Most people are unaware of what food additives do in food products they buy . They don’t realize these additives can have both immediate and long term impacts on their health. These “exposures” are cumulative and have impacts on detoxification, neurological, cardiovascular, energy and other pathways. If you have delved into genetic SNP’s Testing you know a little about this.
~ Disclosure: I am currently receiving training in this area of epigenetics through Seeking Health & Dr. Ben Lynch.
What’s so disturbing is many of the food additives deemed safe by our FDA are banned or restricted in other countries! I am seeing many more people who have severe reactions to foods and this includes additives so have decided to put together some research to help you navigate these waters.
GRAS: a false sense of security?
In June the EPA did an about face on their long standing acceptance of trans fats by declaring these were no longer considered GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). The EPA indicated they changed their position on trans fats because of the overwhelming evidence linking trans-fat consumption to increased risk of heart disease. (1)
~ Trans fats have been widely used in the packed and processed foods industry in products such as baked goods, margarine, coffee creamers, refrigerated biscuits and other products since the 1950’s.
What else are we eating that might be damaging to our health?
Many food additives the EPA has on its GRAS list are there only because the FDA relies on food and chemical companies own testing results instead of running a third party, scientific, unbiased test for these ingredients. So even when the WHO and NIH has disagreed with ingredients deemed safe by our FDA, companies are still allowed to use them in the USA. Sounds a bit scary doesn’t it?
When I started researching this subject I was shocked to see many additives that are still on the FDA’s GRAS list are those many informed consumers avoid.
Even more astonishing is this admittance I found in the NIH’s section on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer: Directions for Research; section 8 Food Additives, Contaminants, Carcinogens, and Mutagens.
“There has been no requirement to perform tests to determine carcinogenicity for most substances added to food. Substances in this category include those “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), hundreds of flavoring agents, most additives approved before the 1958 Food Additives Amendment (P.L. 85–929) to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (U.S. Congress, 1958), and additives used at levels considered low by the FDA, except for suspected carcinogens. Furthermore, very little is known about the tumor-promoting activity of the few food ingredients that have been tested for carcinogenicity (National Research Council, 1982).” 
Questionable substances you might want to avoid
BPA: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is a reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant in animal studies and is weakly estrogenic, there are questions about its potential impact particularly on children’s health and the environment. What is important to remember is that these exposures are cumulative and since the compounds mimic estrogen can cause health problems in our endocrine system manifesting in a variety of conditions impacting hormone disruption/imbalances. ~ BTW: evidence is mounting that even the next gen of BPA free plastics still has estrogen mimicking potential so it’s not much better. This is probably the most difficult substance to completely avoid since plastics line so many containers; Opt for glass or cardboard containers and switch to stainless steel or glass for liquid storage.
Carrageenan is an indigestible polysaccharide that is extracted from red algae, and is most commonly used in food as a thickener or stabilizer. Undegraded carrageenan is approved for use in food products, while degraded carrageenan is not. Human research studies have shown that “that exposure of human intestinal epithelial cells to carrageenan triggers a distinct inflammatory pathway via activation of Bcl10 with NF-?B activation and upregulation of IL-8 secretion”  People with IBS, SIBO, Crohns or Colitis are best to avoid this additive.
Sulfites: Sulfites occur naturally in some foods and beverages as a result of fermentation, such as in beer and wine. Sulfites are inorganic salts that have antioxidant and preservative properties. Many compounds capable of producing sulfite, called sulfiting agents, have been used as food additives since antiquity to help prevent enzymatic and nonenzymatic browning; control growth of microorganisms; act as bleaching agents, antioxidants, or reducing agents; and carry out various other technical functions. People with sulfite sensitivity (and especially asthma)can experience a large array of dermatological, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular symptoms.
Soy lecithin: refers to a mixture of phospholipids and oil and usually used in more processed foods to help keep ingredients together because it possesses emulsification properties. If you have a soy allergy you need to avoid this ingredient otherwise my research indicates it’s used in such small amounts in foods that it’s not a big problem. The biggest criticism seems to be that soy is heavily GMO and thus it’s laden with pesticides and other toxic chemicals – which is certainly worth trying to avoid as much as possible which isn’t easy since it’s in virtually everything! 
