Not to sound like an alarmist, but the modern American food supply truly is a minefield of toxic threats. We are routinely exposed to chemical additives and preservatives, many of which are banned in other countries. We face constant exposure to unlabeled genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), pesticide and herbicide residues, and perhaps the biggest threat of all that you’ve probably never even heard of − mycotoxins.
Most of these toxins found in food aren’t visible to the naked eye and don’t have a distinctive flavor, so you probably don’t even know you’re consuming them. But your body sure does, and the culmination of this perpetual toxic exposure could spell chronic disease or even early death. This is why it’s vitally important to know what to look for and avoid in the foods you eat, and it’s the reason why I’ve put together this important article for your enlightenment.
Mycotoxins: A Major Toxic Threat Hiding in Your Food
Planet earth is a lot like the human body. It is a living, breathing organism dependent upon an immensely complex and unfathomably large microbiome that populates its upper crust. Much like our own intestinal tract, the earth’s soils contain hordes of beneficial bacteria. These friendly bugs help keep living ecosystems everywhere in proper balance, as well as supply plants and food crops with vitamins, minerals, and other critical nutrients.
The earth’s microbiome also helps protect lifeforms from being destroyed by pathogenic viruses and fungi… or at least it’s supposed to, anyway. Over the past 30 or so years, these helpful critters have been abused and degraded by persistent chemical pollution. One of the biggest culprits is Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which many leading experts say is now the leading cause of soil destruction in the world today.
Roundup, which is sprayed by the millions of tons on industrial food crops, not only destroys beneficial soil microbes, but it also chelates (removes) essential nutrients like zinc and copper from them. This leaves the lifeblood of plants and food crops completely stripped of their bio-potential. And, without this protective shield of armor, so to speak, food crops in particular are left vulnerable to toxic destruction by what is now referred to as mycotoxins, which are extremely damaging to human health.
Dave Asprey, the creator of the popular Bulletproof Diet has made addressing mycotoxins his number one priority. This is because these poisons are literally everywhere in the modern, nutrient-depleted food supply. Mycotoxins form from yeast and fungi that develop on foods grown in microbe-deficient soils, which are more the norm than the exception these days. Mycotoxins can lead to nervous system damage, hormone imbalances, and cancer.
6 Common Toxins You Want to Avoid
The worst mycotoxic offenders, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Saudi Chemical Society, include:
- Aflatoxins (AF), a family of fungal-based mycotoxins often found in maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts
- Ochratoxins (OT), often found in cereal grains, coffee, dried fruits, wine, beer, cocoa, nuts, beans, peas, bread, and rice
- Trichothecenes, a protein-inhibiting mycotoxin often found in cereal-based foods
- Zearalenone (ZEN), a mycotoxic xenoestrogen found in many food crops grown in glyphosate-treated soils
- Fumonisins (F), often found in corn
- Tremorgenic toxins, often found in spoiled food products
If you’re looking for guidelines on avoiding mycotoxins, this Bulletproof Diet Roadmap infographic explains in further detail which foods to avoid, and which to embrace to minimize your exposure.
Chemical Food Additives: Banned Elsewhere but Legal in the USA?
Most standard American fare, as you’ll probably notice, doesn’t even come close to fitting the bill for a mycotoxin-free diet. Not only is American food a mycotoxic nightmare, but it’s also a chemical nightmare. This is because of all the additives, preservatives, and colorful food dyes used in much of what you’ll find on grocery store shelves today.
FDA-approved or not, these chemicals don’t in any way contribute to your health or well-being. They only feed the bottom lines of large food corporations that use them to extend the shelf lives of their products and decrease manufacturing costs. And believe it or not, there’s a whole slew of chemicals used in the U.S. food supply that are so noxious that other countries have outright banned them.
Petrochemical-based food colorings, for instance, which usually have numbers next to their names, aren’t allowed in Europe. These include coloring agents like Blue #1 and #2, Yellow #5, and Red #40, among others that are widely used in the United States. You also won’t find ingredients like brominated vegetable oil, folic acid (a synthetic version of natural folate), or butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) in Europe.
