Part 3 – Hidden Supermarket Dangers

So many of us, with the best will in the world, try to shop and eat healthily.  We look at “whole wheat”, “all natural”, “naturally sourced”, etc, and fill our shopping carts accordingly, hoping that all this healthy food will live up to our expectations.  But what if I told you that there are many hidden dangers in these so-called “health foods” that could actually be making you sick, or preventing you from losing weight?  It is startling to have this revelation, but once you take a really close look at the labeling of the foods in most supermarkets, you will begin to realize that the food you buy may not be what you think.  Don’t worry; it’s not your fault.  Food companies are very adept at marketing their products in a way that appeals to the consumer.  It’s very clever…and very sneaky.

To illustrate my point, I have a challenge for you.  Go to your local supermarket, and put the following items in your shopping cart:

– A box of cereal – any brand
– A loaf of bread
– A frozen vegetarian dinner
– A box of energy bars, or “health bars” – any brand
– A variety of condiments – ketchup, mayonnaise, HP sauce, etc
– A block of cheese
– A pint of skimmed milk
– A tub of ice-cream
– A jar of curry or pasta sauce
– Frozen tofu burgers
– 6-pack of diet cola

This looks like a pretty standard basket of food, right?  No “naughty” items, except maybe the ice-cream.  Seems pretty healthy and adequate, right?

Wrong.

Have a look at the labeling on the boxes of each of these items.   Chances are most will say:
“Less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving”, or “Less than 0.5g of sugar per serving”.   That’s right.  Per SERVING!  In some countries it is even legal for a food manufacturer to label a product as having “0g of sugar/fat per serving”, as long as the product doesn’t contain more than 0.5g of sugar/fat.  So in other words, despite a zero gram labeling, there could well be at least zero point five grams of fat or sugar.

Food for thought if you are gaining weight and wondering why!

In the case of the cereal, there may be at least TWELVE servings per box….meaning you should multiply 0.5g x 12 to get the total amount you will consume.   And that is just the cereal.  The condiments, ice-cream, bread, and so-called “health bars” will probably have similar labeling, which means that if you added the sugar and fat in all these items together on a calculator, your shopping basket would show dramatic levels of each.   So the list above is most certainly not a healthy basket of food at all!   Consider this:  70 years ago this basket of food would have been a lot different.  However in the last 50 years we have drastically altered our food supply to feed demand.  Not only are we genetically altering our natural food products, but food is more nutritionally deficient than it was half a century ago, due to agricultural demands creating topsoil erosion and over-farming.

Remember this:  The longer a product is expected to last on the shelf, the worse it is for you.  Period.

Used as preservatives and flavor enhancers, sugar and fat is pretty much in anything boxed, jarred, canned, packaged, or frozen.   These denatured, “dead” foods are devoid of taste, so sugar and fat are needed to enhance their flavor.   Foods containing sugar are also highly addictive, as they generate a pleasurable experience for the consumer, creating desire and need for the consumer to return again and again.

Supermarket foodthe longer the shelf life, the shorter your life
Supermarkets are in business for one thing:  To make a profit.   By and large they are not interested in our health.   Moreover it is not uncommon to see massive, warehouse-style supermarkets selling everything from bulk vegetables to furniture, all together in one superstore.  These “superstores” have hundreds of shelves that need to be filled with foods with a long shelf life; otherwise they would need to replenish stock on a daily basis, which is hardly feasible.   In order for the food to last a long time on the shelves, they are loaded with additives; chemicals, salt, fat, and sugars, which are used as preservatives and flavor enhancers.    And for good reason – most of these “dead” foods are tasteless and devoid of any real nutrients, and thus require the presence of additives simply to make them more palatable and appealing!  If something has a shelf-life of a year, imagine what it does for your body!

That’s right – absolutely nothing.

Food that has a long shelf life is so far removed from its natural state, how can it be anything but bad for the body?   It needs to be pumped full of chemicals, and there is no way around that.  The longer the shelf life of food, the shorter your life if you eat it…always remember that.

So just what are the hidden dangers in these foods?  Let’s take a look:

Diet Drinks
How many of my readers have been on a diets where you are instructed to drink unlimited amounts of diet drinks as they are “free food”?   Those same diets tell you to restrict how much fruit you eat, because fruit is supposedly “full of sugar” and should be “monitored”.  I cannot help but laugh out loud at this logic.  Firstly, fruit is probably the healthiest food on the entire planet for the human species.   We have evolved over thousands of years to be fruit eaters, and no food on earth supplies us with more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.  It is the perfect food for human beings in every possible way, and should only be monitored in special cases for people with Candida, or Type 1 Diabetes.  People who suffer from fructose malabsorption can still eat fruit; however they have to be careful which fruits they eat.  For the rest of us — fruit could and should be eaten in abundance, but should be organic only (more on that later).

Diet drinks, on the other hand, are nothing but chemicals.  They are loaded with Aspartame (an additive and known poison with detrimental side-effects).   For most people, diet drinks are innocent enough and favored for their low-caloric value.   Over time – if drunk regularly – they have unpleasant, long-term effects on the human body.

