The irony was not lost on me: the food industry produces the food we eat to sustain ourselves, however, their primary concern is not our physical well-being but their own financial health.
I learned this the hard way. I was consuming diet products for years before realizing that the artificial sweeteners in them were the cause of my persistent headaches. I needed to take aspirin almost daily.
So as industrial food producers’ primary loyalty is to their bottom line, it is probably wise to find out about the reality of health claims behind any industrialized food product.
6 foods advertised as having health benefits but which are best avoided.
The food industry portrays these food products as being healthy but they are not.
Science knows today that they most likely will cause more harm than good, despite the claims of their manufacturers.
1. Artificial Sweeteners: Many conventional doctors still recommend them because they are low on the glycemic index and hence safe for diabetics. As I mentioned above, it took me a long time to link my consumption of aspartame to my persistent headaches. I thought I was doing the right thing by cutting out calories to avoid weight gain. However, what scientists know now is quite the opposite: Artificial Sweeteners don’t do what they promise: Studies on humans and animals show that artificial sweeteners are just as bad or worse than natural sugar in trying to control weight(1).
-Artificial sweeteners: increase your risk for diseases such as diabetes and obesity: They do this by slowing down the metabolism and triggering the desire for more food and more calories.
-Artificial sweeteners are addictive: It’s not your imagination when you have one diet soda and then want another, finding it hard to stop(2).
-Artificial sweeteners change your brain chemistry and your metabolism: They trick your brain into thinking it’s eating real sugar. Your body then triggers its normal response by increasing insulin, its fat-storage hormone. This insulin increase slows down your metabolism, in turn making you hungry more often. The foods you crave are essentially sugar and carbohydrate-dense- like pasta, bread, and pizza.
2. Salmon (and other Farmed Fish): These fish are raised in crowded conditions leading to disease which then requires them to be treated with anti-biotics.
Farmed fish are also fed products they would not normally consume: animal by-products made from pork or chicken (or “farines animales” in French). They also have been shown to contain pesticides and toxic waste residue. Tilapia is the worst example of farmed fish.
Wild-caught varieties are the safest and best to consume.
3. Fruit Juice: When fruit juice is sitting on a store shelf (either in the refrigerated section or not), it has most likely been pasteurized to maintain its stability. T
his process destroys most of its vitamin content, rendering it nothing more than sugary water and high-glycemic. It’s better to drink only fresh pressed juice in moderation.
4. Table Salt: White table salt has been bleached, refined, and heated to dry it (often using aluminum). In some countries, such as France, fluoride (a known neurotoxin) has been added to it.
The processing destroys much of its natural iodine content, which is then added back in harmful amounts in the form of potassium iodide. It’s best to use natural sea salt or Himalayan salt.
5. Margarine: Many conventional doctors still argue that margarine is better because it is made from vegetable oils. Their view is that it has no saturated fat/cholesterol, so it’s better for you than butter, which does contain saturated fat.
Scientists now recognize that saturated fat in the diet is not as much the problem as was once thought(3).
However, stick margarine is made from hydrogenated “trans fats” which are used by industrial food companies because they are cheap and don’t spoil quickly. They have been shown to be dangerous for your health, leading to cardiovascular disease(4).
Better to consume butter from organic, grass-fed beef, as it contains vitamins A, E, and K2, which margarine does not.
6. Microwavable Popcorn: It’s faster and more convenient than popping the corn yourself. However, the micro-savable popcorn bags are usually coated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA’s) which, when cooked, release toxins linked to cancer.
Furthermore, the corn kernels are often coated in industrially produced fake butter flavoring from high doses of diacetyl which has been linked to lung disease and other illnesses in workers handling this product(5).
Take a few extra minutes instead and cook organic corn kernels yourself in organic butter or a cold-pressed healthy oil and add some spices (cayenne pepper or cumin, for example).
How ironic: The food industry produces food we eat in order to sustain ourselves but their primary concern is not our health but their own financial health.
Since profits-not our health- are food manufacturers’ primary concern, it’s best to read labels and stay informed about food additives or their processing that might do more harm than good for our health.
1. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine: “Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings.” Neuroscience 2010 Qing Yang; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/
2. “Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward”, Lenoir, Serre, Cantin, Ahmed; PLOS One, August 2007: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000698
3. “Observations from the heart: Saturated fat is not the major issue”, Aseem Malhotra, et al., British Medical Journal, BMJ 2013;347:f6340 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6340
4. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/Food/PopularTopics/ucm292278.htm
5. The website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, article by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: “Flavorings-Related Lung Disease” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/flavorings/exposure.html