Tips To Read Food Label

One of the most important things you can do for your own nutrition is to know what you’re eating. In recent years, food labels have become much more user friendly and you really can know exactly what you’re putting in your body.

Your relationship with food is very important. What you eat can help to give you energy, improve your immunity, and allow you to combat many diseases. But it can also do the opposite – leave you feeling weak and even cause disease.

But if you’ve never given your food much thought, reading food labels can be intimidating. There’s a lot of information there. Deciding which information is important and which isn’t can be challenging. Once you know the basics, though, you’ll read those labels with confidence.

Be Smart about Serving Size

Begin with looking at the serving size on the label. Sometimes people miss this part of the label and then have an inaccurate idea of what’s actually in the food. For example, if you have a can of soup and the label says it’s 2 servings, that means that the information on the label would be doubled if you ate the whole can.

Labels have gotten better in the recent past. For example, a can of soda used to be 1.5 or 2 servings. But now when you look at the label, one can of soda is a whole serving because most people will drink the entire thing. A 20 oz bottle, though, is more than 2 servings.

Calorie Breakdown

Once you know the serving size, you’re ready to move on to looking at the quality of the food you’re eating. The most obvious information you can get from your food label is about the breakdown of calories.

The label will tell you how many calories are in each serving. Calories are the measurement for how much energy it takes down to break down the food. The higher the calories, the longer it will take to break it down.

Your metabolism is the measure of how much energy you burn over a period of time. While we often think of exercising as burning calories, the effect of exercise is small compared to the total calories you burn.

When your heart beats, you breathe in and out, your body breaks down nutrients and makes new blood cells you’re burning calories. That’s why you need an average of around 2,000 calories in a day.

There are three basic biomolecules that your food can give you: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Food labels tell you exactly how much of each you’re getting in a serving of food. The label also tells you how many grams of that food you need in a typical diet.

Depending on the label, the following are the major categories you’ll find:

*· Total calories per serving

*· Grams of carbohydrates

*· Grams of fat

*· Milligrams of sodium

*· Grams of protein

*· Vitamins and minerals, if any

Within those major categories are some subdivisions to help you understand even more about what you’re eating. Let’s take a look at those subdivisions and what they mean for you when it comes to your diet.

Not All Carbohydrates are Created Equal

When it comes to carbohydrates, some are better for you than others. Let’s be clear – you need carbohydrates to have energy and to be healthy. Any diet that tells you to eliminate them completely is unhealthy.

A food label will break down carbohydrates into two categories – fiber and sugars. You need both. However, many people don’t have enough fiber in their diets. You want to look for foods that are high in this nutrient.

Fiber helps you to lower your cholesterol and helps your digestive system to be more regular. You’ll find more fiber in foods that contain whole grains such as wheat and oats. This is the healthier type of carbohydrate.

The other category of sugars is what you need to watch if you’re concerned about diabetes. Depending on your situation with blood sugar, you’ll want to limit how many grams of sugar you get in your diet.

When it comes to calories, every gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories. So if you want to know how many calories in the food come from carbohydrates you can multiply your carbohydrate grams by four. Then you can look at the total calories in the serving to determine the percentage of calories that come from them.

The Purpose of Protein

Your body must have protein to build structures. Most of the structures inside you consist of protein and in order to have the building blocks to repair cells and develop muscles, you’ll need to eat food that has this important molecule.

A food label will tell you the number of grams of protein in your food. You’ll want to look for foods that are high in protein. Foods that have a lot of protein include nuts, meats, whole grain foods, and dairy products.

The Facts About Fats

Food labels will also give you information about fats. In the past, health practitioners told patients to avoid fat altogether. But it turns out that modern science doesn’t support that type of diet. You actually need fats just like you need other molecules in your food.

The two major categories of fats are unsaturated and saturated. Unsaturated fats come from plant sources. At room temperature unsaturated fats stay liquid. These are considered healthy fats. You need them to help keep your skin and other organs healthy.

Unsaturated fats also help lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol in your blood. This helps to protect your heart and prevent problems such as heart disease and stroke. They also help your digestive system to run smoothly.

