8 Toxic Food Ingredients That Cause Inflammation

In the old days, we (they) hunted, gathered and fished. Today we drive though, run in, grab ready prepared foods or pop an ice-cold beverage laced with sugar and additives! Think about it, if you buy a product that lasts on your shelf for a couple of years, your body has to process what ever chemicals and toxins that processed food contains. Don’t be fooled by marketing either, just because a label says organic, doesn’t mean there aren’t added chemicals or harmful ingredients.

Toxic Ingredients to avoid!

Trans Fats and Disease

There are two types of trans fats- natural and artificial. The artificial trans fats are hydrogenated, which is a chemical process that is used to make the shelf life longer of these fats and also the products they are added to. The FDA banned trans fat on June 18, 2018, however, products manufactured before this date can still have trans fats lurking in them! According to the FDA, a company can label a food free from trans fats if the content is actually 0.5 grams per serving or less.

Trans fats are in most packaged foods!  Cookies, crackers, french fries, cakes, muffins and mostly things delish.  According to the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of the National Academies, consuming trans fats has been shown to increase the risk of coronary artery disease in part by rising levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or called “bad cholesterol”), lowering levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or called “good cholesterol”), increasing triglycerides in the bloodstream and promoting systemic inflammation.

If you must have processed foods, read the ingredient labels carefully! Look for margarine, shortening, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, palm oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil,or peanut oil! Avoid these toxic fats along with deep-fried foods if you want to keep heart disease, obesity, and digestive issues at bay!

Sugar and Inflammation

Common sense tells us that added sugars aren’t good for us! The problem is that sugar is added to products in many different forms and the amount we consume adds up! According to a review done by Malik and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,  “sugar-sweetened beverages whether it be juice or soda leads to weight gain!” Just 1 16-ounce (473-ml ) can of soda contains a whopping 52 grams of sugar which is 10% of your total calorie count per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet.   Add in a variant gene that is not curbing your appetite properly and its hard to stop eating sugars once you’ve started and you are on the road to developing weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes which are all inflammatory and preventable. Sugar has even been linked to increasing the risk of depression and arthritis.

Where are sugars hidden? Of course, packaged cookies, candies, cakes, muffins, bread, bagels and cereals are an easy place to find a sugar.  Think about sauces and dressings. Its difficult to find pre-made sauces like ketchup, cocktail sauce,  salad dressing, and even jarred spaghetti sauces without the added sugar! These sauces may contain up to 4 teaspoons of sugar per serving!

Other sources of added sugar may be lurking in your peanut butter, yogurt and even foods labeled low fat.  Don’t be fooled by products that are low fat. Take out the fat and add in sugar and these low-fat products taste better.  Sugar may also be added to canned fruits. Look for ‘packed in syrup’ or sugar on the ingredients list.


Artificial Sweeteners

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners  (NAS) are widely used food additives worldwide. There are several artificial sweeteners that are approved by the FDA. Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener which was made out of a chemical called phthalic anhydride.  There have been several studies done on saccharine which found bladder cancer in laboratory rats and and cancer in male rats, however, these studies were on rats, so the EPA has not removed saccharine as hazardous to our health!  Keep in mind, its still a chemical!

Sucralose or “The Yellow Packet” or Splenda is the most commonly used artificial sweetener and is made out of chlorinated sugar that is 600 times as sweet as sugar. While sucralose does not accumulate in the fatty tissues like the other artificial sweeteners, and passes thru the body unchanged, keep in mind it still contains processed sucrose and chlorine.

There are controversial contradictory studies on the effects of these artificial sugars on weight loss vs weight gain. There is one study, done by Suez et all, demonstrated that “the consumption of artificial sweeteners drives the development of glucose intolerance through induction of composition and function of the gut microbiota.” This means that artificial sweeteners may cause susceptibility to metabolic disease (diabetes) dysbiosis (altered gut flora) and glucose intolerance. If you have the homozygous variation of the ADIPOQ gene, artificial sweeteners may be more difficult for your body to process. Find out if you have ADIPOQ, click here to order your report and see what nutrition and supplements are best for your body.

Enriched Wheat Flour

Enriched wheat flour is flour that the bran and germ (the part that contains fiber and nutrients) have been processed and removed. This gives the bread a smoother texture and longer shelve life.  Your body will absorb this processed flour differently. Instead of being digested and absorbed slowly, your body will digest this flour as a simple sugar and will not only spike your blood sugar but also goes to the liver to break down excess sugar and be stored as fat!

Now the second part to the enriched wheat story, “enriched”. Sounds healthy enough, right? Because the fiber and phytonutrients have been removed, companies add back in chemically modified nutrients such as iron, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (b3), and folic acid.  If you have the MTHFR affected gene, you don’t break down synthetic folic acid very well and will not methylate your B vitamins raising your homocysteine level. Order your Genetic profile by clicking here to see if you have this gene.

