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Posted on 03-05-2017

Top Food Ingredients to Avoid
By: Dr. Jen 

The easiest way to eat healthy is to stick to foods that need no food labels at all. When was the last time you saw the ingredients on a stalk of celery or a bunch of bananas? 

We live in a society where eating processed foods has become much more the norm as people tend to be on the go more than ever and time spent in the kitchen preparing meals is minimal. While we should try to have our diet mostly comprised of eating ‘real’ wholesome, organic foods I wanted to share the top six things I absolutely avoid when reading food labels. 

Food matters. Ingredients matter. It influences our mood, energy levels, our aches and pains, digestion and overall health. Just by taking a few minutes to read labels and avoiding eating certain ingredients can have a huge impact on your health and the health of your family. 

Top six ingredients to avoid:

1.  High fructose corn syrup

High fructose corn syrup causes huge insulin spikes and can promote diabetes, obesity and feeds the growth in cancer cells.  From soda to peanut butter and jelly, HFCS is a must avoid when shopping and can easily be replaced with brands that choose to not use this as an ingredient when making their product. 

2. Red, yellow and blue dyes

These food colorings are everywhere. From cereal to macaroni and cheese to even vitamins, these artificial colorings are added to our foods and supplements and provide us with no nutritional benefit. Really, who really cares what our vitamins look like? These artificial food dyes contribute to hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children and are banned or need warning labels in other countries. These are absolutely a must avoid, especially in kiddos.

3. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils

Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are high in unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids 
and are found in many crackers, chips, fried foods and most store-bought baked goods. They 
increase inflammation in the body, which overtime promotes a variety of diseases such as heart 
disease, stroke, cancer and reproductive problems. 

4. MSG

MSG is a flavor enhancer and is added to many frozen foods, salad dressings and dips. It is known 
as an “excitotoxin” and is shown to over-excite the cells in your body to the point of damage or 
death. There is some controversy over this food additive, but it is another must avoid in my book.  

5. Sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite

Sodium nitrate/nitrite are cancer-causing preservatives found in most processed meats like 
sandwich meat, hotdogs, sausages and bacon. It has been linked to an increased risk in colon 
cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurological and intestinal problems. It can easily be avoided by 
buying nitrate-free, uncured meats. One of my favorite brands for nitrate-free meats is Applegate 
and is found in most grocery stores. 

6. Artificial sweeteners

These zero-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin provide us with no 
nutritional value when consumed and have many health risks associated with them. Consuming 
artificial sweeteners has been found to increase your appetite, cause weight gain and really wreak 
havoc on your gut health. We have had patients stop drinking diet soda and lose over 10 pounds by 
doing nothing else! Opt for using stevia, coconut sugar or add honey to use as a sweetener if 
needed. 

What to do next

Set aside some time and look through your cupboards and fridge. Know what is in the foods that you eat on a regular basis. 

Plan to add an additional 20-30 minutes to your next grocery store trip to read labels. Look at new alternatives to substitute for the foods that have ingredients on the ‘avoid’ list or stop eating/drinking that food all together. 

Remember that most of the foods we should be eating should not have an ingredient list to begin with. 

Try planning your meals each week. You’ll save time, energy and money when doing this and in the end will make much healthier choices. 

Healthy foods, less stress on your nervous system and living an optimal life is what we are all about here at DCWC!

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