Saturated fats come from animal fats. These are solid at room temperature and are considered unhealthy fats. They contribute to high cholesterol, clogged arteries and can ultimately lead to heart disease, stroke, and other disorders.

Speaking of cholesterol, you can also find the amount of cholesterol in a serving of food on the label. Cholesterol amounts become important when you’re trying to eat a heart healthy diet. If you’re trying to lower cholesterol, you’ll want to pay attention to this part of the label.

Trans fats are a category of fats that come from altering the chemical structure of an unsaturated fat. They are also called hydrogenated fats because the process of taking a liquid unsaturated fat to a solid trans fat involves adding hydrogen atoms to the molecules.

For many years it was thought that trans fats were as healthy as unsaturated fats, but that has been disproved. In fact, trans fats are actually more harmful than saturated fats. Because of the bad press trans fats many food manufacturers are removing it from their products.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that trans fats are listed on food labels. It’s a good idea to avoid any food that has trans fats in it. These fats have no nutritional value and are in fact harmful for you.

Sodium Safety

Another nutrient that food labels provide information about is sodium. Sodium is the fancy, scientific term for salt. If you have normal blood pressure you probably don’t pay too much attention to salt. But if you’re suffering from high blood pressure, you can’t ignore it.

Sodium causes your body to hold onto water and in turn raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So if you have this issue, you need to check the labels. Speak with your doctor about what healthy amount of sodium is for you.

Then you’ll want to look for labels that have low amounts of sodium or are even free from it. Some foods are labeled as “low sodium” but you still need to look at the label and see where it fits in with your needs.

Eating Vitamins and Minerals

While most people could use a multivitamin each day, the best way to get your vitamins and minerals is through the food you eat. In food, you find these vitamins and minerals in a natural state that’s easy for your body to absorb.

Food labels will give you an idea of what nutrients can be found in a specific food. Look for foods that are high in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and beta-carotene.

Making Time for Reading Food Labels

When you’re new at reading food labels, it can see overwhelming. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You’ll also have your “go-to” foods that you can just pick up without revisiting the label every time.

Plan to spend some extra time at the grocery store when you’re paying more attention to food labels. Pay attention to what nutrients you’re looking to limit and what you need to add to your diet. Before you shop, make a list of what you need to get.

Then, as you’re shopping make a list of additional foods that you’d like to incorporate into your diet. You may also want to make a list of foods you’d like to avoid. Perhaps something you’ve always loved has way more cholesterol than you can afford. Spend some time looking for a substitute that’s on the healthier side.

Understanding Ingredients

The other list you’ll find on a nutrition label – or near it – is a list of ingredients. Ingredients on products are listed in order from greatest amount to least amount in the food. This list of ingredients can be very helpful for determining if a food is something you want to eat or not.

Some ingredients you might want to avoid include:

*· Corn syrup (highly processed sugar)

*· Hydrogenated oils

*· Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

*· Artificial coloring

*· Artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin)

Ingredients that are not natural and come from chemical processing are generally not good for your body. A rule of thumb to follow is that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Once you start reading food labels, you’ll be surprised to find out how many additives are in processed foods. While some foods with labels are healthy for you, there are a lot of foods that come in cans, boxes, and bags contain harmful ingredients.

Foods Without Labels

When it comes to nutrition, the best thing you can do is look for foods that don’t require labels. These are foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats. The less processed your food is, the healthier it will be.

Other foods have labels, but are also close to their natural state. This includes food such as:

*· Milk

*· Yogurt

*· Whole grain bread

*· Whole grain cereals

*· Natural peanut butter

*· Natural cheese

 

All About Microwaved Food

I recently received an email asking if I could explain about ‘microwave ovens’, eating ‘microwaved food’ etc. So here it is.

The news is not good, if you prefer ‘ignorance is bliss’, now might be a good time to ‘accidentally’ have something better to do! When we think of ‘natural’ health & well-being, it would make sense that we would want to ‘cook’ our food in a ‘natural’ way.

It doesn’t take much intuition to realize that microwaving your food, is about as ‘unnatural’ a way to cook your food as you can get. Doesn’t the fact we use the terms, ‘zap’ it or ‘nuke’ it in the microwave, send a chill up your spine and suggest something is not quite right here?

