always read the ingredients

Launch Series Post #1 of 5: Not All Ingredients are Created Equal! 13 Ingredients to Avoid for a Healthy Life

Thanks for being here! As a way to kick off the launch of my blog, I am introducing a 5-part series where I will write about 5 essential topics over the next 10 days. You can expect to see a subsequent post every two days. I will cover a variety of topics that will pertain to your physical, emotional, and mental health. Each post will include specific actions that you can begin incorporating into your life. These are the things that, with practice, will become habits to you and will have lasting effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Here are the 5 topics that I will cover in this launch series:

  1. The importance of reading ingredient labels and ingredients to avoid
  2. Self-awareness, mindfulness, and your health
  3. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and eating organic vs. non-organic
  4. Exercise and your health
  5. Relationships and your health

Enjoy the first post in this series below!


Not All Ingredients are Created Equal!
13 Ingredients to Avoid for a Healthy Life

Reading ingredient labels is a vital step towards taking control of your health. That is why it is topic #1 in this mini-series. I want you to begin learning about the importance of ingredients and ones you need to avoid almost always or as much as possible. Make it a goal to read every label. After you learn about which ingredients are dangerous and toxic to your body, you need to be willing to search for different and healthier alternatives. To make this transition smoother, I will provide you with a list of healthy alternatives. Look for that post in the upcoming weeks.

You should practice the habit of reading every label before you put the product it in your cart. That is because the foods, and thus the ingredients you consume, will ultimately make or break your healthy lifestyle. Everything you put into your body will affect you. I understand that it is impossible to change life-long habits in a day, but I want you to begin thinking about the food that you eat and how it affects you. Pay attention to your body. When you begin consuming food with high quality ingredients, you will notice changes in your energy, mood, weight, focus, and overall well-being.

To ensure optimal digestion and immune system functioning, we should avoid processed foods as much as possible. However, I know that it is unrealistic to expect that you will never consume any food that comes from a box or a package. That is why I want you to be aware of the vast differences that exist in ingredients and quality of products.

The rule of thumb remains that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it is almost a guarantee that it is a chemical substance, preservative, additive, and toxic to your system. That does not pertain to every toxic ingredient, but generally if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. Healthier alternatives exist. I will provide you with a list of foods and the places where you can find them in the near future.

Always check the expiration date of the product you are looking to buy. Another rule of thumb: the longer the expiration date, the more processed and unhealthy the product is.

I know it can seem overwhelming to read all the ingredients of the foods you want to buy. It is just so much more convenient and easier to buy whatever you are used to. But remember, you will need to implement some concrete changes in the way you shop for groceries in order to ensure you are consuming the best quality ingredients on a consistent basis. I know you can do this!

Here are the 13 ingredients you should avoid as much as possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle, along with a summary of why it is harmful to your body and the most common foods that contain the ingredient.

1. High fructose corn syrup
2. Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
3. Artificial colors (Red #40, Yellow #3, Blue #2, Green #3)
4. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT)
5. Sodium nitrates and Sodium nitrites
6. Artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Sucralose, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin – not mentioned in post, but also AVOID)
7. MSG- Monosodium Glutamate
8. Potassium bromate
9. Carrageenan
10. Sodium benzoate and Potassium benzoate
11. Propyl gallate
12. Refined “white” grains
13. Soy

Click here for a downloadable PDF list of the 13 ingredients to conveniently take with you to the store.

always read the ingredients

1. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
HCFS is a highly processed sugar made from genetically-modified corn. It is much sweeter than pure cane sugar and contains highly dangerous chemicals and contaminants that are produced during processing. HCFS damages the body in multiple ways. Some, but not all, include impeding liver functioning, lowering immune system functioning, contributing to chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and causing weight gain. Dr. Mark Hyman, a pioneer in the field of functional medicine, writes about the impact has on the body,

“As part of the chemical process used to make high fructose corn syrup, the glucose and fructose – which are naturally bound together — become separated. This allows the fructose to mainline directly into your liver, which turns on a factory of fat production in your liver called lipogenesis.”

