Category Archives: Health Info

How to Read Ingredients Lists for Choosing Healthy Foods

Have you ever looked at the front of a package and read the words “All-Natural” or “Heart-Healthy,” only to look at the ingredients list and find it is packed with salt, sugar, and chemicals you can’t even pronounce? The front of a food package has one purpose: to make you buy the product. It is not always fact-based and does not indicate the healthiness of the food inside. In order to know what you are truly buying, you need to understand how to read and properly interpret the ingredient list and nutrition information label on food packages. You may be shocked when you begin to discover what’s really in the food you buy! Yet learning this very simple task will help make you an informed consumer.

The key to remember is that ingredients are listed from highest to lowest proportions. That is, the first two or three ingredients are the majority of what the food contains. The last few ingredients make up very little of the product.

If you want to ensure that you are buying foods that are truly healthy – high-quality, nutritious, unprocessed – then follow the tips below.

Quick Overview: Rules for Reading Ingredient Lists
1. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it/don’t eat it.
2. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, with the largest quantity of ingredients listed first.
3. Choose foods with less than five ingredients; this means they are minimally processed.
4. Avoid chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors.
5. Avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and trans fats

The Details: Choosing Healthy Foods by their Ingredient List

Whole Grains
Particularly for cereals, crackers, pasta, and breads, the word “whole” should appear as the first or second ingredient, whether it is whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, or another grain. One way to double-check is to look at the fiber content on the nutrition facts panel; whole-grain foods should deliver at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

Hidden Sugars
Avoid foods with sugar listed in the first three ingredients, and be aware that “sugar” has many names, many of which add calories without boosting nutritional value, and others that can cause stomach distress and other symptoms. Ingredients that end in the word “ose” are all forms of sugar, such as fructose, sucrose and dextrose. Other sugar sources are honey and corn sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A recent study at the University of California/Davis found that these sweeteners had a similar metabolic effect as other forms of sugar. To know exactly how many grams of total sugar a product contains, check out the Nutrient Facts label. Four to five grams of sugar is the equivalent of one teaspoon.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Partially hydrogenated oils are the primary source of trans fats, which have been shown to be even more harmful to arteries than saturated fat. Foods can call themselves “trans-fat free” even if they contain up to half a gram of trans fats per serving. Look on the ingredients list. If a food contains partially hydrogenated oils, it contains trans fats.

Artificial Sweeteners, as in Sucralose, Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame
I tell all my clients (and everyone I know) to AVOID artificial sweeteners — they can actually increase your craving for sweets, are loaded with chemicals, and are often the source of bloating, diarrhea, and other symptoms. The Center for Science in the Public Interest warns that some artificial sweeteners can be dangerous in large quantities. A few diet sodas every day may be considered “large quantities” over the years!

Sodium Nitrite
Used as a preservative in meats, some research indicates that sodium nitrate may pose a cancer risk; another recent study suggested that nitrites and nitrates could interact with medications to damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends limiting the amount you consume by choosing nitrite-free products whenever possible.

Artificial Colorings in Food
Research suggests that some colorings may pose health dangers, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Artificial colorings are found in cereals, candy, soda, snack food –on and on, particularly those designed for children. They are listed on the ingredients label by their color name, such as Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Red 3, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, and Orange B.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a salty flavor and companies/restaurants add it to food to enhance flavor (at the expense of your health!) Some people experience “MSG symptom complex,” with reactions such as headache, flushing, sweating, fluttering heartbeat, and shortness of breath.

What Oil should I use?

There are an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to oils to use in the kitchen. Most people have heard that hydrogenated oils are bad, and olive oil is good; but there is actually a little more to it than that. Did you know that some oils are unsafe to cook with and that some oils you should always seek to avoid? Stick with me while I break it down quickly and simply……

Just say no to vegetable oils. Oils that come from soybean, sunflower, corn, and canola are unstable, omega-6 rich, polyunsaturated fats that are highly inflammatory. One of the problems here is that our diets tend to be high in omega-6 fats which not only crowd out the omega-3s that we desperately need, but undo the benefits of any omega-3s that we eat. This results in even more inflammation—which is our #1 enemy. I would suggest cutting these oils out of your diet completely.

