Wellness/Wanted: “Banned” Food Additives That Wreck Your Gut.

Wanted: “Banned” Food Additives That Wreck Your Gut.

Sophia Marlowe ● 17/01/2022 ● 10 min read


Are You Guilty Of Using These Toxic Food Additives?

A scorpion is sitting by the riverbank, wondering how to cross it. 

Then, he notices a frog passing by. 

He approaches the frog and pleads, “Hey, Mr. Frog, would you mind carrying me across the river?”

“Alright. But how do I know you won’t sting me?” the frog asks.

The scorpion answers, “That’s easy. If I do sting you, both of us will drown.”

“Hmmm. Very well. Hop on my back. We’ll cross the river together,” says the frog. 

So the scorpion climbs up the frog’s back. 

Halfway through the stream, the scorpion stings the frog in the middle of his back. 

The frog feels the effect of the sting and starts to sink. 

As he gasps for air, the frog asks, “W-why did you do it?” 

“It’s in my nature,” the scorpion replies.

So what’s the moral of the story?

Like the scorpion, some things are meant to be toxic because that’s in their nature. 

Unfortunately, you can’t do anything about it -- no matter how good your intentions are. 

On the flip side, the frog represents our human nature as too trusting or complacent. 

The lesson is that it’s crucial to study something or someone at their core to protect yourself. 

So, let’s tie this story to gut health and food additives. 

There are certain food ingredients that, despite their harmful nature, continue to be a staple in our kitchen pantry. 


They enhance the flavor, appearance, and texture of your meals. 

They may even extend the shelf life of your favorite dry rub so you can use them at your next BBQ party. 

But the harsh truth is, carrying these food additives will eventually sting you or your loved ones. 

And once they do, the risk can be overwhelming to overcome. 

We’re talking about health effects like weight gain, leaky gut, inflammation, uncontrolled appetite, and severe allergic reactions.  

So today, let’s talk about some of the most popular food additives that pose a significant health risk to your gut health. 

Plus, we’ll also check out the healthy, gut-friendly options that are readily available in your local grocery store.  

Buyer Beware: Food Additives That Could Wreck Your Gut 

Before we start, let’s be clear about one thing: Food additives aren’t necessarily nasty.

The U.S. FDA has a list of approved food additives certified GRAS or “Generally Recognized As Safe.”

What we’re avoiding, though, is relying heavily on the food additives on this list when there are healthier alternatives available. 

Sodium Nitrite 

What Is It?

It’s a salt and anti-oxidant that food manufacturers use to cure meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and hams. 

The primary purpose of Sodium Nitrite is to prevent bacteria’s growth and keep the item from spoiling. 

Sodium Nitrite is also responsible for the distinct color and flavor of cured meats. 

You might find this chemical on a food label under a different name -- “Sodium Nitrate.”

Nonetheless, excessive intake of Sodium Nitrite could lead to the formation of nitrosamines which are molecules that cause cancer in lab animals.  

"Multiple [epidemiological] studies have found a relationship between processed meat intake and increased risk of colorectal cancer," said Amanda Cross, an investigator in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Institute of Health. 

She added, "In addition to nitrate and nitrite, there may be other components of processed meats that are responsible for the associations observed with colorectal cancer."

Where Can You Find It?

Cured meats including bacon, sausage, ham, salami, and smoked fish.

Tip: If possible, limit your intake of cured by choosing farm-raised, whole-food protein instead.

Check the label of products with phrases like “no nitrates” or “no nitrites added.”

Lastly, make it a habit to eat foods rich in Vitamin C as they help decrease the conversion of nitrites into cancer-causing nitrosamine.

Trans Fats

What Are They?

Trans fat results from an industrial process wherein hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to create a semi-solid product called “Partially Hydrogenated Oil.”

The unique property of trans fat allows food items to stay fresh for a long time. 

Most fast-food chains use this type of oil for their fried products because they don’t have to replace it as often as other natural oils.

