Some people are technology geeks – I am a health geek. And because I am so focused on everything health and wellness, you don’t have to be. My mission is to empower you, my patients and readers, to make healthy choices for yourself and your family. When people first come to see me for a health consultation they usually admit that they hardly ever read food or cosmetic labels. As you can imagine, I am set out to change that! As my patients begin to implement this knowledge, it empowers them to save themselves from a lot of suffering. Keep reading so you too can be informed & empowered.
Nutritional facts on food products are important, but it is the ingredient list that has the information you really need to know. In my opinion, it is less important to know how many calories, grams of protein or fat are in a particular product, and much more important to know what the exact ingredients are.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Does the product you are purchasing contain ingredients that are best avoided such as gluten, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, partially hydrogenated oils?
- The word natural is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. A supplement only has to have about 10% natural ingredients to be legally called natural.
- Be aware that unrecognizable and difficult to pronounce ingredients are often synthetic chemicals.
- Google is your best friend in this case – if you see a chemical or botanical plant or oil on the ingredient list (typically they are in parenthesis) and you do not know what it is – look it up on google. Some foods and cosmetic products can contain products that are harmful to your brain and health.
- Download the free app called, Think Dirty for an unbiased product-comparison for cosmetics and personal care products (stay tuned for my upcoming blog “9 Toxins to Avoid in Your Personal Care Products”).
- Find the Serving Size and be aware that many processed foods and drinks come in multiple servings. For example, your favorite bottled iced tea may list 20g of sugar, but this may only be for one serving size, not the whole bottle of iced tea. If the Serving Size reads 2 servings per bottle, then you could be drinking 40g of sugar.
- Ingredients are listed in descending order by their weight. The larger the amount of the ingredient in the food or product, the closer to the top of the list it will be.
Now that you know what to avoid, how do you sort through that list of ingredients and decipher what is harmful? Here is my best list of what is most harmful and should be avoided.
The 10 Top Food Ingredients to Avoid:
MSG-Monosodium glutamate: It can be mildly addictive, cause headaches and a long list of allergic reactions. Buyer beware, MSG is also known as hydrolyzed vegetable or plant protein and sodium caseinate. It’s often in those boxes of broth at Trader Joe’s.
Sodium Nitrates/Nitrites: May damage blood vessels and increase your risk for heart disease, also giving headaches and other symptoms.
Food Coloring – Red #40, Blue #1 etc: Known to impact the nervous system and brain, causing anxiety, hyperactivity, and many other allergic reactions.
Saccharine, Aspartame, Sucralose and other Synthetic Sweeteners like Splenda and NutraSweet: Known to cause cancer and be toxic to your brain. They also negatively impact your insulin levels.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Such as corn, soy & grapeseed. These trans fats cause loads of inflammation by blocking chemicals that combat inflammation, as well as raising LDL cholesterol and causing immune dysfunction.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): Can cause immune suppression, resistance to antibiotics, increased allergy susceptibility, cancer, and food toxicity to name a few.
Refined Sugars and High Fructose Corn Syrup: Toxic to your liver, suppress immune function, cause tooth decay, diabetes, and obesity.
BHA/BHT: Dangerous oils that affect your sleep and increase your appetite; can also cause liver and kidney damage, hair loss, & negatively impact your brain.
Soy: Most soy is GMO in the U.S. It also causes digestive issues, stops your thyroid from working and adds unwanted estrogen into your body that disrupts your natural hormone balance. Soy oil and hidden soy are in many packaged food products.
Gluten: Extremely inflammatory to your gut and brain, even if you aren’t “allergic.” It causes immune dysfunction and cardiovascular inflammation. It is used as a thickener and filler in many processed foods, even meats as well as vegan products like seitan.
Becoming a label reader is easier than you think. By training your eye to avoid the top 10 items listed above you are on your way to a much happy and healthier you.
Blessings of Vibrant Health,
Kristin Grayce McGary
Health and Lifestyle Alchemist