- I’ll admit, I have a problem
- What they don’t admit about the ingredients in supermarket foods
- Why “goody goody” health advice is useless
I have a problem.
It’s might not to seem like much of a problem to you…
But for my family it’s a nightmare.
You see, my problem is…
I am a HEALTH NEWSLETTER WRITER.
Right now, I have a pile of newspaper articles on my desk, all torn out for me by my researcher. It’s almost as tall as my computer screen.
On the other side of my desk, a pile of medical journals.
And you should see the state of my inbox. It’s a parade of health warnings, disease breakthroughs and research stories.
In other words, I get deluged with a lot of information about what’s bad and good for you.
While that’s great when I’m sat here at my desk writing these emails to you…
…it’s not so good on my days off.
In particular, trips to the supermarket.
What a nightmare.
It’s not the crowds of people, the careering trolleys, the endless rows of products and the tantruming kids (often my own, to be honest).
It’s what’s INSIDE THE FOOD.
What they don’t admit about the ingredients in supermarket foods
With all the information I get every day about the causes of disease, it becomes hard to buy anything.
A lot of people simply take a quick look at the colourful fat/carb/sugars chart and then toss the item into the trolley.
I go through all the other ingredients, wincing at the stabilisers, colourings, saturated fats and preservatives.
Meanwhile my wife and kids are saying: “Dad, just get on with it!”
The one that drives me really mad is artificial sweeteners.
These are what the food industry put in food and drink to avoid adding too much sugar.
Except the sweeteners are worse than sugar.
One of the biggest, aspartame, is hugely controversial with alleged links to epilepsy, brain tumours and nervous system problems…
Another biggie called sucralose was criticised in a research review published in the ‘Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health’ in 2013. The author Dr. Schiffman suggested that it could:
• Reduce levels of good gut bacteria and increase your likelihood of weight gain and obesity
• Weaken the effect of medicines for cancer and heart disease
• Release toxic compounds called chloroproanols.
• Alter your insulin responses and blood sugar levels, with potential links to inflammatory bowel disease
In the same year, research published in ‘Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism’ claimed that sucralose could be linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
And now here’s the latest…
Why sweeteners might be making you fatter
Dr Cee Chia from the National Institute on Ageing at the US Department of Health and Human Services has come out with a warning.
She says that research shows that people who eat low-calorie sweeteners become FATTER than those on the very same calorie count who don’t eat sweeteners.
This could be related to the way the body’s metabolism is affected by sweeteners, encouraging it to store more fat. While over in Israel some other researchers reckon that by altering your gut microbes, sweeteners disrupt the way your body regulates and processes sugar.
So in other words…
Even if the authorities (by that I mean food industry and government bodies) are correct in their insistent claims that sweeteners are “completely safe” in terms of toxicity….
…evidence is showing that they don’t help you stay slim, which was the main reason they were introduced to ‘diet’ food and drink.
This may be one reason why, in the decades since we’ve been using sweeteners, obesity has soared.
They simply haven’t helped.
So why are they being used more and more in our food?
Would it not be better to simply cut down on foods that have real sugar, or force food companies to find other natural sweeteners, even if it hits their profit margins?
What’s more you get little choice in the matter.
In the old days, sweeteners used to be mainly in diet options. You could avoid simply avoid “low sugar” items by going for the unhealthy option.
Personally, I hate diet soft drinks because of the sweetener taste and aftertaste, which I can spot instantly.
But nowadays, I am astonished to see sweeteners in most regular products too, even sauces and crisps!
Manufacturers are doing this to lower their sugar quotes so that they can appear to be making their products healthier.
This means you see “sugar and sweeteners” on many labels now.
It’s why I spend a lot of time scrutinising labels and weighing up the pros and cons while my family slap their foreheads in despair.
Of course, you could yell, quite reasonably.
“JUST STOP GOING TO SUPERMARKETS, RICH!”
Because the answer is simple, right?
Just buy natural fresh ingredients and avoid all processed food.
Don’t buy anything in a packet and avoid anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.
In fact a lot of health writers, nutritional experts and lifestyle gurus will say precisely that.
• Eat ONLY fresh seasonal produce.
• MAKE your own bread.
• BUY from local farmers.
• GROW your own vegetables and herbs/
• CREATE your own delicious meals from scratch.
And yes, that works.
No doubt about it.
If you want food that’s nutritious, tasty and protects your health – then that’s what you should do….
The trouble is with this “goody goody” advice is, how much time and money do you have spare to do this?
It’s not only the time spent going to lots of different shops, placing orders online and sourcing ingredients…
It’s the skills needed to turn those basic ingredients into something special.
Plus the time to do all the preparation, washing, peeling, chopping, boiling…
OK, so Jamie Oliver can show you a ‘30 minute meal’ recipe on the telly, but have you ever tried do to one of those in 30 minutes?
And it’s not just a case of people being too “stupid” or “misinformed” to live healthily.
For instance, I know all the downsides of convenience food, processed sauces and soups, mass market bread and imported vegetables… yet I still need to go to the supermarket and I still have to save time and buy readymade elements.
We’d all love to be virtuous home gardeners and chefs, but modern life is fast, busy and stressful. Sometimes we need convenience.
What do you think? Do you find it hard to follow natural health advice because of time and money constraints?
The answer, I believe is, knowledge.
When you know what’s really in your food, you can then make judgement calls and weigh up the risks. You can then balance the bad with the good.
I’ll write some more about this very soon!
And until I next write, stay healthy!