My favorite post on Facebook this week said, “You are what you eat – so don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.”
That’s easier said than done in this crazy, fast-paced world we live in. While it may not be possible to home-cook 100 percent of our meals, simply avoiding the following “health wreckers” will go a long way in protecting you and your family. The only commitment you need to make is to flip over the package and read the label. You can do it!
Noteworthy health wreckers to avoid…
- •GMOs– GMO stands for genetically modified organism. These modified foods have been banned in Europe and many other countries and are receiving a lot of negative attention in the U.S. as well. The majority (80-90 percent) of the soy, corn, canola coil and sugar beets grown in the USA are GMOs. Conventional pork, beef and poultry are fed GMO soy and corn feed so you may be eating GMO foods indirectly. To avoid GMOs follow these tips:
-Buy organic – certified organic products cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients.
-Look for “Non-GMO Project” verified seals.
-Avoid at-risk ingredients like soybeans, canola, cottonseed, corn and sugar from sugarbeets.
- Trans fats – Anything labeled as hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil or shortening are what’s known as trans fats. Legally, food labeled as ‘zero trans fats’ can have up to ½ gram of trans fats per serving. Trans fats are linked to cardiovascular disease and elevated cholesterol.
- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)– Found in virtually all sodas, packaged desserts, and even ketchup. HFCS comes from corn (generally GMO corn) and it raises blood sugar just as quickly as cane sugar plus a slew of other negative effects on the body. HFCS is accused of being major contributor to the obesity and diabetes epidemics we now face as a nation. It’s twice as sweet as sugar, addictive, and can cause liver damage because of the way it metabolizes in the body. HFCS is hidden in many everyday foods because it’s cheaper to use than sugar so you may be eating way more than you think you are. I’ve seen it hidden in applesauce, bread, ketchup, yogurt, other sauces, cereals, and lunchmeat (seriously).
- Fake Sugar – Aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and sucralose (Splenda) are all chemically manufactured in a lab and do a number on your health. These artificial sweeteners affect the nervous system, endocrine system, cause more cravings for sweets and potentially cancer. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners actually increase cravings for sweets. Stevia – a natural sweetener from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant can be used as a natural “no calorie” alternative. Just be sure to read the label to make sure you’re getting a version that is minimally processed.
- Food preservatives, artificial flavors, and artificial colors – Polysorbates, BHT/BHA, Nitrates, Sulfites and Sodium Benzoate are preservatives and have a wide range of side effects from migraines, nausea, infertility, and cancer. Artificial flavors and colors have been linked to many ailments including allergies, headaches and behavior changes such as ADD and ADHD. Unfortunately, these are the very ingredients used in many children’s food items to make them colorful.
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Editor’s note: Lisa Bakosi is a Certified Health Coach and owner of Hygea Health & Nutrition, LLC. She provides specialized programs for individuals, hosts a variety of health seminars, guest lectures at events, and specializes in Employee Wellness Programs. She works with her clients on diet and lifestyle strategies to feel good and look great. Visit www.hygeahealthnut.com to learn more about her training and unique approach to health.