article by Kimberly Roberto (West Cobb Chiropractic, Co-Author of Maximized Living Nutrition Plans)
Each year, summertime brings fun-filled cookouts, parades and festivals. But just how much danger is lurking in your favorite summer foods?
Who doesn’t enjoy a burger fresh off the grill and neighborhood potlucks with jello, potato salad and homemade ice cream? Summer may be known as a time to relax, but if we relax our food awareness too much, we can wind up ruining all of our summer fun.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued a warning that our (United States) “war” on obesity was developing into an epidemic.1 That means we are almost at plague status!
And what is helping cause this epidemic? Refined and processed foods filled with mysterious additives. Hidden ingredients meant to make our food “look” fresh, “taste” great and “enrich” our diets through chemicals or animal by-products.
Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite summer foods, and see what might be hiding behind attractive, well-marketed labels.
• Gelatin Products – That jiggly, refrigerated, artificially flavored goodness gets its jiggle from collagen, a protein most often collected from animal skins and bones. The gelatin in our favorite summer desserts, for instance, comes mainly from pig skin and bones.2 Many dessert gelatin products also contain harmful artificial sweeteners or are loaded with refined sugars.
• Hot Dogs –Almost all commercial brands of hot dogs contain Mechanically Separated Meat. Most often associated with Mad Cow Disease, MSM is often a paste of meat that was left clinging to the bones of a chicken or pig, then forced through a sieve by a high pressure process. “You have crushed bits of bone and cartilage and other things that can end up in that final paste,” according to Sarah Klein, a staff attorney for the Food Safety Program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.2 It is the sum of many parts. One hot dog can come from hundreds of pigs or cows.
• Hamburgers — For those of you who don’t know, “pink slime” is basically low-grade fatty beef trimmings, treated with the toxic household cleaner ammonia to kill bacteria lurking in the trimmings. It’s then re-labeled as “Lean Finely Textured Beef,” and added to ground beef as filler. Over 10 billion pounds of pink slime is released into our food chain each year, ending up not only in much-maligned fast food, but also into the National School Lunch Program.2 In addition, this meat comes from sick, grain-fed cows.
• Chicken – Fried or grilled, your favorite summer bird may just be “filled” or “enhanced” with enough saltwater to land you in the emergency room soon after dinner. Saltwater is added to poultry to enhance flavors or increase the weight of the meat before being sold. Read the fine print. Chicken injected with up to 10 percent of a solution or as much as 15 percent chicken broth can contain more than five times the amount of sodium (300mg and up) found in a 4 oz. serving of regular chicken. Your piece of enhanced chicken can contain enough sodium to spike your blood pressure, and end your day in the hospital.2
• Ready-To-Eat Meats/Deli Products – The next time you are in the grocery store, proceed with caution when selecting a prepackaged deli meat. Packaging meat always increases its risk of containing bacteria. That is why many pre-packaged meat products are treated with “bacteriophage preparation.” This is when a food manufacturer sprays the package with bacteria-killing viruses hoping to kill off any harmful bacteria.2 Nitrites are another hidden danger found in deli or prepackaged meats. Nitrites are there to keep meat looking fresh (rather than a dull gray). Unfortunately, they are known carcinogens and have been banned in many countries. Diets high in processed foods, especially deli meats, have been linked to pancreatic, colorectal and stomach cancers.3
• Grilled Meats – The big problem here are acrylamides. These dangerous by-products come from heating meats at high temperatures (frying or grilling), and large amounts are found in potato chips and French fries. According to the National Cancer Institute, “A series of case-control studies have investigated the relationship between dietary intake of acrylamide and the risk of developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, large bowel, kidney, breast and ovary.”3 There is an easy solution to this BBQ dilemma. To avoid the formation of acrylamides in meats: Marinade meat before cooking to help prevent the formation of acrylamides (use a combination of olive oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, and anti-cancer spices like tumeric and garlic), and do not char the meat. It is better to cook longer at lower temperatures, away from the direct flame. If you are not familiar with some of these ingredients, consult your favorite BBQ master. They have all the secrets to a great grill!
Avoid these dangers lurking in your favorite summer foods so you can enjoy the best parts of summer. Use the resources and new products in our supermarkets to ensure your favorite foods to be both delicious and healthy.
Remember to read all labels. Just because something claims to be 100 percent natural does not mean it’s good for you. Look for grass-fed beef, free-range organic poultry and nitrate-fee, minimally processed deli meats.
And don’t forget to frequent your local farmers market. They often have the freshest produce and supply the best organic meats.