A critical point is that microwaves don’t actually ‘cook’ your food at all. They basically just heat up the water content of the food and cause the food particles to resonate at very high frequencies. This ‘heats up’ your food, but this is very different from ‘cooking’ your food.

It’s like your food is heated but still ‘raw’. It doesn’t change the chemical structure of your food properly (and in many cases deforms the food molecules), thus substantially reducing your foods nutritional value. Worse however, is that microwaves can (and usually do) create harmful compounds that can lead to serious problems/disease (high cholesterol, cancer etc). * See the research further down.

Now, before you start cursing me again for making you feel bad (because you love your microwave and think life would be hell without it), remember, like all the health tips we give, you need to make them practical and still be able to function and enjoy life. However, while a little bit here and there won’t kill you (not immediately anyway!) – regular intakes are a real problem.

Basically, microwave ovens decay and change the structure of food by the process of ‘radiation’. Do you think if they were marketed as “radiation ovens”, they would be so popular? No way, but that’s exactly what they are. Simply put, you are interfering with/disturbing the ‘natural intelligence’ of the food (which is by far the most important part of any food).

Why wouldn’t we hear more about their negative effects if they were so bad? Basically, for the same reason we don’t hear about many of the things that jeopardize our health (until years after), vested interests and ‘heads in the sand’. Most people don’t want to give up something that is so ‘convenient’!!! And as modern science doesn’t value the fact that there is more to cooking food, than just heating it up, not enough proper research is being done. It’s just another case of modern society, trying to use ‘technology’ to save time… unfortunately at the expense of our health & well-being.

TIPS:

1. Avoid using microwaves/eating microwaved food whenever possible.

Yes, I know you’re busy, you don’t have time to cook and it’s so easy to just ‘zap’ it in the microwave. I know I’m being Scrooge again, and it’s all so easy to say “Don’t use microwaves”, but this really is a big one.

There’s probably not that many other things you could do to improve your long-term health more than throwing your microwave out the window… or at least using it far more sparingly.

Personally, I think you are better off to go and buy some half decent take-away (non-microwaved) than consistently eating ‘zapped’ food (seriously!)

2. THAWING FOODS is not so bad:

If you want to use your microwave for thawing frozen foods, that is not so bad. It’s still much better to let them thaw out naturally, but using a microwave for this purpose and cooking your food ‘naturally’ is not as bad as actually ‘cooking’ with your microwave.

3. ‘NEVER’ use PLASTIC:

Never heat your food in the microwave using plastic containers. When microwaving, carcinogenic toxins can be leached from your plastic and paper plates or covers and mix with your food. This especially applies to foods that contain fat. The combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin (Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer) into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

* This comes from Cancer News at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and a statement by Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital. Full details below.

SOLUTION:

Use glass, corning ware or ceramic containers for heating your food.

4. *** MOTHERS: DON’T Heat your baby’s milk in the microwave (especially in plastic bottles): **

Most people know the enormous benefits of breast milk for infants (as natural as you can get). However, microwaving breast milk (expressed milk) has been shown to break down the essential disease-fighting ability of breast milk (which helps protect your baby) and cause ‘hot spots’ (which can burn your infants mouth).

While this is not ideal in itself, the fact that microwaving causes ‘hot spots’ in the first place, shows it does not heat things evenly/properly. Add on the general problems of using plastic bottles as highlighted above, and it really isn’t the best idea. * The same applies for formula milk/any type of milk in plastic containers.

Better Alternatives:

i) Warm the milk by placing the container in a cup/saucepan of hot water or

ii) ideally boil the milk in a saucepan and let it cool down to warm drinking temperature.

* More hassle? Yes. More time-consuming? Yes. Better for your baby? ABSOLUTELY.

Practical Help: How to Reduce your Microwave Use?

i) Plan ahead:

where possible, decide what you are going to have in advance, so if you need to thaw something, you can take it out of the freezer beforehand (you may need to be before you go to work in some cases).

ii) Weigh up the health benefits of cooking ‘naturally’ versus microwaves.

