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Jumping into May
This month we will examine many of the strange and often harmful ingredients that are hidden in processed foods. Even though some of these artificial ingredients are FDA approved, they cause serious problems inside our bodies. The key is to always read labels. Even when foods are marketed as healthy, Big Food hides artificial ingredients inside.
Question every ingredient and take back your health by choosing products that contain minimal ingredients. Big Food prioritizes cutting costs, tricking our taste buds, and making food addicting, so they can sell more products. They prioritize profit at the expense of our health.
We’ll dive into many artificial ingredients this month. We’ll discuss what they are, why Big Food uses them, and their risks. Most importantly, we’ll discuss product swaps. There are many honest products that minimize the use of artificial ingredients, and one of those might be from your own kitchen. Cooking at home gives you the most awareness of what ingredients are in your food.
Let’s get back to an older style of cooking, eating, and living. A style in which we eat from nature, not a science lab. A style that our grandparent’s grandparents followed. We should eat natural, REAL food with ingredients we can pronounce.
What are Artificial Ingredients?
Artificial ingredients are man-made ingredients, constructed in a laboratory. Even if they are derived from “natural” ingredients, they are very different from WHOLE foods. Big Food uses artificial ingredients, additives, and flavors to cut costs, achieve a “bliss point” to get you addicted, make food last longer, and more.
For example, consider heavy whipping cream. The only ingredient should be dairy cream, right? But check the ingredient list. You may find gums which Big Food adds as a thickener. You may find other ingredients like mono and diglycerides carrageenan, disodium phosphate, polysorbate 80, sodium citrate. Our food shouldn’t have ingredients that make it sound like a science experiment. Many artificial ingredients are linked to major health concerns. For example, carrageenan can cause severe GI distress, and polysorbate 80 has been linked to infertility in mice.
Navigating the grocery store
Some people say that if you want to eat healthy, it’s best to choose the food on the periphery of the grocery store (dairy, meat, eggs, produce) and avoid the food in the middle aisles (cookies, snacks, bread, ice cream, etc.) While this can be a helpful reminder, the truth is that the whole grocery store can be compromised.
There are anti-caking agents in our cheese, carbon monoxide (not approved in Europe) in our meat, pesticides (like glyphosate) drenching our produce, and seed oils in our dried fruit. Head to the middle aisles, and it gets worse: bright red jello, cereal that looks like small cookies, and vegetable oil that contains no veggies at all. What are these clown foods? Can we even call it food anymore?
Checking food labels
When checking labels, we often see more ingredients that we can’t pronounce than ingredients we can pronounce. Many of these ingredients are banned in other countries, yet they still have a home in our food here in the US. Unfortunately, that means it’s up to us as consumers to do our due diligence. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, take a moment to look it up, or if the list of ingredients is a paragraph long and there are too many items that you don’t recognize, just say no!
The important questions
You should ask yourself two important questions when checking food labels. First, “What are the ingredients?” but also, “What is in (or on) those ingredients?” If the ingredient is a whole food, such as carrots, meat, fish, etc., you may be tempted to think that it’s healthy. But, it’s not always that simple. We need to think about where the ingredient came from, how it was transported, and how it was grown, raised, and handled as well.
Are food labels misleading?
Yes! Big Food has learned how to use health buzzwords on their packaging to make us think the product is healthy and discourage us from taking a closer look at the ingredients.
Watch out for statements such as “Cholesterol free,” “High in protein,” “All natural,” “Vegan,” “Non-GMO,” “Heart Healthy,” “No trans fat,” and “Whole Grain.” The claim may be true (but the product is still unhealthy), partially true, or not true at all! Do not be fooled by these marketing ploys!
A product can be “Vegan,” for example, but still contain a ton of artificial sweeteners. A product can be “Whole Grain” but full of trans fats. One of our favorite claims can be found on a box of Lucky Charms, which, according to General Mills, contains “11 essential vitamins and minerals.” This is comical, since these vitamins and minerals are barely bioavailable (can’t be used by the body).
What if it is
Unfortunately you can’t even trust that. Diet and nutrition isn’t a root concern for some doctors. Take Red Dye 40 for example. It is a synthetic color additive made from petroleum that’s found nearly everywhere—even in children’s Tylenol that is pediatrician approved! Recent data suggest a link between Red Dye 40 and ADHD, allergies, migraines, and more.
“Heart Healthy” Seed Oils? No way!
We often see the “heart healthy” claim plastered on seed oil containers, but new data clearly links seed oils with heart disease—the complete opposite! Seed oils also lead to major health problems such as metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, brain fog, cancer, and more. This is an example of just how egregiously mislabeled food products can be!
Less is not the same as none!
The FDA doesn’t regulate many false claims that companies make. Big Food can claim there is “no trans fat” in their product if it contains less than 0.5 grams. You may think that a product has “no artificial sweeteners,” but very small amounts of these sweeteners (some up to 1000x more sweet than sugar) still can be present in the food without being required by the FDA to state it on the label.
bye bye artificial ingredients challenges:
Use #SuperHeroYOU2022 AND tag @mysuperherofoods on instagram posts and stories
Check the ingredients of foods at home or while shopping at the grocery store. Do you see any artificial ingredients? Post a picture of the product and tell us what artificial ingredients you see.
Eat foods in their more whole form. Share a favorite food product with us that does not contain any artificial ingredients. Hint: this could be a fruit or a vegetable.
Educate your family and friends about artificial ingredients. Share one of our #ByeByeArtificialIngredients posts on your stories or feed
learn more from our guides related to #ByeByeArtificialIngredients
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They’re designed to be simple and also something that you can do with your kiddos.
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