Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Product Review: Go Raw Junk-Free Snacks

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of dangerous additives, preservatives and chemicals that are added to otherwise safe and healthy food. For what? While the short and quick answer would be "longer shelf life. (Why we feel we need to have foods with a long shelf life in this day-in-age is another tangent...)The reality is much more complicated. The reality is that adding these things to food saves the corporate food industry money by adding fillers and therefore making more at a lower cost. The reality is that the chemicals that are put into packaged and processed foods are not only dangerous chemicals made in a lab - they are highly addictive and proven to have an effect on mood and behavior leading to or contributing to a vast amount of behavioral disturbances such as hyperactivity, ADHD, tantrums and even Autism.

These nutrient void "foods" are made to make your mouth water, your taste-buds craving more, and set you up for a sugar crash with urgent hunger pangs causing you to reach for more. And more. 

"Research carried out by Dr. Neil Ward at Surrey University found that 89% of 357 diagnosed hyperactive children were adversely affected by artificial colours." (foodsmatter.com)



Be Aware of Food Additives 
We've all seen them on the back of packages and this list is no where near exhaustive but here are some of the scariest additives out there:

  • Artificial Colors: Azo & Coal Tar Dyes worst offenders (E102, 104, 107, 110, 120, 122, 123, 124, 127, 128, 132, 133, 150, 151, 152, 155). These colors and dyes have been known to trigger reactions in asthmatics as well as trigger or cause allergic reactions. Artificial colors are found in products such as beverages, condiments and other processed foods.
  • Artificial Flavors:  An artificial flavor must be comprised of one of the nearly 700 FDA-allowed flavoring chemicals or food additives categorized as “generally recognized as safe,” or any of 2000 other chemicals not directly regulated by FDA but sanctioned for use by an industry group, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States. Most of these chemicals exist as natural flavors or can be extracted from them. (ewg.org)
  • Artificial Sweeteners (aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol, acesulfame, saccharin, saccharin, xyitol): Artificial sweeteners provide zero benefits, are void of nutrients, and cause or contribute to a vast amount of ailments and disease including but not limited to diabetes, tooth decay, weight-gain, bacteria overgrowth, and toxin build-up.
  • Carrageenan: A thickener and emulsifier derived from an indigestible seaweed causing inflammation and linked to cancer, ulcerative colitis and other diseases such as diabetes. Ironically, this one is generally found in alternative milks (like almond milk), juices and infant formula.
  • Flavor Enhancers such as Monosodium Glutamate - MSG (E621): "One of the scariest ingredients out there...Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills; explains that MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and more." (Found in Eat Raw Not Cooked by Stacy Stowers)
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): The term 'GMOs' is being tossed around the health community like a ball in a dog park these days- but the fact is, GMOs are scary. If you aren't already worried about them - you should be. Hate to put it so bluntly, but there simply must be an awareness of GMOs and how they can and will effect your body. 
    • In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.
    • GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
    • Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit. Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.
    • Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.(http://www.nongmoproject.org/)
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup: This one has stirred quite a debate. As it's name entails, high-fructose is derived from corn - and it is... you guessed it, fructose. What's the big deal? Yes, it is higher on the glycemic index but what concerns me with HFCS the most, is that it is coming from an ingredient that is highly likely to be genetically modified (corn) and it is completely void of an nutrients. And yes, this too is made in a lab. Stick with 100% pure maple syrup, raw honey, coconut sugar, or dates to sweeten up your foods/beverages where you will be getting the benefit of minerals, enzymes and vitamins while you get your sugar fix.
  • Natural Flavors: "According to its website, the FDA does not have a definition for 'natural' as it appears on food labels, and its willing to let marketers use it so long as the food does not contain added colors or synthetic substances." Yet Natural flavors are still made from compounds that were made in a lab utilizing chemicals and synthetic materials! Comforting right?
