Do you read the labels on the packaging on your food? It's always been important to me to know the contents of what goes into my mouth. Realizing long ago that hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and flavors, pesticides and chemicals, were not going to be doing me any favors. These ingredients were not only unnecessary but harmful. I wondered how it was possible that people would put profit before health?
Things have gone too far. It is incredulous that food has been genetically modified without the consent or knowledge of the general population. Like a mass experiment, people are being used similarly to lab rats to see how we will assimilate this new "Frankenfood." As if this wasn't sinister enough, there're even more ingredients in our foods that aren't listed.
In the fitness community, you do your best to exercise and eat right. But what if you found out, it's not always the case or your choice when it comes to your food? One of our favorite food researchers, journalist and investigator, is Food Babe. The following may just blow your mind.
The food industry has a reputation of taking incredibly healthy items and turning them into processed junk food and this is exactly what has happened to most yogurts available on the market. The Cornucopia Institute just came out with a very revealing report (an investigation that took 2 years!) about what’s in yogurt, and how giant food corporations, led by General Mills (Yoplait), Groupe Danone (Dannon), Walmart, and PepsiCo are saturating the market with less nutritious yogurt. Conventional yogurt usually comes from milk produced by cows that are confined and unable to graze in open pasture. They’re usually fed GMO grains, not grass. As the yogurt ferments, chemical defoamers are sometimes added. Then high doses of artificial sweeteners, sugar, or high fructose corn syrup are sometimes added too. That’s not all: colors, preservatives, and gut-harmful carrageenan can be dumped in. These practices alarm me, since yogurt has been such a healthy, longevity-promoting food for ages.
While all of these practices and controversial additives have completely ruined yogurt, what I found most disturbing in the report are the eye-opening claims about what might be in yogurt that isn’t as obvious – and may not even be on the label. Cornucopia was shocked by their own findings and filed a formal complaint with the FDA, asking them to investigate some yogurts on the market because they don’t appear to even meet the legal definition of yogurt!
Surprising Things That Can Be In Yogurt:
HFCS-90 – This variation of high fructose corn syrup contains way more fructose than regular high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). When HFCS-90 is used, the ingredient label won’t indicate that high fructose corn syrup is an ingredient, rather it can be deceptively listed as simply “fructose” or “fructose syrup” without any reference to corn syrup. Regular HFCS contains up to 55% fructose, whereas HFCS-90 has 90% fructose by weight. That’s 9 times more fructose than the average fruit! An overload of fructose in the diet isn’t healthy because diets that are high in fructose are associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease. HFCS-90 is derived from corn starch, which is likely GMO. It’s totally misleading when companies say that fructose is natural and comes from fruit, when it’s a processed additive typically derived from GMO corn.
Neosugar – This is a highly processed form of sugar made by hydrolyzing liquid GMO sugar beets or sugar cane. It’s so heavily processed that your body can’t digest it and it just passes through you like a fiber. It’s also marketed as a prebiotic, but there isn’t much evidence out there that neosugar is more beneficial than real food and it appears to just be a marketing ploy. Natural prebiotics are found naturally in raw fruits and vegetables. According to Dr. Michael Blaut, “It is questionable whether a wholesome diet rich in fruit and vegetables needs to be supplemented with prebiotics for optimal health effects”. Some names used by industry for neosugar are “Nutraflora” and “Fructan”, which is how you may see it listed on the ingredient label. Beware that neosugar is allowed in organic yogurt. Thankfully, the only organic company that is currently known to use neosugar is Horizon, so it’s pretty easy to avoid.
Dimethylpolysiloxane – You’ve heard me refer to this chemical in the past as the silly putty ingredient that’s widely used as a defoamer in oil fryers at restaurants, and famously used in McDonalds french fries and soda fountains. Turns out that it can also be used during the processing of yogurt – and it’s not labeled, even if residues remain in the final product. One of the biggest issues I’ve got with dimethylpolysiloxane is that the FDA allows it to be preserved with formaldehyde, one of the most highly toxic substances on earth. As Cornucopia highlights in their report, most of the safety studies that have been done on dimethylpolysiloxane were conducted or paid for by the chemical companies, and not enough independent research has been done. Every yogurt company I called – Dannon, Chobani, Zoi, Greek Gods – emphatically denied that they use any anti-foaming chemicals, except for one. Yoplait (General Mills) told us it was proprietary information and “We’re sorry, but we don’t share processing information”.
Nanoparticles – There’s a big controversy surrounding the results of a 2012 study that found titanium dioxide in Dannon yogurt. In May, Mother Jones reported that Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt contained the nanoparticle titanium dioxide, but have since retracted this from their article following Dannon’s claims that, “We don’t use any ingredients in Dannon plain yogurt that contain titanium dioxide. In the event we use an added color in our products we label it as an added ingredient”. I also contacted Dannon, and they confirmed this information. However, microscopic particles of titanium dioxide (nanoparticles) can be used as an artificial color to make white foods whiter and brighter. According to Friends of the Earth, there’s been “a tenfold increase in unregulated, unlabeled “nanofood” products on the American market since 2008… made by major companies including Kraft, General Mills, Hershey, Nestle, Mars, Unilever, Smucker’s and Albertsons. But due to a lack of labeling and disclosure, a far greater number of food products with undisclosed nanomaterials are likely currently on the market”. This concerns me because nanoparticles have been shown to carry risks to human health and the environment, and nanoparticles of titanium dioxide are specifically linked to gastrointestinal inflammation.
Synthetic Pesticides – Yogurts that contain fruit likely contain synthetic pesticide residues unless they are organic. Berries are the most popular fruits found in yogurts, and they’re also on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen List of the most contaminated produce. The pectin that is added to some yogurts may also contain another dose of pesticides, as it’s made from conventional fruit. The National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the President’s Cancer Panel all warn about the health dangers of consuming pesticides found on conventional produce.
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