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By Neelima Kalidindi
A research paper submitted in partial fulfillment ofthe requirements for the degree of Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist
California College Of Ayurveda 2007
California College of Ayurveda 1117A East Main Street
Grass Valley, California
Date of Submission: January 22, 2007
An Ayurvedic Analysis of Processed Foods For Children
Table of Contents
• The Process of Processing
• Vitality of Processed Foods
• Additives, Preservatives and Natural Flavors
• Artificial Sweeteners
• Pasteurization and Homogenization
• Breakfast Cereals
• Long Term Impact of Consuming Processed Foods
List of Terms
Sanskrit Vata, Pitta, Kapha vayu dhatus
English interpretation or equivalent the 3 constitutions (air, fire, water) air, wind
As the world gets busier, parents are increasingly relying on store bought, processed foods to provide their children with the right nutrition. Cereals, granola bars, pop tarts, concentrated juices and infant food jars are all becoming a part of children's daily diet. Addition of vitamins to foods such as fortified breads and cereals and the use of vitamins to supplement daily nutritional intake is also becoming norm. Ancient texts on Ayurveda provide dietary recommendations and general food guidelines, not just pertaining to the food we eat, but where and how we prepare and consume it. The guidelines apply to children and adults alike. This paper is an attempt to analyze processed foods from an Ayurvedic perspective. There is also considerable research in the medical and holistic field on the degenerating effects of additives, preservatives, and general processing of food to improve its shelf life, nutritional value and appearance. While these fmdings are applicable to everyone, they are especially pertinent to children for several reasons: 1) they are the most targeted consumers of commercial foods, 2) their digestive systems are sensitive and react differently than adults to many toxic substances and 3) they bear the long-term consequences of ingesting processed foods from an early age. Information from such scientific research is also presented.
"Food is the vital breath of living beings (that is why) the people rush to thefood.
Complexion, cheerfulness, good voice, life, imagination, happiness, Contentment, corpulence, strength intellect-
All these are dependent on food. " [lJ
The Process of Processing
Foods are processed to increase their longevity, make them more attractive, and provide convenience to the one who prepares or consumes the food and to destroy pathogens and microorganisms that might grow in them. 
Modem methods of food processing include drying (e.g. tunnel drying, spray drying, freeze drying) to produce concentrated forms of the food, freezing, addition of salts and sugars, blanching (heating for 1-8 minutes at 100 degrees C), pasteurization (heating at 72 degrees C for 15 minutes), ionizing radiation, refrigeration, packaging, adding chemical preservatives, using separation methods, controlled temperature storage, use of natural preservatives (e.g. salt, sugar, vinegar, nitrates), antioxidants, emulsifiers, humectants (e.g. glycerol), food acids (e.g. pectin), free running agents (used in baking to prevent sticking), natural supplements (e.g. addition of vitamins and minerals in fortified
bread), colors, artificial and natural flavors and the addition of other agents to either enhance the taste, appearance or longevity of the food. 
There is however considerable research on the adverse impact of processing foods. The value of fresh, natural and wholesome foods is now being revisited.
Vitality of Processed Foods
Fresh or freshly cooked food, organic and homegrown vegetables and raw dairy have the highest amount of life force because they come straight from nature. They are hence of good quality and most beneficial to our body. Artificially prepared food, refrigerated and canned foods, foods processed with additives, preservatives and co loring either lack or are lower in life force rendering them ofpoor quality. 
The vital energy of foods is also adversely affected by cooking it at high temperatures (as in pasteurization, blanching or microwaving) or in too much oil also.  Studies have shown that it is hard for our bodies to absorb nutrients from micro-waved foods. The same studies also show that food subjected to this process loose 60-90% of their vital energy content. 
In addition to the loss in vitality, there are concerns about the safety of some food products like baby food jars. A research paper in the Environmental Health Perspective reports that 53% of76 baby jars from a random selection of grocery stores in 3 different cities had traces of pesticides. While these traces were below the federal standards, EWG (Environmental Working Group) maintains that the actual risk assessments were based on the average adult. The concern, according to EWG, is that the pesticides are not tested for safety in the way babies are exposed to them. This is especially important because babies and children "react differently than adults to many drugs and toxic substances". 
Additives, Preservatives and Natural Flavors
Dr. Elson M. Haas lists 12 additives worth avoiding due to their known association with certain illnesses. The table below summarizes these associations:
Food Additives Possible Health Risks
Hydrogenated Fats Cardiovascular disease, obesity
Artificial Food Colors Allergies, asthma, hyperactivity;
Nitrites and Nitrate Could potentially develop into
carcinogenic substances called
Sulfites (sulfur dioxide, metabisulfites, and others) Allergic and asthmatic reactions
Sugar and Sweeteners Obesity, dental cavities, diabetes,
triglyceride levels in the blood or
Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K and Behavioral problems, hyperactivity,
Saccharin) and allergies. They can also be
carcinogenic. The government
cautions children and pregnant
women against eating artificial
MSG (monosodium glutamate) Allergic reactions include
headaches, dizziness, chest pains,
depression and mood swings; It is
also a possible neurotoxin.
