Food additives – Potato starch

Potato starch is starch extracted from potatoes. The cells of the root tubers of the potato plant contain starch grains (leucoplasts). To extract the starch, the potatoes are crushed; the starch grains are released from the destroyed cells. The starch is then washed out and dried to powder.

Potato starch

Potato starch is a very refined starch, containing minimal protein or fat. This gives the powder a clear white colour, and the cooked starch typical characteristics of neutral taste, good clarity, high binding strength, long texture and a minimal tendency to foaming or yellowing of the solution.

Potato starch contains approximately 800 ppm phosphate bound to the starch; this increases the viscosity and gives the solution a slightly anionic character, a low gelatinisation temperature (approximately 140 °F or 60 °C) and high swelling power.

Starch derivatives are used in many recipes, for example in noodles, wine gums, cocktail nuts, potato chips, hot dog sausages, bakery cream and instant soups and sauces, in gluten-free recipes in kosher foods for Passover and in Asian cuisine. In pastry, e.g. sponge cake, it is used to keep the cake moist and give a soft texture. It is also occasionally used in the preparation of pre-packed grated cheese, to reduce sweating and binding.

It is also used in technical applications as wallpaper adhesive, for textile finishing and textile sizing, in paper coating and sizing and as an adhesive in paper sacks and gummed tape.

Food additives – Sodium Nitrate

Sodium NitrateSodium nitrate is the chemical compound with the formula NaNO3. This salt is also known as Chile saltpeter or Peru saltpeter. Sodium nitrate is a white solid which is very soluble in water. It is a readily available source of the nitrate anion (NO3−), which is useful in several reactions carried out on industrial scales for the production of fertilizers, pyrotechnics and smoke bombs, glass and pottery enamels, food preservatives, and solid rocket propellant. It is used in solar panels for heat transfer. It is also used in food! Sodium nitrate is also a food additive used as a preservative and colour fixative in cured meats and poultry; it is listed under its INS number 251 or E number E251. It is approved for use in the EU, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Sodium nitrate should not be confused with sodium nitrite, which is also a common food additive and preservative used for example, in deli meats.

Health concerns

Studies have shown a link between increased levels of nitrates and increased deaths from certain diseases including Alzheimer’s, diabetes mellitus and Parkinson’s, possibly through the damaging effect of nitrosamines on DNA. Nitrosamines, formed in cured meats containing sodium nitrate and nitrite, have been linked to gastric cancer and oesophageal cancer. Sodium nitrate and nitrite are associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. World Cancer Research Fund UK states that one of the reasons that processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer is its content of nitrate. A small amount of the nitrate added to meat as a preservative breaks down into nitrite, in addition to any nitrite that may also be added. The nitrite then reacts with protein-rich foods (such as meat) to produce NOCs (nitroso compounds). NOCs can be formed either when meat is cured or in the body as meat is digested.

Trans Fats (Plastic Fats)

Trans FatsIn the 1920’s food merchants were concerned about the amount of money lost to spoilage. They found that if they put certain chemicals like nitrates into food, it was less likely to spoil. Nitrates are also used as fertilisers by farmers. The problem is that these chemicals preserve the cells in your body as well as the cells in food. The cells stop working. Cells that stop working are called disease.

Next, food manufacturers found that if they cook fats at about 350 degrees fahrenheit for about five hours, the fats turned into something similar to plastic. Foods processed this way are called ‘partially hydrogenated fats’ or ‘trans fats’ or ‘plastic fats’. If you look in your larder, you will probably find processed food with these fats in them.

When you eat these plastic fats, your cell membranes become more plastic. Think of a cell with a plastic membrane. It is like wrapping the cell in sellotape. The cell sends out a signal that it is hungry. In response, the body sends glucose and insulin to the cell. However, they can’t get through the membrane. The cell continues to signal that it is hungry, and the body continues to send it more food. Soon the cell is surrounded by glucose and insulin but the cell is still hungry. This is known as insulin resistance and type II diabetes. The cell membrane becomes so saturated that it starts to offload excess glucose into fat cells. Thus people who continue to eat plastic fats get fatter and fatter.

Guess what happens to a brain made of plastic? It doesn’t work well and becomes prone to depression, chronic fatigue, attention deficiency and brain fog.

Guess what happens to a liver that is made of plastic. It can’t clean out the toxins in your system, causing things like fibromyalgia. Without a functional liver, your immune system fails and you get all sorts of chronic infections.

Keep a food diary for one week

Food diaryWriting a food diary can help you see where you are with your diet and might be a useful tool to highlight any imbalances that need to be addressed. Be honest with yourself and write in your diary everything that you put in your mouth, including the amounts of still water, tea, coffee, wine and beer that you drink. Include also the time of day, as this has a huge bearing on the efficiency of your digestion and absorption. What are you snacking on? How much fresh fruit and vegetables do you eat? How much processed foods, including sandwiches, do you eat?

 

Please remember that good nutrition combined with sufficient exercise is a powerful means to maintain and improve all aspects of your health and wellbeing.

Children and teenagers

ChildrenDid you know that children who eat salty foods tend to seek out sugary drinks, which leads to obesity? The quality of food that children eat today will have a striking impact on their health throughout adolescence and adulthood. Consuming nutritious foods helps children and teenagers grow, develop, do well academically and feel good about themselves. Good nutrition also helps to prevent eating disorders, obesity, dental cavities and iron-deficiency anaemia. Also, studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better in school. According to reports from the American Dietetic Association, students who eat breakfast have better problem-solving abilities, memory, verbal fluency and creativity. They are also less likely to be absent. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children who do not eat breakfast, or eat an insufficient breakfast, are more likely to have behavioural, emotional and academic problems at school.

Nutrient Robbers

RobberNutrient Robbers are processed foods that not only fail to provide any valuable nutrients or energy to the body, but also rob it of its nutritional reserves as it strives to break them down. Many degenerative diseases have been linked to the consumption of processed foods. These include:

–        Refined sugars, biscuits and snacks

–        Trans fats, hydrogenated fats and oils

–        Fried foods

–        Coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, sugar and chocolate

–        Alcohol