Do You Know Nutrition: Food additives, cause for concern?

Phylis Canion

I am interested in a simple guide of what foods are the most contaminated or what foods are recommended to try and buy organic. I am totally disgusted every time I pick up a product that has ingredients, and I have no idea what they are. I have children, and I am trying very hard to raise them healthy and that has become an everyday challenge.

Your concerns are certainly justified. My answer may have to be a three-part series to do your question justice. I will break down the industry leaders because of their toxic content into Part 1, Meat and dairy products; Part 2, Coffee, fruits and vegetables; and Part 3: Baby food and fish. So let's begin with Part 1.

Meat should be a concern of everyone. Most animals destined for food production are exposed to and injected with antibiotics, growth hormones and steroids. In addition, meats contain preservatives, genetically modified corn sweeteners and pesticides. These toxins end up in the soft tissue, connective tissue as well as the meat that we consume.

Today, most beef cows in the U.S. - with the exception of those labeled organic - receive an implant in their ear that delivers a hormone, usually a form of estrogen, in some combination with five other hormones. While controversy rages as to whether these hormones are dangerous to humans, we do know that beef cows that are given hormones grow 20 percent faster, and dairy cows produce 15 percent more milk.

And here is where I will bring in Part 2. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration approved rBGH, a recombinant bovine growth hormone that spurs milk production when injected into dairy cows. While rBGH by itself may have no discernible affect in humans, it may increase an insulin-like growth factor, a hormone referred to as IGF, according to Walter Willett, M.D. chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Higher blood levels of insulin-like growth factor, have been associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate and other cancers in humans. A 2009 study found that children who consumed the most protein from animal sources entered puberty about seven months earlier than those who consumed the least, according to Dr. Thomas Remer of the Research Institute of Child Nutrition in Germany. Part 2 continues next week.

Thought for the week:why is lemon juice made from artificial flavors and dishwashing liquid made from real lemons?

The next free nutrition class is at 7 p.m. Monday at Organic Emporium and 6 p.m. March 20 in Cuero at the Wellness Center.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at doc.phyl@yahoo.com. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.