Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

Leave a comment

7 Food Ingredients That Are Destroying Your Mood


Food not only affects your waistline, but it can also affect how you think, act and feel emotionally. Many foods or food additives we consume can wreak major havoc on our nervous system, resulting in moodiness, fatigue, anxiety and even depression. The tiniest hidden traces of these mood-wrecking foods can leave you feeling down. Know what foods to look for to ensure your mood isn’t compromised.

White flour
The fact that white flour is bad for your health isn’t necessarily groundbreaking nutrition information. However, this powdery white substance also sneaks its way into foods like soups and salad dressing by acting as a thickening agent. Because of its empty calories and high blood glucose content, even a small amount can cause mood swings and hunger pains. 

Rule of thumb: If it’s white, don’t take a single bite. Instead, choose 100% whole grains or gluten-free options.

FD & C Red No. 40
This food dye is one of the most commonly used dyes. Its sole purpose is to make food colorful and enhance the flavor, and it’s hidden in everything from frosting and chips to sports drinks and fruit snacks. However, don’t let the bright color or tastes fool you: this additive is linked to hypersensitivity and ADHD among children and adults. 

Rule of thumb: Don’t be misled, stay away from RED. Ensure even your favorite organic snacks are free and clear of this harmful dye.

Hydrogenated oils
Hydrogenated oils are processed oils that are used by manufacturers to extend the shelf life of products. Hydrogenated oils are also responsible for creating trans fat in foods. Trans fat is shown to increase cholesterol levels and increase weight since your body has to work extra hard to digest it. It can also cause brain fog and severe moodiness.  

Rule of thumb: The shorter the expiration date, the better for your weight. (And your happiness!) Opt for products that expire within a week or two. And always choose healthy oils like organic coconut oil or organic extra virgin olive oil.

Aspartame is an ingredient used to sweeten “sugar-free” products on the market. While you might think you’re doing yourself a favor by skipping the sugar, you might want to think twice. Aspartame is a chemical that has been shown to cause headaches, digestive issues and even seizures. 

Rule of thumb: If it says sugar free, it most likely means hazardous chemical concoction. Instead, sweeten foods with 100% raw cane sugar, coconut sugar or raw honey.

FD & C Yellow No. 5
Our bodies aren’t meant to process chemicals, and that certainly applies to this one. Yellow no. 5 is a food dye most commonly found in cookies, soft drinks and even gum. If a product contains high quantities of yellow food dye, it can give food or drinks a yellowish glow. This food dye has been linked to asthma, allergic reactions and mood disorders. 

Rule of thumb: If it contains yellow, say hell NO! Always take caution before eating foods or candies that are extremely colorful, as they’re more likely to contain food dyes.

Monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, is commonly used in packaged foods to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. Many products like chips, soups and frozen meals contain MSG. Consuming even small amounts of this ingredient can lead to light-headedness, nausea, feelings of anxiety and weakness. 

Rule of thumb: If it contains MSG, it’s no good to me! (or my body!) But be careful; the FDA doesn’t require MSG to be listed as an ingredient. Always choose products that are organic or labeled “MSG Free.”

Sugar is hidden in almost every processed and packaged food, including chips, sauces, fruit juices, cereals and energy bars. Sugar is often disguised by one of its many names: dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, lactose and sucrose. Eating foods that are high in sugar can contribute to health issues such as diabetes, thyroid issues, depression and weight gain. 

Rule of thumb: When sugar is a main ingredient, opt for a sweet fruit as a supplement. If you really have a fix for something sweet, opt for a healthier version of your favorite treat.

Leave a comment

Red and processed meats and cancer prevention

Eat less red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meat.

To reduce your cancer risk, eat no more than 500g (cooked weight) per week of red meat, like beef, pork and lamb, and avoid processed meats such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and some sausages.

Cancer fact

10% of bowel cancers cases could be prevented through reducing the amount of processed meat we eat.

What is red meat?

Red meat refers to beef, pork, lamb and goat – foods like hamburgers, minced beef, pork chops and roast lamb.

As a rough guide 500g of cooked red meat is the same as 700 to 750g of raw red meat. To help visualise how much this is, a medium portion of roast beef or pork is about 90g and a medium steak is about 145g.

