“I have a chef who makes sure that I’m getting the right amounts of carbs, proteins and fats
throughout the day to keep me at my max performance level.”
My last blog reviewing the movie “FED UP” listed many of the compelling reasons why “added sugar” is bad for you and why food manufacturers keep adding it. Just as I was getting used to looking for the total grams of sugar on processed food labels, some active health food advocates are urging the FDA to declare partially hydrogenated oils (“trans fats”) as bad too. Now I will have to start scanning ingredient lists for that!
These particular “health food advocates” happen to be two scientists from Stanford University and Temple University writing an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (1). This bicoastal duo reports that since 1911 food companies have been adding artificial trans fats to foods to prolong shelf life, improve stability during deep-frying, and enhance taste. Unfortunately, added trans fats alter the balance of good and bad cholesterol in a harmful direction. The CDC estimates that 20,000 coronary events and 7000 deaths per year could be prevented by NOT ADDING trans fats to processed food. Denmark banned it in 2003. New York city banned it in restaurants in 2006, and California did so in 2008.
In 2006 the FDA required food processors to list trans fat as an ingredient, and many manufacturers reduced the amount added to their products to avoid having to declare it as an ingredient. Recently the FDA has proposed a regulation removing trans fats from its “GRAS” category (“Generally Regarded As Safe”) and declaring partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) as “unsafe” in any food sold in the U.S.
The authors note that “over the past few decades, food-safety concerns have expanded from issues of food borne illness and contamination … to the effects food ingredients have on chronic diseases such as heart disease.” They end their essay optimistically with “regulatory reconsideration of ingredients such as sugar, caffeine, and salt may well be next on the agenda.”
Reeling from this latest disclosure of potentially dangerous things that I unknowingly put into my mouth, I sat back in my recliner with a relaxing glass of red wine only to read in WIRED magazine that wine is not the pure libation that I thought it was! Some of the FDA-approved additives in wine include:
- sulfur dioxide to kill microbes and prevent oxidation,
- ammonium salts to revive dying yeast to enhance fermentation,
- pectic enzymes to improve clarity and color,
- oak adjuncts (chips, sawdust, or oak “essence”) instead of oak barrel maturing,
- gum arabic to soften a bitter wine,
- Velcorin (dimethyl dicarbonate) to kill a half-dozen different bacteria and yeasts,
- and, of course sugar.
Added sugar from beet, cane, or corn syrup increases the alcohol content from fermentation. The process is called “Chaptalization”, invented by a Frenchman and illegal in California, Italy, and Australia.
It is simply a wonder that any of us live to be over 65.
I think I’ll just pop open a beer and settle back to read yet another article about how the ills of the elderly are bankrupting our country.
… Or better yet, a martini.
I almost have my physician convinced that gin is “a clear liquid”.
1. NEJM 370:19, May 8, 2014, Brownell and Pomeranz)
2. WIRED, April 2014