Is it really that much extra time/hassle? Instead of putting something on a plate, covering it and putting it in the microwave, you’re essentially doing the same in an oven/saucepan. Add a bit of extra time for cooking and washing saucepans etc (if you don’t have a dishwasher), and you are not that much worse off time-wise.

Tips for Getting Take-Away:

i) If you get take-away and they go to cook it/heat it up in a microwave, ask if they can ‘oven heat’ it instead (just enough so it’s not ‘cold’) – so it doesn’t take that much longer!

* In addition to the health dangers, there is nothing worse than your crispy, crunchy pastry or whatever, being microwaved into a soft, soggy, mushy heap (Urgghhh!!!).

ii) If they can’t/won’t do that (i.e oven heat it), depending on the food/season, you might prefer to just have it ‘unheated’/cold. Cold is not ideal, but better than being ‘nuked’.

iii) If it has to be heated and microwave is the ‘only’ way, ask them to microwave it on ‘medium’ (for a little longer) rather than on ‘high’.

If you want to know more about microwaves/microwaving food – who invented them, the science behind them (why they are so unhealthy), the research done so far etc,read on.

History of the Microwave – The Nazi’s:

The Nazis invented the first microwaves. First known as ‘radiomissors’ (argghhh!!!), they were used for preparating meals on a mass scale during the invasion of Russia.

After the war, the Russians had retrieved some of these microwave ovens and conducted research on their biological effects. So alarmed by what they learned, the Russians banned microwave ovens in 1976.

Research on Microwaves:

More and more research is now suggesting people who regularly eat microwaved food over a period of time, sustain significant adverse changes to their blood chemistries and the rates of growth of certain diseases.

These can include:

* An increased rate of cancer cell formation in the blood.
* Increased rates of stomach and intestinal cancers.
* Lymphatic disorders, leading to decreased ability to prevent certain types of cancers.
* Higher rates of digestive disorders and a gradual breakdown of the systems of elimination.

1. Dr. Hans Ulrich Hertel was the first scientist to conduct quality clinical research on the effects microwaved nutrients (on the human body).

His small but well controlled study showed the degenerative force produced in microwave ovens and the food processed in them. This included,

Increased cholesterol levels
Decreased numbers of red blood cells
Production of radiolytic compounds (compounds unknown in nature)
Decreased hemoglobin levels (possible anemia problems).

His conclusion:

Microwave cooking changes the nutrients in the food, and changes take place in the participants’ blood that can cause deterioration in the human system.

1. Hertel’s scientific study was done along with Dr. Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry.

2. A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that… broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97% of the beneficial antioxidant chemicals it contains.

By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11% or fewer of its antioxidants.

3. A recent study at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York demonstrated that microwaving food creates toxic compounds (known as AGE’s) that are associated with serious illness such as heart disease and diabetes etc.

AGE’s form when sugars, proteins and fats amalgamate in high-temperature cooking, the most harmful of which is microwaved food.

4. Microwaving baby formulas converts certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic isomers, which are toxic to the nervous system – this is from the British journal The Lancet (Dec. 9, 1989).

Microwaved Blood Kills Woman:

A 1991 lawsuit involving a woman who had hip surgery and died because the blood used in her blood transfusion was warmed in a microwave. Blood is routinely warmed before transfusions, but not by microwave. The microwave altered the blood and it killed the woman.

More on Microwaves & Dioxins:

This is from an email (around Jan 06), Re; Cancer News from John Hopkins. It was received from a nursing supervisor at Greenville Memorial Hospital. It was sent to their staff.

Cancer News from Johns Hopkins:
No plastic containers in microwave.
No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dioxinchemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer.

Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital, was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us.

He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

He recommends using glass, corning ware or ceramic containers for heating your food.

You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners and soups, etc, should be removed from the container and heated in something else (* Note from Mark – re-heating/cooking frozen food – e.g TV dinners, is not highly recommended anyway). Paper isn’t bad, but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc.

He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons. He also pointed out that Saran wrap is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous dioxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food.

Alternative: Cover food with a paper towel instead.