Other common food chemicals used here in the United States that are banned elsewhere due to their questionable safety profile include:
- rBHG/rBST artificial growth hormones added to milk
- Antibiotics in meat, poultry, and fish
- Propylene glycol in food and alcohol
- Arsenic in chicken
Strangely enough, popular food brands often use completely different ingredients in the United Kingdom and elsewhere than they do here in the U.S. to make similar, but vastly different, products. The American version of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, for instance, is completely different than Kraft’s “Cheesey Pasta” sold in Great Britain.
Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese product for the American market contains:
- Enriched “macaroni product” containing a laundry list of synthetic “vitamins” and additives such as niacin, ferrous sulfate (iron), thiamin mononitrate (B1), riboflavin (B2), and folic acid
- Sodium tripolyphosphate, a surfactant chemical
- Sodium phosphate
- Calcium phosphate
- Yellow food colorings #5 and #6, both of which are linked to hyperactivity in children, migraine headaches, anxiety, and blurred vision
- Unbleached durum wheat semolina, a FAR superior form of wheat than the heavily processed “enriched” wheat used in the U.S. variety
- Cheese Powder
- Whey Powder
- Emulsifying Salts
- And all-natural coloring agents derived from paprika and beta-carotenes, the flavonoid pigments found naturally in fruits and vegetables
- The British get a simple recipe of potatoes, vegetable oil, dextose, and salt. Americans get the following with their potatoes:
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Artificial “beef” flavoring derived from hydrolyzed wheat and milk
- Preservatives, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and assorted of other highly-processed oils
- A chemical known as TBHQ (tert-Butylhydroquinone) that keeps these oils from tasting rancid
- A plastic-like Silly Putty chemical known as dimethylpolysiloxane that keeps the deep-fried mess from foaming during the cooking process
GMOs: Why are they Legal, Let Alone Unlabeled?
You see, the American regulatory system has been whittled away by special interests that have convinced our legislators that all these toxic food chemicals are safe. Europe tends to take a much more precautionary approach with food additives, approving only those shown to be safe. The U.S. takes a more reactionary approach − unless you can prove a chemical is unsafe, then it’s fair game.
This has likewise translated into failed policies governing biotechnology and the use of GMOs in the food supply. Europe is far more restrictive on the use of transgenic species in food. The U.S. has not only approved their use without adequate safety testing, but also approved their unlabeled use. This means food manufacturers don’t even have to indicate their presence on food labels.
Now that millions of Americans have caught wind of the sham, there is a movement afoot to require mandatory labeling of GMOs, and possibly even an eventual ban. But in the meantime, conscious consumers are educating themselves about which food ingredients are most likely GMO in order to avoid them.
Many food manufacturers are now voluntarily labeling their products as non-GMO using certifications like the Non-GMO Project Verified seal of purity. Others aren’t making it quite as easy, which is why due diligence is required to protect you and your family from these hidden health offenders.
Unlabeled Where are GMO Food Ingredients Lurking?
The most common GMO ingredients found in food include:
- Corn, including corn flour, corn starch, corn oil, and corn syrup (as well as high-fructose corn syrup). Corn derivatives that may be of GMO origin include vitamin C supplements, citric acid, dextrose, and xylitol.
- Soybeans, including soy flour, soy lecithin, and soy protein isolates and concentrates. Soy derivatives that may be of GMO origin include vitamin E supplements, textured vegetable protein, and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Cottonseed oil
- Canola oil
- Sugar beets, from which most of the sugar used in processed foods is derived
- Dairy products that contain rBGH/rBST artificial growth hormones
- Aspartame, a common artificial sweetener derived from genetically-engineered bacteria
Looking for a certified organic label when dealing with these ingredients is your safest bet, as the National Organic Program prohibits the use of GMOs in any organic product. I also recommend reaching out to local farmers and discussing the issue, and partnering with those who’ve made a commitment to using and growing only clean food products. Or best of all… grow your own organic garden with non-GMO seeds.