canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil.”
Do I stock my cupboards at home with Terra Chips? No. Though I used to buy bags of this brand regularly because I deemed them to be “healthy,” I no longer purchase Terra Chips. When I (rarely) eat them, they are a guilt-free “treat”; I do not allow them to become the norm.
Instead, I opt for a brand like Jackson’s Honest that makes a wholesome sweet potato chip containing only non-GMO Sweet Potatoes, organic coconut oil, and sea salt.
Another great example is hummus. Check the ingredient labels next time you’re buying hummus and you’ll be shocked and disappointed. Consider the ingredients in Sabra’s “Classic” Hummus: cooked chickpeas, water, tahini (ground sesame), non-GMO soybean oil, garlic, salt, non-GMO citric acid, and potassium sorbate added to maintain freshness. As a new-and-improved label reader, can you identify the toxins in the popular Sabra hummus? (If you guessed soybean oil and potassium sorbate…you’re correct!)
Now, let’s take a look at the ingredients in Abraham’s All-natural “Traditional Style” Hummos: chickpeas, filtered water, sesame tahini, apple cider vinegar, garlic, roasted garlic, sea salt, citric acid, and spices. Can you identify any toxins in that ingredient list? I sure can’t!
Shopping for toxin-free foods can feel overwhelming at first, but it’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. As you’re starting out, look for all-natural alternatives to your favorite food on this website: www.toxinless.com.
Frustrated by the poor selection of toxin-free processed foods in your local grocery store? Consider purchasing a membership at www.thrivemarket.com. For a flat annual fee, you can buy all sorts of highly discounted, high-quality products from reputable brands like Primal Kitchen, Jackson’s Honest, and EPIC. (More good news: shipping is free once you reach a minimum dollar amount, and if you enter the code http://thrv.me/biohackingwithbrooke when you sign up, you’ll save a percentage on your first order!)
When you find toxin-free versions of your favorite processed foods, first of all…CONGRATULATIONS! This is not an easy feat! After giving yourself a pat on the back, please share your findings in the comments.
In each blog post, I aim to bring you food for thought (pun intended. Note: my day job is teaching English), but don’t take my word for it! Click on and read all of the links above to become your own expert on this topic; knowledge is power. The more you know and understand the “why” behind each biohack, the easier it will be to stick to it and realize you can’t live without it!
9 thoughts on “Eat Toxin-free Processed Foods”
Thanks Brooke. Very helpful. Keep up the good work.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for reading and commenting!
Hey Brooke! Have been loving reading these, but it’s definitely a little daunting! I feel like I don’t have the time money or energy to do everything right! (Or at least mostly right). Could you give a sample of your morning to night meal plan? Would be curious to see what 1 day might look like if you don’t mind!
On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 7:52 PM Biohacking with Brooke wrote:
> biohackingwithbrooke posted: ” When you grocery shop for processed foods, > are you constantly looking at ingredient labels before you add items to > your cart? If your answer is “no,” this post is an especially important one > for you! First, the most important question: Why are toxins in” >
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much for your comment and for reading my blog! I truly appreciate it!
You’re so right. It can feel TOTALLY overwhelming to make optimal life changes, especially since food conglomerates, cosmetic companies, etc., are not in the business of helping us to make the best choices. I’ve been researching and making life changes for almost two years and I STILL feel incredibly overwhelmed at times…so you’re not alone!
Since I’ve written many posts at this point, I think it would be a good idea for me to do a post summarizing the 3-5 things anyone can easily do RIGHT NOW to see big results. Thanks for the inspiration for that post, and stay tuned!
My first piece of advice to you would be to make one small change each week. Even if it’s just buying a new brand of chips that’s free from toxins, that’s a great start! It’s definitely important to go easy on yourself when diving into the biohacking rabbit hole.
As far as my morning to night meal plan goes…today, I had coffee with almond milk (Malk is a great toxin-free brand), and I generally don’t eat breakfast. (Stay tuned, also, for a post on intermittent fasting, which I do nearly every day.) For lunch/snacks while at work, I packed carrots, two hard boiled eggs, dry roasted Brazil nuts, and an apple + almond butter (again, the PURE kind)! For dinner, since it’s winter, I usually roast a baking sheet of veggies (last night it was broccoli, the night before it was green beans + cauliflower) and have some side of pasture-raised meat (last night, it was turkey bacon!) After dinner, I’ll usually have a couple squares of 85%+ cacao chocolate (this brand is pure: https://thrivemarket.com/theo-chocolate-organic-dark-chocolate-85-cocoa). For additional snacks throughout the day, I’ll have macadamia nuts, almonds, almond crackers (https://www.simplemills.com/products/fine-ground-sea-salt-almond-flour-crackers) with sheep/goat cheese, veggies with hummus, pork rinds…the list goes on!
Again, TRY not to feel overwhelmed and just focus on that one small change each week. And, if you have additional questions now or in the future, please don’t hesitate to write comments!
THANKS AGAIN for your support, Elena 🙂
Once again, loved it!! What i selfishly love about your posts is i feel like ive lately been transitioning to a lot about what you write about in your blog posts so i feel like im doing the right things 😝😝. Theres a health food store near me and now i almost exclusively buy my snacks from there (minus of course the ever rotating supply of gummy bears in my drawers. The worst offender, i know i know..). But its good to know that what i CAN control (aka meals not at restaurants) i generally DO. Your blog posts are my affirmation and continued inspiration! I will be thinking about this on my next trip to the grocery store!!!!!
Sent from my incredible iPhone!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much, Roxy! Overhauling one’s weeknight meals, snacks, skincare, etc., can feel so daunting. It’s great that you’re taking control and steps in the right direction! (And, who doesn’t love a gummy bear every now and then??)
Thanks for the recommendations for brands and services with cleaner products. It still seems daunting to read any label and the knowledge that certain companies or providers have it as their mission to produce food without toxins is encouraging.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I agree! The EWG is one of my favorite resources. Their “Skin Deep” division is helpful to identify toxin-free cosmetics, household cleaners, etc. I’m so inspired by the grassroots effort to clean up our lifestyle/diet choices since we know Big Pharma, food conglomerates, etc., will not do it for us!