Navigating common ingredients in food products

As many food additives are synthetically derived, evidence is mounting demonstrating all the known and potential risks & side effects of ingesting these non-natural substances. To help you navigate this world of ‘clean labeling’ and tricky marketing, we have put together a list of common culprits to avoid when it comes to ‘food’.


*Please note; this list is not exhaustive but rather addresses the most common additives / ‘foods’ of concern

Additives to avoid in food

Antioxidants (numbers 300-320) – most are derived from ascorbic acid (produced from wheat which has often been heavily sprayed or is GMO) or petroleum based. Certain synthetic antioxidants have been linked to cancer and endocrine disruption and can accumulate in body fat stores (in particular: BHA & BHT - see below). Fortunately has been banned in some countries.

Artificial colours (essentially numbers E100-181) & flavours - commonly found in lollies & drinks. May contribute to neurogenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, hyperactivity in children & cancer. Colours are most often derived from coal tar dyes. includes propylene glycol.

Artificial preservatives (benzoates, nitrites & sulphites: numbers 200-290) - one of the most common preservatives includes sulphur dioxide (E220). E220 in particular has been associated with respiratory complaints, low blood pressure, and destruction of essential vitamins & minerals. includes rosemary extract.

Artificial sweeteners (ie. Aspartame (E951) & sucralose - these chemical substances have been implicated in a host of disease processes such as diabetes, IBS, leaky gut & obesity. What’s more is that whilst artificial sweeteners are touted as a healthier alternative & good for weight loss, they can actually cause you to eat more by heightening food cravings. Headaches, insomnia & seizures are some adverse effects that have been associated to aspartame.

BHA & BHT (butylated hydroxy anisole and butylated hydroxytoluene) – commonly found in chewing gum, breakfast cereals, vegetable oils & potato chips. These compounds are under investigation for potentially causing hormonal imbalances, brain dysfunction, metabolic issues & behavioural problems.

Citric acid (330) – can naturally be derived from citrus fruit however this is not often the case. Rather, it is often derived from GMO corn or from genetically modified high-yielding mould in a laboratory. Excessive amounts can cause dental erosion.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - meaning that the organisms have been genetically manipulated through artificial means, producing combinations of plant, animal, virus & bacteria genes that wouldn’t normally exist in nature or traditional crossbreeding methods. The most common culprits are corn, soy & canola. Implicated in systemic inflammation, allergies, loss of nutrition, antibiotic resistance and cancer.

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) - often from GMO corn & is found in a wide array of foods and acts as a sweetener. Has been implicated in accelerating the ageing process by causing DNA damage, worsening diabetes, is often contaminated with mercury, can lead to metabolic syndrome, impairs the brains ability to repair itself after trauma, inhibits memory formation and retention & can induce structural changes in the brain similar to stimulant drug use.

Hydrogenated vegetable oils – most commonly canola, sunflower, grapeseed, soybean. Often from GMO sources and often contaminated with glyphosate. Undergoes a series of chemical processing and refining causing it to become oxidised. It is also passed through a chemical solvent, bathed in sodium hydroxide, given more chemicals to improve the colour, bleached and then often stored in toxic plastic packaging. It is commonly found in biscuits, pastries, margarine & takeaway foods. Contributes to systemic inflammation and has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG/ E621) - a flavour enhancer. Often found in chips, biscuits, Chinese food, frozen meals & pre-packaged soups. Known excitotoxin; meaning that it overexcites cells causing cellular damage. Common adverse effects include obesity, heart palpitations, headache & fatigue. Has also been shown to supress female reproduction in rats.

Natural flavours & flavour enhancers - “natural flavours” each contain no less than 48 chemicals, includes yeast extract.

Nitrates & Nitrites - whilst naturally occurring nitrites such as those found in plants are beneficial, nitrates & nitrates added to processed products are classified as probable carcinogens when ingested. They are commonly found in processed meats, smoked fish & bacon and is used to help keep meat looking “fresh” & “red”. These compounds have also been linked to male infertility, increased risk of bowel cancer and early death.

Processed soy - Often GMO (see GMO section below)

Sodium Benzoate – often found in soft drink, salad dressings & fruit juices. May cause hyperactivity, asthma, liver disease & cancer.

Soy leghemoglobin – used as a flavouring ingredient (often in ‘fake meat’). Made from GM yeast cells that have been implanted with the soy gene that makes leghemoglobin. Has been found to have up to 100 different chemicals for the different tastes.

Synthetic Vitamins – essentially are made in a laboratory and are therefore less bioavailable can be potentially harmful to your body. If choosing to supplement, always opt for a food-based supplement that have come from nature (aka light sourced).


Although a food might be labelled as organic, clean, healthy, non-GMO, fairtrade, paleo, gluten free etc, we still advise you to check the ingredient label as these terms don’t mean that they are free of artificial ingredients.

The easiest way to avoid all of these nasties is to just EAT REAL FOOD. Buy single ingredient items and eat wholefoods that don’t come in a packet


As always, I hope you have gained value from my blog, enabling you to navigate your shopping isle better!

Love Candice Bauer x

Candice bauer bundaberg food ingredients natural organic gluten free health nutritionist


 Information sourced from: Nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara Changings Habits, Dr Rhonda Patrick, Dr Mercola, Dr Axe & The Environmental Working Group.


  • Im going to print this list and keep it in my handbag, its going to be a big help when i go shopping thanks candice x

  • 5 Stars for great content Candice, I really enjoy your blogs thank you! Just started reading the ingredients in my pantry…. I have a lot to change haha thank you!

  • Thank you so much for this list! It is so hard to know what is what out there, but its really great to have a starting point with these :D


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