MASERU – People have seen an increase in illness outbreaks and epidemics such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and cancer in the contemporary era, which has sparked global anxiety and concern about the causes of these diseases. Several aetiology and epidemiology experts have linked fast foods to various illnesses, some of which include additives or spices. Garlic is a vegetable, basil is a herb, chutney is a condiment, and salt is a mineral.
All of these seasonings are used as food additives for a variety of reasons, including flavourings, colourants, preservatives, and stabilisers. Spices, according to Dr. Thabang Seotsanyane, a Mafeteng-based naturopathic practitioner, can be botanical, medicinal, or simply culinary. “In general, no spice under the sun is inherently toxic. We have heard doctors and therapists in some cases, entirely opposing their usage, particularly those sold by spice vendors.
“The issue is not a spice, but some synthesised chemical compounds added to enhance the look, flavour, and aroma of the spice. If we take 50-gun spice (imaginary spice), all 50 key elements are herbs like basil, garlic, parsley, and cayenne pepper, there could be nothing wrong with 50-gun spice if it existed uncooked as it is. The problem develops during the synthetic processing. “The following are examples of common toxic synthetic additives that make spices and meals extremely harmful: monosodium glutamate (MSG), which occurs naturally in foods like tomatoes and cheese. However, it is extremely dangerous when isolated and used to enhance the flavour of snacks and fast foods.
“Shortness of breath and skin allergies could be side effects of MSG. Some spice buyers claim they are unaware of the dangers of certain spices and the consequences of excessive consumption; they just buy them to add flavour and colour to their food. “Some people argue that salt alone makes regular dishes taste less appealing than those seasoned with spices. “Sulfites are major constituents of many food preservatives to increase shelf life,” says Seotsanyane.
In some East African countries, they spray sulfites on unripe bananas to turn the peel yellowish, yet maximizing the bananas’ lifespan. “In the United States, it is illegal to use sulfites on fresh vegetables or fruits, and the main health issue with labels such as sodium or potassium bisulfide is asthma and respiratory disease aggravation.
Trans fats: These addicting compounds are frequently included in foil-packaged snacks or foods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has prohibited their usage, but manufacturers continue to utilise them despite the fact that they have been shown to be potent dangers to heart and vascular damage. Sodium nitrates: unfortunately for meat eaters, these are used to keep the reddish colour of meat as well as to help resist bacterial or fungal growth, which could lead to bad odor. The issue with this additive is that at high temperatures, sodium nitrates react into nitrosamines, which have been confirmed by renowned biochemists to be carcinogenic.
As if that were not enough, during digestion, it interacts with gastric hydrochloric acid, decomposing into cancer-causing nitrosamines, mainly in the pancreas, stomach, and colon. However, according to Dr. Seotsanyane, certain spices, such as fenugreek, may still have health benefits. These seeds, when used as spices, may help regulate hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) by inhibiting lipid and carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes in the digestive system.
Cayenne pepper: this vegetable sprinkled on soups or veggies without being heated helps lower blood pressure and enhances the elasticity of the blood vessels, veins, capillaries, and arteries. These properties are due to the potassium and capsaicin phytochemicals it possesses.
Garlic: There should always be a balance between good and bad bacteria in our bodies, particularly in areas such as the gut, vagina, and armpits. Garlic helps fight bad bacteria while striking that essential balance. It further helps lower cholesterol in the arteries.
Salt: people cannot completely do away with salt in their meals. Sodium promotes healthy hydration levels and electrolyte balance so that excess or lack of water cannot be found in our organs, causing edoema or scarring, respectively. Beware that a lack of salt can lead to shock, coma, and death due to hyponatremia. Normal sodium levels in the blood range between 132 and 148 milliequivalents per litre (mEq/L), which is approximately a total of 1 teaspoon of raw salt a day.