Food preservatives are used to prevent food from getting spoiled due to bacteria, molds, yeasts, and other organisms. But aside from their ability to prolong the useful life of foods, they also contain components that can cause adverse effects on your health.
Here are some of the health risks of food preservatives:
1. Allergic Reactions.
Some food preservatives have been linked to allergic reactions such as hives, skin rashes and itching. These preservatives which include BHA and BHT are present in breakfast cereals and grain products to preserve their taste, aroma and color.
2. Hives and Headaches
Hot dogs, salami, bologna and other processed meats and fish contain nitrites and nitrates to prevent botulism or food poisoning. These substances can trigger headaches and skin irritations in some people.
Methemoglobinemia is a disorder that is characterized by the presence of excessive hemoglobin in the blood which is converted to another chemical that cannot deliver oxygen to the cells. This is a fatal condition and its manifestations include the bluish coloring of the skin and mucous membranes.
Methemoglobinemia is commonly caused by exposure to nitrite or nitrate preservatives in food. These preservatives are present in ham, bacon, and other processed fish and meats. They are responsible for the pink color of these foods.
4. Asthmatic or Anaphylactic Reactions
Asthmatic or anaphylactic reactions are symptoms which are not uncommon in people who consume processed foods that contain sulfites. These substances are used to prolong the shelf life of foods, to maintain their color, and to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Sulfites are known to to cause hives, dermatitis, flushing, hypotension, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Aside from these effects, sulfites are also known to trigger anaphylactic reactions, a type of allergic reaction which is life-threatening.
Sulfites are a common ingredient in a wide variety of foods and drinks including beer, wine, cider, baked goods, frozen fruits and vegetables, deli meat, dried herbs, tea, fresh or frozen shrimp, frozen French fries, potato chips, trail mix, cereal, muesli, jellies and jams.
A lot of studies have suggested that nitrites and nitrates are linked to certain forms of cancer such as bladder and ovarian cancer. These findings are still considered as speculations because they need further scientific studies that can support or prove them.
These are some of the health risks of food preservatives. Processed foods can save you time, energy and extra effort, but they can make you pay in ways that can affect your health. Strive to eat fresh foods. It is nature’s only way to keep you healthy and well-nourished.