The Natural (Ayurvedic) View:

For those familiar with the Ayurvedic dosha system, the understanding from Maharishi Ayurveda is that microwaves disturb vata dosha. Vata is that ‘governing principle of Intelligence’ that governs all communication and movement in your mind-body. If out of balance it can adversely affect your nervous system, and lead to problems ranging from anxiety, disturbed sleep through to constipation and early/chronic fatigue.

 

How To Avoid Food Addictive

The Processed Food Industry (from fast food restaurants to the huge factories that create and package processed foods) is really only concerned about one thing… their corporate profits.

It’s a numbers game… and the sad fact is that growing and distributing fresh, healthy food is far more expensive per unit than manufacturing packaged food products that are ready-to-eat or “instant” or very easy to prepare… and that can sit on a shelf (in the store or in your pantry) for long periods of time without spoiling (“shelf-life”).

To create these modern nutritional marvels requires a great deal of tampering with the original food (if there ever was one), and numerous “added ingredients” as well as a bunch of food preservatives. And let’s not forget artificial colors, flavors and pesticides.

Let me let you in on a little secret… The bottom line to staying healthy & fit is to stick to a healthy diet… and nothing is healthier than eating organically grown fruit and vegetables.

Often referred to as “Raw Food,” organically grown and pesticide-free produce has been proven to be the safest and healthiest food for the human body. It is naturally filled with nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

So here’s a list of Food Additives that you really need to avoid!

1. Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Every so often a new “buzz word” is discovered by the news media whenever they talk about health or fitness issues. Until recently, the most often heard health topic in the news concerned Cholesterol levels.

Granted, Cholesterol is still an important issue and concern for many people (especially Boomers); but the newest kid (buzz word) on the block seems to be Trans Fat.

Does that mean anything to you? It should if you’re one of the millions who have fallen for the margarine trap. Or if you enjoy having a “packaged” muffin or pastry with your coffee in the morning, you need to know the hard cold facts about the dangers of eating foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

It’s made by using a process in which vegetable oil is “infused” with hydrogen. When that occurs, the level of polyunsaturated oils (a healthy fat) is drastically reduced and “Trans Fats” are created.

Do a quick search on Google and you’ll discover that Trans Fats are closely associated with heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, atherosclerosis and all the other problems related to elevated cholesterol.

2. BHA and BHT

The preservatives BHA and BHT are man-made ingredients that prevent oils used in processed foods from becoming rancid. Both are considered to be “Carcinogens” by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS).

They’re both recognized for causing sleep disorders and are associated with numerous diseases and health problems including skin rashes, hair loss, liver and kidney damage, pancreatic cancer, fetal abnormalities and growth retardation.

In the last 40 years, the rate of Cancer deaths in the US has increased by over 50%! This is not a coincidence! Think about the fact that BHA and BHT have both been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals, and even the US DHHS says they’re unsafe for human consumption, yet the FDA continues to maintain that they’re safe to be used in the foods we eat.

Read the label before you buy… if it contains BHT or BHA, put it back.

3. Azodi-carbonamide (ADA or Bromide)

In food processing, ADA is an additive used in manufacturing of Bread products; it’s used for bleaching flour and as a preservative, keeping bread soft and preventing it from becoming stale.

Use of Azodi-carbonamide as a food additive is illegal in parts of Europe and in Australia. The UK has identified Bromide as a possible cause of asthma and the use of ADA in food processing in Singapore can result in up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of $450,000!

Why?

Because the main use of ADA is in the manufacturing of foam plastics, like Styrofoam! The thermal decomposition of ADA releases nitrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and ammonia gases which are trapped in the polymer as bubbles in a foam product.

Common examples are Styrofoam cups, gaskets for car doors and windows, padded floor mats, padded inserts for shoes, etc… And yet it is still found in several bread products sold in the USA.

Ever wonder why Wonderbread was so soft and could stay that way for weeks (if not months) on the shelf? Well, now you know.

4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Commonly used as the “flavor enhancer” in Chinese food, MSG has become one of the few additives that are now being recognized for its unpleasant side effects. It’s not uncommon to see signs in windows in Thai and Chinese restaurants that say “No MSG!”

