Food & drink

Chemicals in food

05 Jul 2021 | Written by Après Food Co.


Chemicals in food

At The Joy Club, we’re big fans of wonderful, tasty and nutritious food. Food that empowers, fuels and heals us, and has a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to have partnered with Après Food Co. They create the very best organic, fresh food – expertly crafted, flash frozen and ready to eat in minutes. All of their dishes are hand-made from scratch using ingredients that have been carefully chosen for their nourishing benefits to both body and mind. The Après team have kindly shared one of their articles with us, which focuses on chemicals in food…

We are all familiar with food labels; or we think we are. From the basic calorie content per 100g to the amount of carbohydrate, fat and sugar present, we scan the ingredients without reading too deeply into the list. Gluten, dairy, wheat, nuts, eggs and any other potential allergen hazards are often put in ‘bold’ nowadays, but what about those strange sounding ingredients… have you always wondered, what IS that? And more importantly, will it harm me?

There are numerous ingredients that could be mentioned here, but let’s just concentrate on a few of the more familiar ones that you may have noticed during your weekly shop – always remember that the ingredients are put in descending order of quantity.

What is an E number?

Broadly speaking, they can be classified as follows – numbers starting with 100 are colours, with 200 are preservatives, with 300 are antioxidants and acidity regulators, with 400 are emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents, numbers starting with 500 are PH regulators and anti- caking agents, with 600 are flavour enhancers and with 900 are sweeteners. There are a few anomalies in the numbers list, but that’s the general gist of it.

The E stands for Europe. These additives offer no nutritional value and are added to regulate and protect food production processes. They give increased shelf life to products, stop bacteria growing and supposedly make  food taste better! Whether chemically made or ‘extracted’ from natural foods, these additives have still been adulterated and your body will have to process them. More often, E numbers are being dropped on labels as people have begun to associate them with negative consequences, so names are listed instead. Here are a few examples…..

Carrageenan (E407)

This is an extract of red algae or seaweed; this one is actually a bit controversial and you may find it in your alternative milk products, amongst other things. There is a distinction to be made between degraded and undegraded carrageenan. Degraded is called poligeenan and is not used in food whereas undegraded is. Mostly carrageenan has been passed as safe but caution is warranted if you have gut issues as it may cause irritation or inflammation in larger doses

Guar Gum (E412)

This is derived from an actual food – the guar bean. It’s a soluble fibre so if you have digestive issues, this chemical may cause increased gas and discomfort.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (E621)

This chemical has been around for a while. We’ve all heard of it and probably associated it with Chinese food. It is the sodium salt of a common amino acid; glutamic acid. Free glutamate occurs naturally in many foods e.g. tomatoes and matured cheeses. MSG as a flavouring additive is usually produced by fermenting starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses. MSG is an excitotoxin. While this may stimulate or ‘excite’ your taste buds to make you want to eat more, it is also stimulating other cells in particular… your brain cells. When exposed to high levels of excitotoxins, your body’s cells become over excited to the point where they may become damaged or even die.

MSG occurs in many processed foods and usually under a pseudonym: Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, soy protein isolate and even just ‘flavouring’ amongst many others. This is one to avoid any symptoms being reported, including headache, nausea, palpitations or even drowsiness.

Another excitotoxin to avoid is aspartame (E951) which I am sure you are familiar with. Not only are the metabolites of aspartame neurotoxic, but scientists also believe that by altering your gut bacteria, it may be implicated in the development of obesity.

View this as a bite sized taster to further explore your appetite on the subject of chemicals in food. If you are at all worried about the amount of chemicals you may be consuming – ditch the processed foods! Sounds simple doesn’t it, but if you need a helping hand then why not take a look at our processed-free and convenient meals! 

This ‘Chemicals in food’ blog was originally published here

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