Saturday, 28 November 2015

Are your "healthy" foods really healthy?

So many of us are doing our best to lead healthy lives and eat the healthy foods, which is amazing! However, the food companies are against us in the battle of good and evil and consistently try to sabotage our efforts to take our health to the next level. 
There is s much conflicting information online, we don't really understand the food label jargon and we are easily distracted by clever protect placements and advertising.
The time has come for us to stand up and fight back. We need to become more aware of the realities behind the masquerade of "health food" marketing! But where to start? This can be a hard quest to begin so lets get it kick started right here and right now and go through some basic facts which you may not know. It is time to take a trip down the rabbit hole to find the truth behind these so called "health foods"
I am going to cover TWO UNDER COVER DANGERS which are my personal pet hates. Two things that are major tricks of the industry that fool so many people into thinking you  are being healthy when in fact you might be making a really bad health choice

Under Cover Danger 1 

Low fat is quite possibly the biggest marketing scam of the century. I sometimes have vision of going into supermarkets with a mega phone and slapping low fat products out of the hand of un-suspecting shoppers and announcing the truth behind the label. When the low-fat guidelines first came out, food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon. They wanted to bring “healthy” low-fat foods to the market, in order to sell to the health conscious crowd.
However, there is one big problem with foods that have had the fat removed from them… they taste HORRIBLE.For this reason, the food manufacturers added sugar and sweetners instead.
Sugar is not a fat, it’s a carbohydrate. Therefore, a product can be labelled “low fat” even though it is loaded with sugar. Those refined sugar and carbs turn to fat in the body anyway! YIKES!!
“Low fat” foods lowers your guard and tricks you into thinking you are eating something good for you. The added refined sugars will lead to blood sugar swings and cravings making it more difficult to control our overall food intake - which means that third or forth 'low fat' biscuit starts to look very tempting!
A diet too high in these “low fat” products can be just as unhealthy as a high-fat diet because it increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and causes high cholesterol levels.

Suspect no. 1 - McVities Digestive
McVitie's DigestivesEach biscuit (14.8g) contains of an adult's reference intake
  • ENERGY298kJ71kcal4%
  • Fat3.2g5%
  • Saturate1.5g8%
  • Sugars2.5g3%
  • Salt0.2g3%


Flour (54%) , (Wheat Flour, Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin) , Vegetable Oil (Palm) , Wholemeal Wheat Flour (16%) , Sugar , Raising Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Malic Acid, Ammonium Bicarbonate) , Salt , Dried Skimmed Milk .

Nutritional Values

Jargon Breakdown 
7 Ingredients. Sugar is the 4th ingredient which is fairly low on the list. The fat is the 2nd ingredient on the list but still only 5% of your daily intake. Over all, for a biscuit, these are really not that bad. Enjoy one or two your cheat day. I know I do!

Lets check out the Light version
McVitie's Digestives LightEach biscuit (14.8g) contains of an adults reference intake
  • ENERGY278kJ66kcal3%
  • Fat2.1g3%
  • Saturate0.2g1%
  • Sugars3.0g3%
  • Salt0.2g3%


Flour (60%) (Wheat Flour, Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin) , Sugar , Wholemeal Wheat Flour (13%) , Vegetable Oil (Sunflower) , Glucose-Fructose Syrup , Raising Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Malic Acid) , Emulsifier (E472e) , Salt .

Nutritional Values

Jargon Breakdown
We now have 8 ingredients instead of 7 which is the first interesting thing to note. When looking for healthy foods, you want the product with the least ingredients as possible. Whats this mysterious added ingredient? AN E NUMBER!!!! This particular E number which they have added is like a binding agent which help bind the ingredients together but is also linked to possible liver and kidney problems which in my opinion I would rather do without.
The second thing to note that although yes there is less fact, sugar has now bumped it's way up to the 2nd ingredient instead of the 4th. Not only that but they have also added a sweetener called Glucose Fructose syrup. There have been some studies suggesting fructose may not be as satiating (producing a feeling of fullness) as other sugars because it does not stimulate the hormones that affect hunger and food intake (such as insulin), and therefore could be factor which causes people to eat or drink more instead of feeling fuller. As a result, it is sometimes refereed to as the crack of sweetness and is also used in coca cola...which we all know is NOT  a health food. 

My Summary?
The healthier option out of these two biscuits for me would be the regular full fat version. Both versions have almost the same calories anyway, so I would rather have a little bit extra fat and less sugar than an E number and sweeter syrup which tricks my brain into wanting more to eat. 

Suspect no. 2 - Coca Cola - Life and Diet
I often hear my clients tell me that it is ok to have diet coke because it is diet and has less sugar. That
may be so, but lets take a look at what else is added.

Here we are in the middle of regular coke and diet coke where we can see three red flags...
Red Flag 1
Regular has 6 Ingredients
Diet has 8 Ingredients
Red Flag 2
Regular yes contains sugar
Diet, however contains Aspartame is covered below in more detail but it is a sweetener linked to varies illness and disease. 

Red Flag 3

Diet also contains another sweetener; Acesulfame-K which is a known  Carcinogen. Known as "Ace-K",  it is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride, Acesulfame-K is not the same thing as Aspartame, but quite often, BOTH are found in the same products. Reported side effects of "sweet devil" Acesulfame-K are frightening: "Long term exposure to methylene chloride can cause nausea, headaches, mood problems, impairment of the liver and kidneys, problems with eyesight and possibly cancer. Acesulfame-K may contribute to hypoglycemia."  (
Also, of all the artificial sweeteners out there, Acesulfame-K has undergone the least scientific scrutiny. Early studies showed a link to multiple cancer developments in lab animals. If you have any doubts whatsoever, remember this; humans have 99% the same DNA as the lab mice and rats tested. The "proof is in the pudding!" The research is concrete on this and ignorance is NOT bliss! ( This carcinogen, so cutely nicknamed "Ace-K," is derived from Aceto-acetic acid and Fluoro-sulfonyl Iso-Cyanate. Say that last part again and it sounds like you're eating cyanide. Consider your TOTAL health risks before consuming ANY artificial sweetener. Better safe than sorry!

Now lets have a quick look at the newest coke  - Coke Life. While I would positively say this is better than diet coke, it still contains a whopping 5 and a half teaspoons of sugar per can! So yes this is 3 teaspoons less than regular coke, it is still far too much sugar to be consuming in one go and will still spike your insulin levels which in turn can lead to weight gain! The problem with this is the way it is marketed. Once you know this information you can make an educated decision of how much you would like to consume but from the outside, so many people will over consume believing that this a a "healthy" coke. While it is health-IER than the other cokes, it is certainly not "healthy", so proceed with caution.

Under Cover Danger 2 
Souped up "health" or "slimming" drinks

Desperate times calls for desperate measures and many give into meal replacement slimming shakes. There are one or two brands out their that deliver TOP QUALITY meal replacement shakes with very little or zero junk. However, 99% of the slimming drinks out there are basically fizzy drinks with a little fat and protein mixed in when you look more closely 

Suspect no. 1 -  Slimfast
Very popular as a go to drink, widely available and fairly affordable so "why not!?" is what most would say.  Here are the FACTS. Not my opinion, plain and simple facts. Sugar is the first ingredient. When you understand and acknowledge that ingredients are listed in order of highest to lowest quantity this is absolutely HORRIFYING to say the least. Over consuming sugar is the route to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and more. If that's not enough lets read on. They have protein from milk. Milk can also a contributing factor to weight gain as well as being linked to gut problems and acne and other skin problems. Last and not least, lets talk about the Aspartame. I do not even know where to begin with this other than to let you know that it is also linked to weight gain. Other side effects include but not limited to  fatigue, nausea, joint pain, loss of taste and loss of memory. For the full low down click here.  Over all, I really cannot say this is a health drink or a healthy way to diet or lose weight

Sugar, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Milk Protein Concentrate, Cellulose Gel, Soy Fiber, Buttermilk Powder, Potassium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Dextrose, Salt, Guar Gum, Soybean Lecithin, Artificial Flavor, Carrageenan, Sodium Phosphate, Acesulfame Potassium (A Non Nutritive Sweetner) and Aspartame.

