DIY for Your Health
It’s true. Cooking fresh meals is a great way to make meals healthier. But we don’t have to stop there. Making some common kitchen ingredients instead of buying them off the shelf can eliminate hidden toxins you might not even be aware of! And the fewer toxins we ingest, the better we function. We’re less likely to get sick and more likely to have increased energy and a positive attitude. Maybe it’s time we all tried a little DIY!
I’ve put together a list of the top 6 toxins we avoid at home by some simple DIY projects. (My wife, Erin, put together some how-to videos here if you’d like to try them out, too!) Let’s start with two:
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor-enhancer in processed foods. MSG is also a known excitotoxin - a neurotoxic chemical. This chemical has been shown to harm nerve cells by overexciting them, sometimes to the point of cell death. Regular consumption of MSG increases appetite and contributes to weight gain and obesity. It has also been linked to significant brain cell death, leading to neurological disorders and other health problems. Sounds like something to avoid to me!
As one of the most common food additives, it hides in everything processed - from salad dressings, low-fat yogurt, canned meats, frozen entrees, potato chips, canned soups and flavored crackers to name a few.
The tricky thing about MSG is that it goes by many names. You can find it hiding as Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Vegetable Protein Extract, Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Textured Protein, Soy Protein Isolates, Barley Malt, Calcium Caseinate and Malt Extract. Any of these on the label and it might as well say “MSG lives here”.
Saved by DIY: The easiest ways to avoid MSG are to read the label and shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Anything in a box or bag has the potential to contain any of these food additives. Making your own salad dressings and seasoning mixes (like tacoseasoning and ranch mix) will help eliminate some offenders from your kitchen cabinets. Making homemade soups and casseroles rather than buying prepared foods has two benefits – you know what’s in them and they taste better, too!
The three most widely used artificial sweeteners; one is always trying to claim health benefits over another. The truth? Not one of them is good for you. In fact, all have been found to be carcinogens (cancer-causers). Aspartame, like MSG, is an excitotoxin (neurotoxin), and breaks down in the body to formaldehyde, an agent used in the embalming of corpses. Lovely. These sweeteners have also been linked to neurotoxic effects like blurry vision, dizziness, headaches, and gastrointestinal disturbances.
This one also hides behind several aliases: NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel, Spoonful, Natrataste, AminoSweet, Slenda, Sweet’N Low, with more surfacing all the time.
These offenders are found in over 6,000 products – in anything from diet and sugar-free sodas and drinks, sugar-free chewing gum, yogurt, breath mints, instant breakfasts, frozen desserts, juice beverages, and gelatins.
Saved by DIY: If you can’t avoid the sweets all together, it’s best to make your own. You can sweeten homemade items with honey or maple syrup instead of processed sugar or sweetener. Using frozen fruit instead of ice cubes is a great way to spice up water or tea without adding excess calories or chemicals.
Why DIY? There are lots of reasons. My favorite? Do-It-Yourself to be sure you know what’s in it (and what isn’t) as a way to better overall health for you and your family. This is Part 1 of 3 - check back next week for Part 2 with more Toxins and Ways to Avoid them.