These two seemingly unrelated observations are fundamentally linked:
1- It is estimated that at least two thirds of all deaths in the U.S. are related to bad diets.
2- Our grocery stores and agricultural system have been hijacked by big business.
Food companies have figured out how to get us to eat more than we need. They’ve employed marketing, lobbying and creative chemistry in their never ending quest to cut costs and increase profits. Much of our food has been chemically altered in order to increase our appetite and cravings. The globalization of agribusinesses promotes many opportunities for fraud, adulteration and outright poisoning of our food (horse-meat, E-coli in beef and melamine in baby formula are just a few examples). All those tin-foiled hat wearing conspiracy theorists might be on to something when they say, “government food agencies are being controlled by the profits of lobbyists not science”. The Sugar Association successfully urged the USDA to promote the phrase: “All foods have a place in a balanced diet.” Really? Twinkes, Diet Coke and Chunky Monkey are part of a balanced diet?! A similar platitude was offered by the National Soft Drink Association: “As refreshing sources of needed liquids and energy, soft drinks represent a positive addition to a well-balanced diet.” Scientists, doctors and most educated people vigorously disagree. There is no need for food-like substances in the human diet unless your goal is compromised health.
1. Soda/Sports Drinks/Energy Drinks– when the dictionary defines ’empty calories’ there ought to be a picture of a Coke can next to it. Soda provides nothing your body needs (except for liquid if you are dying of thirst in the dessert). It is truly an empty calorie substance chock full of chemicals, additives and food dyes that are harmful to the human body and our environment. Yes, diet soda may be calorie free but it is not exempt from noxious substances. Common ingredients to avoid:
- Colored Dyes (illegal in most other countries): Blue #1, Blue #2, Yellow #5, Yellow #6
- BVO: Brominated Vegetable Oil (banned in over 100 countries) is a form of flame retardant and may build up in your tissue over time causing a whole host of problems.
- BPA: Bisphenol-A – it is rarely listed on the container unless if it is “BPA Free”. It is a synthetic estrogen that is used for packaging consumer goods especially inside cans and plastic containers.
2. Artificial Sweeteners– Many of these fake sugars are overly processed chemical concoctions that do more harm than actual sugar would do. Many studies have linked all of the sugar substitutes below to weight gain and a whole host of other side effects. They are commonly found in processed food products labeled ‘sugar-free’.
- Aspartame (NutraSweet & Equal): It accounts for “75% of all adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA” reports Dr. Jay Calton. It has been shown to cause neurological symptoms like seizures, dizziness, depression and weight gain. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this sweetener and many people believe it is the devil incarnate, however the FDA is not readily convinced. When in doubt leave it out!
- Sucralose (Splenda & Sukrana): Approved in 1998 by the FDA making it the newest widely used artificial sweetener. It decreases the healthy amount of digestive bacteria and microflora in your gut and is known to be a migraine trigger.
- Saccharrin (Sweet’N Low & Sugar Twin): The FDA actually proposed a ban on this sweetener due to allegations it might cause cancer but reneged due to congressional pressure. Better to be safe than sorry.
3. Partially Hydrogenated Oil (Trans Fat)– Duh! According to Harvard’s School of Public Health this man made fat causes about 50,000 premature heart attacks yearly, increases cholesterol and also promotes obesity and diabetes. Unlike healthy fats, trans-fats have been shown to increase one’s risk for certain cancers, birth defects and even depression. It is best to stay away from this franken-fat.
What do all these substances have in common?
- They are all man made – not naturally occurring
- All are heavily processed and found in most junk foods
- These products are cheap and have long shelf lives
- None of them lead to better health
There are a lot of other bad food-like substances I omitted from this list. Read labels and become more aware of what you are putting in your body. The food you eat is literally the fuel your body utilizes to replace all of your old cells and power your brain. Choose wisely and your body will reward you with better performance and health.
Personal Trainer NYC