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Don't Be Fooled by Fake Healthy Food

A friend recently made an analogy explaining the process people go through after deciding to become healthy. It’s like an onion— by peeling back each layer you’re one stem closer to the core, yet there’s still many layers to go. Improving one’s health is not something that happens over night. Dozens of contradictory articles can make the process confusing, however there are some facts that cannot be disputed. After several conversations with people in all stages of their health and observing diet trends, I feel compelled to talk about what I call fake healthy food.

“Organic” Sugar

It’s easy to gloss over an ingredient label as soon as we see the words “organic” or “all-natural” on the packaging. While unrefined sugars like honey and agave are better for you than refined sugars like white sugar because they undergo less processing they are still toxic to your body. Raw unrefined sugar, like raw organic honey for example, is an exception. Raw organic honey is sold on its own and has a plethora of health benefits, however the honey in packaged goods is not raw. Unfortunately that honey undergoes processing and loses its nutritional value along the way. Companies have become clever with inventing sugar monikers such as “organic evaporated cane juice” just because the word “organic” precedes a sweetener, does not mean your body will not digest it in the same fashion. Organic sweetener is disguised under an array of names including agave, palm syrup, maple syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar and cane juice. Unrefined sugars are in almost all organic packaged goods.

In (Source: 1957 Dr. William Coda published a study) on the chemical effects of sugar on the body, and to this day new findings on the horrific effects are sugar are emerging. Dr. Coda found that the body cannot digest sugar because after it is refined, which even “unrefined” sugars like honey and cane juice must go through some refining in order to be added to food products, it is completely depleted of vitamins and minerals. In fact, honey and agave go through so much processing before appearing on supermarket shelves that their nutritional content barely resembles their source. The body is physically unable to digest it as sugar is merely empty calories. Incomplete carbohydrate metabolism results in the formation of 'toxic metabolite' such as pyruvic acid and abnormal sugars containing five carbon atoms. Pyruvic acid accumulates in the brain and nervous system and the abnormal sugars in the red blood cells. These toxic metabolites interfere with the respiration of the cells, and over time, the cells will die. This is the beginning of degenerative disease.

 Xanthan Gum

Unfortunately many gluten-free foods contain xanthan gum, a manmade chemical, as a thickening agent substitute for gluten. In addition to being a key ingredient in several gluten-free foods, xanthan gum is sold on its own at organic supermarket chains leading consumers to believe that it must be healthy. (Source: Livestrong.com) Xanthan gum can cause migraines, skin irritation, gas, diarrhea and bloating. A 1990 report in the “Journal of Occupational Medicine” noted that people exposed to large amounts of xanthan gum powder, such as bakery workers, can experience flulike symptoms that include nose and throat irritation. Even the FDA has taken a stance against xanthan gum citing that parents should avoid feeding their infants xanthan gum-based thickeners, products or food. A 2012 article in the “Journal of Pediatrics” noted U.S. Food and Drug Administration warnings that products containing xanthan gum have been linked to illnesses and deaths in infants. Even if xanthan gum is an ingredient in a “natural” food bought from the health food store, it is a manmade chemical and therefore not really food.


About a decade ago, soy became the protein of choice for vegans as well as a healthy meat alternative for omnivores. Fake meat products like Tofurky and tofu corndogs became really popular, as did soy dairy products. To clear up any confusion, soy itself is not bad; the culprit is the over-processing that mass-produced soy goes through before distribution. Unfortunately, mass-produced soy products need to go through processing in order to stay fresh for longer than a couple of days. More than 90% of soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified. Soybean crops are heavily sprayed with chemical herbicides including glyphosate, which is carcinogenic. All soybeans, even organic ones, contain “antinutrients” such as saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, trypsin inhibitors, goitrogens and phytoestrogens. Traditional fermentation kills these toxic antinutrients so the body can reap soy’s nutritional benefits, however the majority of Westerners consume unfermented soy, which is found in soymilk, tofu and soy infant formula. This is why it may be more convenient and realistic to avoid it all together, unless you can produce soy products at your home and plan to consume them immediately. (Source: Huffington Post: The Health Dangers of Soy)

Adjectives like “organic” and “all-natural” are great as preliminary guidelines, but it’s even more important to analyze ingredient labels thoroughly.

Katherine resided in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri and Florida before returning to her native New York City roots to attend NYU in 2008.

*Image via here

Tags: Food

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