Keeping your child chemical free is a good first step to keeping their brains and bodies healthy. According to the Journal of Epidemiology 2002, in the past 50 years, over 3,500 chemical additives have been added to our food supply. This is in addition to the pesticides and herbicides that may have been sprayed on fruit and vegetables. Think about all the chemicals in cleaning supplies, chemical scents indiscriminately sprayed around homes and even scented laundry detergents. Some of our children – perhaps all of us, are not coping well with this overabundance of chemicals that never before existed in all of human history.
Cited in many Journals such as the Journal of Pediatric, Child Health, 1997, all these chemical compounds have been associated with mood swings, poor impulse control and aggressive behavior, poor attention span depression and apathy, disturbed sleep patterns, impaired memory and intellectual performance.
Why Are Chemicals Added to Food?
Chemicals are added so that foods look better by changing their color and to preserve and stabilize the food for longer shelf life – not necessarily a longer life for humans. Most of the additives are synthetic compounds, some with known negative health effects. But more importantly we don’t even know what the long-term consequences are of chowing down such large amounts of chemicals. Children’s brains and bodies are still developing, therefore, it’s best to avoid all additives for them.
Some additives will not harm children such as E101 (Vitamin B2), E160 (carotene, Vitamin A), E300-304 (Vitamin C), E306-309 (tocopherols, such as vitamin E), the emulsifier E322 (lecithin), Stabilizers E375 (niacin) – a B vitamin, and E440 (pectin).
What Should You Do?
1) Keep harmful chemicals out of your child’s diet as much as possible.
2) Know that organic produce can only help your child with higher amounts of health-giving nutrients. Some products will be more expensive than the ones sprayed with pesticides; others are about the same price. Do what you can afford as far as organic shopping for vegetables and fruit are concerned. Know that choices for organic butter, cheese, chicken, yogurt, wild fish organic lamb or beef mean that animals have been reared without the use of any growth hormones or antibiotics.
3) Be aware when buying food and drinks – read labels. Mostly, buy whole foods without labels.
4) Shop for chemical-free laundry detergents, dish washing liquids, natural sprays, toilet cleaners and other cleaning supplies. Also, be advised to look fort natural shampoo, soap and other products used on the body. These chemical-free products can be found in most supermarkets and are also available in health food stores. Generally, they are not overly expensive; some are even cheaper than brand name products filled with chemicals.
What Chemicals are Harmful?
Unfortunately, there is a dirty laundry list of chemicals that are widely used as food coloring in snacks, sauces, jams, soups, wine, cake decorations, candy, cereals, meat products, cheese, cider and juices – that are not 100% juice, but mostly colored, sugary water with chemicals. Become aware and shop smart.
The following is a list of 20 additives to avoid especially if your child has skin rashes, asthma, hay fever or rhinitis as some of these additives can bring on attacks.
Allura red AC
Brilliant black BN
Butlylated hydroxyl-anisole (BHA)
Monosodium glutarnate (MSG)
Ponceau 4R, Cochineal red A
Propyl p-hydroxy-enzoate, propyl-paraben, paraben
Saccharin and its Na, K and Ca salts
Stannous chloride (tin)
Sunset yellow FCF, Orange/yellow S
Help prevent your child and other family members being exposed to additives and chemicals for a healthier tomorrow.
Reference: Optimum Nutrition for Your Child’s Mind, Patrick Holford and Deborah Colson