I recently received a comment/question (which I’ll post below for you to read) from a reader (Amy) about my last blog on carrageenan – and I think it’s definitely worth expanding on. Like Amy, I drank almond milk because for ME, it was a better alternative than milk. If I want calcium, there are far better AND SAFER options than cow’s milk.
In my studies thru Cornell, I came across the dangers of carrageenan. Being the avid nutrition-label-reader that I am, I FREAKED when I realized that carrageenan is one of the ingredients in my almond milk. Needless to say, I dumped it and have fortunately found other brands that do NOT tout carrageenan as one of their ingredients. But this lead me to panic a bit because WHAT ELSE am I ingesting while thinking I’m doing my body good?! So here goes… my upward spiral to weeding out unsafe ingredients that the food industry has so cleverly disguised as healthy!
(CONTINUE READING HERE)
So let me start out with the GREAT question from Amy, and then I’m diving in!:
AMY: I am still so disturbed by this information. You think you’re eating healthy and then you find out not only are you not, you could be harming you and your family. I use Almond Breeze, which I buy by the case from Costco and now I have to dump it all! Is there a list of common harmful ingredients we can keep on hand to look out for? It also brings me to a couple questions I have been meaning to ask you. First is soy/ tofu. Is it bad for you really? Also, what is the deal with these Quest nutrition bars? Some of them contain sucralose and some don’t, but I have read that the protein in them is harmful. Every time I turn around someone else is telling me their trainer or nutrition coach is recommending them. I try to get the majority of my nutrition from real food, however, protein bars come in handy when your on the go and need to fuel your body.
Let me start off by addressing the soy/tofu ‘issue’ and then the Quest bars…. and then I’ll talk about things that I personally look out for.
Regarding soy and tofu, here is where I stand. It is extremely controversial. Soy is believed to mimic estrogen in the body. Cancer can be promoted by hormone mimickers. My mother’s breast cancer was determined to be “estrogen-receptive”, and this is a common ‘style’ of cancer (not just breast). What this means is that her cancer fed on estrogen. She had a hysterectomy years ago (not due to her cancer) and was put on hormone (estrogen) therapy to help with sudden menopause symptoms, to sorta ‘replace’ her estrogen. Essentially, it poisoned her – the estrogen was feeding her cancer. How many of us may have cancer cells lying dormant inside that we want to feed and water so it grows?
BUT……, there are many professionals who swear by the BENEFITS of soy for cancer – and they even say it can PREVENT it! On both sides, the research is convincing. Therefore, I eat soy but in moderation. I will not eat it every day, but I WILL enjoy it once or twice a week. Until there is further information proving it is good, I will stick to small doses. Supposedly, even the ANTI-SOY people seem to say that it is safe if eaten rarely. Two things to point out about this and DEFINITELY WORTH NOTING! 1) Soy TODAY is not the same soy as years ago. Soy is usually GMO, altered and completely adulterated which is why way back when, people could safely live on it. If you eat tofu, be sure to get organic sprouted. You will avoid many of the above mentioned issues. 2) Fermented soy foods (i.e. tempeh, seitan, miso) do NOT present the same hormone mimicking as tofu and can be eaten safely. (I’ve rarely heard anyone debate that and I personally eat tempeh regularly!)
Now for Quest bars. I FEEL YOUR PAIN! I’m constantly in search of a low carb, low cal and fat, high protein bar. I don’t even care if it tastes good! I do however want it to be as natural (unprocessed, not made in a lab) as possible. I thought I found that in the Quest bar. Quest enthusiasts, please don’t kill me, but here’s my take on it. For one, they’ve been sued for overstating their fiber content by more than 750%. I don’t know (or care) about the outcome. The fiber thing DOES seem really controversial and that concerns me.
