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Antioxidant preservatives are used primarily to prevent fats and shortening from becoming rancid.  They allow foods to stay on the shelf a long time.  Most preservatives are not believed to be a health hazard, but the three petroleum-based antioxidant preservatives that are eliminated by the Feingold Program have been found to trigger behavior and health problems:


BHA Butylated Hydroxyanisole E 320
BHT Butylated Hydroxytoluene E 131
TBHQ Tertiary Butylhydroquinone E 319

These preservatives are not always listed on product labels. If the product contains oil or other secondary ingredients, preservatives in those ingredients may not be listed. They can be avoided, however, by using the Feingold Association’s Foodlist & Shopping Guide which you receive when you become a Feingold member.




Preserved foods in mason jars on a counter

Until about one hundred years ago, foods were preserved in traditional ways, including canning, salting, drying and fermenting.  But during World War II chemical preservatives were developed to preserve food for soldiers on the front lines.

After the war, the companies making these preservatives needed new markets for their preservative chemicals as well as for the nerve gases and other toxic chemicals which had been developed for warfare.   While nerve gases became the basis for the pesticide industry, the petrochemical preservatives BHA, BHT, and (later) TBHQ found new markets here at home — in foods, cleaning supplies, and plastics — for a public enthralled with all things “modern” and embracing the idea of “better living through chemistry.”

Such chemicals have been put into our food and environment for so many years that “long shelf life” appears normal to us, and it is only recently that Americans are questioning the wisdom of this huge chemical experiment.

BHT - How this preservative makes people fat

Now, there is a safe, economical way to test the effects of chemicals on humans.

Of the approximately 80,000 chemicals in our food and non-food products, few of them have ever been tested for their effects on health. What’s more, whatever little testing has been carried out has typically been done on lab animals, and while this is helpful, it’s not an ideal way to gauge their possible effects on humans. What’s more, such testing is expensive, time-consuming, and generally exam-ines only a single chemical rather than the effects of combinations of chemicals — the way we are exposed to them in real life.




BHT is best known as the preservative in major brand- name cereals, but they are only one of the many foods that contain it.


Thanks to cutting-edge research from Cedars-Sinai

Medical Center in Los Angeles, there is a new way to test the effects of chemicals on humans.

The test involves taking blood samples and converting them into stem cells. The stem cells are then used to create the tissue that lines the gut (epithelium tissue) and also brain tissue that regulates our appetite and metabolism (neuronal tissue). [Sareen, Nature Com-munications 2017]
Researchers tested three chemicals: tributyltin (TBT), perfluoroc-tanoic acid (PFOA), and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT). The last one, BHT, is one of the notorious preservatives eliminated on the Feingold Diet. It tested out to be the most damaging of the three. (Because BHT has been found to be a human carcinogen, California requires warning labels to that effect on foods with the chemical.)



Who knows what happens when many different additives are consumed at the same time?

Now, there might be a way to test this.




Another benefit from this new test

What happens when a person is exposed to a combi-nation of hundreds of different synthetic chemicals?
Unless they have a very healthy life style, most people are exposed to multiple chemicals, and there is no way to predict what happens when all of them interact. What little testing has been done on synthetic additives has been very unrealistic. A study that looks at only BHT or only Yellow 5 will not predict what happens when little Johnny eats his bowl of neon cereal with BHT, (fake) strawberry milk and a glass of (fake) orange drink, followed by his purple vitamin and red medicine. One notable study that combined two additives has shown that when they are eaten at the same time, the harmful effects are magnified as much as seven fold! (Lau, 2006)



The obesity link

When BHT was tested it was found to interfere with the ability of hormones in the gut and brain to communicate. The additive prevents the gut from allowing the brain to know that the individual has eaten enough food and is satisfied.
Another effect of this petroleum-based chemical was damage to the mitochon-dria. What are mitochondria? It’s a big word for tiny little organs inside each cell where food is changed to energy.

Where is BHT used?

Manufacturers love BHT! They use it in products that contain fats/oils because it prevents them from going rancid, even if the product sits on the shelf for a very long time. It is used in cosmetics as well as processed foods.

In the same way that MSG is hidden in foods, industries have found ways to use BHT without having to tell you it’s there. Feingold volunteers learned very early on that some people are sensitive to even tiny amounts, so we go way beyond reading labels; this is why we require manufacturers to provide detailed information about this additive in order for a product to be acceptable for use on the Feingold Diet. We insist on knowing if BHT is used in any of the ingredients in a product, including incidental ones like pan grease or vitamins. We also need to know if the packaging materials are treated with it. (When the inside bag of cereal is treated with BHT, the purpose is not to preserve the liner but to have the chemical migrate on to the cereal so it appears to be fresh.)

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