When someone is faced with trying to understand something that is next-to-impossible for them to figure out, they might use the old expression, “It’s Greek to me!”
Well, I hate to say it but the labels on the vast majority of packaged foods on our store shelves may as well be written in Greek (or any other foreign language) because not only are they many times difficult to understand, but what you see is not necessarily what you get!
Here’s what I mean—let’s take a close look at what’s showing up (and NOT showing up) on food labels, and what you MUST know to not only avoid poor nutrition but also make great strides in preventing sickness and disease.
The anatomy of a food label
When processed convenience foods were first “born” following the end of World War II, food manufacturers in the US could put pretty much anything they wanted on a food label…and of course the flip side was also true in that they could omit what they wanted to as well.
That changed in 1973 when the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) implemented a series of rules designed to help consumers become more aware of exactly what they were buying…but as you’ll soon see, that’s not always the case.
Required components of a food label include the following:
- Product name and place of business
- Product weight (net of packaging)
- Product ingredients, from most abundant to least
- Company name and address
- Country of origin
- Product code (UPC bar code)
- Product dating/”Best by” date if applicable
- Religious symbols if applicable (such as “kosher”)
- Safe handling instructions if applicable (such as with raw meat)
- Special warning instructions (such as with products that may contain peanuts because of possible severe allergic reactions)
- Nutrition facts panel
Arguably nothing in the world is more “Greek” to the average person than the nutrition facts panel.
The ins and outs of nutrition facts
Although it seems like nutrition “facts” should be pretty straightforward, here are some ways that the water gets muddied:
1- Serving size
The nutrition facts (most notably calories) are based upon a specified serving size…and many times the “serving size” would not be enough to sustain a bird let alone a human being.
For example, the typical serving size for ice cream is 1/2 cup. Tell me, when was the last time you ate just 1/2 cup of ice cream?
Breakfast cereals are another one. The typical serving sizes range from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. I bet you haven’t eaten just half a cup of cereal since you were a toddler.
Pasta is yet another culprit. That 16 oz. box of spaghetti is “supposed” to serve 8 people—not 2.
In addition, if you think you’re effectively limiting your intake of certain nutrients that you may want to limit (such as sodium) because the amount listed for the serving size is within your acceptable range, you may be way off if you typically eat more than the package says.
So when you’re reading labels, it’s important to realize how much you actually eat and do the math.
2- Daily values and percent daily values
Daily values (DV) and Percent daily values (%DV) were designed to be a benchmark so you could have an idea of how close you were coming to satisfying your body’s needs for certain nutrients.
But these too can be extremely misleading.
First of all, the daily values represent the minimum amount of a nutrient you must have to avoid a serious deficiency. This is a far cry in many cases to how much you should have of a nutrient to stay healthy.
For example, the daily value of Vitamin C is 60 mg./day—that’s about enough to guarantee you won’t get scurvy.
The optimal Vitamin C intake recommended by many experts for good health is between 500-5,000 mg. a day!
Plus the percent daily values were designed so you could see what percentage of your “needs” would be met by the product.
But these percentages are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. So if your typical diet is more than 2,000 calories a day, those percentages will be lower for you.
Plus of course remember that they too are based on the bare bones minimums that you need to basically prevent yourself from keeling over, so chances are excellent your body’s needs are greater than you think.
What they don’t say
Arguably more significant than what nutrition panels say is what they don’t say.
For example, food manufacturers are not required to disclose on a food label if they use GE (genetically engineered) or GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients.
Current estimates are that GMO or GE ingredients are present in as many as 70-80% of the packaged foods on our shelves!
And products that are labeled “Zero grams trans-fats” can actually contain up to .5 grams of trans-fats per serving…so zero doesn’t mean zero anymore.
In addition, the nutrients added in (aka “fortified”) to packaged foods are commonly synthetically derived from by-products from the wood and petroleum processing industries.
So although the Vitamin A you might be getting in your cereal may be molecularly similar to the natural Vitamin A you’d get from eating a carrot, in reality they are worlds apart and your body knows the difference, my friend.
And of course let’s not forget the obvious—food manufacturers can remain completely mum on what all those chemicals, artificial ingredients and preservatives really are…as well as the potential health dangers they pose!
The scariest of all—the health claims
Here is where you really have to watch labels closely…because food companies will push the limits when it comes to making claims to help their products appear healthier.
There are actually two kinds of health claims—regular health claims and qualified health claims.
Regular health claims are statements concerning health benefits associated with the food or some of its ingredients that are backed up by scientifically based studies.
Qualified health claims have less scientific backing and must contain a disclaimer such as, “The FDA has determined that this evidence is limited and not conclusive.”
Health claims is an area where food companies have gotten into a whole lot of trouble by “stretching the truth.”
Sensa is an excellent example.
Sensa’s advertising claimed the product is clinically proven to help people lose an average of 30 pounds in six months without dieting or exercise…a fact that simply is NOT backed by any scientific studies.
They got their hands slapped for that and reportedly settled with the FTC.
What to do now?
If the information I’ve given you above has you concerned, I understand. Deciphering food labels truly can be “Greek” to the average person.
But here is one rule of thumb that you can take to the bank in terms of protecting your health and that of your loved ones:
Close to Nature is always best
And if keeping close to Nature sounds difficult or cumbersome to you, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Here are 4 ways that sticking close to Nature can be easy, affordable and taste really good too:
1) Avoid processed foods
There’s no chance of getting misled or downright fooled by food labels if you don’t buy boxed or packaged stuff to begin with.
2) If you must use packaged foods, buy organic
By their very nature, 100% organic foods do not contain GMO or GE ingredients, or other harmful ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.
3) Eat real foods and educate yourself
Follow a reliable program that will educate you on the dangers of packaged foods, show you how to structure healthy, easier to digest meals and guide you on preparing REAL foods that are positively scrumptious.
And that, my friend, is what Great Taste No Pain will do for you.
The Great Taste No Pain manuals will teach you why packaged foods can be so harmful to your health–you’ll be shocked that the food manufacturers actually sell some of this stuff as “food!”
They’ll also show you what foods you should eat together for easier digestion that will help leave you feeling great and loaded with energy. Eating this way will also help counteract the harmful effects of the not-so-great diet that you may have had in the past.
And the recipe book is loaded with delicious dishes featuring REAL foods that will help nourish your body and make your taste buds dance.
4) Help your intestinal flora recover from “food abuse”
The chemical and preservatives in packaged foods are not only harmful to you, but also to your little gut inhabitants, otherwise known as your intestinal flora.
And since this is where 70% of your immune system is located, having imbalanced gut flora is putting out the welcome mat for a whole slew of bugs, viruses, infections and even diseases.
Having a healthy diet like I mentioned above can help, but for many people (especially those who have eaten lots of processed food and/or been exposed to environmental chemicals) it may not be enough.
That’s why probiotic supplementation is such a great idea for many people.
Super Shield multi-strain probiotic formula is up to this important task.
One of Super Shield’s 13 superior bacteria strains, Bifidobacteria lactis, has been shown to have high adhesion to human mucus. That means it will stick to your colon wall and keep it strong and protective.
In addition, Super Shield also contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus. This strain has been shown to stimulate antibody production and enhance phagocytosis, one of your body’s weapons for fighting dangerous substances.
Now you are an educated expert! You know what food labels really mean, what they don’t say, and the dangerous health claims they can make.
And you can make wise choices that can help enhance your health and that of your loved ones!
I can’t think of anything more important than that!