Bread, the staff of life. That’s what we’ve been told for centuries, and while most of us are cutting back on bread (mostly due a desire to reduce our carbohydrate intake) it still plays a substantial role in the average person’s diet. But if you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground, you’ve probably heard some startling news recently concerning this most basic of foods. Certain fast food chains have been serving customers a bread product containing Azodicarbonamide, a carcinogenic chemical. But the use of Azodicarbonamide isn’t limited to fast food, and this cancer causing chemical additive can be found in a wide range of processed foods from, sliced bread to mac and cheese to chewing gum.
The revelation that Subway, McDonald’s and other fast foods are potentially unhealthy is hardly breaking news to anyone who is trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it does highlight an important issue. Health threatening chemical additives, including many carcinogens, are lurking in the most unlikely places, and it is vital that we as consumers stay every vigilant when choosing what to eat.
Azodicarbonamide – What is It?
Azodicarbonamide is a chemical additive approved by the FDA for a variety of uses, including a bleaching agent for flour and a general stabilizer for many packaged foods. It is also used in the manufacture of plastics, Styrofoam and rubber. It’s not difficult to see where the problem lies. As used in modern industry Azodicarbonamide is dangerous enough, and has been proven to trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory problems in workers exposed to the chemical.
The dangers of Azodicarbonamide expand exponentially when it is used as a chemical additive for food stuffs. For example, taking our cue from the latest headlines, when bread made from flour containing this chemical additive is baked, the Azodicarbonamide breaks down into urethane. Urethane is a well known carcinogen, and has been linked to the development of a number of different types of cancer. The connection between Azodicarbonamide and cancer is well understood in Europe, and its use has been banned in England and the European Union. There is currently a grass roots campaign to ban the use of Azodicarbonamide in the United States, but as yet the FDA has failed to address the situation.
Azodicarbonamide – Where Does it Lurk?
Now, you may be reading this and thinking, “This Azodicarbonamide sounds pretty bad, it’s a good thing I don’t eat at fast food restaurants”. The important thing to take away from this, however, is that Azodicarbonamide can be found in a variety of processed foods. While Subway and their competitors are taking much of the heat, consumers may be unaware that they are still risking exposure to this dangerous chemical by relying on the most common of grocery store products. Azodicarbonamide has been found in the many of the following common grocery store items:
- Breads – Including white and whole wheat, as well as English muffins and croissants.
- Frozen entrees – Used as a stabilizer to prevent spoiling.
- Frozen vegetables – Again, used as a stabilizing agent.
- Bread mixes and frozen dough
- Baked Goods – Including cakes, pies and pastries.
As you can see, Azodicarbonamide lurks in a variety of prepared food stuffs, making it clear that processed foods are a must to avoid. That being said, we all succumb to the convenience from time to time, so it is important that people learn to read the labels on food products and avoid those that contain carcinogenic chemical additives.
Avoiding Azodicarbonamide isn’t difficult. Transitioning to a predominantly vegetarian diet, with an emphasis on organically grown fruits and vegetables, is most of the battle. At all costs, avoid prepackaged processed foods. Make it a point to prepeare your own meals, using only the best ingredients, and put restaurants on your ‘do not’ list. Avoid breads and baked goods in your diet, they contain chemicals, additives and gluten which is highly allergenic causing inflammation in the intestinal tract.
A healthy diet, comprised of organically sourced foods, is the first line of defense against a variety of diseases and disorder including cancer. The recent news concerning the use of chemicals like Azodicarbonamide should be a wake up call to anyone still relying on processed foods as part of their normal diet. To prevent disease, and to realize your total health, stick to the all-natural path.