But MSG is not just in Asian cuisine; it’s also a common ingredient in “flavor packets” and “marinades” in supermarkets. MSG is what is called an excitotoxin; a toxin that binds to certain receptors in your brain.

It basically “turns off” the neural receptors that tell you when you’re full, making you want to consume more food. It also over-stimulates your brain, resulting in an intense “rush” as your dopamine levels suddenly rise. The side effects of MSG include throbbing headaches (migraine trigger), rashes, dizziness as well as respiratory, digestive, circulatory and coronary concerns.

5. Olestra (Olean)

Hailed as a calorie-free fat substitute, Olean is a widely used chemical ingredient in numerous snacks, crackers and potato chips. Obviously what first comes to mind is that this is a good thing, being a “calorie-free” fat. But there’s a price to pay.

This additive is known to inhibit the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate several vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. Side effects? How about severe bloating and gas as well as diarrhea and uncontrollable anal leakage?

Basically, not a pretty picture… a chemical ingredient that will add extra fat to your waistline, and then, to top it off, possibly surprise you with some unexpected explosive anal leakage? Uh, no thanks… Read that label.

6. Artificial Sweeteners

It should be a crime… People mistakenly think that they are doing their body a favor by using “Diet” versions of their favorite drink or foods… all in the effort to lose weight; but the truth is, artificial sweeteners are far worse than natural sweeteners.

They’re man-made chemicals that have some really insidious side effects… like cancer and neurological (brain) disorders because of the high toxicity of their eventual chemical breakdown within the body.

And to top it off, when combined with other food additives, they can have a far more potent effect on nerve cells. Don’t believe it? Read some of the many scientific research papers on the internet on the side effects of Saccharine and Aspartame.

If it says Diet (artificially sweetened) on the label… Stay away!

7. Refined White Sugar

Highly processed sugar is so common, it’s found in just about everything… but especially in processed foods. Start reading those labels and you’ll be amazed by the high amounts of sugar in soft drinks, baked goods (bread, cookies & pastries), pasta, tomato sauce and all kinds of canned foods and soups.

Unless you’ve been living on a desert island for the last 50 years, you’ve undoubtedly heard that white sugar consumption (and the corresponding spike in insulin levels) will cause weight gain, bloating, fatigue, arthritis, migraine headaches, lowered immune function, obesity, tooth decay, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.

8. Artificial Coloring

Artificial colors are chemicals added to foods and drinks for no other reason than to make them more appealing to the consumer. Many are derived from coal-tar and can contain up to 10 parts per million of lead and arsenic and yet are still being recognized as safe by the FDA. Others come from a wide range of less than appetizing sources.

Carmine, the most common ingredient in red food coloring is a clothing dye that dates back to the ancient Aztecs and is made from the crushed shells of a South American beetle. Carmine and other artificial colors have been known to cause severe allergic reactions as well as ADHD in children and may contribute to visual & learning disorders as a result of nerve damage.

9. Pesticides

These days, there’s really no way to get around this one… short of growing your own produce, or buying all your food from an Organic farm. Sadly the vast majority of food products (like 99.99%) has been in contact with and includes the residue of pesticides.

Over two billion pounds of pesticides are added annually to the amount that is used every year; and as the global demand for food escalates, there’s no end in sight. Many of those pesticides (used outside the USA) are known carcinogens.

In countries with no legislation to protect its citizens from the use of such pesticides, there’ve been near epidemic numbers of cases where these toxins have severely diminishing the body’s ability to resist infection, as well as contribute to a higher percentage of miscarriages and birth defects.

10. Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite

We saved this for last because of the ongoing debate about Sodium Nitrate (andNitrites ~ what Sodium Nitrate becomes in the process of curing meat)…
Thus, instead of completely avoiding Sodium Nitrate, we recommend you really limit to a minimum the amount of food you eat with Nitrites in it.

For several centuries, salt (Sodium Nitrate) has been used as a curing agent & preservative for fish & meat. Today it’s found in Deli-meats and in highly concentrated amounts in bacon, salami, pepperoni and other processed meats.

