We have talked for a very long time through our articles on the importance of eating whole food as often as possible. But sometimes people just want a little something sweet or salty that doesn’t come from nature, and I totally understand. Though most of you know by now, it is important to periodically do a refresher on what to look for what to be on the lookout for when you are reading labels.
- Aspartame – Yes, we all know by now to avoid diet sodas because of the aspartame in them. A potent neurotoxin and known carcinogen, this chemical has no place in the human body. Unfortunately, even when we are avoiding these common items, aspartame can creep into the diet in little known places like chewable vitamins, toothpaste, jello, baking goods, or breath mints. Check your labels carefully. If something you put in your mouth is sweet, there’s a reason it is sweet. It doesn’t take much to alter your neurochemistry, so be an educated consumer
***Parents beware***** Even Flintstone’s vitamins contain Aspartame!
- MSG – We have talked before about msg and the dangers of it. Not only a potent excitotoxin, msg has the power to increase the appetite by up to 40% for several days after consumption. In this area, it is unfortunate that labeling laws are tricky. If a product contains msg directly, it has to be labeled, but it could be labeled by any one of the names listed in this link. http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html The tricky side comes in when you consider that a product can say “no msg” yet contain an ingredient that itself contains msg but because msg is not the actual ingredient, they don’t have to label it. I would suggest that if you are at all sensitive to msg, you stick with whole foods as often as possible. The biggest culprits with snack foods are typically things with cheese, bbq, or sour cream flavorings, though it can be used in just about anything. Your safest bet is a plain tortilla chip if you really feel like you need a bagged snack without msg. To avoid confusion, just eat whole foods as often as possible.
- Trans fats – We have all heard it on the news the critical importance of avoiding trans fats. Our store shelves are flooded with “trans fat free” products that are actually not. What is not commonly known is that it only takes 2 grams of trans fats per day to adversely affect heart health. Any product can say “trans fat free” if it has .5 grams or less per serving. If you eat more than one serving of a “trans fat free” product, you run the risk of hitting that limit without even knowing it. A quick way to tell if a product contains trans fats is to look at the ingredients list. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on the label is a red flag that you should probably put it back on the shelf.
- Food coloring – Period, end of story. NONE of us should be eating food dyes. There are so man food dyes that are allowed in our food that are not allowed in other foods, that it would take a long time to list. Food dyes have been linked to cancer, autism, ADHD, and many other disorders that people do not think to link to food.
- Challenge yourself to go through your pantry and take a hard look at the ingredients labels. Yes, eating is not about perfection, but it is about understanding what we are putting into our bodies so that we can make the best choices possible. Aim for as many whole foods as possible. You may find after a week or two of whole foods that you have more energy, sleep better, have less headaches and joint pain. Those ingredients that stealthily creep in actually DO have an impact on your health in a way that is tangible. Give yourself a challenge to cut processed foods for a couple of weeks if you haven't already. Then try one and see how you feel. So many people think that when they do this, they feel terrible because their body is so "clean" from all of the healthy foods. The reality is that it is often not the case. It is more often that they just didn't know how bad they felt before. Try it yourself. I think you might be surprised by the results. Try printing the picture above and posting it on your refrigerator!
Picture credit: http://feingold.org/yellow5.php
A picture is worth a thousand words. I will let the above picture speak for itself. MSG and artificial color inhibit neuron activity. We as Americans think of the packaged foods we eat as neutral, something to put in our bodies to keep us from being hungry, but they do so much more. This article really only highlights a few of the major ones, but to list them all would take longer than you have to read. The bottom line is that companies are out to make food as inexpensive, shelf stable, appealing to the eye, and palate as possible. They will do anything they can to give these attributes to your foods, and your health is not their main concern…their bottom line is.