Enriched wheat flour can be found in many foods such as:

  • Bread
  • Donuts
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Breaded foods like chicken fingers/nuggets,
  • Pizza
  • Crackers
  • Pasta

Artificial Flavors and Colors

Food additive is defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as any substance that directly or indirectly- becomes a component or otherwise affects the characteristics of any food. Food additives are used to maintain or improve safety, nutritional value taste, texture, and appearance. The use of food additives has become more and more widely used because of the increased production of prepared, processed and convenient foods. Some studies have shown a link between artificial additives and certain cancers and in fact, the FDA recently banned 7 ingredients that are used to make “artificial flavors” that have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, according to the Center for Environmental Health and others.

Artificial flavors and colors are chemical mixtures that contain multiple chemicals like crude oil or coal tar and the food label is only required to say “Artificial Flavors” or a color with a number, like Red 40, or Yellow 4.  This labeling does not indicate what chemicals are used to make the dye or flavor.  So, if a food label says “artificial flavor,” be aware, this could be any chemical and as of right now, banned chemicals that are known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

Not to pick on the candy Skittles, but I will because all the ingredients can be harmful!  If you read the INGREDIENTS: Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil: less than 2% of: Citric Acid, Tapioca Dextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Colors(Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake), Sodium Citrate, Carnauba Wax. There is not 1 ingredient that is healthy and we feed this to our kids? Carnauba wax? Really?I pay extra for carnauba wax at the car wash!

If you are eating lots of candies and processed foods, you are asking for your genes to misfire. 10% of cancers are caused by genetics, the rest can be attributable to our lifestyle.


Carrageenan is an additive that is extracted from red seaweed and processed with alkaline substances. It is used as an additive to thicken, emulsify and preserve foods and drinks. In a review, by Tobacman and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, they found that when food-grade carrageenan mixes with stomach acid, it turns to poligeenan, which IS an inflammatory substance and DOES have significant health warnings and is not approved as an additive.  Think about that! Carrageenan turns into a chemical in your gut which has been linked to colon cancer! Carrageenan is not a very well known additive, so keep on the lookout.

Carrageenan has also been linked to inflammation, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, glucose intolerance, colon cancer, and food allergies. Drop carrageenan from your diet and see if any of these symptoms disappear.

The following foods commonly contain carrageenan:

  • Dairy such as whipping cream, chocolate milk, ice cream (yep its in Ben and Jerry’s 🙁 🙁 ), sour cream, cottage cheese, and children’s squeezable yogurt products.
  • Dairy alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, soy puddings, ready-made protein drinks, and other processed desserts
  • Meats such as deli meats,
  • Prepared foods such as canned soups, broths, microwaveable dinners, and frozen pizzas.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an artificial sugar made out of corn syrup, which is cheaper to produce and according to many studies, sugars and HFCS are key factors in the growing epidemic of obesity. According to JS White’s review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, HFCS is metabolized like other sweeteners like sucrose, honey and fruit juice which in the long run can lead to fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup are composed of glucose and fructose.  Glucose can be metabolized by every cell in your body, however, fructose can only be metabolized by your liver. When when you consume too much fructose, your poor liver has to work overtime and turns that fructose into fat!

So what foods could high fructose corn syrup be lurking in?

  • Yogurts even if they say natural or organic may still contain HFCS
  • Canned fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Salad dressings
  • Protein bars
  • Ice creams/Frozen desserts
  • Sauces like cocktail or BBQ
  • Ketchup
  • Flavored instant oatmeal
  • Peanut butter
  • Flavored milk
  • Crackers
  • Bread
  • Sweetened drinks
  • Pickles

Also, don’t be fooled by labels that say “no high fructose corn syrup.” Manufacturers are concealing HFCS by using alternative names such as Maize syrup, Glucose syrup, fructose syrup, tapioca syrup, crystalline fructose, HFCS and fructose.  Read the ingredient labels before buying! Better yet, make your own!



MSG is a controversial food additive which is used as a flavor enhancer and found in canned food, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and lots of processed foods. Chemically, MSG is a white crystalline powder that resembles table salt or sugar and is a combination of sodium (salt) and glutamic acid. So what’s the problem? The problem is that glutamic acid functions as an excitatory neurotransmitter in your brain and stimulates nerve cells that can cause excitability. While no studies have been able to prove excitability from MSG, people may be sensitive and MSG has been associated with various forms of toxicity. According to Niaz et all, MSG has been linked with obesity, metabolic disorders, “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, neurotoxic effects, hepatic damage and detrimental effects on reproductive organs.

Even more confusing is that manufacturers can use other products that contain free glutamic acids, such as glutamic acid, glutamate, monosodium glutamate, calcium glutamate, monoammonium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, anything “hydrolyzed”, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, yeast extract, gelatin, and textured protein.

Read Labels!  There are a number of inflammatory causing ingredients lurking in our foods! 






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