Although eating a lot of red meat is linked to bowel cancer, it is a good source of nutrients including protein, iron and zinc. The evidence shows that eating up to 500g (cooked weight) of red meat per week does not significantly raise cancer risk. Regularly eating more than this, however, does increase risk of bowel cancer.

What are processed meats

Processed meats are meats which have been preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives. Examples include ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, as well as hot dogs and some sausages. Hamburgers and minced meats only count as processed meat if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives.
Research has show that eating processed meat can increase cancer risk. If you eat meat, then it is best to choose unprocessed meat.
Related publications:

Red and Processed Meat: finding the balance for cancer prevention

Meat and cancer – the evidence

There is strong evidence that eating a lot of red meat is a cause of bowel cancer.
One possible reason for this is that the compound that gives red meat its colour, haem, may damage the lining of the bowel.
Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat fewer plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties.
There is strong evidence that processed meats are a cause of bowel cancer.
When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) can be formed. These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer.

Tips for eating less red meat and avoiding processed meat

  • Keep several meals a week red meat-free. Make every other evening meal meat-free. Try replacing minced red meat with minced Quorn or use lentils or beans instead.
  • Grilled fish and poultry make tasty alternatives to red meat.
  • Choose vegetables and wholegrains first. Try to avoid large portions of meat.
  • Try canned fish including sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel. These are all great in sandwiches or pasta dishes.
  • Add beans or pulses such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. Tasty alternatives in dishes such as chilli or bolognese, and they can even be made into burgers.
  • Don’t forget eggs, cottage cheese and hummus. These are all good sources of protein too.
  • Swap processed meats for healthier alternatives. Instead of bacon, chorizo or salami, try spicy chicken or vegetarian sausages.
If you want inspiration for meals that do not use a lot of red meat, 
then there are lots of ideas in our recipes section.
Read all our Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

Leave a comment

Hidden Sources of MSG

Kombu, a seaweed, was first used in Japan as a flavor enhancer.  A Japanese doctor isolated the main ingredient – MSG, or monosodium glutamate – and started what has become a million-dollar industry.

MSG is now the most widely used flavor enhancer in the world.  MSG and MSG-containing substances are used in processed food, in fast foods, and in Chinese food.  They’re also found in nearly all canned and frozen foods.

While some people can use MSG with no adverse effects, many others have severe reactions to it, some of them life-threatening.  MSG has been linked to asthma, headaches, and heart irregularities.  Behavioral and physical problems of children, such as incontinence and seizures, as well as attention deficit disorder (ADD), have been diagnosed and successfully treated as MSG disorders.

Those wishing to eliminate MSG from their diets are faced with an almost impossible task.  Food preparers are often unaware that they’re even using MSG.  Labels can be misleading.  A label that says “No MSG added” doesn’t necessarily mean that the food is free of MSG, it simply means that the manufacturer didn’t put in additional MSG.  MSG goes under many aliases, one of the most common being “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” an additive used to increase the protein content of a wide variety of foods.

Manufacturers also hide MSG as part of “natural flavorings,” because it is a natural product.  But being natural is not the same as being harmless.

Below is a partial list of the most common names for disguised MSG.  Remember also that the powerful excitotoxins aspartate and L-cysteine are frequently added to foods and, according to FDA rules, require no labeling at all.

Additives that always contain MSG

  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
  • Plant Protein Extract
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Yeast Extract
  • Textured Protein
  • Autolyzed Yeast
  • Hydrolyzed Oat Flour

Terms that frequently indicate hidden MSG additives

  • Malt extract
  • Bouillon
  • Broth
  • Stock
  • Flavoring
  • Natural Flavoring
  • Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring
  • Seasoning
  • Spices

Additives that may contain MSG or excitotoxins

  • Carrageenan
  • Enzymes
  • Soy Protein Concentrate
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Protease enzymes of various sources can release excitotoxin amino acids from food proteins.


For more information, see:
Blaylock, Russell L., M.D.   Excitotoxins:  The Taste that Kills, Health Press, Santa Fe, NM  87504, 1994.
Schwartz, George R., M.D. and Schwartz, Kathleen A.  In Bad Taste: The MSG Symptom Complex

Leave a comment

10 easy tips for successful weight loss

By Lucy Danziger

From curbing your cravings to managing stress, you’ll be shedding those pounds in no time with these expert tips for successful weight loss.