Sodium Benzoate: is a cheap mold inhibitor. Acidic foods tend to grow bacteria, mold and yeast more easily than non-acidic foods, so the sodium benzoate extends the shelf life. You should know that while many fruits contain naturally occurring sodium benzoate what’s being used by the food industry is synthesized in a laboratory. There is concern that this substance may increase risk of developing cancer.  It has also been linked to trigger asthma attacks in those with the condition, ADHD symptoms and possible increased risk for hypertension. 
Transglutaminase: Transglutaminase (TG), aka Meat Glue, is a natural enzyme that has the ability to glue protein-containing foods together. When raw meats are bound with TG, they typically have the strength and appearance of whole uncut muscles (sounds disgusting doesn’t it?) ~ It’s used in a number of products many people unknowingly consume such as; reconstituted steaks, fillets, roasts, or cutlets; Sausages, hot dogs, and other processed meats; Imitation crab; Fish balls and chicken nuggets. This is defiantly not a good thing to consume if you are celiac or gluten intolerant/sensitive because it enhances the detrimental effects of gluten on your body.  
Polydextrose: This is made by combining dextrose (corn sugar) with sorbitol. Sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excessive consumption of this product. It’s also important to remember that most corn is now genetically modified and thus one should assume that products made from corn (unless labeled non-GMO) are a GMO product.
Polysorbate (also carboxymethylcellulose); These ingredients are used as an emulsifying agents in margarine, mayonnaise, creamy sauces, candy, ice cream, packaged processed foods and baked goods. They can make products like mayonnaise smooth and creamy instead of an unappetizing amalgam of water and oily globules. Research done in mice that ingested these substances were found to trigger low-grade intestinal inflammation and features of metabolic syndrome such as blood glucose level abnormalities, increased body weight and abdominal fat weight. Consuming emulsifiers increased the risk of colitis, mimicking human inflammatory bowel disease, in mice genetically susceptible to the condition. 
Potassium bromate used to increase the volume of bread and to produce bread with a fine crumb. Most bromate rapidly breaks down to form innocuous bromide. However, bromate itself causes cancer in animals. The tiny amounts of bromate that may remain in bread pose a small risk to consumers. Bromate has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States. It is rarely used in California because a cancer warning might be required on the label. In 1999, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban bromate. Since then, numerous millers and bakers have stopped using bromate. 
Xanthan gum: Xanthan gum is produced by bacterial fermentation of a sugar-containing medium. It’s used to thicken and add chewiness to products like backed goods and even toothpaste. The most common ‘medium’ is often a potentially allergenic substance such as corn, soy, dairy, or wheat. Most manufacturers don’t disclose this information. Because xanthan gum is actually a polysaccharide it can be a problem for people with IBS, Crohns and Colitis and it does have a laxative effect on many people. Infants should not be given xanthan gum as there is research showing this can lead to development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in infants. 
Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has just 2.4 calories per gram. While most dr. believe it does not increase blood glucose levels there is some evidence suggesting it does. It can be made from both birch trees and corn, so once again if it’s made from corn (which most is because it’s cheaper) we have the GMO problem. It also has a nice benefit of reducing tooth decay.  Some people cannot tolerate xylitol and get stomach cramps.
~ I did not include information on HFCS (High fructose corn syrup) or Modified Food Starch (wheat or corn) as I believe most readers are already aware of the health problems associated with these additives.
There is a growing body of evidence that points to the high consumption of food additives found in packaged and convenience foods as the driver of behavior problems in children, allergies, respiratory problems, digestive problems and skin rashes.     
And there is mounting evidence that ingesting food additive alters the intestinal micro-biota making it more susceptible to decreased immunity. This is now thought to be a contributing factor to the increase in autoimmune diseases. 
As a nutrition professional I am seeing more people who have severe reactions to foods. Very often the culprit is food additives.
Do you suspect you might have reactions to food additives? Would you like to learn more about genetic SNP’s and testing options? CONTACT ME HERE
If you do I can help you sort that out….There are a few specialty tests available to help uncover reactions to foods, however, few have been developed that help us pinpoint food additive reactions.
Additional reading & resources: