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What to look for when reading food labels

By Dr. Michael Jurgelewicz

When going to the grocery store it is important to know how to properly read food labels, so I decided to share my thinking process when I go the store. I like the quote by Hippocrates that says, "Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food."

My first recommendation is to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and buy mostly fresh produce and organic meats. I know it can be a little more expensive, so just cut your portion size down a little.

I realize most of you buy packaged items as well; this is where reading food labels can become confusing. It is always important to read the first ingredient listed on the label because ingredients are listed by the most predominant and so on. Many food manufacturers disguise sugar under several different names: sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup, malt, fructose, glucose, carbitol, mannitol, lactose, evaporated cane juice, or concentrated fruit juice. Sugar makes your body very acidic and can be detrimental to your health.

Watch out for MSG (monosodium glutamate). It is a common ingredient in almost all processed foods. It is a flavor enhancer that has many toxic effects. Look for it disguised as one of these: glutamate, yeast extract, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed proteins, autolyzed yeast, natural beef flavoring, whey protein, maltodextrin, soy protein isolate, soy sauce extract, natural flavoring, and anything with "seasonings" in the ingredients.

Gluten is a protiein found in many grains that is difficult for many people to digest and cause digestive and immune stress. Many whole grains wtih wheat, barley, bran, rye, and oats, and the flours or cereals made from them, contain gluten.

It is also hidden in many foods as a binder, starch, or filler and can be hidden as one of the following: soy sauce, garlic salt, onion salt, some mustard powders, flavored teas and coffees, hydrolyzed proteins, colorings, flavorings, anything with msg, modified food starch, malt, or graham flour.

Know your oils and fats. Thanks to the media and large food manufacturers they have brainwashed you to think fats are bad, so here are some general guidelines. Bad fats are inflammatory and include grain fed meat, vegetable oil, hydrogenated oils (trans-fats), deficient of omega-3's. Good anti-inflammatory fats are extra-virgin olive oil (not for cooking), avocados, coconut oil  (the only oil to cook with), raw nuts and seeds, real butter (raw best), grass fed meats, organic cage free eggs, fatty fish- wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, etc.