1. Eat more slowly 
Slow down! Speeding through meals could be a ticket to stronger cravings and extra helpings. Women who took 29 to eat not only consumed fewer calories but also felt more satisfied than when they ate in only nine minutes, a study from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston notes. To hit the brakes, rest your fork or sip water between bites.

2. Reduce stress levels   
Relax, already. Feeling harried? Log some couch time, or set aside a few moments to breathe deeply — whatever helps you chill out. Some relaxing every day can lower stress hormones that may spur overeating, a study from Harvard Medical School finds.

3. Lower your MSG intake
RIP, MSG. On this plan, you’ll eat plenty of fresh, whole foods, but sometimes you need to reach for premade eats, for whatever reason. When you do, limit those with monosodium glutamate (MSG). The flavour enhancer may interfere with your body’s ability to regulate appetite. Watch out for monosodium glutamate on labels, or hydrolyzed soy protein or autolyzed yeast, both of which contain MSG.

4. Weigh your success
If you have a scale, use it! Dieters who weighed themselves at least weekly lost more weight than those who didn’t, according to research from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. (Whether you step on the scale once a week or more frequently, weigh yourself in the buff and at the same time of day on the same scale for consistency.) Seeing the numbers plummet can be a great motivator, but it shouldn’t be your only one. Because the scale doesn’t account for lost inches and gains in lean muscle, also pay attention to how your clothes fit, how you look in the mirror and how energized you feel.

5. Don’t drink your calories
Drink to a slimmer you. Don’t forget that liquid calories count toward your bottom line. Americans guzzle an incredible 458 calories a day from drinks such as juice and soda, according to a report in the journal Obesity. Those liquid calories can lead to weight gain, because people don’t necessarily compensate by eating less. 

Craving a soda? Sip a glass of seltzer or club soda (zero calories!) with a squeeze of lemon instead, or save up those happy calories. (Diet sodas aren’t the answer: The artificial sweeteners may signal to your brain that you’ve consumed sugar, which could cause a chain reaction of excess insulin, a blood sugar crash and, eventually, a ramped-up appetite.)

6. Get more sleep
Sleep off the munchies. Eating snacks is a must on this plan, but if you find yourself extra hungry, you may need to log more zzz’s than bites. Getting fewer than seven or eight hours of sleep could cause spikes in ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone and dips in leptin, which suppresses hunger. 

Can’t get into the habit of tucking in at a reasonable hour? Hit the sack 15 minutes earlier each night for a week, then 30 minutes, and so on until you’re logging enough horizontal hours.

7. Eat without distraction
Tune in to your food. If you regularly chew and view, switch off the TV during mealtimes and move from the coffee table to the kitchen or dining table instead. When you’re distracted, you may have a hard time recalling later how much you ate, so you might snack without realizing how many calories you’ve already taken in. Your brain is also more likely to register plated eats on a table as bona fide meals, which means you’re less prone to excess grazing between meals.

8. Eat more vegetables
Grow your veggie love. Not crazy about all the superfood vegetables? To win yourself over, employ the powers of two superfoods you probably do like: Grated parmesan and olive oil. Adding a favorite topping to veggies only three times can train you to enjoy the produce more later, even when you serve them without the extras, according to a study in Appetite.

9. Don’t snack after dinner
Close your kitchen at night. Regularly munching after 8 p.m. is linked to weight gain, according to researchers at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. After packing up any leftovers from dinner and doing the dishes, switch off the kitchen lights and mentally lock up the cupboards and fridge until morning. If you tend to sit in the kitchen reading the paper or paying bills, find another spot in the house to avoid temptation. Out of sight, out of mind!

10. Don’t give up on your weight-loss goals
Cut yourself some slack. Everybody messes up at some point. It is not grounds for throwing in the towel; one overindulgence (or several!) does not a busted diet make. If you didn’t budget enough happy calories for, say, those extra ribs you ate at the picnic, simply get back on track at your next meal. Just remember that every bite is an opportunity to start fresh. You can do this!