The truth about aspartame is quite alarming, so consume at your peril!

Aspartame is a sugar alternative that is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar)!  The controversy surrounding Aspartame is astounding:  The FDA refused to approve it for years, after scientific research revealed its devastating side-effects.  Lab rats exposed to aspartame developed tumors, and lab monkeys frequently died.  Astonishingly, approval was granted in the 70’s amid the controversy, despite claims of falsified scientific data.  So although apparently unsafe for animals, it was labeled safe for human consumption.  And 40 years later we are paying the price.

Known as NutraSweet, Candarel, Equal, it has approximately 92 different proven side-effects.  It has been implicated in everything from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, methanol toxicity, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome; even death.   Adverse food reactions almost always lead back to aspartame, yet the substance is added to food with impunity.  Suffer from insomnia?  Heart palpitations?  Tinnitus?  Dizziness?  Depression?  Joint pain?  Anxiety?  Numbness in legs?   Chances are you could be suffering from aspartame overload and may want to take a look at what you are eating/drinking.

Aspartame is made up of aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol – two amino acids and a chemical.  If eaten/drunk in large quantities, methanol becomes poisonous to the central nervous system.  Aspartame breaks down into formaldehyde, as well as a chemical known as diketopiperazine, which has been linked to brain tumors in lab rats!   According to documented studies, aspartame actually increases the craving for sugar, creating havoc on blood sugar levels, which ultimately leads to weight gain.  Does this sound like something that is a good substitute for natural sugar?  I doubt it.  Aspartame is found in roughly 5000 products.  Some notable examples:

  • Anything labeled “Sugar Free” – aspartame is added for that sweet taste.
  • Diet drinks
  • Sugar substitutes – Canderel, NutraSweet, Equal
  • Chewing gum
  • Sweets
  • Desserts
  • Condiments
  • Sugar-Free dairy products
  • Fruit juices
  • Nutritional/Power Bars
  • “Vitamin” waters and wine coolers
  • Prescription drugs
  • Vitamin supplements

……and more

Researchers at the University Of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio made a startling discovery. Lab rats that were fed aspartame developed a pre-diabetic condition, but this was not the case with rats who didn’t consume aspartame.  You can draw your own conclusions on this one, but let’s be honest – do you still think drinking this awful stuff is better than eating fruit?  I bet not!

You can research the facts about aspartame – it is readily available on the internet.    What you read will astound you, and then you have the power to decide if you really want to continue eating foods containing this stuff.  I suggest this site for more information: http://www.alaskawellness.com/AspartameArchive.htm

Bottom line:  Artificial sweeteners appeal to the palate, but wreak havoc on the brain, pancreas, and liver.  Over time, this creates an imbalance in the body and instability in blood sugar levels, resulting in weight-gain and disease.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
For those of you out there who are concerned with eating too much fat….rest assured, there is a ste­althier foe lurking in your food.   It’s sugar, but not the familiar table sugar that comes from sugar cane (sucrose).  Instead it’s the syrupy residue left over from corn production which is known as High Fructose Corn Syrup.   Cheap to manufacture, it is now an additive in pretty much every food product on our supermarket shelves.

HFCS became popular in the 1970’s as a taste enhancer and food preserver.   Mass corn production began in earnest in the US, and suddenly it was in every food item imaginable.   It is cheap to produce and hugely profitable for food manufactures and farmers.  It has been a prolific additive in our food chain for the past 40 years, being added to everything from bread to frozen vegetables.  It doesn’t take a nutritionist or doctor to realize that diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc, have surged in the last 40 years, which is frighteningly coincidental to the time that the food shelves were flooded with “fat-free” foods.   Shopping carts were suddenly filled to the brim with these wonder foods promising weight-loss, fueling the demand for anything labeled “fat-free”.   The reality?  These foods are pumped full of HFCS, with many people none the wiser because it still tastes fine without the fat, which leads people to believe they are following a healthier way of eating.

A group of Princeton University researchers discovered that lab rats who were fed HFCS gained significantly more weight than those who were fed regular table sugar. Every single one of them became obese, even more than the rats on a high-fat diet!  They also noticed that the fat accumulated predominantly around the abdominal area, which is essentially being duplicated in humans.  Carrying extra weight around one’s middle is hardly a rarity these days.

It’s 2012, and we are surrounded by foods saturated in HFCS, yet people are still perplexed as to why they are gaining weight.  Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions across the globe, with people clamoring for gastric band surgeries and other drastic measures, all the while ignoring the elephant in the room.  I believe it is quite possible that most people truly do not realize how much sugar they are eating. This sneaky additive is so prolific, that I estimate 80% of the total products in most shopping carts of today are products with HFCS (even when food is labeled and marketed as “healthy”, or “natural”.)