This in turn leads to fatty liver, and then diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and dementia. When you begin reading ingredient labels, you will find that high fructose corn syrup is in almost everything! It is found in cereals, breads, canned and bottled beverages, candy bars, condiments, ice cream, relishes, jams, salad dressing, and the list goes on and on. If you spot HCFS in the ingredient list, rest assured that the product is a highly processed, highly toxic food that you should avoid consuming.

2. Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
Hydrogenated/partially-hydrogenated oils are highly processed and thus highly toxic due to manufacturing and filtration processes that the oils are subjected to. The most important part to remember about these types of oils is that the filtration process removes all the liquid from the oils, leaving only solid fat. These solid fats are unhealthy and toxic and we should avoid them at all times. As part of the manufacturing process, the oils are heated to temperatures from five hundred to one thousand degrees and they become amazing preservatives to keep all the chips, cookies, crackers, etc. on the shelves for a long time. Avoid foods with the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredient list.

3. Artificial colors (Red #40, Yellow #3, Blue #2, Green #3, etc.)
Artificial colors are used in products that should be avoided in our diets at all times. These culprits are found in beverages, candy, cereals, baked goods, sausages, gelatin, etc. Artificial food colors and dyes have been linked to cancers of the bladder, adrenals, and kidneys; immune system dysfunction; as well as increased hyperactivity and behavioral concerns in children. Read the labels on everything you are thinking of buying and put back on the shelf any products that contain these highly toxic ingredients.

4. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT)
BHA and BHT are two of the most common preservatives that significantly increase a food’s shelf life. Run far, far away from foods containing BHA and BHT as they contain carcinogenic properties. Most commonly found in cereals, potato chips, vegetable oils, and frozen processed meats. Always read the label and do not consume these ingredients.

5. Sodium nitrates and Sodium nitrites
These two preservatives commonly found in processed meats at the deli counter and in packaged lunch meats, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon. These are also used in order to extend shelf life. These two preservatives are carcinogenic, leading to stomach, brain, and bladder cancers. I know it might be very difficult to steer clear of these two culprits, but it is definitely worth it. The two most notable brands that indicate “nitrate and nitrite free” on their packaging includes some versions of Sara Lee deli lunch meat and Natural Choice Hormel. When in doubt, read the ingredients. The brands that do not contain these two preservatives will make sure you are aware of it by listing “nitrate and nitrite free” in clear view on the front.

6. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners should be avoided at all costs. They not only contribute to weight gain, but also destroy essential gut bacteria and inactivate digestive enzymes essential to proper digestion. As you can imagine, all this leads to significant gastrointestinal issues, including inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, artificial sweeteners trick the brain that whatever you are eating is not as sweet as it actually is. The result is that you end up eating extra empty calories. Sugar itself should be used sparingly, but the dangerous effects of artificial sweeteners should make it enough for you to completely cut them out of your diet. Avoid all artificial sweeteners, including Aspartame, Sucralose, and Acesulfame-K.

  • Aspartame is a neurotoxin, meaning it crosses the blood-brain barrier and attacks brain cells. Obviously we do not want this! Aspartame has a similar effect on the brain and body as MSG, as both ingredients are excitoxins and “excite” our cells, over stimulating them and thus causing damage and death to the cells. Again, we do not want this. Aspartame should be avoided, period. It has the potential to cause cancer, even in small quantities. It is used by companies because it is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is most commonly found in diet soda, candy, energy drinks, coffee creamers, chewing gum, gelatins, dessert mixes, flavored milk, puddings and fillings, frozen desserts, yogurt. Avoid any and all products with this ingredient, including NutraSweet and Equal sweeteners. Aspartame is used as a sugar alternative in low- or reduced-sugar or carbohydrate foods. This is another reason why you should avoid all low-, reduced-, and free- foods. These foods are not wholesome, are chemically-laden and do nothing but damage your body. For example, light or reduced-calorie salad dressings, sauces, and marinades have aspartame as an ingredient. Always read the label to be sure you are not purchasing anything with this toxic chemical.
  • Sucralose is cholorinated sugar and a chlorocarbon, which is a highly toxic and deadly substance. Chlorine is found in bleach, disinfectants, insecticides, and hydrocholoric acid. Sucralose does damage to the body’s natural and complex metabolic processes and causes gastrointestinal issues. Enough said. Don’t consume this. Medline Plus defines metabolism as,

“[Metabolism is] the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat. Food is made up of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Chemicals in your digestive system break the food parts down into sugars and acids, your body’s fuel.”

