If you are serious about creating health and learning to thrive with PCOS, it all begins in the kitchen.
A healthy body starts with a healthy kitchen.
Getting your kitchen stocked with healthy food is actually the second step. The first is a Kitchen Dejunk. It is kind of like a “detox” for your kitchen. The definition of “detox” is “a treatment designed to rid the body of poisonous substances.” That is exactly what we are going to do – rid your kitchen of food that can harm your body and prohibit lasting health.
One of my favorite authors is Michael Pollan. His book Food Rules is a must read and I could probably condense my entire Kitchen Dejunk down to 3 of his rules ;
“Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
“Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best.”
“Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.”
I have compiled a checklist of ingredients to search for in your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator. Think of this as your chance to be a super sleuth! Take a look at every food label. If the list of ingredients on a package is long, there’s probably a lot of chemical additives in the product.It’s best to avoid these foods, not only because of the individual effects of the additives, but also because of the unknown health effects of combination of food additives. Also, US Federal Regulations don’t require full disclosure on product labels. The only way to avoid dangerous food additives is to eat whole, natural, organic food. And teach your spouse and kids to do the same. Now my boys are on the lookout for “red #40” and “high fructose corn syrup” on boxes at the store.
So get your trash bag ready and hit the pantry – toss food that contain any of the following:
1. Trans Fat – Partially Hydrogenated Oils:
Trans fat is found in margarine, vegetable shortening, commercially baked goods, deep-fried foods, fast foods and many restaurant foods. Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel. If a label has any listing of “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients – toss it. The US FDA allows .49% of trans fat per serving and still allows companies to label 0% grams trans fat.
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Often a sign of a highly processed food, high fructose corn syrup is a processed liquid sweetener. It is a inexpensive sweetener with a high glycemic index, it converts to fat more than any other sugar. It alters the metabolic rate in a way that favors fat storage. Research suggests that it is a major factor of obesity. HFCS increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, strokes, and cancer.
Click here for more info on why to avoid HFCS see
3. Artificial Sweeteners
Look for the name Nutrasweet, Splenda, asparatame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin and sucralose. These zero-calorie artificial sweeteners are highly-processed and chemically-derived and are found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving. They can really mess with and slow down your metabolism. Many have been shown to cause an increase in cancer. Most artificial sweeteners have side effects, and their chemical breakdown in the body can be toxic. In addition, in combination with other food additives like artificial colors, artificial sweeteners can have a much more potent effect on nerve cells. Artificial sweeteners link to over 90 side effects. Focus on natural sugar substitutes like the ones I mentioned in a recent post.
For more info on the dangers of artificial sweeteners http://www.mercola.com/article/aspartame/hidden_dangers.htm http://www.sweetpoison.com/
4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a flavor enhancer that can stimulate appetite and cause excess weight. It is an excitotoxin used to bring out the flavor in foods. Excitotoxins are toxins that bind to certain receptors (e.g., certain glutamate receptors). According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, an author and neurosurgeon, excitotoxins can cause sensitive neurons to die. Many people experience a host of other side effects like headaches, itchy skin, dizziness and respiratory, digestive, circulatory and coronary concerns.Wonder why you can’t just eat one chip and dip? Often both have MSG as an ingredient. Animal studies have also shown that dietary MSG induces markers of insulin resistance. You will often find it in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and more. When looking for MSG on an ingredient label look out for all of these ingredients as they contain MSG – Autolyzed Yeast, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Food, Glutamate Glutamic, Acid Hydrolyzed Protein, Monopotassium Glutamate, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Caseinate, Textured Protein, Yeast Extract, Yeast Nutrient.
5. Benzoates – TBHQ, BHA and BHT
Benzoate preservatives are often added to foods to preserve fats and keep them from becoming rancid which happens when they age and are exposed to light and air. They help with shelf-life and are also used as a de-foaming agent. They are a weak estrogenic and have been shown to affect sleep and appetite, and have been associated with liver and kidney damage, baldness, behavioral problems, and cancer.
6. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)
This chemical that enhances flavor in many citric-based fruit and sodas. Brominated vegetable oil is used to keep flavor oils in soft drinks in suspension. When consumed, it is stored in fat and over time can accumulate. This additive can lead to reproductive interference and birth defects. It has been banned in 100 countries.It has been shown to increases triglycerides and cholesterol and can damage liver, thyroid, heart and kidneys. The main ingredient of BVO, is a poison. Just two ounces of a 2% solution of BVO can severely poison a child. The FDA has not taken action regarding BVO, however, thus it is still lawfully used, and worst of all, manufacturers are not required to list BVO on food labels.
7. Sodium Nitrate (also called Sodium Nitrite)
It is preservative that’s used in some processed meats, such as bacon, jerky, sausage, hot dogs and luncheon meats. It could increase your heart disease risk. It’s thought that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes. Nitrites/Nitrates can combine with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a highly carcinogenic substance.
An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked. Like Baked Lays Light Chips. Olestra
inhibits absorption of some nutrients. Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence. It is banned in the United Kingdom and Canada.
9. Artificial Flavor
Cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors. Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma. Can also affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid.
10. Artificial Colors
Artificial colors are synthetic chemicals that do not occur in nature. Most are derived from coal tar and can contain up to 10 parts per million of lead and arsenic and still be generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Artificial colors can cause allergic reactions and hyperactivity and ADD in children, and may contribute to visual and learning disorders or cause nerve damage.
For more information on artificial colors and flavors click here
11. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs):
GMOs are plants or animals that have had their DNA modified. In the US, the majority of the corn, soybean, cotton and canola crops are now genetically modified, and one or more of these can be found in nearly every processed food. GMOs have not been proven to be safe and some studies show GMO’s may decrease immunity to diseases in plants as well as humans, may cause residence to antibiotics and may have a negative impact on genetic function. Plants that are genetically modified to be resistant to disease, pesticides and insecticides could diminish the need to use these strong chemicals, or adversely, may build up a resistance and therefore require even larger amounts of chemicals than before. It is still too soon to tell: there is no long-term supporting evidence at this time. If you are going to eat corn products or canola oil try to buy organic.
12. Refined Sugar
People in the US consume 150 to 175 pounds of sugar per year. In other words, people are consuming half a cup of sugar a day and most aren’t even aware of it. Due to its insidious nature and the fact that it can be found in virtually all processed foods, unless they say “sugar-free,” we subsist on sugar. High consumption of sugar and the corresponding elevated insulin levels can cause weight gain, bloating, fatigue, arthritis, migraines, lowered immune function, obesity, cavities and cardiovascular disease. It can also disrupt absorption of nutrients, possibly leading to osteoporosis, depression, PMS symptoms and stress.
Here are some good resources for more information on food additives
Some info excerpted from a post in the January 2008 issue fooddemocracy.com by Kelly Scotti, and supplemented with information by the Center for Science in the Public Interest http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm