Dr Akilah El – Celestial Healing Wellness Center

The Natural Health and Holistic World According to Dr Akilah El

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The 10 Most Misleading Food Labels

0ghhBy Healthy Living

1. All Natural 
In theory, the term “all natural” should convey a glowing halo of wholesome goodness, with quality ingredients sourced straight from Mother Nature. In some cases, yes, this absolutely applies (like when we’re talking about asparagus or apples). But far too often, “natural” has less than zero meaning, and the number of lawsuits against food companies proves it. The FDA has yet to define “all natural,” so companies can slap it on anything from potato chips to corn oil, even if preservatives or genetically modified ingredients were used. When in doubt, double check ingredient lists and lean toward using whole ingredients you recognize…like asparagus and apples, no labels necessary.

2. Zero Trans Fats 
You’d think zero means nothing, nil, nada, right? Think again. There’s a lovely sneaky clause that allows food companies to weasel in up to 0.5 grams of trans fat, and still market it as containing “zero” trans fats. May not sound like a lot, but serving after serving adds up. And when trans fats are clear culprits in raising “bad” cholesterol and lowering “good” cholesterol, that’s a definite problem. So re-read that nutrition label and make sure that “0” really is listed in the trans-fat line, and watch out for red flag words like “hydrogenated” in ingredient lists.

3. Sugar-Free & No Sugar Added 
Knocking sugar out of our diets is something most of us have attempted at one point or another. And yes, it’s a good idea to keep added sugar to a minimum and look to nature-made sources of sweetness. Too bad products claiming they’re sugar-free or have “no sugar added” are generally loaded with non-natural artificial sweeteners or man-made (manipulated) sugar alcohols, which can wreak havoc on a sensitive digestive system. The word “artificial” says it all. Choose the real deal when it comes to sugar or sweeteners (or treats that include them) like honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and fresh fruit juices and purees…and keep their amounts on the lighter side.

4. High-Protein
Myth: Bulking up on protein will help you get into buff shape and melt away excess fat. Fact: Too much of anything, even if it’s healthy, isn’t always good. Too many calories overall, and you can kiss that buff shape goodbye; too much protein, and your kidneys can go into overdrive. When it comes to food products touting “high-protein,” the source of protein is often from a manipulated, processed form of an ingredient, like soy protein isolate. Most of us get more than enough protein in our diets, so stick with simple sources like fish, eggs, nuts, organic tofu, beans, and quinoa.

5. High-Fiber 
Somewhat like “high-protein,” high-fiber products are often boosted with doses of processed forms of fiber. Added “functional” fibers like chicory root fiber, polydextrose, and oat fiber don’t necessarily have the same impact as naturally occurring fiber in foods, and may cause bloating and gas. Look to fruit, vegetables, seeds, beans, and whole grains for your fiber intake and you’ll hit your recommended 25-35 grams per day without thinking about it, and without the stomach upset.

6. Low-Carb
The fear and loathing of carbohydrates that has taken hold of health-minded individuals has allowed food companies to run rampant with new “low-carb” products like bagels, brownies, muffins, and more. Most of these items however, contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners and/or processed sources of fiber–which isn’t exactly health-minded. The thing with carbs isn’t to demonize them. It’s about eating them in smart quantities and from quality sources. You’ll fill up faster on less, and will be more satisfied and happier.

7. Gluten-Free
This might just be the “health claim” of the moment right now. Food items that are marketed as “gluten-free” are by law void of gluten or wheat, any ingredient that would potentially cause digestive harm to someone with Celiac disease or a severe wheat/gluten allergy. What these products aren’t free of, however, are calories, and they often contain quite a lot of them. If you don’t have a specific condition, like Celiac, going gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose weight. That said, lowering the amount of gluten or wheat you consume may increase your energy levels or help you feel better digestively, but keep an eye on how much gluten-free bread, cookies, cakes, and chips you eat. Just because they’re sans gluten, that doesn’t give you license to eat with abandon. Look for healthy carbohydrates that are naturally gluten-free, like rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, and quinoa.

8. Organic
Grabbing an “organic” item in the grocery store doesn’t mean you’ve hit a pot of calorie-free gold. Organic cheese puffs, ice cream, and chocolate-creme cookies do not a balanced diet make. Organic is defined as any item with at least 95 percent organic ingredients–no hormones, genetically modified ingredients, additives, antibiotics, or radiation. But aim to focus your “organic” attention on items that should appear in your diet frequently, like grains, fruits and vegetables, specifically those with permeable skins.

9. Fat-Free
“Free” isn’t always a bargain. Fat-free items are typically full of empty, unfulfilling calories and may leave you hungry. Surprising as it may be, we need fat (the healthy kind) in order to fill up. Fat-free products often leave eaters scrambling for other foods because they’re just not satisfied. Healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats and omega-6 and omega-3 fats help lower cholesterol and heart disease risk, and they delay signs of aging and mental decline, and help boost mood. Choose excellent sources like olive oil, nuts and nut butters, avocado, flaxseeds, and coconuts

10. Omega 3’s
By no means are we aiming to slam amazing-for-you heart-healthy omega-3 fats. What we are trying to call out are all the excessive claims on products with “added” omegas, from tortilla chips to eggs and yogurt. If it doesn’t come inherently from nature, it’s still unclear how our bodies will respond and metabolize it. And if you’ve got a tortilla chip rich in omega-3s thanks to whole flaxseeds, unfortunately, you’re not getting very far. Flaxseeds need to be ground in order to reap all the benefits. Look for naturally occurring omega-3 fat sources like avocado, ground flaxseed, walnuts and other nuts, and olive oil.

 

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Dangerous Chemicals in Fast Food

10aakkBy: Nadia Haris

With your busy lifestyle and constant demands on your time, it may seem easy to pull into your local fast food restaurant for a quick meal on-the-go. However, fast foods are rich in fat and sodium that can lead to health problems. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that they also contain high amounts of chemicals that add flavor, color and texture and help to keep them fresh longer. The chemicals are added when these foods are processed, packaged and prepared. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that although food additives are considered safe in minimal amounts, eating too much fast food and other foods that contain these chemicals can lead to harmful effects.

Trans Fats

You may have noticed that fries from fast food chains are typically crisp and have a characteristic taste and texture. This is because they are usually fried in trans fats, which are also used in commercially prepared doughnuts, cookies, chicken nuggets, pizza and other foods. Trans fat is also called partially hydrogenated oil because it is produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, which gives it a longer shelf-life, according to MayoClinic.com. Fast food restaurants use trans fats because they keep foods fresh longer and give them a less greasy feel. However, the American Heart Association warns that trans fats can lead to diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. 

Nitrite Salts

Fast foods keep their fresh taste, smell and color longer because they contain added chemicals, such as nitrite salts, that help to preserve them. Nitrite salts are used in processed meat, bacon, corned beef, smoked fish, ham and sausages. Although this chemical and other preservatives help to prevent bacterial contamination such as botulism, they can also cause harmful effects. Research published in the “International Journal of Cancer” reports that people who eat processed meats and other foods with these preservative are more likely to develop stomach cancers. The American Cancer Society warns that eating food preservatives can also increase your risk of cancers in the digestive tract.

Saccharin

Fast foods are typically super-sized with your choice of a large sugary soft drink. These beverages as well as many fruit juices, jellies, donuts, canned fruits and other foods contain an artificial sweetener called saccharin. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reviewed animal studies that showed that consuming saccharin may increase the risk of cancers of the bladder, ovaries, uterus, blood vessels and skin. Although this study was carried out on animals, saccharin may have similar harmful effects on people.

Butter Flavor

Most fast food restaurants and movie theaters have a familiar aroma of butter. This is usually due to a buttered-flavored chemical called diacetyl, which is also found in microwave popcorn, margarine, snack foods, baked goods and candies, giving them an appetizing smell and buttery taste. However, The American Chemical Society reports that diacetyl may be associated with harmful effects on the lungs and changes in the brain that can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Food Coloring

The brightly colored pies, candies, ice cream, sundae syrup, soft drinks, cheeses, sandwich meats and sausages sold at many fast food outlets contain chemical food dyes and coloring agents. These chemicals give them long-lasting color that makes these foods appear more appealing and appetizing. A review of studies published in the “International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health” reports that many of these chemicals are byproducts of coal tar and other chemicals that can increase the risk of certain cancers.

 

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Are You Buying Fake or Altered Food?

Fake ingredients, deceptive labeling, cheaper food substitutes-sounds like something you’d expect from a fast food meal, right? Turns out, you could encounter food fraud with many of the everyday items you toss into your grocery cart. 

That’s because inferior-and sometimes unhealthy-ingredients in our food has reached an all-time high, according to researchers at the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). In the last two years, the USP added nearly 800 items to their food fraud database. Everything from lemon juice to olive oil to seafood could be a big phony, based on their findings.  

fakeJUICEPomegranate Juice
This antioxidant-rich juice has been touted as heart-healthy, but it’s also expensive. To get around that, some manufacturers have been caught diluting it with water, sugar or cheaper grape or pear juice. In fact, there have been instances where pomegranate juice doesn’t even have a lot of real juice in it.

Olive Oil 
Some oils, extra virgin olive oil in particular, have been caught in the food fraud act. They can be diluted or substituted with cheaper oils to mimic the real thing, so you may not be getting what you’re paying for.

Lemon Juice 
Like other fruit juices, lemon juice can be sold as fresh or from concentrate (which can be diluted with water). But even lemon juice labeled as 100 percent pure has been found to contain citric acid. “It’s available as a chemical, and it’s very cheap,” notes Markus Lipp, Ph.D., senior director for Food Standards at the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention. “The lemons are the most expensive ingredient, and sometimes only 10 to 30 percent is real juice, so manufacturers make three times as much money this way.”

Saffron 
This expensive spice is frequently reported to be adulterated with cheaper ingredients that are dyed to look like saffron. Not only are you wasting your money, but some of these fraudulent blends may not be fit for human consumption, according to Lipp.

Coffee 
The issue isn’t with whole bean coffee because it’s easier to recognize and know if the beans have proper form and color. “But with ground coffee, it can easily be adulterated and hard to tell what exactly is in that brown powder,” says Lipp. There have been reports of roasted chicory seeds, for example, being used as a filler. This is something that could cause allergies in unsuspecting java junkies. 

Tea-bagsTea 
Would you ever sip tea made from your front lawn? You might be and not even know it, especially if you don’t use loose leaf tea that you can see. According to the USP, tea has been found to contain lawn grass and other fern leaves. Not exactly what we’re hoping for when we curl up with a mug in the morning.

Tuna 
Tuna and other white fish, such as butterfish, have been caught in the “real” food lie. Tuna has been found to contain escolar-a cheaper, oily fish that is banned in Italy and Japan. Escolar has a high content of waxy esters that are likely to cause food poisoning called gempylotoxism or gempylid fish poisoning, according to the USP.

Jams 
To make your jam look more natural, manufacturers have been caught adding clouding agents outside the U.S., such as plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and other related phthalates, in place of the more expensive palm oil. These banned toxins have been linked to cancer and developmental problems in children. 

Honey 
To make a cheaper product, honey is often adulterated with a lesser quality honey. In some cases, honey has contained other sweeteners such as sucrose, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

 

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The Ingredient in Your Drink that Could Be Making You Overeat

yuckySODAby Lexi Petronis,

We know that sugary beverages pack a lot of calories into their sweet little containers (they’ve taken a lot of heat in the obesity debate). But now the results of a new study are showing that they may also trick our brains into thinking that we’re hungry!

Actually, it’s the fructose in sugar-sweetened drinks that researchers say affect the brain region that regulates appetite. The researchers–who point out that the study does not show that fructose causes obesity–say that participants who drank a cherry-flavored drink with fructose in it experienced a spike in their hypothalamus. The participants who drank the same beverage made with glucose didn’t have the spike.

The conclusion: high-fructose corn syrup and other forms of fructose might actually help lead us to overeat more than glucose does. (Plain table sugar contains both glucose and fructose.) Which means, say the experts, that it’s generally a good idea to cook your own food at home and limit processed foods and drinks that have fructose or high-fructose corn syrup. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever have them–just keep how often (and how much) you have them in check!

Do you try to avoid fructose? What about sugary drinks in general?

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Are You Eating this Dangerous Ingredient?

a-Dagerious_food-itemBy Gretel H. Schueller

Camembert cheese and buttery croissants are staples of French cuisine, so you’d think France would be the last place where the government would police fat content in food. Yet, in an effort to reduce obesity, France’s Senate recently approved an amendment to triple taxes on products containing one unhealthy fat in particular: palm kernel oil, which is extracted from the palm seed of palm oil trees. (The lower house of parliament still has to vote on the tax.)

It turns out that palm oil is a major ingredient in one beloved treat in France: Nutella. The French, who love to smear the creamy hazelnut-chocolate spread on toast and crepes or just eat it with a spoon, account for 26 percent of world’s Nutella consumption, according to French newspaper Le Monde. The proposed tax has incited outrage among Nutella lovers. As outrageous as the tax may seem to some, the French government may be on to something. Nutella’s maker recently settled a multimillion-dollar U.S. class-action lawsuit brought by a California mother who was shocked by the spread’s saturated-fat content and misleading health claims.

Palm kernel oil sounds harmless and even “natural,” right? And in recent years, it’s been finding its way into many packaged foods as manufacturers look for low-cost oils to replace trans fats. (After federal rules mandated all packaged foods list the amount of heart-damaging trans fats they contain on their “Nutrition Facts” labels, many manufacturers reformulated their products to ferret out the offending fat and earn a better-looking label.) Highly saturated fats turn rancid more slowly, so food companies often use them to help preserve taste and texture. Trans-fat-free–and relatively inexpensive–palm oil fit the bill. Its long shelf life and semi-solid state at room temperature make it appealing to food companies.

How can you figure out if foods you are eating contain palm oil? You want to look on the ingredients list: palm oil is commonly found in packaged cookies, cakes, snacks, bakery goods, crackers and peanut butter. (Sometimes it’s listed as “modified,” “partially hydrogenated” or “fractionated” palm oil, which would indicate trans fats; even if the Nutrition Facts panel indicates zero trans fats, products containing less than 0.5 gram of trans fats can be labeled as trans-fat-free.) Sometimes palm oil is one of the oils listed under the term “vegetable oil.”

But there are 3 really good health and environmental reasons to avoid it:

1. It’s High in Saturated Fats 
While unmodified palm kernel oil is trans-fat-free, about 80 percent of its fat is saturated, with about 22 grams saturated fat in each 2-tablespoon serving (for comparison there are 14 grams of saturated fat in two tablespoons of butter). For a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, that’s the maximum amount of saturated fat you should be eating. Most experts agree that saturated fats raise levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood. That’s damaging to the heart and arteries, since excessive LDL accumulates in artery walls and can trigger inflammation, eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke. (Confusingly, palm fruit oil–also known as palm oil or red palm oil–is rich in a form of vitamin E that preliminary research indicates may help fight cancer and prevent strokes; it is also lower in saturated fat.)

2. It Could Boost Your Appetite 
Some saturated fats appear more likely than others to cause cholesterol buildup in arteries. Palmitic acid, which is the main fat in palm kernel oil, is one such fat. In addition, research has shown that palmitic acid caused mice to become resistant to the appetite-suppressing hormones leptin and insulin, which in theory could make them eat more.

3. It’s Bad for the Environment 
Anyone who worries about global well-being has yet another reason to avoid palm oil: the process of harvesting palm oil is responsible for significant destruction of rain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia–and threatens the orangutans and Sumatran tigers that live there. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, if the current rate of palm-oil production continues, 98 percent of forests in Sumatra and Borneo will be destroyed by 2022. (Note, Nutella’s palm oil is sustainably harvested.)

 

 

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