Excerpted from The Drop 10 Diet by Lucy Danziger

Leave a comment

Top 10 Food Additives To Avoid

Jun 28 2012 by 

If you’ve ever made homemade bread, crackers, muffins, etc then you know that you pretty much have a ‘shelf life’ of about 1 day before you have to move them to the fridge or freezer before they spoil.  So what about those products on the shelf at the store?  How does that loaf of bread, prepared salad, can of soup or deli meat stay fresh after weeks and months just sitting there?  The answer – food additives, preservatives and chemicals.  Unbelievably there are over 300 chemicals used in processed foods today and statistics show that the average American household spends about 90 percent of their food budget on such foods!  These manmade chemicals are seen as foreign to our bodies, which often results in a number of implications to our health and well being.  Allergies are a common side effect and MSG is known to cause overeating and weight gain.  The best way to avoid exposure to these harmful chemicals is to understand the most common and dangerous additives and which foods they are most often found in.  Here is our list of the top 10 food additives to avoid.

1. Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, (E951) more popularly known as Nutrasweet and Equal, is found in foods labeled “diet” or “sugar free”. Aspartame is believed to be carcinogenic and accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined. Aspartame is not your friend. Aspartame is a neurotoxin and carcinogen. Known to erode intelligence and affect short-term memory, the components of this toxic sweetener may lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor, diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression, anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures. Acesulfame-K, a relatively new artificial sweetener found in baking goods, gum and gelatin, has not been thoroughly tested and has been linked to kidney tumors.
Found in: diet or sugar free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello (and other gelatins), desserts, sugar free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breathmints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined sweetener which has become the number one source of calories in America. It is found in almost all processed foods. HFCS packs on the pounds faster than any other ingredient, increases your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects.
Found in: most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals

3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG / E621)

MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and many restaurant foods. MSG is known as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. MSG effects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengages the “I’m full” function which explains the effects of weight gain.
Found in: Chinese food (Chinese Restaurant Syndrome ) many snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners, lunch meats

4. Trans Fat

Trans fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products and is among the most dangerous substances that you can consume. Found in deep-fried fast foods and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fats are formed by a process called hydrogenation. Numerous studies show that trans fat increases LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes and other health problems. Oils and fat are now forbidden on the Danish market if they contain trans fatty acids exceeding 2 per cent, a move that effectively bans partially hydrogenated oils.
Found in: margarine, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods

5. Common Food Dyes

Studies show that artificial colorings which are found in soda, fruit juices and salad dressings, may contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have linked other food colorings to cancer. Watch out for these ones:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)
Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage
Found in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods
Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)
Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission
Found in: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!
Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)
Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.
Found in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more!

6. Sodium Sulfite (E221)

Preservative used in wine-making and other processed foods. According to the FDA, approximately one in 100 people is sensitive to sulfites in food. The majority of these individuals are asthmatic, suggesting a link between asthma and sulfites. Individuals who are sulfite sensitive may experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death by closing down the airway altogether, leading to cardiac arrest.
Found in: Wine and dried fruit 

7. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is used as a preservative, coloring and flavoring in bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, corned beef, smoked fish and other processed meats. This ingredient, which sounds harmless, is actually highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. There, it forms a variety of nitrosamine compounds that enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc with a number of internal organs: the liver and pancreas in particular. Sodium nitrite is widely regarded as a toxic ingredient, and the USDA actually tried to ban this additive in the 1970′s but was vetoed by food manufacturers who complained they had no alternative for preserving packaged meat products. Why does the industry still use it? Simple: this chemical just happens to turn meats bright red. It’s actually a color fixer, and it makes old, dead meats appear fresh and vibrant.
Found in: hotdogs, bacon, ham, luncheon meat, cured meats, corned beef, smoked fish or any other type of processed meat 

8. BHA and BHT (E320)

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. Effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.
Found in: Potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello

9. Sulfur Dioxide (E220)

Sulfur additives are toxic and in the United States of America, the Federal Drugs Administration have prohibited their use on raw fruit and vegetables. Adverse reactions include: bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. It also destroys vitamins B1 and E. Not recommended for consumption by children. The International Labour Organization says to avoid E220 if you suffer from conjunctivitis, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, or cardiovascular disease.
Found in: beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, cordials, wine, vinegar, and potato products

10. Potassium Bromate

An additive used to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls, potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals. Even small amounts in bread can create problems for humans. Found in: breads