Experts agree that this is the worst type you can eat. 

But how?

Well, let’s look at one example. 

Researchers at Wake Forest University found that trans fats can increase the amount of belly fat. 

Wake Forest researcher Lawrence L. Rudel, Ph.D., explains, Diets rich in trans fat cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled."

During their study, his team divided 51 male monkeys into two groups. 

Group A ate unsaturated fats such as olive oil. 

Group B ate a lot of trans fat or about 8% of their diet.

Both groups ate a Western-style diet -- where 35% consisted of fat. 

The researchers observed the two groups for six years -- equivalent to a 20-year human lifespan.  

And the result was astounding.

Participants in Group A increased their body weight by only 1.8%.

Meanwhile, participants in Group B gained their weight by 7.2%. 

In humans, that weight gain is enough to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease significantly.

Where Can You Find Them?


In fast foods, restaurants, grocery items. 

You can specifically find it on processed foods, including baked foods, snack foods, and processed foods. 

Processed dairy products are also notorious for having high levels of trans fats.


How to know the total trans fat of the item you’re buying? 

Under the food label, add the grams of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fat.

Then subtract the result from the total grams of fat listed on the label. 

The difference is trans fat.

Experts recommend limiting trans fat to less than 1% of daily calories. So if you need 2,000 calories a day, your daily trans fat limit is 20 calories or 2 grams per day. 

You can replace trans fat with healthier options rich in poly and monounsaturated fats, including:

  • Olive oil
  • Lean or skinless meat and fish
  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products
  • Grass-fed butter or pastured pork lard

Lastly, make it a habit to eat a healthy diet rich in whole foods you can easily buy from your local market. Not only can you help support local businesses, but you can also improve your gut health. 

Artificial Food Colorings

What Are They?

Also known as “Food Dyes,” artificial food colorings are responsible for the bright colors of commercial pastries, cakes, bread, and packaged foods. 

You can also find them in sauces, marinades, and beverages.

The U.S. FDA defines Artificial Food Colorings as “any substance that imparts color to a food, drug, cosmetic, or the human body.”

The process of adding color to food isn’t new.

Our ancestors used natural dyes from beet extract, coffee, saffron, and paprika to make traditional dishes appetizing. 

But as the demand for consumer goods soared, manufacturers had to find cheaper, more convenient alternatives. 

That’s why today, most food colorings come from petroleum. 

And if you don’t know, petroleum is the same substance you can find in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and plastic.

Yes, the same sticky black stuff in your driveway is also found in your favorite ice cream. 

Since modern food colorings are primarily artificial, your body may have a hard time breaking them down. 

As a result, your gut gets inflamed, leading to flare-up symptoms such as diarrhea and cramps. 

Food colorings may also increase your susceptibility to gut infection.

Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic reports that food colorings may trigger allergic reactions as your body’s way of defending itself from food ingredients it deems harmful. 

Such symptoms include cramping, stomach pain, and diarrhea.    

Where Can You Find Them?

Boxed pasta, canned foods, breakfast cereals, bottled salad dressings, processed bread, chewing gums, energy bars. 

In other words, most items in your grocery aisle probably have some level of food coloring in them. 


Try natural, food-based dyes instead. 

On top of making your meals look appetizing, they’re also rich in bioflavonoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants.

Here’s a list of plant-based dyes you can try with your next meal:

Red and Pink: Beets, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, strawberries, raspberries, red peppers, paprika

Yellow and Orange: Mango, carrot, turmeric, saffron

Purple and Blue: Grapes and blueberries

Green: Basil, spinach, mint, avocado, matcha green tea

Potassium Bromate

What Is It?

Also called “bromate,” this chemical is an oxidizing agent that accelerates the aging of flour faster than open air. 

Aging the flour enhances the elasticity of the dough, which results in fluffy, soft, and unnaturally white bread. 