We do not want to mess with these processes. Sucralose is Splenda. Whenever I see anyone picking up a Splenda packet, I imagine running up to him, grabbing the packet, and throwing it like a baseball, screaming “DO NOT USE THIS!” I’ve never actually done this but I imagine I would get stared at and probably be kicked out of whatever establishment this happened at. The point is, if you don’t want to consume chemicals and be healthy, don’t use Splenda and don’t consume any foods with this ingredient. In addition to the traditional Splenda packets, sucralose can be found in a variety of light- or low-calorie beverages. Non-organic protein mixes usually have this as an ingredient so do not purchase toxic protein powders. There are a variety of healthy, organic, grass-fed, non-gmo, non-toxic protein powders such as Reserveage and tera’s whey. Buy these instead.

  • Acesulfame-K is a controversial ingredient because it is approved by the FDA but studies have consistently shown that it causes thyroid tumors in rats. This sweetener, also known as acesulfame potassium, is commonly found in sweetened beverages. It is highly carcinogenic. Among the potential problems Acesulfame-K can cause include mood instability, liver and kidney impairment, eyesight issues, and of course, cancer.

7. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a dangerous food additive because it is an excitotoxin. Excitotoxins overexite our cells, damaging or killing them and thus impacting our brain functioning and can lead to Alzherimer’s desease, Parkinson’s disease, etc. MSG has also been linked to learning disabilities, autism, and ADHD. It can be found in an array of processed foods, including frozen dinners, salad dressings, salty snacks, and meats. Another problem with MSG is that it is masked under different names, including natural flavoring, yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, caseinate, textured protein, hydrolyzed pea protein and many others. Avoid MSG!

8. Potassium bromate
This is yet another additive used in flour products such as breads and pastries in order to increase their volume and makes food look more appealing. It is toxic to the body and does not provide the body with any nutritional value. As a rule of thumb, food additives are used for cosmetic purposes and to extend shelf life so food doesn’t spoil quickly and companies can make more money off of it. Take note: the only two industrialized countries that still allow this ingredient on the market is the U.S.A and Japan. Dr. Mercola writes an in-depth article about the dangers of bromides. Dr. Mercola highlights the following. Potassium bromate is derived from bromide, one of most toxic endocrine disruptors. It is cancer-causing, affecting most commonly the thyroid, breasts, ovaries, and prostate. Bromide zaps iodine in the body, thus wreaking havoc on your thyroid. Why? Because iodine is an essential nutrient that most people lack, due to high consumption of processed foods, overall poor soil quality, and overuse and exposure to plastic containers, just to name a few. This additive is found in a multitude of products, including bakery goods (breads, pastries, rolls, cakes, etc.), soft drinks, plastics, nasal sprays, and more. You should aim to avoid soft drinks all together and remember that bromide hides under the name “brominated vegetable oil (BVO)” in soft drinks. Good news again: there are a multitude of food options without this dangerous additive. Be mindful when shopping and pay attention to labels to ensure you are not consuming this toxin. Look for “no bromine” or “bromine-free” labels and avoid any foods with “potassium bromate” as an ingredient.

ingredients to avoid

9. Carrageenan
Carrageenan has zero nutritional value. It is used for its thickening properties and is also a common ingredient in “low-fat” food options. Another reason why you should always, always, always avoid “low-fat” food. Carrageenan is a potentially cancer-causing additive that does the most damage to the digestive system. It causes inflammation in the body, irritates the gut, and impedes digestion which can lead to a host of gastrointestinal issues, including ulcerative colitis, intestinal lesions, and colon cancer. Carrageenan is found is foods like yogurt, chocolate, ice cream, alternative milks (coconut, almond, hazelnut), frozen dinners, soups, nutritional shakes, and more. Avoid whenever possible! The good news is that an array of companies exist that do not add carrageenan to their products. Check out The Cornucopia Institute’s comprehensive shopping guide to avoiding foods with this ingredient.

