Do you read food and drink labels before you buy those items? Do you ever look at the Nutrition Facts panel before eating something? What about the ingredients list?
What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?
Not so with food and drinks these days. So much of our food is processed, adulterated, and loaded with chemicals, preservatives, and additives to make it look pretty, to increase its self life, to make it stable while its in the package, and to make it taste better. But in most cases that is actually harming your health.
And its your right to know what’s in the food you’re eating and drinking. On this point both the FDA and I agree. That’s why we have labeling requirements. However all the Nutrition Facts and Ingredients labeling laws do no good if you don’t actually take the time to stop and read them.
Here’s what you need to know about Reading Nutrition Labels
Sugars and Sugar Alternatives including Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar, in any form, will spike your blood sugar sending you on a blood sugar, insulin roller coaster and increase your abdominal fat. –> Consider the Total Carbohydrates. Ideally you should keep your daily Total Carbohydrate intake under 100-150g. Read labels, determine portion size, multiply, then add up your daily intake.
The debate is still out and whether artificial sweeteners have the same effect on blood sugar and sugar cravings as sugars, but many of them are known carcinogens, so even if they’re not making you fat like sugar is, they maybe killing your with cancer.
- Sugar – If sugar is one of the first 4 ingredients, eat this less than twice per week.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – A sweetener like sugar, but worse for you. When we switched to HFCS the obesity epidemic began. Not only does this do all the same bad things to your body that sugar does, it adds toxins to your liver and can’t be properly dealt with, and more often than not, it is made with GMO corn. If you’re not yet afraid of HFCS, watch this video.
- Malitol – A sugar by any other name would taste as sweet
- (Evaporated) Cane Juice – Yet another sugar, and often considered a healthy alternative to sugar, but it still has the same effect on insulin levels.
- Maltodextrin – Extracted from starches, it also affects insulin levels.
- Acesulfame Potassium – Artificial sweetener with bitter aftertaste and potentially carcinogenic effects.
- Aspartame – Known carcinogen (that means causing cancer!) found in nearly every diet soda.
- Phenylketonurics – Artificial sweetener that research is starting to show may retard growth.
- -ose – is some time of sugar and leads to blood sugar spikes and crashes, carb and sugar cravings, and pounds around the middle. (Examples include: fructose, dextrose, lactose) Beware!
Fats and Oils
As we’re all aware trans-fat is bad bad bad. Saturated fat also mostly bad. However, mono, poly, and unsaturated fats, especially those found in seeds, nuts, avocados, are good.
- Partially hydrogenated oils – this is essentially transfat, although sometimes labeled as Saturated Fat. It is basically rancid butter. Consider this quote “Consuming partially hydrogenated oils is like inhaling cigarette smoke. They will kill you — slowly, over time, but as surely as you breathe [they will kill you]. And in the meantime, they will make you fat!”
- Mono and Diglycerides – a type of fat, sometimes synthetically derived to blend ingredients together and increase shelf life
- Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil – a saturated fat that has been heated and usually used to make chocolate stick.
- Tocopherols – fat-soluble antioxidant that acts similar to Vitamin-E. One of the rare good food additives.
- Medium chain triglycerides – improve metabolism and digestion of fats. Why would I want fat added to my dried apricots?
Preservatives in food act the complete opposite in our body: they don’t preserve our body and give us everlasting youth, they age it and kill us in the process. Preservatives add toxic load to the body, which makes the liver work harder and less efficiently. As that happens and we continue to consume more preservatives, we’re continually stressing our body’s detox system; eventually it starts to show through in saggy, discolored or grey skin, wrinkles, low energy, cloudy eyes.
- Sulfur dioxide / sodium bisulfate / potassium sorbate – preservatives that cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
- Sodium benzoate.
- Glycerine – preservative, sweetener with a low GI index.
- Calcium disodium EDTA – prevents color and flavor deterioration. Also associated with cancer and birth defects.
Additives have much the same effect on the human body as preservatives increasing the toxic load that must be processed by the liver and inhibiting effecting system processes.
- Dipotassium Phosphate – a type of salt used to prevent coagulation. Also commonly used in fertilizer.
- Sodium hexametaphosphate – thickener and emulsifier.
- Silicon Dioxide – this is one of the few good ones: it is an essential trace mineral that helps to build bones. Also used as an anti-caking agent.
- Cellulose Gum – made from plant fiber (including trees and cotton) it acts as a thickener in foods such as ice cream. It may cause gas, diarrhea, and cramping.
- Xantham Gum – combination of sugars, fermented, then used as a thickening agent. Do I really want sugar thickening my digestive tract?
- Modified Food Starch – extracted from grains (and therefore not truly gluten-free), used as thickener, emulsifier, & stabilizer.
- Carrageenan - vegetarian alternative to gelatin extracted from red seaweed and used at thickener. Some recent research suggest it may cause ulcerations and cancers in the digestive tract.
- Tetrasodium Phosphate – a thickening agent with nearly twice the toxicity of table salt; commonly found in cereal.
- Polysorbate 60 – emulsifier.
- Hydrolyzed Gelatin – thickener that may help with building connective tissue, collagen, and encourage weight loss.
- Sorbitan Monostearate – emulsifier.
- Potassium Citrate – reduces acidity food. Also a good source of potassium which can reduce kidney stones.
- Monosodium Glutamate – the famous MSG, known to cause allergies, hives, and sever water retention, all for the sole purpose of making food taste better (thus stimulating a minor addiction so you’ll eat and buy more)
- Red #40, Green #3 – Really? Should colors in our food have numbers associated with them?
Did anyone notice how many of these cause gastro-intestinal distress? I mean seriously, is it any wonder so many people suffer upset stomachs, indigestion, and other digestive complaints?
And how many of those were listed as possible or known carcinogens? Who wants cancer from their foods?
Anyway, I’ve definitely waxed on enough about the questionable things in food. Now its up to you to take the responsibility, read labels, and opt for foods that have fewer ingredients, or just buy foods in the au-naturel form.
What other crazy things have you seen in foods? If you can’t pronounce it, be worried. And post it here so we all know what to watch out for.