What can I immediately do to help make my family healthier?
This is an excellent question and one I hear a lot. Every parent wants a healthy child.
So today I’m going to talk about three major red flags ingredients that you should get out of your kitchen immediately. You can find these in the ingredient label on most package items. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading food labels. If you want to learn more on how to read an ingredients label, check this out.
Top 3 Red Flag Ingredients To Get Out Of Your Family’s Diet
What are red flag ingredients? Red flag ingredients are a warning of very poor quality food. If you see this ingredient on a label, I guarantee you the food is processed junk. So, if one of these three ingredients are anywhere on the label, put it back on the shelf. You and your little one should never eat this food.
1.) High Fructose Corn Syrup - HFCS
Why? In America, we are consuming huge doses of sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup. The manufacturers love it because it’s sweeter and cheaper than regular sugar. And you can bet that HFCS is in about every processed food and sugar-sweetened drink.
“As part of the chemical process used to make high fructose corn syrup, the glucose and fructose — which are naturally bound together — become separated. This allows the fructose to mainline directly into your liver, which turns on a factory of fat production in your liver called lipogenesis. This leads to fatty liver, the most common disease in America today, affecting 90 million Americans. This, in turn, leads to diabesity — pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.” - Mark Hyman M.D.
Some researchers believe that HFCS increases blood fats (triglycerides) more than the same amount of table sugar.
What’s alarming is that the chemicals used to manufactor the HFCS ends up in our food. It’s been discovered that HFCS contains contaminates like mercury. YIKES! And the FDA does not regulate how much contaminates may or may not be in HFCS.
I’ll never forget when I was traveling to South Africa one year and I sat next to the scientist who discovered that HFCS shuts down the mechanism in your brain for up to 5 hours that tells you that you're full. So you end up consuming more food then you need. I was in total shock. Believe me… that was the day I started reading labels for HFCS and avoiding it.
For natural sweetness, I prefer to stick with grade B maple syrup, medjool dates, fruit, black strap molasses or raw honey.
2.) Hydrogenated oils (Trans Fat) or what I like to call ... FAKE FAT
Why? First of all the human brain is the fattest organ in the body and consists of about 60 percent fat. Believe me… you don’t want a brain, nervous system or the cells in your body made from fake fats. Your body needs healthy fats to function properly.
Hydrogenated oil is a red flag ingredient because it is a man-made (synthetic) fat. Hydrogenated oil (Trans Fat) is labeled as shortening or partially hydrogenated, or hydrogenated mono- and diglycerides, or DATEM. These are mainly found in processed foods. Consider these the BAD FATS!
Here’s what my favorite pediatrician, Dr Sears has to say about Trans Fats…
" Here’s a summary of what literature has said about the problems of hydrogenated fats and trans fats:
- Hydrogenated fats act biochemically in the body like saturated fats.
- Trans fats can elevate blood cholesterol levels, similar to the cholesterol-raising effects of saturated fats.
- Trans fats raise the levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol.
- Trans fats reduce levels of HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol. Raising the bad cholesterol and lowering the good cholesterol in the blood spells double trouble.
- Trans fats have been shown to decrease the body’s ability to produce natural anti- inflammatory prostaglandins.
- Eating a diet high in nutritionally worthless hydrogenated fats may lessen a person’s daily intake of other fats, especially essential fatty acids that are important for growth and function of vital organs, such as the brain. This is a concern especially in children and frequent fast food consumers whose daily diet is high in processed and deep fat-fried foods and snacks.
- Trans fatty acids may be linked to other health problems as well, including decreased testosterone, abnormal sperm production, and prostate disease in men; obesity, immune system depression, and diabetes.
- Trans fats or hydrogenated fats may interfere with the ability of the cells of the body to metabolize the fats that are good for you. This may damage cell membranes of vital structures, such as the brain and nerve cells.”
In a nutshell… hydrogenated oil – trans fats clog up your system. So stay away from it.
FYI – do not trust the "No Trans Fat" label on the front of your favorite foods. This can be very misleading. Remember, the truth lies in the ingredients label. These nasty oils are probably right there in fine print.
Some examples of healthy fats – first cold pressed olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, butter from grass fed – pastured cows, grass fed beef, ghee, wild caught Alaskan salmon and raw nuts and seeds.
3.) Food Dyes
Why? Artificial colors are made from a petroleum by-product that alters colors of food to make it more visually appealing.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, certain behavioral issues such as Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity (ADHD) have been officially linked to consumption of food dyes. They have also been linked to insomnia and learning disabilities in children.
Did you know that over the last 50 years the use of chemical food dyes has increased by 500%! Bright colors are often added to kid’s foods so it will make the macaroni and cheese look cheesier and the juice drink look yummier. It’s in adult food too. Can you believe it’s even in toothpaste and medicine! Crazy right!
Always look at the ingredients label. If it says dye # ___ (for example Red Dye # 40), put the product down and choose a better one.
To learn more about food dyes, checkout my blog post, Could This Be the Reason for Your Child's Bad Behavior or Learning Disability?
Check this out!
Check out my 3 year old Happy Meal.
Yes... It sat on my shelf for 5 years total. Processed food at it finest!
Below are the ingredients to a Mc Donald's Hamburger. Let's check out if there is anything suspicious...... Yep! I have made it easy for you to spot.
- Red = Red Flag ingredients.
- Yellow = other ingredients to avoid because it's made from a GMO source or fed GMO corn, a not so good for you preservative or is suspect like "natural flavors".
* This isn't including the soda or the french fries.
So now you can see why it's so important to read food labels!
Fun game time
This is a great game to play with your child. Explain to them the 3 bad ingredients you’re looking for. You will be going through your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. Read the ingredients labels on all your packaged foods and look for:
1.) High fructose corn syrup or fructose or corn syrup.
2.) Hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil, or shortening.
3.) Any ingredient that has a #, like red dye #40.
If you find one or all of those ingredients... get rid of them. You can donate them as long as the package isn’t opened.
Congratulations – you just got rid of very poor quality food. And made you and your family healthier.