Preservatives (BHA, BHT, EDTA) Allergic reactions, hyperactivity,
could be cancer-causing and also
toxic to the nervous system and the
Artificial Flavors Allergic or behavioral reactions
Refined Flour Could cause altered insulin
production, low-nutrient calories
Olestra (an artificial fat) Diarrhea and digestive disturbances The article also lists, the carcinogenic effects of food packaging material and the possible presence of pesticides, fungicides or animal bypro ducts in food waxes applied as protective coating on perishable foods. 
The impact of additives especially on children is grave, according to fmdings reported by Researches at the University of Liverpool. They found that when mouse cells were exposed to a combination ofMSG and brilliant blue or aspartame and quinoline yellow in concentrations that were similar to the compound that enters the bloodstream after a typical children's snack and drink, the growth of the nerve cells stopped and their signaling mechanism was altered. While additives are licensed for use one at a time, it is exposure of children to a combination of these additives that was found to be associated with behavioral disorders.  Sally Fallon, in her article, Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry, lists MSG, hydrolyzed protein and aspartame are the three most toxic additives. She writes, ''Ninety-five percent of processed foods contain MSG, and as you may know, in the late 1950s it was added to baby food. After some congressional hearings on this subject, the industry told us they had taken it out of the baby food, but they didn't really remove it. They just called it by another name--hydrolyzed
protein." [ 1 0]
Another additive, Nitrates, are added to preserved and cured meats such as sausages. Nitrosamines, are carcinogenic compounds that can be produced under the acidic conditions in the stomach by the reaction of nitrites and amines (compounds found in drugs, aggricultaral and industrial chemicals). [1 1] Dahlquist, Blom, Persson, Sandstrom, and Wall (1990), reported studies that found an increase in the incidence of Type I diabetes in children whose mothers were exposed to nitrosamines from smoked mutton during pregnancy. The toxicity of nitrosamine compounds to the B cell has also been confrrmed by studies on mice and Chinese hamsters. 
In their article, The Sweetening of the World's Diet, Barry M.P. and Samara IN. state that soft drinks and sugared fruit drinks represent 80% of the caloric sweetener increase in the Unites States between 1977 and 1998. Along with desserts and sugar/jellies, they represent the four major sources of caloric sweetener in the U.S diet. 
Some researchers believe that high fructose com syrup or added caloric sweeteners playa big role in increase in obesity worldwide. The energy value from 100 mL of a soft drink equates to the energy expenditure of about eight minutes of walking for an adult and to NHTS determined daily average travel time among children between the age of 5 and 15 years. 
Pasteurization and Homogenization
According to the Astanga Samgraham as translated by Dr. S. Suresh Babu, "Unboiled milk is Abhisyaandi (sticky and obstructive in nature) and difficult to digest, the well boiled milk is easily digestible, however if the same is over boiled it becomes heavy and undigestible. The fresh and warm i.e. 'dharosna' derived directly from the fudder is almost like Nectar - the Amrutha."
Processing of milk involves several stages. First, it is segregated into fat, protein and other solids and liquids and then reconstituted to be completely uniform for whole, lowfat and no- fat milks. Dried skim milk is added to give body to lowfat and reduced fat milks. This process results in a very high-protein, lowfat product, which requires many nutrients for the body to assimilate. The milk is then pasteurized at 161 degrees F. It is called ultrapasteurized when heated to 200 degrees F. The process of homogenization follows by pressure treating the milk to break down the fat globules so the milk doesn't separate. This entire process extends the shelf1ife of milk by several weeks. 
Fruits juices are frrst extracted and then heat-treated for extending their shelf life. Whole oranges, a very heavily sprayed fruit, are put into machines along with enzymes designed to extract the most oil from the peel. Neurotoxins from the sprays on the peel go into the juice when the whole orange is squeezed in the machine. The extracted juice is then heattreated to kill any pathogens. Some researches have correlated the chemicals from the
orange peels to the degeneration of the brain and nerves of cows affected by Mad Cow Disease. It is then possible that ingesting these toxins could similarly impact our nervous system. A study carried out in Hawaii found that consumption of fruit and fruit juices was the number one dietary factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researches speculated that the pesticides in the fruit and juices caused the condition. Several researches have also shown that the heating process (for orange juice) produces cancercausing compounds. 