When I see something high in carbs, I’ll eat it if the fiber content is high because you subtract fiber from carbs to get the true number of carbs. However, if you cannot ACTUALLY subtract that fiber in the Quest bars, then that’s a sh** load of carbs! I don’t go out of my way to spike my blood glucose because I know I will then store fat and wreak havoc by stimulating inflammation. On that note, I read a study where diabetics tested their blood sugar after eating a Quest bar and to their shock, it spiked! That should not happen if the fiber content is as high as stated. Something is amiss. Spiking blood sugar is what you want to avoid! That’s why (at least 90%ish of the time) I don’t eat white flour or processed foods. So if Quest has found a way, which it seems they have, to make the perfect nutrition label (high protein, low-“ish” cal and fat and high fiber which you subtract from the carbs to make it LOW-CARB) but those nutrients aren’t actually functioning the way they’re supposed to in our bodies (spiking blood sugar), because they’ve been manufactured in a lab, then I won’t depend on it as a healthy, natural snack – because it isn’t. But with that said, if you enjoy them and they fill you up or give you a boost, then just like most things, MODERATION! Enjoy a couple a week. Personally, I would NOT eat them daily.
Casein – the main protein present in milk and (in coagulated form) in cheese. It is used in processed foods and in adhesives, paints, and other industrial products. (Definition from the dictionary). I try to avoid dairy as much as possible, to avoid casein. If you’ve read The China Study or if you’ve seen the documentary Forks Over Knives, then you know about the study where they fed casein to rats and actually turned on and off their cancer activity. Up to 5% seemed safe for them, but once they consumed closer to 20% casein in their diets, they died – 100% of them. They were able to go back and forth of reversing and exacerbating their tumor growth solely on how much casein they were given. So imagine how surprised I was when I read the ingredients on my NON-DAIRY coffee creamer! It listed casein! Now why is that okay? I’m eating dairy free to avoid casein, but they’ve added it back in. Oh, there was carrageenan in there too! My advice, learn to love your coffee black! The soy milk (soy EVERY DAY – read above – not the safest) isn’t a better option!
NOW, to my favorite – MSG (and then I’m done, even though I can go on!). HOLY. SH**!! It’s in EVERYTHING! When you see “natural flavors”, it’s in there! When you see “yeast extract”, it’s in there! “Hydrolyzed protein”, you got it – it’s in there! But here’s the deal. You can make yourself crazy because the list is long. There are chemicals that ARE MSG and there are food additives that cause the body to somewhat mimic reactions like MSG, IF someone is sensitive. However, MSG, the real-deal – IS DANGEROUS! If you read THIS ARTICLE, which I urge you to, you’ll get a clearer picture. According to most sources, Quest bars would be considered to contain MSG. Some would argue it’s not actual MSG. Some would also say that anything fermented (tempeh – which I eat frequently) causes MSG reactions in people who are sensitive, although the actual chemical is not in there. I am obviously not sensitive (or I would probably get headaches, etc. from my tempeh). ACTUAL MSG is poison in my opinion and in the opinion of MOST people who are not benefitting monetarily from using it.
Yeast extract is in everything! I cannot find a veggie broth (or bouillon cube) that doesn’t contain it! If you can, please message me! 😉 Even the broths that say “no MSG added” – read it. It has yeast extract. Food dyes – avoid as much as possible. I don’t even know where to BEGIN with yellow dye number (fill in the blank) or red dye….. These have been proven to be so severely dangerous, especially for our kids – and they’re in EVERYTHING! And ya know what sucks? In Europe, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese sells their disgusting powdered cheese WITHOUT yellow dye because Europe’s government banned it to protect their ‘peeps’ from the proven dangers. But here in America, they’re allowed to feed us this poison because our government hasn’t stopped them.
Anyway, I can seriously go on and on! If you’re pissed off (I know I am!) you should check out The Food Babe. She gets it and is fighting this exact stuff! You can really get crazy with protecting yourself and your family and it’s a shame that we even HAVE to! I say pick your poison 😯 , and make it your mission to avoid it as best as you can. Be educated. 😎