Thursday, October 8, 2015

3 Tips for reading food labels

I recommend to everyone on the planet that you read the labels for every food item you put in your grocery cart.  The first step toward health and longevity is to know what you are putting in your body.  Of course it is best for our health to have our cart over flowing with food that doesn’t have a label, like fresh produce, but let’s be real… we are busy people and convenience is important to us.  If you do need to buy food that comes in a package it’s vital that you know how to read a label.

Here are 3 tips that you can use during your next grocery shopping trip
1.      Look at the list of ingredients
            This should be the first thing you do.  Don’t pay attention to the calories, fat grams, or carbohydrate grams.  What matters is the quality of the ingredients and if there are artificial additives.  Food manufacturers put sneaky names in the ingredient list to fool consumers.  The rule of thumb to follow is, if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it.  Something with a long scientific name was probably made in a lab and therefore will be foreign to your body. Foreign ingredients are what cause our bodies to “clog” resulting in hormone imbalance, weight gain, foggy brain, poor sleep, etc. 

2.      Try to stick with 5 or less ingredients
            In order fuel our bodies with the healthiest food possible, we need to eat as “clean” as possible.  How clean you choose to eat is up to you.  Think of it as a range from eating food directly from the farm (the most clean) to eating nothing but fast food and packaged food (the least clean.) Find a place on the range that works for you.  If you are going to eat food from a package, try to find food that has 5 ingredients or less to minimize the amount of artificial additives and processing.  Make sense?

3.      Look at the milligrams of sodium.
            According to the Mayo Clinic, “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you're age 51 or older, or if you are black, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.”  - Packaged food is typically really high in sodium.  Let’s look at a can of soup.  Campbell’s chicken noodle soup has 480 mg of sodium per serving with 2.5 servings in the can.  Most people are going to eat the whole can for a meal, so that would total 1200 mg of sodium just for the one meal!  Yikes!  Too much sodium in the blood causes your kidney’s to work over time.  If your kidneys can’t keep up with the sodium you are consuming, your blood volume increases (water retention), your heart has to work extra hard, and the pressure on your arteries increases.  This can lead to congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease.

If you would like more detailed information about how to read labels and what to look out for, contact me for a “Pantry Makeover” or a “Health Food Store Tour.”  Either service can revolutionize the way you shop and have a drastic effect on the health of you and your family.

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