These days, with so many processed, mass-produced foods in our culture, the route to an unhealthy diet can, unfortunately, be a quick and easy one. In particular for children, the path to poor nutrition can be even more quick and short, mainly because children often will not discriminate between what is healthy to eat and what isn’t. Furthermore, the repercussions of poor nutrition in children can result in many health issues from obesity to stunted growth, and even further complications when they grow into adults, such as heart disease and diabetes. Thus, it is important for parents to understand exactly what their children are eating, and more importantly which foods your children should avoid.
Below is a rundown of the processed artificial ingredients that are found in so many foods we consume, and how children, and parents, can avoid them.
Artificial coloring in foods are something to watch out for. Many studies have been done over the past few decades showing a link between these artificial colors in foods and hyperactivity in kids. These food colorings are basically just chemical dyes that are added to certain foods for a variety of reasons, most of which are to add more color to a food or else add color to an otherwise colorless food in order to make it more visually appealing to consumers. So, you can find artificial colors in such foods as ice cream, soda pop, and candy. Also, even though the FDA makes sure that only safe food colorings are put into our foods, it is still important for parents to check the food labels to make sure they know what their child is eating, especially if the food contains any of the food dyes. Artificial coloring names to look out for on labels are, for example, Allura Red, Sunset Yellow, Tartrazine, FD&C Blue, and FD&C Green. Overall, try to stay away from buying foods for your kids that are labeled with too many of these artificial colors.
Artificial sweeteners are another nutritional element to be aware of when considering your child’s health. Studies on animals have linked artificial sweeteners as a possible cancer-causing agent. However, many other food agencies have refuted these results, stating that since the studies used only animals as subjects, artificial sweeteners are safe to consume. But according to experts, the fact that there is dissension among scientists regarding the safety of these additives, it may be best to stay clear of them.
Artificial sweeteners can be found in foods such as diet soda pop, low calorie drinks, and most candy that is sugar-free. It should be noted however, that many of these low calorie and sugar-free foods will actually contain sucralose as a sweetener, which many experts will tell you is very safe to consume. Overall, when shopping for your child’s foods, be sure to watch out for the following artificial sweeteners on the labels: saccharin, soduim cyclamate, and acesulfame potassium.
When it comes to foods your children consume, nitrates are another chemical added to foods that you should be aware of. It has been reported that nitrates, although relatively harmless on their own, can cause issues when interacting with the digestive process in a person’s body. For example, the nitrates, during digestion, can be turned into carcinogens, which have been linked as a cancer-causing agent. Nitrates are found mostly in processed meats such as hot dogs and bologna. They are added to such foods in order to give the meat its pinkish hue. When shopping for your child, be sure to watch out for terms such as nitrate, or sodium nitrate on the food label. Furthermore, as an alternative, try giving your kids meats that are nitrate free, such as vegetarian hot dogs. Also, try serving a juice rich in vitamin C your child alongside the meat foods they are eating, as vitamin C will reduce the nitrate’s possible harmful effects to the body.