Some initials get our attention such as FBI or PMS. We automatically know what they mean. Some are not as clear but we get the general idea like NATO or AIDS. Initials can save us time like shooting off a quick e-mail that says â€œLOL.â€ But, the ones that get my attention are the ones printed too small to read on the side of a package representing additives tucked inside a food or beverage I might consume.
Butylated hydroxytoluene-no wait, BHT (there, that's easier) is added to food to preserve color, odor and taste. Along with its closely related cousin BHA, both retard rancidity in foods that contain oil and fat. BHT is used in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, meat, lipstick, lotions, shortening, margarine, butter and snack foods. But many researchers say it's dangerous and should be eliminated from our food supply completely. Japan, Australia, Romania, and Sweden have already banned it permanently. And the state of California has listed it as a carcinogen but yet, open your kitchen cupboards and I bet you'll find it lurking somewhere. Our precious FDA (don't get me started) gave it the go ahead back in the '50s. Since then food and cosmetic companies have used it to save themselves many a dollar. If something appears to last longer, even though its food value has lessened, we can still buy it off the market shelf.
Here's what we know: The Environmental Working Group classifies BHT as a skin, liver and kidney toxicant. We store it in the liver and also in fat, which is why thin people are more at risk for damage. Studies show it promotes cancer and tumor growth. Some people have difficulty metabolizing BHT and experience behavior changes as well as recognizable health changes. Currently it's being tested for use in treating herpes and AIDS. But there have been no official conclusive human studies. Maybe its use in jet fuel, plastic wrap, rubber and embalming fluid make it useful enough without adding it to our food supply.
Yes, we are surrounded by it â€” but you get to be the (here come the initials again) CEO of your health and make a choice. It may involve putting on your glasses and spending a few minutes purging your pantry but FYI, it's worth it.
I'll see you in two weeks,
Love and health, Loa
LOA BLASUCCI is a certified sports nutritionist, personal trainer and fitness instructor.