10. Sodium benzoate and Potassium benzoate
These are two preservatives that have been linked to hyperactivity, distractibility, gastrointestinal cancers, and neuro-degenerative disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s. These two preservatives are most commonly found in soft drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings, pickles, syrups, jams, and olives. Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology, found that these highly toxic chemicals can cause DNA damage in the mitochondria. Mitochondria are considered “powerhouses” of the cells as they generate energy for our cells to do a vast number of tasks in our bodies. These two preservatives deprive our mitochondria of oxygen, leading to cell death. We do not want this. Avoid these two ingredients.

11. Propyl gallate
Propyl gallate is a preservative often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. It is also used to extend shelf life and prevent oils and fats from spoiling quickly. It can cause skin irritability, gastrointestinal issues, allergic reactions, kidney and liver problems, and cancer. It can be found in meat products, chewing gum, microwaveable popcorn, soup mixes, chewing gum, mayonnaise, frozen meals, and cosmetic products.

12. Refined “white” grains
Refined or white grains are nutrient deficient due to the bran and germ, the parts of the grains that contain the fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, being removed during the refining and processing. This is done in order to, you guessed it, extend shelf life. Are you beginning to see a theme here?  Another issue with refined grains is due to the lack of fiber, they quickly and significantly increase your blood sugar, which damages the blood vessels which in turn can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, as well as vision problems. You want to avoid all “white” flour foods, including rice, bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, and snack foods that have “enriched wheat flour” or “all-purpose flour” as part of the ingredients. Choose whole grains instead, such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal, amaranth, and buckwheat. If you’re interested in learning more about whole grains, check out The Whole Grains Council’s A-Z Guide.

13. Soy
Soy is not a health food and should be avoided if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Why? First of all, soy is one of the top 7 genetically modified crops in the U.S. Over 90% of soy is genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms/crops or GMOs have their DNA altered and combined with DNA from other species, including plants, animals, viruses, or even bacteria. They contain Monsanto’s highly toxic herbicide Roundup that is infused within the crop. GMOs alter normal organ functioning, leading to long-term health problems if consumed regularly. Katie, the Wellness Mama, writes about how soy damages the body. The Wellness Mama mentions that soy impedes multiple body processes, including thyroid functioning, digestion, testosterone balance in men, estrogen balance in women, fertility, and can cause cancer. Soy also reduces the body’s ability to absorb essential minerals, such as zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium. It is critical that you read the food labels, since soy is a commonly used ingredient in processed foods. In addition, be on the lookout for labels containing the word “soy” in the phrase, such as soy protein, soy isolate, soy lecithin, texturized vegetable protein, and avoid products with these ingredients as well.


There you have it, folks!

13 of the most toxic ingredients out there!

Remember, read every ingredient label before you put the food in your cart and make every effort to avoid these 13 toxic ingredients as much as possible. My goal for you is to get to a point where you consume processed foods only sparingly. I know that this change will not occur overnight and that multiple factors exist in driving you to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Be patient with yourself. Make small changes every day until they become habits. I understand that this will be a process, but be mindful of what you are putting in your body. I will be developing the healthy alternatives list for you in the upcoming weeks that will lower your anxiety and hopefully make your grocery shopping experience less time-consuming. For now, make every effort to avoid foods with these 13 toxic ingredients.

Action to Take:
Read every ingredient label and avoid:

  • High fructose corn syrup (HCFS)
  • Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
  • Artificial colors
    1. Red #40
    2. Yellow #3
    3. Blue #2
    4. Green #3, etc.
  • BHA and BHT- Butylated hydroxyanisole and Butylated hydrozyttoluene
  • Sodium nitrates and Sodium nitrites
  • Artificial sweeteners
    1. Aspartame
    2. Sucralose
    3. Acesulfame-K
    4. Saccharin (not mentioned in post, but also AVOID)
  • MSG- Monosodium Glutamate
  • Potassium bromate
  • Carrageenan
  • Sodium benzoate and Potassium benzoate
  • Propyl gallate
  • Refined “white” grains
  • Soy

Click here for a downloadable list of the 13 ingredients to conveniently take with you to the store.


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