Do you read the “nutrition facts” label on your packaged food before you buy it?
It’s not a bad thing, as long as you don’t get distracted from the real skill you should be learning – understanding ingredient labels. You could be a ninja at dissecting carbs, fats, proteins, and other relatively useless data on the nutrition facts label…but if you don’t know how to interpret what the product is made up of (ingredients label), you will suffer more serious consequences.
Let’s use Ensure Original shake as an example. Here’s the nutrition facts label:
Total Fat, g: 6 (8%)
Saturated Fat, g: 1 (5%)
Trans Fat, g: 0
Polyunsaturated Fat, g: 2
Monounsaturated Fat, g: 3
Cholesterol, mg: <5 <2%
Sodium, mg: 210 (9%)
Total Carbohydrate, g: 33 (12%)
Dietary Fiber, g: 1 (4%)
Total Sugars, g: 15
Added Sugars, g: 14 (28%)
Protein, g: 9 (18%)
Folic Acid, mcg: 60
So what can you gather here? Not much, other than if you are a good macro analyzer, you might say it’s a bit high in sugar but it’s a decent source of protein. Not much else to go off of here.
Now, here’s the ingredient label:
Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate, Blend of Vegetable Oils (Canola, Corn), Soy Protein Isolate, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali). Less than 0.5% of: Vitamins & Minerals (Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Ferrous Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Zinc Sulfate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12), Nonfat Milk, Cellulose Gel, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Carrageenan, Turmeric Color, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, and Red 3.
So what can you gather here? If you know how to interpret ingredients, you know this product is an absolute shit show, full of contaminants. GMOs, synthetic nutrients, artificial colours and sweeteners, and unhealthy fats.
Here’s a breakdown:
Water: Is it filtered? HIGHY unlikely. At best it’s tap water, at worst it’s fluoridated water. And that is the main ingredient.
Corn Maltodextrin: GMO. High glycemic.
Milk Protein Concentrate: Not organic, so likely contaminated with hormones and antibiotics, to start. Highly inflammatory.
Blend of Vegetable Oils (Canola, Corn): Both GMO, and dangerous for heart health.
Soy Protein Isolate: GMO, and very hard to assimilate.
Cocoa powder: Non-organic, and likely loaded with cadmium (a metal commonly found in chocolate).
Vitamins and Minerals: Either synthetic, isolated, or both. Bad combination with low assimilation, which creates inflammation.
Natural and artificial flavours, Sucralose, and Red 3: Synthetic and poisonous.
Now, you can see a view of the nutrition facts makes this product look somewhat palatable and healthy, but when you examine the ingredients, it’s an absolute HORROR show.
But things can get trickier from there with ingredient labels. For example, you might see “yeast extract” and think it’s fine, but really, it’s another name for MSG, an excitotoxin. Then there’s citric acid, which sounds like lemon juice, but for the 99% of labels it’s really made from black mold.
Then there’s the front label readers. Areas that will say fat free, low calorie, gluten free, etc. How well does that describe a product? Not well at all.
Let’s take a healthy sugar alternative, monk fruit, as an example. You can buy bags of it in the health food store. It says monk fruit sweetener right on the front of the bag. But what does it say on the back?
Ingredients: Erythritol, monk fruit extract.
That’s right, the first ingredient is a sugar alcohol, followed by monk fruit extract. One company used to NOT make note of that fact on the front label, but now they say “monk fruit extract with erythritol”, likely due to feedback from customers about their sneaky labelling.
In the end, monk fruit extract (which you can buy here, one ingredient), and monk fruit extract with erythritol as the first ingredient, are two COMPLETELY separate things with bad consequences.
And this is how people get burned. They don’t have a degree in ingredient label reading. This is why I highly endorse the Health Ranger Store, where you not only have clean ingredient lists, but you also have testing on the ingredients themselves, so you don’t unwittingly consume heavy metals or other contaminants that show up in many raw ingredients, like chocolate, turmeric, and moringa, just to name a few.
And if you want to learn how to master you nutrition and overcome chronic disease labels, look into the THRIVE Academy.