Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Lesson in Labels

Labels can be deceiving, very deceiving.  The USDA's regulations are, well, not where they should be... let's leave it at that. (not opening up that can of worms tonight).  The phrase "you are what you eat"... means more than just the reflection of low-cal/low-fat food onto the external physique.  The abundance of chemicals and man-made 'crap' in 'food' is everywhere.  And, they are especially in low-fat/low-sugar foods.  Foods with these labels are processed so they taste like there is real fat or sugar in them... what do they use? Hydrogenated oils, saccharin, flavor enhancers such as MSG (monosodium glutamate), etc.  

So what's the problem with these additives? Well, I could go on and on... if you want a solid read... pick up Jillian Michael's "Master Your Metabolism".  Here's the issue in a nutshell; These additives are not recognized by your body as food. So what happens?  Your hormones, which regulate your metabolism, get thrown out of balance and sometimes stop working. (oh, and these additives can cause a multitude of diseases including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and much more) What happens when your hormones are thrown out of balance and your metabolism is off kilter?  You have a really hard time maintaining an appropriate weight. These additives also strip your body of the nutrients you put in it... leaving you feeling fatigued and hungry. Would you water a plant with anything besides water? No. Why? It wouldn't recognize it.  Think of your body the same way.

Here's a list of what to look for:
Monosodium glutamate or ANY GLUTAMATES: These are flavor enhancers and what's worse? They are addictive... that's why you can't put down the Pringles. They are laced with flavor enhancers that make you keep eating.  Annoying, right? Why? They mess with brain chemistry and adversely affects hunger hormones and much more.  Glutamates are one of the worse (if not the worse) additives to put into your body. Glutamates also hide on labels as: autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamic acid, hydrolized corn gluten, hydrolyzed protein, monopotassium glutamate, natrium glutamate, sodium caseinate, textured protein, yeast extract, yeast food, yeast nutrient.

Sucralose 'aka' Splenda:  I eat raw sugar.  I do not eat fake sugar.  Sometimes I eat stevia because it comes from a plant extract.  Sugar has 15 calories in a tsp... that's it. Moderation is key.  So here's the deal with splenda: It's indigestible and is not naturally occurring, as they claim. And it's 'generally recognized as safe'.  What does that even mean?  Would you give your child or your dog food that is 'generally safe'?  Seriously.

The word or phrase "NATURAL" OR "ALL NATURAL":  Guess what? It means absolutely nothing in the US.  Depending on the manufacturer - it can be defined multiple different ways.  USDA Organic on the other hand... has strict USDA guidelines as to how it was grown, raised, etc. And, anything labeled 'natural' can have glutamates in them. Bad, bad, bad.

Partially hydrogenated oils or hydrogenated oils aka 'Trans Fats':  By now, there's been enough press on trans fats that most are familiar with why they are bad.  In a nutshell: They are added to foods to make them keep their shelf life longer.  Do you really want to eat a cookie that's been sitting on a shelf for 5 years? Imagine what that is doing to your insides. These fats increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease your HDL (good cholesterol.  Trans fats increase inflammation in the body and some research has found that they even make the liver stop responding to growth hormone and, in turn, metabolism.

What to do with all this information?  Just read your labels.  Any food item with the above listed ingredients will not be recognized by your body and can negatively affect your metabolism.  That's why there are SO MANY articles out there right now that promote not counting calories and just eating 'whole foods'.  Your body processes 'whole foods' and, in turn, positively affects metabolism.

Now, moderation is key.  As much as I try to avoid the above listed ingredients... I must admit that there are times (weekends) when I will have some bad foods. Nobody is perfect.  What I can tell you is that it would be hard to find them in my own apartment. 80% of the time - I am as healthy as possible.  That's my motto.  This post became much longer than originally expected so I'm going to skip 'moves of the week' today.  I hope this helps you all better navigate your labels.  Have an awesome week!

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