Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients


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Food preservatives

Food Preservation

Food preservation was designed to prevent spoilage, the first food preservation practices were, salting of meat and fish, adding sugar in canned foods and pickling vegetables.

Food preservatives play a vital role in preventing deterioration of food, protecting against spoilage from mold, yeast, life-threatening botulism and other organisms that can cause food poisoning. Preservatives reduce food cost, improve convenience, lengthen shelf life and reduce food waste.

Functions, Names and Labeling

There are two modes of preservation: Physical and chemical.

Physical preservation refers to processes such as refrigeration or drying.

Chemical preservation is adding ingredients to a food for the purpose of preventing potential damage from oxidation, rancidity, microbial growth or other undesirable changes — and is considered a “direct additive.”

food-preservation

Per U.S. Food and Drug Administration, both natural preservatives, like lemon juice, salt and sugar and artificial preservatives are classified as “chemical preservatives.” While many common preservatives occur naturally, manufacturers often use synthetic versions of these chemicals.

All preservatives added to food products must be declared on the ingredient list on the food label using common names of ingredients. When no such name exists, synthetic forms can be listed. For example, synthetic vitamin B9 can be listed as “folic acid.” Preservative ingredients must either be identified as a preservative or the specific function must be given, such as “sorbic acid (to retain freshness).”

food label

Safety

According to the regulatory authorities, preservatives are generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, in the quantities in which they are allowed in individual food products. “Safe” for food additives is defined to mean “a reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use.” Still, there are some preservatives of concern.

Sodium nitrite/nitrate used in processed meats is an example of compounds that may increase the potential of these foods to cause cancer. Studies have linked eating large amounts of processed meats with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

No Nitrites Label

Sodium benzoate and sulfites appear to be safe for most people, but may cause adverse reactions in others. A 2007 study published in The Lancet suggests sodium benzoate and artificial food colorings may exacerbate hyperactivity in young children.

Although butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, is listed by the National Toxicology Program as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” the FDA considers it a GRAS substance in minute quantities. Meanwhile, butylated hydroxytoulene, or BHT, has been banned in some countries but has not been shown conclusively to be carcinogenic.

A diet full of processed foods may contain excessive preservatives — both artificial and natural (salt and sugar) and should be limited. But preservatives within the context of an overall healthful diet help safeguard food and protect consumer health.

Removing preservatives compromises food safety, and there is no good scientific reason to avoid them. The risk of getting botulism from processed meats far outweighs the risk of the preservative especially when consumed in moderation.

Nonetheless, emerging technological innovations aimed at replacing traditional preservatives are in the works. Development of technologies, such as high pressure processing and ultrasonic preprocessing with pulsed light are promising and may yield additional benefits such as reduced water usage, energy efficiency and improved food quality.

High Pressure Processing

HPP-Process


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Your Digestion

Proponents of “food combining” argue that the body is unable to digest foods properly if they’re eaten in the wrong combinations, can lead to bloating, gas, heartburn, weight gain, malnutrition and even disease.

One of the tenets of food combining is that fruit should be eaten only on an empty stomach. Since fruit is digested more quickly than protein and starchy foods, you’ll realize its maximal nutritional value only if you eat it by itself. Eat it 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, or two to four hours after a meal. If you eat fruit in combination with other foods, though, it will get “trapped” in your stomach and start to “rot” before it can be digested and its nutrients absorbed. You’ll also feel digestive distress.

Another common food-combining rule: Avoid eating protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu) and starchy foods (e.g., bread, pasta, grains, winter squash, potato) together in the same meal. The theory goes that since protein and carbohydrates require different enzymes to be broken down, enzymes that operate at different pH levels in the gut, eating them together will “cancel out” or neutralize their digestive enzymes and prevent proper digestion of either food.

The Real Story

The proposed rationale behind food combining goes against the physiology and biochemistry of human digestion. Our digestive tract is, in fact, very well equipped to effectively digest and absorb mixed meals.

Protein is partially digested in the acidic stomach and that carbohydrates are broken down into their building blocks in the alkaline environment of the small intestine. When food reaches the stomach – be it beef, fish, grains, fruits or vegetables (alone or in combination) – hydrochloric acid is released. The acidic environment of the stomach and its mechanical churning turns the food into a partially digested mass called chyme.

Hydrochloric acid also activates a protein-digesting enzyme called pepsin which degrades protein into smaller particles, which must then undergo further digestion in the small intestine.

When chyme enters the small intestine, the pancreas secretes different enzymes needed to digest protein (protease) into amino acids, carbohydrates (amylase) into glucose and fats (lipase) into fatty acids and glycerol. These small molecules are then absorbed into the bloodstream.

Pancreas releases all of these digestive enzymes regardless of what you eat, be it a steak with mashed potatoes and cauliflower or an apple with a cup of milk.

There’s no evidence that eating fruit with a meal, or eating brown rice with chicken, results in “gut rot.”, the harsh acidic conditions of the stomach keep it free of micro-organisms.

There are reasons, though, why some people don’t efficiently absorb nutrients from foods, including lack of stomach acid, prolonged antibiotic use, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic diseases and intestinal infections. But these factors are not related to improperly combined foods.

Reasons to combine foods

Eating protein and carbohydrates together, for instance, help keeps you feeling satisfied and energized longer after eating.

Combining fruit that’s high in vitamin C (e.g., strawberries, cantaloupe, etc.) with oatmeal will enhance your body’s ability to absorb iron from the cereal.

Adding calcium-rich milk or yogurt to a green smoothie can help bind oxalates from greens such as spinach, an important consideration for people with calcium oxalate kidney stones. Lentils, kidney beans, black beans and the like – are a combination of protein and carbohydrate.

Food-combining diet has been the subject of only one randomized controlled trial, which found no evidence that it improved weight loss or health above and beyond a balanced diet with controlled portions.