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Bernard-Henri Louvat
CEO & Founder of Tera. I am a serial technology entrepreneur and I occasionally write articles for our blog. Drop me a line at if you feel like it!

What Are the Health Risks of Processed Foods? (Part 2)

In Part 2 of “What Are the Health Risks of Processed Foods? ”, we delve into the impact of flavor enhancers on our taste buds, uncover the insidious nature of endocrine disruptors in our everyday products, and shed light on the hidden dangers of food packaging.

In a world driven by convenience and fast-paced lifestyles, we often overlook the potential risks, but these seemingly harmless additives and materials can have far-reaching effects on our health, from interfering with hormonal function to leaching harmful substances into the very food we consume.

Read  “What Are the Health Risks of Processed Foods? (Part 1)” 

Processed Food Flavor Enhancers

Artificial Sweeteners and MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) are two commonly used additives that have sparked concerns regarding their impact on our health.

Artificial sweeteners, despite providing sweetness without the added calories, have been linked to various health issues. Carcinogenic concerns, headaches, digestive problems, and metabolic disruptions are some of the risks associated with their consumption. 

Moreover, the deceptive nature of artificial sweeteners can lead to increased cravings for sweet foods over time, affecting our overall dietary habits and insulin response. Other names that refer to artificial sweeteners include Aspartame, Equal, Sucralose, Splenda, Saccharin, Sweet n’ Low, and NutraSweet.

MSG, on the other hand, is an amino acid used to enhance flavor in processed foods. Regular consumption of MSG has been found to stimulate appetite, contributing to weight gain and fatigue. Its presence in a wide range of processed foods further highlights the challenge of avoiding its intake.

One alarming aspect is the lack of control and oversight by regulatory bodies like the FDA. Manufacturers exploit loopholes that allow them to consider certain additives as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) without the FDA’s approval. This lack of transparency and accountability raises concerns about the additives that are incorporated into our food supply without proper evaluation.

As consumers, it is essential to be informed and make conscious choices about the foods we consume. Reading ingredient labels, opting for whole and minimally processed foods, and reducing our reliance on artificially sweetened and MSG-laden products can contribute to a healthier diet.

Furthermore, advocating for stricter regulations and government oversight is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of consumers. The importance of transparency and rigorous evaluation of food additives cannot be understated, as it directly impacts our health and the overall quality of our food supply.

Processed Food Ingredients

Endocrine Disruptors in Processed Food

Endocrine disruptors, synthetic chemicals that interfere with hormonal function, have emerged as a significant concern due to their potential health impacts. Research has shown that even in small amounts, these chemicals can disrupt our hormonal balance and contribute to various health issues, ranging from cancer and reproductive disorders to developmental and immune system problems.

With approximately 1,800 chemicals used in consumer products classified as endocrine disruptors, it’s alarming to see that these substances are present in everyday items. Plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, cosmetics, and pesticides are just a few examples of sources that can expose us to endocrine disruptors. Some of these disruptors, known as obesogens, can disrupt the body’s heat balance and contribute to weight gain, exacerbating the obesity crisis.

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs), commonly consumed in today’s society, often come packaged in materials that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Bisphenol A (BPA), found in water bottles and coatings on food cans, and phthalates, present in food packaging and cling film, are two examples. In fact, detectable levels of phthalates and other plasticizers have been found in food items and food handling gloves from fast-food chains, highlighting the potential for contamination.

The rise in UPF production and consumption, coupled with the widespread use of endocrine-disrupting products like food packaging, may have a synergistic effect that further contributes to obesity worldwide. Although more research is needed to fully understand this synergy, the existing evidence provides a compelling reason to reduce our consumption of processed foods.

To minimize exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our food, adopting certain practices can be beneficial. Opting for organic foods, limiting the consumption of canned and fast foods, choosing cookware made of stainless steel or cast iron, avoiding plastic containers for food storage, and refraining from heating food in plastic packaging are practical steps to reduce exposure.

By being mindful of the potential risks associated with endocrine disruptors and making informed choices about the foods we consume, we can take proactive steps towards safeguarding our health and promoting a more sustainable and chemical-free lifestyle.


Food Packaging Processed Food

Chemicals found in food packaging have raised concerns about their potential to leach into our food and impact our diet. One group of chemicals, known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) or “forever chemicals”, is commonly added to packaging materials to create a slick and nonstick surface.

In addition to PFAS, other substances like phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) can also disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system and interfere with the development of the reproductive system.

BPA, an endocrine disruptor, is commonly found in plastic products, including food storage containers. Although many canned food manufacturers have shifted away from using BPA in can linings, the safety of the alternatives they use remains uncertain.

PFAS compounds are prevalent in food containers and wrappers used by restaurants and retailers. This includes paper bags for items like french fries, sandwiches, and cookies, as well as hamburger wrappers, salad bowls, and single-use plates. Studies have shown that PFAS can migrate from the packaging into the food they hold.

When it comes to microwavable foods, caution is advised. Even if a plastic bag or container intended for microwave heating is labeled as BPA-free, it may still release endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the food.

Plastic water bottles have also come under scrutiny. Research has discovered microplastics in 93% of bottled water samples, with bottled water containing approximately 50% more microplastics compared to tap water.

To reduce exposure to these chemicals from food packaging, it is advisable to consider alternative options. Opting for fresh and minimally processed foods, using glass or stainless steel containers for food storage, and choosing reusable bags for shopping can help minimize exposure to potentially harmful substances.

Additionally, advocating for stricter regulations on food packaging and supporting companies that prioritize safe and sustainable packaging practices can contribute to a healthier and more environmentally friendly food system.

Processed Food Packaging

What Can We Do About the Risks of Processed Foods?

The presence of flavor enhancers, endocrine disruptors, and potentially harmful substances in food packaging highlights the importance of being informed consumers. By understanding the risks associated with these elements, we can make conscious choices to protect our health and well-being. Opting for whole, unprocessed foods and minimizing the consumption of ultra-processed products can help reduce exposure to artificial additives and endocrine disruptors. Additionally, being mindful of the types of food packaging we use and opting for safer alternatives can further mitigate potential risks. 

It is crucial for regulatory bodies, manufacturers, and individuals to work together to prioritize food safety and ensure transparency in labeling and product composition. By staying informed, advocating for safer practices, and making empowered decisions about the foods we consume, we can create a healthier and safer food environment for ourselves and future generations.

The Tera App Can Help you Avoid Processed Food

The Tera app is your indispensable tool for steering clear of flavor enhancers, endocrine disruptors, and harmful chemicals found in food packaging. With its extensive knowledge and ingredient analysis, Tera provides valuable insights into the composition of food products, enabling you to identify and avoid flavor enhancers that can compromise your health. Moreover, the app helps you stay informed about potential endocrine disruptors present in certain foods, allowing you to make better choices that protect your hormonal balance. 

By avoiding processed junk and opting for healthier whole foods, you’ll be ditching harmful packaging at the same time! Whether it’s scanning products or conducting searches, Tera equips you with the information you need to make healthier and more conscious decisions about the food you consume. With Tera by your side, you can take control of your well-being and navigate the complex landscape of food ingredients with confidence.

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