5 ingredients to avoid at all cost

I would like to make you aware of the dangerous additives and enhancers manufacturers pump into food to keep us hooked and addicted to their products.

Flavour enhancers, preservatives, sweeteners, man made fats and nasty products used to enhance your processed foods can cause damage to your body. Learn how to identify the worst ingredients and find healthier alternatives.

Here are the 5 worst ingredients to avoid:

1. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a very dangerous additive and affects human body in a variety of ways. Headache, nausea, vomiting, pain in the back of the neck, numbness and heart palpitations are common side-effects of consuming MSG. Monosodium glutamate is an excitotoxin that overexcites the cells in your body to the extent where they are so heavily damaged that they die. MSG also leads to a range of neurological diseases on prolonged exposure.
It's not easy to find processed foods that are completely free of MSG. Other food ingredients often mask the presence of MSG, including:

- autolysed yeast
- hydrolysed protein
- hydrolysed vegetable protein
- sodium caseinate
- yeast nutrient or yeast extract
- Torulo yeast
- natural flavouring
- glutamic acid

Soy sauce, seasonings, powdered milk, stock, malt, maltodextrin, pectin and anything protein often contain MSG.

2. Trans fats
There is no way for the body to absorb this artificial fat therefore it tends to raise LDL (bad fat) and lower HDL (good fat), leading to heart attacks. Primarily used in processed foods, trans fats are formed when food manufacturers add hydrogen to liquid oil to solidify it. (They do this to increase shelf life.)

In the hydrogenation process, oil is heated to an extremely high temperature of about 500 to 1000 degree Celsius. Hydrogenated oil is a fabulous preservative because all the natural enzymes are destroyed by the high heat, rendering the end product as an unhealthy sludge. If you see terms like hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil or fractionated oil on food label, do not buy the products.

3. Artificial sweeteners
These may seem like a good choice if you're watching your calories, but science shows us it's really one of the worst ingredients when it comes to your metabolic health. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener that leads to weight gain, heart complications and obesity.
Some artificial sweeteners result in headaches and mood swings as well. Aspartame, saccharin and sucralose are widely used artificial sweeteners and can exert a bigger load on your metabolic system than plain old sugar. They also trick your brain into feeling less full, prompting you to eat more, which in turn can lead to weight gain.

4. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) These are processed food preservatives that have been found to have carcinogenic properties by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

BHA has been shown to act as an endocrine disruptors, interfering with healthy hormone production, too. BHA and BHT preservatives are commonly found in cereals, crisps, chewing gum and cereal snack mixes. (Read your cosmetics labels, too. They often hide out in personal care products.)

5. Soy
A majority of soy used in processed food products is genetically engineered. That means the crop has been tinkered with on a genetic level to receive applications of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup weedkiller, without killing the plant. This has led to "excessive" levels of glyphosate turning up in the food we eat. In 2015, the World Health Organisation declared glyphosate "probably carcinogen to humans."

Consuming GMO ingredients in considerable quantity over a long period of time is suspected to lead to infertility, gluten disorders, allergies and even cancer. Though the jury is still out on this controversial topic, with several studies showing that GMO ingredients are safe, I suggest practicing the precautionary principle, meaning it's always best to consume processed foods that rely the least on GMO ingredients, staying as natural as possible.

Cooking from scratch and sticking to whole and unprocessed foods as much as possible is the best way to avoid harmful food additives. Since this is not always possible, the next best thing to do is to stay educated, read food labels carefully and shop wisely!