by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
When I first heard the FDA planned to ban trans fats from processed foods, I had to check several news sources to see if the headline had been taken from “The Onion” or some other satirical website. No. Turns out it’s true. The FDA is planning to ban trans fats from the food supply stating that the synthetic fats are no longer safe for human consumption.
An excerpt from their website:
“Further reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year – a critical step in the protection of Americans’ health.”
Most health-conscious consumers have been aware that trans fats have been linked to a wide variety of health problems. So why is the FDA just getting around to banning them now? Their website doesn’t really say but my belief is that since consumers are becoming more aware of the health problems associated with junk food, they’re making healthier choices, which is driving up the cost of many processed foods.
What are Trans Fats Anyway?
Trans fats are made by adding a hydrogen atom to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. This oil is commonly used in donuts, cookies, snack cakes, snack chips, and instant soup mixes as its synthetic makeup makes it far less likely to spoil. Trans fats are ultra-cheap to produce, increase the shelf life of food, and give it a fatty, savory taste that makes junk foods containing them addictive.
Trans fats are synthetic, which means your body doesn’t recognize them as food. This can cause an inflammatory response, immune system malfunction, and chronic gastrointestinal upset. Also, most trans fats are made from genetically modified soy. Genetically modified foods can contain harmful Bt toxins, which can cause permanent neurological, gastrointestinal, and immune system damage.
Health Risks of Consuming Trans Fats
Here are the top 5 health problems associated with the consumption of trans fats:
- Heart Disease
As mentioned above, the FDA believes that if trans fats are banned, it will help prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year. According to statistics, consumption of trans fats increases your risk of sudden cardiac arrest 3 fold! These synthetic fats have been shown to raise LDL “bad” cholesterol while lowering HDL “good” cholesterol.
- Colon Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States with over 50,000 men and women dying from the disease each year. Trans fats have long been theorized to be carcinogenic as they interfere with the enzymes your body uses to fight cancer.
According to research conducted by the University of Utah, postmenopausal women have a two-fold risk for the development of colon cancer if trans fats were a regular part of their diet. Remember, your body does not recognize trans fats as food, which means your immune system will respond by attempting to get rid of it, which will create chronic inflammation in your intestines.
- Mood Changes
Depression, anxiety, irritability, and aggressiveness have all been associated with the consumption of trans fatty acids. Trans fats cause inflammation in the brain, which can interfere with normal, healthy brain function.
Infertility in men and women has risen significantly in the past 20 years and research has shown that trans fats could be to blame. It increases the risk for endometriosis in women and lowered libido in both genders. Women who obtained more of their energy from trans fats instead of carbohydrates were 73% more likely to experience ovulatory infertility.
Trans fats have been shown to cause insulin resistance and increased abdominal fat. It has also been linked to an interference in leptin levels, a hormone that tells your brain when your stomach is full.
What Will Replace Trans Fats?
Trans fats may also be replaced with natural butter. However, it’s important you consume as little junk food as possible to maintain optimum health. Instead, I recommend investing in a whole food diet.
Organic vegetables, fruit, nuts, nut butters, seeds, beans, meat, poultry, wild-caught fish, and healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and butter offer your body the real nourishment it needs without the side effects associated with artificial ingredients.
More Food Ingredients the FDA Should Ban
While the FDA is at it, here are 5 more products I believe the FDA should consider banning:
Aspartame is a highly-addictive neurotoxin that has been linked to mood disturbances, behavioral disorders, chronic migraine headaches, and autoimmune disease. It has an incredible 92 different symptoms associated with it and is found in diet soda, gum, candy, yogurt, and even milk.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a savory-tasting flavor enhancer found in many processed foods. This excitotoxin has been linked to neurological dysfunction, heart palpitations, migraine headaches, unexplained muscle twitches, excessive thirst, and the eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
The average person consumes a whopping 60 pounds of high fructose corn syrup each year. Studies have proven that the rising obesity epidemic can be directly linked to this synthetic sweetener yet it’s still on the market. In addition to packing on the pounds, HFCS has also been linked to diabetes, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure.
- Benzoate Preservatives
Benzoate preservatives (BHT, BHA, TBHQ) found in breakfast cereals, coffee creamers, and other processed foods, have been linked to behavioral problems in children, dermatitis, infertility, and even the development of cancerous tumors.
- Artificial Food Dyes
Artificial food dyes are banned in many countries but still allowed for use in the United States. These known carcinogens have been linked to developmental, neurological, and behavioral problems in children.
Why FDA Food Bans are Necessary in the 21st Century
A little over one hundred years ago, people hunted, fished, farmed, and canned to keep food on their tables. Artificial food preservatives were unheard of. In the 21st century, most of us have gotten completely away from these methods and aren’t aware of where our food comes from. Even basic nutrition education in schools has fallen by the wayside.
However, since most of us don’t hunt for and can our own food anymore, we don’t know where it’s been before it gets to our table.
Update – 12-16-13 – Is there a dark side to the FDA’s proposed ban on trans fat? Read my follow-up article here.