This week, we want to talk about two acronyms – FDA and GRAS. You have probably heard of the first – the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for protecting the public health of the people of the United States by regulating what goes into the food we eat, the products we use, and the drugs we take. The second acronym may not be as widely known, but is just as important: GRAS stands for “Generally Regarded As Safe”, and it is the loophole that companies have been using for decades to manufacture foods with more efficiency, at the cost of the health of the people consuming it.
Here is how GRAS works: if a company can make more money by putting a chemical into the food it manufactures, all it needs to do is to carry out its own research which demonstrates that it meets a set of safety standards, and it can do so without having to be approved by the FDA. In other words, it allows companies to completely bypass the very governing body which is supposedly in charge of our public health. When companies are permitted to perform their own market research pertaining to the safety of a chemical or drug with the potential to make them more money, it is frighteningly likely that the study will fall short of standards set within the scientific community in the pursuit of the impartial truth. It is a sad reality that scientific studies funded by corporations with clear motivations for one specific outcome are often unreliable. For a clearer picture, we must always defer to independent and peer-reviewed scientific work.“quote.”
This should come as no shock to anybody, but supplements are not subject to FDA approval. Because there is no regulation when it comes to the quality of and ingredients used in supplements, natural skepticism has grown in the minds of Americans. This skepticism, I might add, is absent when it comes to our food because many people do not understand the GRAS loophole. When it comes to our supplements, because there is no regulatory governing body, we must defer to the company making the supplement to regulate themselves. That is why we at Huntington Lifestyle Partners have partnered with Metagenics. Metagenics tests their supplements for raw material quality, absorbability, and efficacy, and works with organizations such as Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Harvard, and more on cutting-edge market research to improve their products for the patients who rely on them.
It should come as no surprise that when it comes to loopholes that companies use to sell their products, artificial sweeteners are part of the conversation. This time, however, the loophole is not one designed by the FDA, but rather one that exists within our own minds. When it comes to weight loss and general health management, the health industry will often begin by telling us to cut sugar from our diet. In response, many individuals and corporations have swapped sugar for other artificial sweeteners, at the cost of our general well-being.
One popular sweetener, Splenda, was developed by swapping in chlorine atoms for parts of the sugar molecule. The scientists were trying to create a pesticide, which is why you may hear comparisons between Splenda and DDT. Regardless of what Splenda and DDT may or may not have in common, it remains the truth that the full effects of Splenda on the human body have not yet been explored. There are many studies on both sides, claiming that the sweetener is safe or that it is not – and the truth is that we do not know yet how Splenda interacts with each individual’s health. However, until we do know, it is probably best to avoid it where possible and allow your body to perform its natural detoxification process.
Finally, we want to take a moment to talk about just one of the many additives that nearly everyone encounters every day, and how it may be contributing to a slew of undiagnosed and vague health symptoms. These symptoms may include rashes, acne, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, sluggishness, impaired memory and concentration, irritability, insomnia, and depression. The name of the additive is potassium bromate, and it comes in bread. Companies seeking to manufacture loaves of bread more quickly began to use this compound, which chemically ages the bread faster than open-air, allowing for a quicker turnout of the product.
While potassium bromate is mostly converted into potassium bromide, a far more inert byproduct, there is always some of the original compounds left in the bread. Potassium bromate is a known carcinogen in the state of California, and bromates have been banned in the UK, Canada, and even China. Watch ingredients lists for “Potassium bromate”, “bromated flour”, or “enhanced flour” – any of these can refer to the use of potassium bromate in the manufacturing process. Again, our best advice is: where possible, avoid bromates; empower your body to detox the rest.