Many countries have already banned this additive. 

However, it’s still prevalent among small commercial bakeries and fast-food chains in the US.  

So why should you be concerned about this food additive?

Many studies have shown that exposure to Potassium Bromate increased the incidence of benign and malignant tumors among lab animals. 

What’s more, Potassium Bromate has the potential to disrupt the genetic material within cells. 

Where Can You Find It?

Bread, flours, pizza dough, buns, and other products with flour. 


On top of avoiding products with “potassium bromate” or “bromated flour” on the label, you can also try organic bread instead. 

Are you tired of the same old commercial flour? 

Why not try these alternatives instead? 

Almond - This flour is an excellent option for a low-carb diet. It is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. You can use it for pie crusts, cookies, pancakes, and bread. Almond flour is also perfect as a coating for fish and chicken.  

Coconut -  This flour is perfect for paleo, grain-, and gluten-free baking. It is high in fiber, low in calories, and heart-friendly fats. Coconut flour is versatile enough to be a thickener for soups. It’s also perfect for no-bake recipes.    

Cassava -  This flour is rich in fiber and vitamin C and has fewer calories per serving than most flour. It is rich in resistant starch, which serves as food for beneficial gut bacteria. Use Cassava Flour when baking gluten-free recipes, as a thickener in sauces, or as pasta dough.     

Arrowroot -  This flour is a healthier alternative to cornstarch for thickening soups and sauces. It is rich in potassium, iron, and B vitamins. Use it when you like a crunchier texture for your cookies and crumble bars. 


What Are They?

These preservatives help extend the freshness, taste, color, and smell of food by preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi.  

The National Toxicology Program recently classified BHA as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has listed BHA as a “Category 1 endocrine disruptor.”

Some data also suggest that BHT may impact vital organs such as the lungs, liver, kidney, and thyroid.  

Where Can You Find Them?

You can find BHA in several processed foods like meats, cereals, beer, snack foods, nut products, sweets, butter, and baked goods.

BHT is present in chewing gum, preserved meats, dehydrated foods, and other foods that contain fats and extra flavoring. 

In other words, any packaged food or beverage that can last for months or years probably contains BHA and BHT.


If possible, minimize your intake of packaged, pre-processed foods by sticking to fresh foods you can easily buy from your local food market. 

Synthetic Emulsifiers

What Are They?

Oil and water are two substances that don’t mix well on their own. 

Thankfully, science cracked the code on how to mix these naturally repelling substances through emulsifiers.   

The role of emulsifiers is to help bind water and oil together to create a consistent, smooth texture and flavor. 

Emulsifiers from food sources like egg yolk, vinegar, and sunflower oil are safe for human consumption. 

Unfortunately, synthetic emulsifiers like polysorbate 80 (P80) and carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) are common in processed foods. 

These types of emulsifiers have been shown to damage the intestinal barrier leading to inflammation. 

And when your gut is inflamed, you tend to eat more food, gain more weight around your tummy, and you’re more resistant to insulin. 

Where Can You Find Them?

Dairy-based products, jellies, salad dressings, and some processed meats  


Consider making your version of condiments by using natural emulsifiers like vinegar, egg, and mustard. Not only will they make your salads and sandwiches delicious, but your gut will also love you too! 


On their own, food additives can enhance the flavor and appearance of foods. 

However, the increasing demand for consumer goods is forcing manufacturers to lean towards cheaper, more convenient alternatives, which may deem harmful to your gut health.

You can’t entirely eradicate certain food additives in your life. 

The good news is you can minimize your consumption of food additives by choosing fresh, whole foods and healthier options we listed here. 











Related Articles

FRUIT __ 5 mins read
Simple Juice Recipes to boost your immune system
FRUIT __ 5 mins read
Simple Juice Recipes to boost your immune system
FRUIT __ 5 mins read
Simple Juice Recipes to boost your immune system

Join the Community

As seen on