Nitrates and cancer

Several decades ago, researchers suggested Nitrates were linked to cancer in lab rats. This received a lot of media attention; but what received far less attention was when it turned out they were wrong.

The National Academy of Sciences, the American Cancer Society and the National Research Council all agree that there’s no direct cancer risk from consuming limited amounts of sodium nitrate… in fact, despite its bad reputation, Nitrites can actually prevent a very deadly disease!

Nitrates and Botulism

One special property of Nitrate is that it prevents the growth of Clostridium Botulinum… one of the most toxic substances known. Clostridium Botulinum produces Botulism, a paralytic illness that can quickly lead to respiratory failure and death.

Botulism bacteria are peculiar because unlike most microbes, they actually require an oxygen-free environment to live. Once exposed to air, it dies; so it tends to appear in canned foods, vacuum-packed foods, food stored in oil and improperly cured meats.

Interestingly, it turns out that Sodium Nitrate is especially effective at preventing the growth of Botulism.

Sodium Nitrate and a Healthy Diet

Considering that Sodium Nitrate occurs naturally in organic foods like spinach, carrots and celery, all the fuss about nitrites seems like typical media-driven hysteria. Moreover, when you consider the increased likelihood of contracting Botulism from eating Nitrate-free meat, it’s actually the nitrate-free foods that present the higher health risk.

Despite how delicious they might taste, a steady diet of processed Deli-meats will undoubtedly result in some less than desirable effects on one’s health. And not just from the Sodium Nitrate; but in concert and conjunction with all the other preservatives, additives and chemicals found in any processed food.

Studies show that frequent eating of processed meats can result in some rather unpleasant side effects that include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Long term diets that included large daily amounts of Deli meats have been known to cause cancer, heart disease, embolism and strokes.

The Bottom Line…

If you have to buy or use a processed or manufactured food product, just be sure to read the Label! Better yet, stick to Organic Raw Foods purchased from a Whole Food or Organic Food Market and learn to cook without using a bunch of man-made chemicals and artificial ingredients.

The importance of proper nutrition cannot be emphasized enough. Your health is directly related to what you eat!

Most modern supermarket food is nearly worthless… filled with an abundance of empty calories and high fat & sugar content. The sad fact of the matter is there are are hardly any vitamins or minerals in processed foods.

Only Organic, fresh, raw foods possess high amounts of nutritional energy… and you don’t have to worry about reading the ingredient list on a bunch of raw vegetables!

Unfortunately we can’t always get or eat totally organic foods all the time… so it then becomes vitally important to supplement our diets with food supplements (vitamins, minerals, enzymes and anti-oxidants) in order to keep our digestion & metabolism running smoothly and to keep our bodies as healthy as possible. Just remember…
You are what you eatand “The longer the shelf-life… the shorter your life!”

 

Between Natural Food and Package Food

There are substantial differences between the two. In order to analyse this, we need to consider the MAIN difference if we look at the words, “Real Natural” and also – “Packaged.”

Real Natural Foods – Untouched or modified, and straight off the vine or tree.

Packaged Foods – Processed and packaged, modified and “enhanced or tampered with.”

Now I know these two descriptions are the extreme, and you must realise that if it’s modified or processed, then it is (by definition) not natural – in its natural state.

Your body will consume anything you put in it, and deal with it as best as it can. This includes all the processed and modified foods. Some are not bad, and others, not good at all.

Now, the real health concerns over what foods to consume is not going to be a big debate today, except to say that everything that we put in our mouth will either do us good, or not good. As you could imagine then, you have to be careful about the processed foods we put into our bodies, and understand that everything has consequences. Whether it is in short term, long term or secondary effect, it will affect your body in some way.

Now let’s have a look at the packaged foods.

What do we do about research understanding things that are in foods? Do we read the packet to see what adverse elements are actually in them? Do you know how your body reacts to certain processed foods? More importantly – do you know what you are actually feeding your children?

We also have to understand that although packaged foods (processed foods) affects us all differently, there are some fundamental ways in which we will react, and it’s usually the degree of the reaction that varies among each of us.

Now this is what I want you to do. I want you to consider what is in your pantry and fridge. What is in your food cupboard? Now this is where we have to be honest with ourselves to get the most out of this information.

