5 Poisons To Avoid On Food Labels

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You're in the grocery store doing your Sunday shopping. You want to get in and out as fast as possible, but you know it will take some time because you are on a mission to make healthier choices. 

With so many options, it's hard to determine which products are good and which ones are not.  You usually just  grab whatever's the cheapest because hey, you're doing this budget thing also. 

I mean do you really need to buy organic?  What's the difference? As long as the box says "natural" or "fat-free", it's a winner, right? 

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Wrong! 

That couldn't be further from the truth, particularly in the U.S. where these terms are not even regulated.  That's right, companies can arbitrarily place "healthy" and "all-natural" on their labels without any real qualifications in place to ensure that the product actually fits that description! 

This is why as consumers, it is important to be able to interpret food labels independent of the marketing terms that jump out at you from the shelves. 

These days you almost need a degree to sort through all the madness in the world of processed foods- or a well informed guide who can clue you in on key things to look for.   

The big companies in the food industry are playing chess, not checkers when it comes to marketing their products. They are well aware that consumers are getting smarter about what's in their food, so they find ways to hide the bad stuff.  In fact, all of the toxins listed below have alternative names that can be used on labels. 

And let's not forget the beloved catch-all "natural flavors" (which is the lingo that has replaced "artificial flavors) that's in everything these days.  Natural flavors are not natural, and they sometimes can include extractions from meat and other animal byproducts.  This is why it's best  to move further and further away from eating things that are sold in a can, box, or package. 

When you buy food from a package, most of the time you really do not know exactly what is in it, especially with such vague regulations on the language that can be used.

In a perfect world, we would all eat 100% whole foods every single day but hey, that's just not realistic for some, especially considering where you are on your health journey.  However, everyone can make better choices. 

If you are just starting out or you lead a particularly busy lifestyle, you may need some shortcuts and some cheat codes so that you're not eating out at restaurants every day.  I got you!

One of the first things I encourage you to do whether you are plant-based, meat-based, or anywhere in-between is to begin preparing all or a majority of your meals at home using as many single-ingredient foods as possible.  For everything else, here are some of the key things you should look out for on the labels when grocery shopping.  Oh and I refer to them as "poisons" intentionally because if food is our medicine, then it is either nourishing or toxic. 

Here we go! 


1. Canola oil

  This is a genetically modified hydrogenated oil that causes hypertension, increased risk of stroke, and other heart disease.   Do not believe false claims that canola oil is "heart healthy".  It is cheaply made, which is why the food industry pushes it.   Stay away from all partially hydrogenated oils.  They are commonly found in microwavable popcorn, 

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

This artificial sweetener is found in poor quality foods, meaning those foods that provide little to zero nutritional value.  Eating foods that contain HFCS leads to diabetes, dementia, and obesity due to the fact that it destroys the intestinal lining. Leaky gut, IBS, and many other digestive issues can be traced to consumption of this  It also contains unregulated levels of mercury, which can cause memory loss, vision loss, and other neurological damage. 

3. Modified Food Starch

 Genetically modified foods (GMOs) are unnatural substances which are unidentifiable by the body.  The kidney and liver do not know how to process unnatural foods, thus they wreak havoc on our organs and the body's natural detoxifying processes. Eating modified food starch causes autoimmune diseases such as lupus and arthritis, allergies, and obesity. 

4. BHA, BHT, Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrite

 These nasty preservatives lengthen the shelf life of food and the trade-off is that they shorten your life expectancy. 

BHA and BHT are endocrine disruptors that alter your hormones and have been linked to cancer.  BHA and BHT are found in hundreds of foods in the U.S. including chewing gum, cereals, and beer, but these chemicals are banned in other countries including England and Japan.  

Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite are commonly found in processed meats such as bacon, lunch meat, and hot dogs.  They cause colon cancer and also are a common cause of diabetes.

5. Blue, Green, Red, Yellow

 Artificial food dyes are linked to many types of cancer, including kidney, adrenal, and brain cancer.  These nerve disruptors are also the culprit of hyperactivity and many behavioral disorders such as ADHD.  It's no coincidence that many children's foods are brightly colored with these harmful chemicals.  They usually have a number behind them such as Blue 1 or Yellow 5, and they are also found in sports drinks, candy, boxed macaroni, and Jell-O.  


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This list is in no way exhaustive, but it is a great place to start.  These are some of the major offenders. A comprehensive list would include hundreds of chemicals such as MSG, TBHQ, BPA, and aspartame.  But instead of trying to learn all of the crap that you shouldn't consume, it's easier to focus on the things that you should eat more of. 

There's one "ingredient" in an organic tomato, one "ingredient" in an organic potato, but who knows what chemical cocktail you're consuming when you eat Chef-Boy-Ardee pasta and fries from McDonald's? Stay vigilant my friends.  May you be whole.

 

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