    • Further ... "the FDA says that natural flavor is one that's derived from a "spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable  juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof...Basically a natural flavor is one that's derived from a plant or animal (including insects). An artificial flavor, on the other hand, does not come from a plant or animal source, and instead is generated from scratch (in a lab).
  • Sodium benzoate and benzoic acid (E210, 211): Food additive/preservatives linked to worsening hyperactivity, allergies and taxing organs such as the liver and kidneys.
  • Sodium Nitrates: Food additive (typically in cured meats as a preservative) linked to gastric cancer, kidney disease/stones/failure. This one may seem relatively harmless on a label but it's a biggie - we humans have a threshold with the amount of sodium that our body can handle. Surpassing that threshold is a serious danger zone. "In infants and toddlers, high concentrations of nitrate can lead to a condition called "blue baby syndrome," which can be fatal. The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that this happens with nitrates bind to red blood cells, blocking their ability to carry life-giving oxygen throughout the body. Nitrates are also associated with an increase risk in cancer and specifically brain tumors, leukemia and nose/throat tumors.
  • Sulfites/sulphites, Sulfur Dioxide : These two are different chemical compounds but are similar. Sulfites and sulfur dioxide are added to a slew of products to preserve their color and extend their shelf life. Sulfites are also used an alternative to bleaching (in things like white flours, spices, coconut and is also sprayed on shellfish and some fish right on the boat). Both of these additives have the ability to cause major allergic reactions. In fact, sulfites is amongst Canada's top 10 common allergens. Note: Sulfites are also found naturally occurring in fermented foods and beverages such as wine - though some wine makers add more to preserve it further, kombucha and fermented veggies many people can tolerate these sulfites though some (myself included) cannot. These two additives are seriously everywhere so get accustomed to reading labels - but also know that if it is under a certain amount (10 ppm), they do not have to be on the label so severely sensitive individuals should also check with the maker/manufacturer. 
Before I go on, allow me to just give you some brief insight as to what I have experienced with some of these additives (again, this will require another tangent and post) ...
  • Artificial colors & dyes: Anaphylactic, itchy throat, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate
  • MSG: Joint pain, migraines, dizziness/vertigo, flushing, elevated heart rate, facial pressure and sensitive skin 
  • Sodium Nitrates and Sodium benzoate: Kidney stones 
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Triggering candida bloom/thrush (when the amount of candida in the body increases and causes an imbalance that triggers other symptoms like acne, vaginal yeast infections, lethargy, joint pain, brain fog, digestive upset, etc). 
  • Sulfites/sulphites, Sulfur Dioxide: Anaphylactic, itchy throat, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, itchy/watery eyes, brain dog, confusion, depression, joint pain, anxiety. 
Keep in mind that just because something is derived from a plant or animal (like in 'natural flavors' doesn't mean that it's safe. For example, cyanide (not in food but you get the point) can be extracted from bitter almonds. Yummy. Citric Acid - a seemingly harmless preservative is often derived from mold. And, ever hear of castoreum? Tastes like vanilla right? Well, this 'natural flavor' is actually a secretion that comes from two castor sacs located under a beaver's tail, right next to a pair of anal glands. This evidently tastes and smells like vanilla and is classified as a 'natural' food additive because it comes from an animal source. Yup, beavers butt. 

I always recommend these few simple rules:

  • 7 ingredients or less rule: Many folks will say 5 and yes this is even better but some of my favorite go-to healthy products contain celtic or Himalayan sea salt or spices like ginger and cinnamon that put it over the 5 threshold. 
  • If you can't pronounce it - chances are you don't want to it. For real. Unless is something like an awesome superfood you haven't tried like chia (pronounced chee-ah) or acai ( pronounced ah-sigh-ee). 
  • If you don't recognize the ingredient, chances are your body won't either. Our bodies do an awesome job of assimilating and breaking down real whole foods - and naturally begins to reject things that it does not recognize as food.

So, let's step away from the "what  you don't know won't hurt you" mentality and get educated. Knowledge is power my friends.