Olive oil has been praised over the years for its many health benefits, including antioxidants, macronutrients, and anti-inflammatory compounds. It is made up primarily of monounsaturated fatty acids, most notably oleic acid, which gives olive oil its ability to fight free radical damage. Yet, what most people don’t know is that you should not cook with olive oil, as it has what is called a low smoke point (the temperature at which an oil will start to smoke producing fumes and free radicals). Heating olive oil does more harm than good, so it is best used in a non-heated form such as in salad dressings.

So what can you cook with? My two favorite oils to cook with are coconut oil and avocado oil.  Avocado oil has a similar makeup to olive oil, mostly monounsaturated fatty acids, but has a much higher smoke point, making it suitable to cook with. Coconut oil is comprised mostly of saturated fat (don’t freak out, saturated fats ARE NOT bad), which makes it stable to cook with. Coconut oil also contains other compounds, such as lauric acid, that are incredibly beneficial to your health.

I hope this breaks down some of the confusion surrounding oils. If you want to continue the conversation or have any questions, reach out to us at: and follow us on Instagram for daily health tips.

Dangerous water?

Have you heard of bisphenol-A (BPA)? It is a chemical found in plastic water bottles, can linings, and receipts, and research has shown it to have negatives effects on our health.

BPA is an endocrine disrupter which means that it can mimic the hormones in your body causing them to be overstimulated, or interfere with the way they are made or controlled. This can lead to many different health concerns including: certain cancers, diabetes, impaired immune function, and risk of obesity. Not to mention that it can cross the placental barrier. How scary is that?!

To minimize your exposure you can:
* Avoid using plasticware-opt for glass instead. * Limit contact with register receipts
* Eat mostly fresh foods that do not come from a can or package
* Buy products that come in BPA-free cans
* Buy a BPA-Free Water Bottle (click here for an example) to put your filtered water in

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Did you know that pumpkin is full of vitamins A and C? Not only is it good for eyes and skin, but it helps to keep your immune system strong. So important for this time of year!

Pumpkin also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in abundance. Lutein is found in the macula, retina, lens, and optic nerve of the eye. It is responsible (along with zeaxanthin) for blocking out harmful blue light that can cause damage to your peepers.

A diet high in fiber can contribute to weight loss and help keep things moving, and pumpkin is a good source of it. One cup of canned pumpkin provides around 7 grams of fiber.

And the best part of all, pumpkin is downright tasty! Here is my proof!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon nut butter (I prefer almond)
1/2 banana
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 ice cubes

Blend and enjoy!

Epsom salt bath

A fabulous way to unwind at the end of the day is a relaxing bath. Adding in Epsom salt will help relax your muscles and lavender oil will help relax your mind.

Some other benefits include

  • restores your magnesium, thus promoting relaxation, good health and mood.
  • draws out toxins and heavy metals
  • makes your skins softer
  • helps reduce pain caused by inflammation

How to use epsom salt

Individuals between 60-100 lbs: Add 1 cup of salts to a standard size bath
Individuals between 100-150 lbs: Add 1 1/2 cup of salts to a standard size bath
Individuals between 150-200 lbs: Add 2 cups of salts to a standard size bath
For every 50lbs larger – add in an additional 1/2 cup of salts.

Just add it under running warm bath water, then sit back and relax for 20 minutes or so.

As with everything in your health routine, quality matters.  We recommend Epsoak Epsom Salt | Detox + Cleanse from SF Salt Co.





Probiotics Challenge!

Probiotics are microorganisms that live in our gut and are related either directly or indirectly to pretty much every function in our body… especially digestion.

But the idea that such tiny bacteria can influence how we feel, think and protect our health is pretty hard to comprehend. Recently, our gut has been called our “second brain” because of how strongly it can impact our mood and wellbeing.
In fact, an imbalance in gut bacteria has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even certain mental illnesses.

Bacteria outnumber the cells in our bodies by 10 to 1… so it’s really important to keep a healthy balance between the good bacteria and the bad ones.

Probiotics (the good bacteria) have a TON of benefits including:
-Strengthening your immune system
-Improving your digestion and nutrient absorption
-Increasing your energy levels
-Improving your skin
-Maintaining an  optimal metabolism and aiding in weight loss

If you’re not eating fermented food on a regular basis, then it’s important to supplement with a good quality probiotic.

Foods like: kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, raw cheeses, and even apple cider vinegar pack a probiotic punch.

If you want to use a probiotic supplement, make sure it is high quality.  We both take and recommend PRESCRIPT ASSIST PROBIOTIC