Suspect no 2 - Forever Lite
Another interesting "healthy" drink out which is widely used and also affordable. What the problem here?
While these are much better than the slim fast, I feel there are two major factors which need to addressed with this meal replacement. The first is the Soy Protein. Soy has been under fire of late, and for very good reason. 
Here are a few pointers.
·         Soybeans contain phytoestrogens, which mimic the body’s natural estrogen hormones. For men, this can lead to a testosterone imbalance, infertility, low sperm count, and increased risk of cancers. For women, it can cause estrogen dominance, which has been linked to infertility, menstrual troubles and cancer…
·         These phytoestrogens are so strong that a baby consuming only soy formula is consuming the equivalent hormones of 4 birth control pills a day!
·         The high levels of phytic acid in soy inhibit the body’s ability to absorb important minerals, including zinc, calcium, copper, iron and magnesium (which many people are dangerously deficient in already). This also means that it may cancel out many of the amazing added minerals they have added to this drink.
      The second point I would need to bring up at this point is the fructose which is madly mis understood in the health world. Sugar (sucrose) and High Fructose Corn Syrup both supply a significant portion of the total calories in a standard western diet. They both consist of two simple sugars… glucose and fructose.Glucose also comes from starches like potatoes, our bodies produce it and every cell on the face of the earth has glucose in it. Glucose is a molecule absolutely vital to life.
Fructose however, is not. Humans don’t produce fructose and throughout evolutionary history have never consumed it except seasonally when fruit were ripe.
Glucose and fructose are metabolized very differently by the body.
The key thing to realize, is that while every cell in the body can use glucose, the liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts.When people eat a diet that is high in calories and high in fructose, the liver gets overloaded and starts turning the fructose into fat.
Some scientists believe that excess fructose consumption may be a key driver of many of the most serious diseases of today, including: obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. 
PLEASE NOTE - It’s important to realize that all of this does NOT apply to fruit. Fruits aren’t just watery bags of fructose, they are real foods with a low energy density and lots of fiber. They’re hard to overeat on and you’d have to eat ridiculous amounts to reach harmful levels of fructose. In general, fruit is a minor source of fructose in the diet compared to added sugars. The harmful effects of fructose apply to a western diet supplying excess calories and added sugars. It does NOT apply to the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. Period.
So with all that in mind, would you really want to consume fructose and soy on a regular daily basis in a "health" drink?
Suspect no. 3 - Innocent Smoothies
There is nothing "Innocent" about these little tasty drinks and I would change that halo to spiky devil horns given half the chance - clever marketing at its best! These teeny tiny little bottles contain 34.4g of sugar which is equivalent to 3 and half Krispy Kreme donuts or in other words  EIGHT AND A HALF teaspoons of sugar. WOWZERS! That is 30% more sugar than a coca cola. 250ml of not so innocent is your entire Recommended daily sugar allowance and then some more on top. Need we go any further?  Let's just say you are far better off grabbing an apple instead and please please don't give it to your kids!
So what can you do about all this?
It is time YOU take control of the foods you are eating. It can be a mind field out their so Here are our FIVE TOPS TIPS to a truly healthier diet
1. Learn how to READ YOUR LABELS! The more you read, the more you understand and the more your rose tinted glasses will begin to clear up. Just because it has  green coloured packaging and marketed as a health product, you do not have to take their word for it. t is your prerogative to know what is going inside your body
2.Cook from scratch. Packet foods are full of added sugar, salt and preservatives. Nothing better than a home cooked meal
3. Eat Fresh! If it has no label you know that what you see is what you get. ie - an apple or a cucumber doesn't need an ingredient list!
4. The less ingredients the better. Ideally you want your basic products to 5 ingredients or less. This doesn't included added vitamins and minerals which should be eaten in abundance!
5. Avoid chemicals, additives, and sweeteners. They usually come with a massive side effects tag which wont be on the label I can assure you!
Until next time, continue your journey to take your Health to the Next Level; one step at a time!
Ahisha xxx