Do you feel tired much of the time, even after getting a good night’s rest? Perhaps, you relax in your recliner or lay on your couch when you’d rather be enjoying a round of golf or playing with your kids or grandkids. If you can relate to this scenario, a common food preservative may be to blame.
A recent study reveals inorganic phosphate, a popular preservative and additive found in American foods, might be wreaking havoc on your health. The probe was published in the journal Circulation. According to Healthline, it examined the adverse effects of getting too much phosphate in your diet by studying lab mice that ate foods packed with phosphates. The researchers measured the mice’s oxygen uptake as they exercised. The results showed a lessened capacity for movement. The mice were also not able to make enough fatty acids required to feed their muscles.
The mice were observed for 12 weeks. During this time, the researchers desired to draw a comparison to people. To accomplish this task, they studied the data of participants signed up for the Dallas Heart Study. These individuals were between 18 and 65-years-old. They didn’t take any medications. Participants also had no history of heart or kidney problems. They were given physical activity monitors to wear for one week.
Like the mice, the inactivity of the individuals increased when phosphate levels were higher. Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, lead researcher and professor of internal medicine and director of the Hypertension Fellowship Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center, informed Healthline she was shocked at how similar the mice and human responses to phosphates were.
In an email, the lead researcher of the probe said, “Study in humans provides support for the animal studies by showing that people with high phosphate in the blood tend to spend less time working out and more time in sedentary activity.”
If you’re worried the phosphate in your diet might be affecting your energy levels, you may be wondering exactly what this substance is. According to Healthline, a “phosphate is the charged particle that contains the mineral phosphorous.” The Merck Manual says your body needs phosphate to help repair and build your bones and teeth. Phosphate makes your muscles contract. It also assists in nerve function.
Phosphates are found naturally in many healthy foods such as meat, dairy, fish, fruits, and vegetables. The inorganic form of phosphate is the culprit.
Numerous processed foods and beverages Americans consume contain it. In fact, Healthline reports that between 40 to 70 percent of popular grocery items like soft drinks and frozen dinners have inorganic phosphate.
A senior dietitian at the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, Medical Center, Dana Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, explained, “The average consumer would not know to be aware of this commercial food additive. It is commonly used to prolong the shelf life of many foods, and also may enhance the flavor of some others. It is likely a very inexpensive ingredient/additive which would explain its nearly ubiquitous usage.”
This food expert revealed, “I remember a recent Nutrition Action Newsletter article that said that even bottled orange juices — such as ‘Simply Orange’ — contain added inorganic phosphates. In many instances, food additives are used either to provide a nutrient (like a vitamin or mineral), flavor (like MSG or salt), or some other non-nutritive property including inorganic phosphates.”
Hunnes went on to say, “We don’t know about them because phosphates are not usually a nutrient we are told to be concerned about. Most people, unless they have kidney disease, tend to be aware of or worried about calories, fats, and types of fats, carbohydrates, and protein.”
The director of food technology communications at the International Food Information Council Foundation, Tamika Sims, PhD, told Healthline the amount of phosphate in your body is regulated by your kidneys. She said those with malfunctioning kidneys or kidney disease can be at risk for phosphate level irregularity.
When shopping for groceries, strive to avoid energy zapping, and, for some people, kidney damaging, phosphates. Fill your cart with as many fresh and non-packaged items as possible. When buying processed foods, study nutrition labels. Look for words containing “phos” or “phosphate” in them. Vongpatanasin recommends you not consume more than 700 milligrams of inorganic phosphate each day.