The examples are literally endless:

  • Cereal
  • Sodas, fruit juices, fruit cordials
  • Breads
  • Pastries, Muffins, Pies, Cakes, Donuts
  • Crackers, Biscuits, Cookies, Granola bars
  • Condiments
  • Canned fruit and vegetables
  • Dairy products, especially flavored yogurt, Ice Cream
  • Peanut Butter
  • Instant dinners
  • Frozen pizzas
  • Instant soups
  • Salad dressings

The average American teenager now consumes as much sugar in a day as our ancestors did in an entire year!  Now proven by scientists to trigger the “pleasure centers” of the brain, it triggers the dopamine and serotonin levels, meaning only one thing:  Once consumed, the desire for more is overwhelming, putting it on par with cocaine, or nicotine.  This is not at all hard to imagine.  Think of how you react every time you eat one of these types of foods.  Chances are, you want more, right?  I know…..it is really hard to resist using too much ketchup or mustard, or to put the cookie jar down once one has been eaten, or to say no to a pastry with coffee.   But WHY is it so hard?  Because HFCS is addictive.  Period.

There are two major reasons to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup:

  1. Fructose is processed in the liver, and never before in the history of mankind has the liver had to work so hard.  The sheer volume of fructose entering the body sends the liver into panic mode, because it simply cannot store it all.  So guess what happens?  That’s right…it gets stored as fat.   As if that wasn’t bad enough…..
  2. Fructose blocks the release of leptin, a hormone produced by the body.  One of its main functions is to regulate hunger.  FRUCTOSE BLOCKS THE RELEASE OF LEPTIN.   Without the release of leptin, the brain does not know when the body has had enough to eat.  This presents a huge problem for people who consume products with HFCS, because the body does not know when it has had too much fructose.  NOTE:  This is not the case with fruit, because the fiber in fruit gives the body a full signal, so over-dosing on fructose is unlikely when one consumes fruit.  But it is inherently more dangerous when consumed in products with HFCS.

Bottom line:
Too much fructose in the body cannot be processed by the liver and thus gets stored as fat.
Fructose has no impact on hunger whatsoever, meaning a person can continue eating it even once the levels have exceeded an acceptable limit.  It is however, safe to eat in the form of fruit.

HFCS causes metabolic disturbances, increases appetite, and causes weight-gain.  It is a sneaky additive to many different foods, both sweet and savory.  Read your food labels properly or risk eating too much HFCS!

Corn-fed livestock – know the origins of your meat and dairy products!
Unless you purposely went about researching the subject of corn-fed livestock, you would be none the wiser to the fact that it had any impact on the food you ate.  I was oblivious to this until I embarked on my own research, but the fact that meat and dairy is so cheap and accessible to people nowadays is largely because farm animals are fed corn, as opposed to grass.  You may be wondering why this is even something that needs to be addressed.   Allow me to elaborate a bit….

In the mid 20th century farmers made a discovery that transformed their industry, making agriculture one of the most profitable enterprises on the planet.  The eureka moment?  Corn feed.  Instead of grazing cows over acres of pastureland, they could now be kept in feedlots and fed corn instead of grass.  Corn is cheaper, and fattens animals up a lot more quickly, meaning that corn-fed cows become ready for slaughter 2-3 years sooner than grass-feeders.  In addition, corn is heavily subsidized by the government in the US (the world’s largest corn producer).  It’s a win-win situation.   Fatter cows mean fatter profits, which also drives down the price of meat and dairy products, making them more accessible to the wider public.   However, this has come at a tremendous price for us, for several reasons.  Firstly, cows are natural ruminants, meaning they are designed to eat and digest grass.  Corn-fed cattle have weak immune systems and are prone to a host of health issues such as Sudden Death Syndrome, E-Coli, and Mad Cow Disease.  Worse still, corn-fed cows kept in feedlots are heavily inundated with antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids. And guess what?  We, the top of the food chain, are consuming all of this.   You can pretty much guarantee that all the affordable meat and dairy at your local supermarket is sourced from corn-feed factory cows.

Corn-fed meat and saturated fat
(I am going to use beef as an example here, but cheese, milk, and even farmed salmon all fall into the same category).
The saturated fat content in corn-fed beef is exponentially higher than grass-fed beef.  Don’t be enticed by the tenderness of the meat…the more tender the meat, the higher it is in fat.    In addition, corn is riddled with pesticides.  Add the antibiotics, the steroids, the hormones and saturated fat, and look at what you are left with:  Something that resembles a lab experiment more than a food product, and yet the supermarket shelves are flooded with this stuff.  Hopefully you have access to a farmer’s market in your neighborhood, at the very least somewhere that you can purchase meat and dairy from grass-fed (range fed) animals.   Always ask questions.  The more you know about where your animal products are sourced, the better for you.  Locally sourced, organic produce from grass-fed animals is always the best choice, remember that!

Bottom line:   Meat and dairy from corn-fed animals is higher in saturated fat, and is riddled with antibiotics and pesticides.   People who find they cannot lose weight no matter how healthily they are eating should pay close attention to how cheap the meat and dairy is that they are eating.  It could be a huge factor in why your weight just won’t shift!

To be continued…../

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About fithealthyfab

Yoga, Home Detox programs, nutritional advice
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