Hello SOTGC community,
Have you ever checked your food labels for phosphate additives? If you are unfamiliar with this latest “buzz term” then please, let me get you acquainted.…
But first, let’s briefly talk about phosphorus. An important nutrient to everyone’s diet, phosphorus plays an essential role in the growth and strength of bones and teeth, it aids in electrolyte balance, and it is the second most abundant mineral in the body (calcium is first). Fortunately, phosphate is naturally and amply found in a variety of foods, including whole grains, dry beans, nuts, meats, and dairy, so, generally, supplementation is not needed for people to meet their nutritional needs.
Even so, many manufacturers are choosing to add phosphate additives into many food products.
Phosphate additives work well as a preservative and help keep food products moist. They can often be found added into bakery products, bake mixes, meat, dairy foods, milk alternative foods (like soy, almond, hemp, rice and hazelnut milks), frozen foods, sodas (especially dark-colored), restaurant fast foods (especially chicken) and even in baking powder. Phosphate additives are man-made, and are digested differently than the phosphates naturally occurring in foods. While humans can use about 70 percent to 80 percent of the naturally occurring phosphate in meats, and only 50 percent to 60 percent of the natural phosphate in grains, phosphate additives are almost 100 percent utilized by the body, meaning it takes less phosphate consumption to reach high levels in the blood stream.
Can someone consume too much phosphate?
Absolutely! Here are a few reasons to avoid too-high levels of phosphate in your diet:
Guard Your Bone Calcium
The human body likes a balance of phosphorus and calcium. When phosphorus levels are too high in the blood, your system adjusts this by pulling calcium out of the stores in your bones. Continuous leaching of bone calcium from your bones can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. To protect your bone health, avoid foods with phosphate additives.
Protect Your Heart’s Health
When phosphate levels get too high, they cause an increase in the production of a certain hormone called FGF-23. When FGF-23 is elevated, it can reduce the body’s vitamin D production, resulting in vitamin D levels that are too low. This is not good news for your heart, as studies show a relationship between low vitamin D levels and heart complications, including risk of heart attacks, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Your kidneys use vitamin D to help regulate blood pressure; high blood pressure is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Vitamin D is also used to regulate blood sugar levels in the pancreas; continuous out-of-control sugar levels can lead to diabetes, a disease that is another risk factor for heart issues.
Prolong Kidney Function
Roughly 10 percent of Americans have some level of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), with persons over age 65 being at highest risk for this condition. Studies show that monitoring and controlling phosphorus intake can help slow down the process of kidney function deterioration associated with CKD. One of many jobs of the kidneys is to process phosphorus; too much phosphate intake will overly strain them, and it is not something anyone wants happening once they are already damaged. Sadly, many persons with early stages of CKD do not even realize they have kidney issues. This puts them at risk of helping their disease progress faster by unknowingly consuming more phosphorus than their kidneys can handle.
What can you do to avoid too much phosphate intake?
The easiest way to avoid risk of high phosphate levels is to stay clear of eating foods containing phosphate additives. Always read ingredient labels. Substitute clear colas for dark (or better still, drink water!) Avoid meats that have been injected with phosphate solutions and avoid fast food (especially processed chicken). Choose dairy and milk alternatives that are free of phosphate additives.
To check labels for phosphate additives, search food labels for ingredients that have “phos” in them. It’s shocking how many foods these are hiding in. Some foods even have two or three versions of phosphate additives added!
Here are some examples of phosphate additives. (Again, no need to memorize the list; just look for the “phos” in any ingredient name.)
Sodium acid pyrophosphate
Sodium aluminum phosphate
Checking your foods’ nutrition labels is also a great way to better take control of what you eat, and to wisely care for your health and wellbeing. Make sure to check labels habitually, even foods/brands you regularly use, as manufacturing practices and ingredients used can often change.
Happy Healthy Eating!
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