The real food

July 23, 2016

We want food that is quick and easy to make, but it can’t be stingy on flavour. Artificial ingredients are an easy solution to our food woes, but nutritionist Bridie Kersten* tell us why they aren’t the real deal. In fact, they’re downright dangerous. 



We have become conditioned to brightly coloured, intensely flavoured food with a long shelf life. While most of the synthetic additives that are added to our food may be considered fit for human consumption, they come with risks to our health. 

Did you know? 

• Clinical trials show that some artificial additives affect our gut micro biome which upsets the crucial balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut. This can increase the risk of digestive diseases and compromises our immune system. 

• Artificial colours are derived from coal tar and can have traces of arsenic and lead, or come from petroleum. This affects the way our brains function. 

• Some artificial flavours, such as MSG, have cancer-causing properties and affect the balance of our hormones.

• Artificial sweeteners can stunt brain development and cause neurological damage. 

• Preservatives can damage the lining of the stomach and cause liver damage. In fact, our bodies are now decomposing at a slower rate after death due to the extreme amounts of preservatives in our food which is stored in fat tissue.

• Trans fats found in doughnuts, fried foods and margarine have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. 

• The nitrates and sodium nitrates used for the preservation of processed meats have been listed by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogenic, which means they increase the risk of cancer. 

• Some chemicals can acidify the body, causing bone loss and impaired absorption of nutrients.

• Added chemicals and highly processed substances are linked to obesity, hyperactivity in children, developmental delays and cancer. Convenience isn’t the only code word these things are sold by: low fat or low sugar products are usually filled with lots of additives that are often worse than the original fat and sugar they contained.

You can reduce the amount of artificial ingredients you consume eating fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy. Cooking from scratch is a great start and if you do purchase something in a packet or box, read the ingredients. 

When it comes to additives, I use an app on my phone called Food Additives to check what each number on the packet means. Follow these tips and you’ll fuel your body with nutrients that create natural energy. After all, we just want to know what’s real, right?

*Bridie Kersten is a registered nutritionist with an interest in holistic and alternative health who blogs at


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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