The reason this is important is because we can often “fool ourselves” into thinking that “it’s only a little bit,” or “it’s just a treat.” Here is the real question… Is it a treat? What constitutes the timing of treats? Well, a treat every night is not a treat. It’s really part of your staple diet. Are you consuming too much of the “nasties” that react adversely to your body?

Here is a typical list of what is found in most ‘western society pantries’ and fridges:

– Potato crisps (chips in a packet) / corn chips

– cookies (biscuits and crackers)

– rice crackers / rice and corn shapes

– cup cakes

– donuts

– muslie bars / rice bars / nut bars

– confectionary – chocolate bars

– candy / lollies / sweets on sticks / wrapped sweets / toffee / chew bars

– mints / breath mints / candy suckers / lollie suckers / lozengers

– premade pasta meals, instant noodles

– soda drinks / soft drinks / soda pops / premix carbonated drinks

– juices / fruit drinks / pre-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices

– beers / wines

Now I ask the question – where is the real food in it? Where are the fruit and veggies? Is this your staple diet?

Watch how you or your kids react when they eat packaged foods, and watch how they act after they eat natural foods. There is a big difference. As a parent, I have seen this first hand. There is food related bad behaviour, as well as good behaviour.

I know what I prefer. What about you?

There is another element that affects how fast we digest our foods through our bodies, called Glycemic Index (GI for short). The higher the Glycemic index, the faster our body digests and processes food in our body. If you have heard the term “Low GI food,” it is food that is slowly processed and gives a slow release of energy. On the other hand, a “High GI food” gives you an almost instant pick up of energy, processes fast, and then you “fall flat” and you are out of energy. Even some natural foods have a high Glycemic index. BUT, the majority of packaged foods have high GI.

If you eat a packet of potato crisps, you may feel satisfied for a short while, and then you are probably empty and “unsatisfied” a short while later. That is because they usually lace the chips or snack with salts and flavours that make you ‘want more’.

Here is a challenge for you.

Instead of snacking on packaged foods, choose a natural alternative. This could include nuts, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sweet peas or beans, tomatoes, grapes, fruit, and yoghurt.

The idea is to have it prepared beforehand. It is very difficult to “grab a snack” that is healthy when you are in a hurry, unless you have something pre-prepared. With seeds and nuts, have them separated into small bags or containers, so that when you “run out the door” you can simply grab that pre-organised snack. You will be satisfied, and you will feel better for it. You won’t feel gluggy, or flat, and you are doing your body good, not filling it with junk foods. It is a matter of being prepared and it is not hard to do. If you are serious about having slight changes in your lifestyle, then this is an easy step.

Packaged foods are mixed. Some are “healthy” some are not. You have to be careful even if they are labelled healthy. Are they really healthy? Do they have chemical flavour enhancers such as MSG, preservatives, or pH balancers? Do they have swags of laboratory numbers on the ingredients list? Or really, really long words that only your doctor or chemist would understand? If so, then you should do some research, find out what they really stand for, and avoid foods that contain them. This can be a little difficult – especially if you have kids. It’s that “No” word. Just make healthy alternative choices instead.

Making the right decision for your whole family will mean changes. And no one likes change. Just do a little research to avoid some bigger problems later on. However, a good mix of natural foods will be the best solution. Take an apple. – If your kids can’t eat a whole apple, cut it up into smaller sizes, they are more likely to eat it. Make eating these things fun. You get excited about eating healthy, and your kids will follow. Don’t make a big fuss over it though, it will just happen. A good variety is the key.

As you can see, there are major differences between packaged foods and natural foods. As a rule, if it comes in a packet, so it has to be preserved. How have they done so? Natural foods have a shelf life, and go off. That is the natural order of life. If a packaged food can sit on the shelf and not go off, decay and decompose, then it is not food, and is probably doing you more harm than good.

We have to be careful of what we put in our mouth. Ask yourself this question, am I eating food, or eating a chemically unstable snack? There is a big difference. We just need to be careful, and be diligent about what we feed our bodies, and our kids’ bodies as well.