Artificial food preservatives are food additives that manufacturers add to food products in order to extend their shelf life. The use of these food preservatives began around the 1930s when a variety of food processing techniques were introduced, and has increased as food production became more mechanized. These artificial food preservatives are used because they cause less spoilage than natural methods of preservation such as pickling or fermenting.
Unfortunately, there is evidence that long-term consumption may lead to health problems for adults and children alike. This article will explore what you need to know about artificial food preservatives.
How do we identify these chemical agents?
Artificial food preservatives are typically identified by their acronym, E-numbers. There is no uniformity in the naming of these agents and they can be difficult to spot on food labels as many manufacturers will list them under different names. Artificial food preservatives include nitrates, sulfites, benzoates (or sodium benzoate), propylene glycol, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and carrageenan among others.
How do food preservatives affect your health?
Research has shown that artificial food chemicals may have a negative effect on immune systems when consumed over long periods of time. Evidence also suggests that eating those goods with high levels of food preservatives may lead to food allergies or food intolerances.
There is also a concern that artificial food preservatives are carcinogenic, meaning they could cause cancer over time in those who eat them. This claim has not been supported by the FDA however it remains possible as research continues into these agents and their side effects.
The negative reactions people can experience from consuming artificial food preservatives include: allergies, difficulty with concentration and mood swings.
Lastly, there is evidence that eating foods with high levels of food preservatives can have negative impacts on your gut microbiome, leading to inflammation in the body if consumed long-term.
Do packaged food with preservatives still have nutrients?
The food that has artificial food preservatives is usually lower in nutritional value. These chemical agents do not change the taste or texture of food, making it difficult to know whether you're eating something with high levels of these chemicals without reading the list of ingredients on your food label. It would be best if we could find methods that produce food with less food preservatives and food that is more nutritious.
Why do food manufacturers use these chemicals?
Manufacturers use artificial food preservatives to prolong food's shelf life without sacrificing taste or texture. Food producers don't have the resources to handle food spoilage, so they take preventative measures such as adding artificial food preservatives in order to ensure a fresh product is put on shelves and customers are satisfied with their purchases. The risks associated with food processing techniques often outweigh the benefits when it comes down to producing cheaper foods with an extended shelf life.
How do we avoid packaged food that contain preservatives?
While there are risks involved in consuming chemicals long-term, it will be challenging for food manufacturers to switch out these methods of preservation and produce food with less artificial food preservatives as well as healthier options.
There are food labels that contain a warning symbol if food contains artificial food preservatives. However, many companies will use different names for these chemicals which can make it difficult to identify them on food packages.
The easiest way is to choose all natural or organic products as the preservatives used if any would be of a natural origin. Another way is to eat as close to the source of production and cook from scratch whenever possible. You can also choose foods without an E-number listed under their ingredients.
Artificial food preservatives are one of the most controversial topics in nutrition. Some people say they're safe and others disagree vehemently, but if you want to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health, avoid eating foods with artificial food preservatives as much as possible. If you can't live without them (and some people find that hard) try reading ingredient labels carefully for ingredients ending in -cide or -zate, or spot E-numbers for these false additives while grocery shopping.
The effects these chemicals have on adults and children vary depending on how long someone has been consuming them; short term consumption may not be harmful at all while long-term consumption could lead to serious illness such as cancer or diabetes. The best thing we can all do for our health is try to eat whole foods rather than processed ones full of food preservatives.