My mother was a beautiful, intelligent and health conscious woman. So, she was always up for trying new products that were marketed as “healthier” options from milk alternatives coffee creamers to vegetable based alternatives to fat and lard. I grew up following her example of being health conscious from keeping fit, to eating only good quality food (OK with few lapses in my University years!), to avoiding excesses in alcohol and cigarets. But my mother and I had a fundamental difference in our health philosophy. I always looked at the ingredients and I always disliked what I found in the artificial food. It was also the time cancer was becoming a silent epidemic. In my teenager mind, I could not help linking both artificial food and cancer.
By the time I was at University, vegetarianism was becoming fashionable, and while I was all up for mushroom or beans based protein, artificial sausages looked to me as being both hypocritical and dangerous. I tried few, in fact, I almost tried them all but as a novelty that I can never admit as part of my stable diet.
What made me think about all of this was a piece of news on Yahoo search engine website proclaiming that no amount of bacon, tobacco or alcohol is safe. I liked a reply I found there from a reader about her neighbors, a farming family whose members lived long on the natural farmers diet that included meat and alcohol (perhaps it should also be qualified by mentioning active less stressful farming life). My understanding of the digestion system is that all food produces some form of poison in our body. It is just that our bodies are usually prepared and used to the natural poison so we can deal with it, either by consuming it into producing energy or containing it into our body’s repair cycles; or by turning it into waste. Additive chemicals, however, may react differently to our digestive system and produce different results.
My mum died young, very healthy if only for cancer. The fact she was healthy contributed to the delay in discovering her cancer. By the time it was discovered it was too late. In matter of months, the happy positive pool of energy shrank into a floppy sack. And I cannot but to blame those years she spent chasing after the healthier products. And now we have an epidemic of these products from alternatives to dairy, to sugar, to tobacco, to meat, etc.
It is getting harder to buy a soft drink without having one of the many sweeteners in the ingredients. And it is becoming worse with the assumption that by using these alternatives, a person would be leading a healthier life style. How many overweight people you know who controlled their weight by drinking diet drinks instead of just water? The examples I have seen, showed they got worse! Vaping is the latest example of replacing a natural, albeit harmful, product with an artificial product claiming to be healthier! At least tobacco smelled bad so you know you are consuming something that must be bad! Perhaps we cover this in another article.
The point here is that we have more and more chemicals in our food products that is claiming to be healthier, or better, or an alternative, or even claiming to re-draw the food map all together, but these claims are left unchallenged especially in the light of increasing unexplained cancer cases. Fast food producers are usually the easy target here with the usual sugar and salt at the heart of campaigns. But perhaps we should look more at the additives that complement sugar and salt not just in fast food but in a wide range of artificial food products.