• MelHawley

Toxins in Our Food – The Major Contenders

Updated: May 19

Looking for a way to reduce the toxins in your groceries?  Here are 8 top toxins and the “whys” for keeping them out of your kitchen…



GMOs (genetically modified organisms). GMOs are engineered when two different species’ DNA (plants, bacteria, viruses, animals) are spliced and a new organism is formed. This is generally done to create a “supercrop” that fits specific needs such as withstanding toxic, weed killing sprays. Genetically modified crops have been created by the U.S. company Monsanto to withstand chemicals such as their own RoundUp. (“RoundUp Ready” crops).


Most EU countries have strict bans on genetically engineered foods, and many countries have completely banned them. Almost all corn and soy products in the U.S. are now genetically modified. This list includes modified corn starch, corn syrup, soybean oil and other products that you will find on most ingredient labels of processed foods. Certified organic products can not be GMO, which is another reason to buy organic.  We can not be sure of the outcome of eating GMOs.  Is the increase in food allergies linked to genetically engineered food? How about autism? In studies performed on lab rats,  it only took 6 generations for the rats who were only fed GMO food to become completely sterile.  In early generations, baby rats were deformed and had serious health issues. Farmers have reported their cows and pigs who have consumed RoundUp Ready soy have become sterile and others claim offspring have died shortly after birth. Our children who are being fed (at this point, unlabeled) genetically modified foods are the lab rats.  Is this an experiment you want your children to be a part of?


A great resource on GMOs is the film Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives. It is currently available to rent on amazon for $2.99.  You can also, learn more here: http://www.nongmoproject.org and here http://www.responsibletechnology.org/



MSG.  Monosodium glutamate is an excitotoxin. It is the addictive ingredient in flavored products (think Nacho Cheese Doritos and Ramen Noodles). MSG works by making neurons in the brain fire repeatedly, eventually killing them.  Many people are especially sensitive to the effects of MSG and have headaches, flushing, digestive issues and even more severe reactions such as migraines, panic attacks, tachycardia, chest pain, and hyperactivity (ADHD). It has even been linked to autistic spectrum disorders and Parkinson’s Disease. MSG is hidden under many names such as autolyzed or hydrolyzed yeast protein, gelatin, calcium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, whey protein, soy protein or almost anything “protein.”  A more detailed list and more information can be found here http://www.truthinlabeling.org/



HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).  The word is out on this one.  Not only is it almost certainly a GMO (corn), it is simply a processed, man made, liquid sweetener that contains sucrose AND fructose. Fructose has been linked to the increasing occurrences of non-alcoholic, fatty- liver disease in this country. The human body can safely process fructose when it comes in the form of whole fruit with fiber intact, but even in the form of simple, bottled juices, fructose can contribute to weight gain, belly fat and metabolic abnormalities such as high triglycerides.



BPA or  bisphenol A is a chemical found in plastics such as food and drink containers and shower curtain liners and even on receipts from stores and restaurants.  It mimics the hormone estrogen and has been linked to a laundry list of serious health problems. Heat and acidic foods contribute to a higher rate of the chemical leaching into the products from bottles and can liners. Unfortunately, recent tests on plastics labeled “BPA free” have found the presence of synthetic estrogens as well.  Your safest choice at this point is glass, but that can be more difficult to find, especially when choosing (acidic) tomato products, unless you are looking at pre-made sauces filled with sugar and other additives.




Fats and oils. Despite the original findings that saturated fats and cholesterol are bad for you (from the flawed and famous Framingham Heart Study which kicked off in 1948) the latest findings say “Eat more bacon and butter!” Good choices for oils: grapeseed oil from trusted sources (high flash point, mellow flavor), organic coconut oil (so many benefits and great for baking), butter (look for grass-fed, pastured and NEVER margarine), olive oil (Laconico is a highly trusted brand), palm oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, real lard (NEVER use Crisco) and tallow. Look for “No trans fats.” Most vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean and canola) are highly oxidative, genetically modified and filled with pesticides and preservatives. See http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/rise-and-fall-of-crisco)



Gluten. Why is a naturally occurring protein in some grain-based products suddenly a problem? Our ancestors sprouted, soaked and/or fermented their foods, creating enzymes that would aid in the digestion of the binding protein. Our modern bakeries generally do not sprout their grains or make their own flours. The flours they use have been so highly processed that there is no healthy grain left. Additionally, farmers are admitting that they use twice as much glyphosate (RoundUp) on their wheat crops as this produces a shorter turnaround on crops. Between the processing, the GMOs, the additives and a lack of enzymes, our bodies have developed allergies, some to the point of Celiac disease. If you are looking for a “healthy” bread, look for a sprouted one, such as Ezekiel (in the freezer section), although it would be great if they removed the soy in their ingredients.



Breakfast cereal. If you make one change in your house, getting off the cereal would be a great place to start. It’s expensive and just plain junk. Grains are extruded using heat and pressure and shaped into O’s, flakes or puffs. Recent studies have found that extruded grains are toxic to the nervous system. All those added vitamins and minerals?  Your body often treats synthetic vitamins as toxins. In a study performed in 1960 at the University of Michigan, 18 rats were divided into three groups. One group ate rat chow, the second group cornflakes, and the third was fed the actual cornflakes box.  Guess who died off first. Yup, the cornflakes consumers. They all died before the first box-eater expired. Before dying, they had extreme behavior issues, and autopsies showed they had signs of insulin shock such as nerve, pancreatic, liver and kidney damage. Don’t be fooled by the ”healthy” cereal companies, either. So what to eat?  Eggs are a superfood!  Pastured farm eggs produce orange, nutrient dense yolks. The white is simply protein, the yolk is where the nutrients reside, so keep it runny. Steel cut oatmeal is another great option. For a quick, delicious start to the day, both kids and adults  can enjoy a pea protein powder smoothie made with raw cow’s, coconut or almond milk and frozen fruit or just ice. Pea protein is the newest protein getting attention for it’s great benefits. Arbonne International makes a delicious, gluten-free, vegan, low-glycemic index, protein powder that kids and adults love.




Soy. Soy was the new superfood of the 70s and 80s.  Unfortunately, it is anything but.  Soy was not consumed as a food until it was fermented during the Chou Dynasty (1400s).  Fermented soy is found under the names of tempeh, miso, natto and soy sauce. When consumed as regular soy beans (edamame) or other unfermented forms, the soy contains anti-nutrients that inhibit enzymes, and therefore proper digestion, as well as goitrogens that suppress thyroid function. Soybeans are also high in phytic acid which blocks the uptake of essential minerals. Soy consumption has been linked to


Sadly, soy is listed in thousands of product ingredient lists under a multitude of names such as soy protein isolate (SPI), mono-diglyceride, soya, soja, yuba, TSF (textured soy flour), TSP (textured soy protein), TVP (textured vegetable protein), lecithin, and MSG (monosodium glutamate), lecithin. As discussed earlier, soy is almost 100% GMO now, and the dangers are increased and not completely known at this point.


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