The human body is a fabulous machine. We need to fuel that machine. Think of it like an expensive car. If one owns an expensive car, one would think, they would take care of it. I know, if I owned a Farrari sports car, I’d be ensuring it was maintained on schedule in order for it to look shiny and new. I think for the most part, we tend to do the same with our appearance. We like to look our best, so we buy ourselves some nice clothes, or perhaps get our hair cut or highlighted to enhance our own features. Many of us might buy some makeup or go to a spa for a facial. Why? We want to look and feel good about ourselves. Food is an essential part of looking good, that perhaps is overlooked far too often. What we eat inside our body, shows on the outside of our body. Not just with weight, but also shows in the quality of our skin, nails and hair, not to mention our overall wellness and feel good on the inside, demeanor. As with any sports car, if I had one, I would ensure I put in the best possible fuel it requires to run. There’s no question I would not try to put diesel fuel in a car that requires a high premium grade of gasoline. Would you?
So why do we put below grade, substandard, or chemically made food in our machine?
When I thought about what to write in this blog about what’s in our cupboards, I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed. There’s simply too much to talk to. I decided to talk a few key ingredients that we would find in our everyday food. There are many, many more, so if you have one, or two, or even three to add, please feel free to add them in the comments.
Do you buy cereals, bagels, muffins or other foods that imply there are blueberries inside? You see the box or the packaging, showing a mouth watering display of blueberries, you must think there are blueberries inside, right? Wrong! In fact, many products that imply there are blueberries in the product, are chemically made out of things like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, sugar, and artificial flavours and artificial colours called red#40 and blue#2. Watch out for wording on product like “Blueberry FLAVOURED”, which is just a way of saying, “This food sucks!”
“Colour” is a common ingredient. What are these artificial colours you ask? Check out this listing of some of the most common food dyes used in many foods we buy. Here’s a little baddie that my spouse picked up at the grocery store. (I guess he didn’t read the last blog!) A closer look at the ingredients and it just says “Colour” followed by a word called “tartrazine”. Tartrazine is just a fancy chemical name for Yellow #5.
Ahh sugar! Both natural and processed sugars of all kinds are found in our foods. I find it difficult to differentiate between some of them as well as many products we buy don’t list the kinds of sugars they use. From my understanding, more processed foods are using sugars processed from corn, aka high fructose corn syrup which are found in many canned goods, sodas, condiments, dairy and baked goods. I even noticed it was put in a vodka fruit drink I had in my home. It’s much cheaper for manufacturers to do this as the cost is less than the real thing. This low cost sweetener seems to be on the hit list of many health experts. One documentary I saw, had one individual call it’s equivalency, “Cocaine” due to it’s industrial process. Aside from concerns such as obesity and heart disease which HFCS has been linked to, apparently it is extremely harsh on one’s liver. For more information, read about HFCS here
It’s difficult to get away from sugar, even regular sugar. While the body metabolizes it better than industrial made sugars such as HFCS, the quantity in which we are consuming sugar nowadays, goes beyond what the health boards recommends. I like yogurt as part of my breakfast each morning. As I look down at my yogurt ingredients, I see this little 142g container has 15 grams of sugar. From what I have read, depending on the size of the sugar granules, this is equivalent to 3-4 teaspoons of sugar. The WHO recommends eating 6 teaspoons of sugar per day or 5% of total daily calorie intake. If you are a soda drinker, this already puts you over the limit at 10 teaspoons of sugar. This guideline does not apply or include the sugar found in whole foods, such as fruits.
Salt is found in all kinds of food. Salt can cause high blood pressure, heart issues, and lead to stroke or heart attacks. As well as it being a preservative, it also makes things taste good. I myself have really cut back on the salt intake however, I am sure I am still over the recommended limit. Last year there was an episode on CBC Marketplace about salt consumption which I found extremely interesting. They took a small sample of people from three different groups, many of which were active adults and thought they ate well and had a low sodium intakes. After the tests results were shown, many were over the recommended limit of 1500mg of salt per day. If you can view the episode, you can see it here
Non Fat-No Fat products
I stay away from non fat/low fat products. When I want the real thing, I just go for it. A non fat version just leaves me unsatisfied as the flavour is not the same. More importantly, besides that, while a product may say it has no fat, it can also be loaded with sugar (sugar has no fat), starches, and other bad things like aspartame, and other artificial sweeteners. In fact, they may have more calories than the regular product. The world of non fat or no fat products in my opinion, also make people believe they are eating healthy and perhaps buy more low fat/non fat crap. Less fat = healthy right? What some may fail to realize, is that there are some good fats out there too. i.e. olive oil, avocado, and nuts to name a few. The body needs these good fats too!
If you haven’t heard it year, aspartame has been linked to a number of health problems such as headaches. For a very explanatory video click here Look for alternatives like Stevia. There seems to be no stopping companies from producing products with aspartame and other sweeteners in their products. It’s a billion dollar industry. At what cost do we really pay?
There are a lot of other things in our food, I wish there was more transparency on the product ingredients. While a product may actually be safe, listing ingredients as “natural flavours” doesn’t really tell me what it truly is. It could be Castoreum! While not widely used (so I’ve read), it’s basically a juice secreted from a beaver’s butt. Yum, yum in the tum, tum, right? Ha! With all these big corporate companies putting out products that offer substandard ingredients, we have to protect ourselves by doing even more research. It’s daunting, I know. I suppose a rule of thumb is, if you are looking for a certain caliber of ingredients in your products and can’t find them listed, don’t buy and look for an alternative.
Health experts are right. Stick to whole foods as much as possible. Get in your fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, healthy grains and the like. For most people, it’s not realistic to be good all the time, but if we try to be good most of the time, hey, that counts too.
Obviously, I’ve just pointed out a mere few things that perhaps we should keep our eyes out for…there’s more. I know this. Feel free to add in the comments. I’d love to have a growing list we can all share.