According to the Charaka Samhita as translated by P.V. Sharma, "Fruit which is old, unripe, damaged by insects, animals, snow and the sun, grown in unnatural place and time, and rotted I unfit" 
Dry breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. The grains are put through an Extruder, which forces the grains, a little hole at high temperature and pressure. The hole gives the cereal a desired shape (animal shapes, Os etc). The shapes are then carried past a nozzle and sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch. Several researches have concluded that the process of extrusion destroys most of the nutrients in the grains. The amino acids are rendered very toxic by this process. In an unpublished experiment conducted by a cereal company, rats given the extruded cereal, water and a vitamin and mineral nutrient died faster than rats given just water. Autopsies revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock. Yet another study at the Ann Arbor University showed that rats receiving a diet of com flakes and water died before rats that were eating the box that the cereal was packaged in. The startling conclusion of this study was that there was more nourishment in the box than in the cereal. The results of this study were however never published. 
Long Term Impact of Consuming Processed Foods
The adverse effects of consuming dry, rough and hard to digest cereals are best described in the Charaka Samhita as translated by P.V. Sharma, "Roughness, lightness, coldness, hardness, coarseness and non-sliminess - these are the six properties of vat a" 
"Vayu gets vitiated due to prolonged use of measures having similar properties, substances and effects because prolonged use of similar properties is the cause of increase in dhatus" 
"When it (Vata) is vitiated, in the body, it affiicts it with various disorders and thereby affects strength, complexion, happiness and life-span; agitates mind, affects all the sense organs, destroys, deforms or detains the embryo for long, produces fear, grief, confusion, anxiety and excessive delirium and (at the end) stops vital breath." 
In an extensive research reported in their article, Are Child Eating Patterns Being Transformed Globally, Linda S. Adair and Barry M. Popkin found that snacking and consumption of fast food play an increasingly dominant role in the diet of children and youth. They go on to state that there is growing evidence of the increase in child obesity across the world and that these dietary trends have been shown to be a part of the child obesity epidemic. 
In her article, Processed Foods and Low Fat Diets, Jane Sheppard speaks about the work ofa dentist, Dr. Weston Price. He noticed that children were having more dental cavities and crooked teeth than before. He visited and examined 14 groups of native groups living on a natural, process-free diet and found less than 1 % tooth decay and very straight teeth. He also found no evidence of the degenerative diseases that are so widespread in our culture. But as some of the groups began to assimilate a more modem diet (with sugars, grains, canned foods, pasteurized milk and devitalized fats and oils), they developed rampant tooth decay, infectious disease and degenerative conditions. He also found that physical degeneration occurred in children of parents who had adopted the processed diet. 
Sally Fellon presents a similar account of Dr. Price's work. She writes that Dr. Price found that the facial structure becomes narrower with each generation as children eat processed foods. Children who were on a processed diet were also found to be much more susceptible to degenerative diseases. 
A correlation between eating processed food over generations and diminishing fertility is also drawn in the same article. Several studies have shown that a deficient diet for three generations can cause reproduction to cease in animals. With 25% of couples today being infertile, she argues that we might be headed down a destructive path. 
Living in tandem with nature and seeing ourselves, as receivers of its benevolence is the foundation for all Ayurvedic thought. Our bodies are the tools to deliver our duties. The food we eat determines to a great extent, the health of our body and our mind and the effectiveness of our actions. Ayurveda recognizes that food that is fresh from nature, full of vitality and nutrients in their natural form is essential for maintaining optimum health of our body and mind.
As the world gets busier, parents are increasingly relying on ready made, processed foods as the nutritional source for their children. We rely on ad campaigns and ill-informed doctors to tell us what is healthy for our children and what isn't. As a working parent of a two year old, I have often been tempted to pop open that jar of mashed carrots. But something about that jar never felt right to me. How can a carrot live for a year in that jar? The more I looked for information on processed foods, the graver the picture became. Over the years, we have witnessed the growing list of ingredients on even the most basic foods like bread; ingredients that a common man would know nothing about.
The defmition of food is being altered and our children are being taken so far away from nature and at such an alarming pace, that what lies on the other side is a gut wrenching thought.
What we feed our children affects not just their bodies, but their minds as well. Their minds control their actions. And these actions have a profound impact on the course of the world and our future generations. It is, thus, imperative for us to make a choice between a future of ill-health, violence and disharmony or one of health, peace and harmony. This article is a small effort towards a path that many are already paving towards a better future.
"One taking wholesome food with controlled self lives healthy for one thousand and thirty six nights (100 years) liked by the good men" (Charak 27:348) [27J
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<http://www.hpakids.org/holistic-health/ articles/rtgyr/Processed- Food-and- Low- Fat-Diets>  Fallon, Sally. "Dirty Secrets ofthe Food Processing Industry." March 2002.
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