Product Review: Go Raw Junk-Free Snacks

This post took a bit of a detour - apparently I had some ranting to do before I praise one of my go-to organic food brands , Go Raw. I eat Go Raw products on a regular basis (their spicy pumpkin and sunflower seed mix is out of this world). All of their products are sugar, oil and flour free and 100% vegan. 

All of their products use a delicate process of soaking, sprouting, and drying (under 105ยบ fahrenheit), ensuring a nutrient dense and enzyme rich finished product. 



They recently came out with a new look and packaging, below is a glimpse. 



I had the pleasure of sampling a variety of Go Raw's new Sprouted Cookies. 

All of Go Raw's products are sourced from 100% organic ingredients. These cookies are made from a base of 3 simple ingredients: unsulphered coconut, sprouted sesame seeds, dates - that combined creates a taste-bud experience unlike any other cookie. The good news? The cookie is actually good for you. Not like 'kind of' good for you like say... carrot cake... but completely guilt-free and made from superfoods. Go Raw has come up with a variety of cookie flavors like Chocolate (yes please!), Lemon (heaven...), Carrot, Masala Chai, Ginger (OMG yum!) and Original. There was not one that did not like though my favorites are Chocolate, Lemon and Ginger. I may have had three of each in one bite for an epic combination....and by that, I mean that I did... 

I have a hard time with nuts sometimes and Go Raw is a dedicated nut-free facility which makes them clear of most allergens. Yay :) Oh, and sesame, dates and coconut are nutritional powerhouses. And as with my lifestyle as a raw vegan, three of my best friends. 

Sesame Seeds: Don't let their size fool you, these tiny seeds are loaded with goodness. Protein makes up 20% of the seed, offering 4.7 grams of protein per ounce. High in magnesium, sesame is a excellent way to get this nutrient in; which aids in digestion, sleep, blood sugar control, lowering anxiety and stress and is critical in preventing diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. The phytosterol is the highest in sesame in comparison to any other nut or seed - this compound has been found to have anti-cancer properties. In addition, sesame contains a high amount of iron, which everyone needs but particularly those with anemia or prone to anemia. And, just a small handful of sesame contains more calcium than a glass of milk. The list goes on and on from healthy skin and hair to eye health - these babies are indeed a superfood. 

Coconut: If you've been tapped into the health community, you already know that coconut is pretty much a miracle. You can read about the 101 uses for coconut by the lovely Wellness Moma here. Coconut can be used internally and externally for a wide array of things, but I will tell you that as far as internally, it truly is a miracle food. It is high in lauric acid and Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA); which helps to boost the metabolism and aids in weight-loss. Yeah, it's 2015 and time to let go of the fallacy that saturated fat is bad. Here are a few of the other awesome benefits of regular use of coconut: helps to support thyroid function, has been shown to possibly prevent or reverse Alzheimers, controls insulin levels, boost hormone production, boost immune system, improve digestion and is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antioxidant

Dates: I'm happy to go out on date with this marvelous fruit any day. A sweet product of the date palm, dates are packed with an impressive mineral, nutrient, and vitamin profile of: fiber, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, vitamins A, B6, K and folates and contains antioxidant flavonoids such as b-carotene. Here are just some of the benefits of consuming dates: digestive health, reduced stroke risk, brain health, heart health, reduced blood pressure, weigh-management, anemia prevention, respiratory health and decreased (colon) cancer risk. 

My point? 

Eat real whole foods. Go simple. Go Raw.


- Michael Pollan
You can connect with Go Raw through the various channels below: 

Instagram: GO_RAW 
Twitter: @goraw
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GoRaw
www.goraw.com

Peace,

-Ashley

2 comments:

  1. Awesome post. It always makes me crazy to think we allow things in our food here that are banned in other parts of the world.

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    Replies
    1. Right? I feel the same way. Awareness is key. It's not that most consumers don't care, it's that they do not know.

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