Archive for Healthy Diet

Artificial Food Colors: Pretty, But Are They Safe?

The basic definition of a food color additive is “any dye, pigment or substance which when added or applied to a food, drug or cosmetic, or to the human body, is capable (alone or through reactions with other substances) of imparting color.”

Girl holding a lollipop with artificial food colorsThat’s pretty straight forward. Artificial food colors color food. However—why is coloring food important to begin with? With or without an additive color, the food to which it is applied has the same nutritional value. Well, it isn’t about nutritional value, but economic value. Foods without color simply don’t sell as well. Food companies recognized early on that food has to be appealing to look at as well as tasty, so food color additives, especially for processed foods, came into being.

As part of our healthy body focus, diet suggestions are included in our approach to individualized programs that we offer through Texas Spine & Wellness.

Let’s discuss food color additives, their place in the food chain, and how they can affect health.

The Why of Natural Food Colors

There is one word that describes what color has to do with diet (at least in terms of natural food): phytochemicals. These elements, whose only natural occurrence is in plants, provide additional health benefits past what you get from basic nutrients. And the interesting thing—some of those elements are indicated by the color of the food! The blue of a blueberry represents specific phytochemicals, and the belief is that those phytochemicals act in conjunction with the vitamins, minerals, and fiber inherent in fruits and vegetables to increase their health impact.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) indicates that phytochemicals might perform as antioxidants, and may well work to neutralize substances that cause cancer. Just how everything works together hasn’t been determined, but it’s a good idea to incorporate a nice rainbow of foods into your diet to have a good variety of phytochemicals and nutrients.

The Why of Artificial Food Colors

Farmers markets and the produce sections of most grocery stores are picturesquely colorful with the foods they display. The kitchens of the health-minded boast some colorful edibles, as well. In fact, almost everything we eat or drink adds to the rainbow aspect of our diets.

Those health-minded folks already know that bright colored fruits and vegetables are about more than eye appeal, that they’re essential for promoting good health and lowering the risk of disease in the human body. But not all foods are colorful, especially processed foods.picture of healthy fruits and vegetables

People don’t find gray appetizing and brown isn’t much better. Pink generally makes people think of raw meat, while bluish colors aren’t popular at all. It’s believed that these colors actually depress appetite. By enhancing the appeal of colorless or off-colored foods, artificial food color additives make processed foods a viable commodity.

Another reason for the inclusion of artificial food colors is to replace color when it’s lost due to exposure to air, light, moisture, extremes in temperature, and poor storage conditions. Sometimes there are natural variations in color and the food company wants a specific product to have a standard color. Colas are expected to be brown, and margarine yellow, and that great mint ice cream must be green. Almost all processed foods are enriched with color additives.

And it works. Studies indicate that around 90% of American food budgets go toward processed foods that, after being butchered or harvested, have been altered in some way by treatment, stripping, or refining. Many of these foods don’t appear on the “what’s healthy?” list, but if it tastes and looks good, people buy and consume it with gusto!

Unfortunate Issues of Artificial Food Colors

While natural food colors are healthy and safe, the same can’t be said of all artificial food colors. Some of the issues attributed to artificial food color include increased hyperactivity in children, the possible worsening of asthma symptoms (Yellow No. 5), and cancer in test rats (Red Dye No. 2). FD&C Yellow No. 5 and sulfating agents can cause an allergic reaction (food intolerance) in some consumers. Blue No. 1 and No. 2, red No. 40, yellow No. 6, and yellow tartrazine are common artificial food dyes that have been banned in Europe. The suspected issues: brain and behavioral issues, thyroid and adrenal cancer, and chromosomal damage.

Europeans are far more cautionary regarding the use of artificial food colors, and in the mid-2000s they urged companies to remove the color additives from food products. However, in the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all ood color additives to ensure 1) they’re safe to eat, 2) that they contain only ingredients the FDA has approved, and 3) that the additives are accurately labeled. In spite of the prevailing beliefs and standards in Europe, the FDA continues to approve the use of artificial color additives because they consider them safe as long as they are used properly. In the United States you’ll actually find these additives hidden in boxed macaroni and cheese, some sweet snacks, soda, cereal, energy drinks, and most ice cream.

Are There Alternatives to Artificial Food Colors?

It’s interesting to look at a couple of examples that show the differences between the artificialfood color additives used in the United States and the natural color choices the United Kingdom prefers.

  • Fanta orange soda:
    U.S. Red 40 and Yellow 6 dyes
    U.K. pumpkin and carrot extract
  • Kellogg’s Strawberry Nutri-Grain Bars:
    U.S. Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue 1 dyes
    U.K. beetroot red, Annatto, and Paprika extract
  • McDonald’s Strawberry Sundaes:
    U.S. Red 40 dye
    U.K. strawberries

Of course, these aren’t the healthiest foods to consume even when natural color additives are used. However, the comparison serves to show that there are options. Unfortunately, synthesized food dyes are easier and less expensive to produce than their naturally produced alternatives, and American food companies tend to focus more on the bottom dollar than on health concerns.

The FDA uses available science to determine whether or not there is “a reasonable certainty of no harm.” A reasonable certainty is not a certainty, but that’s the level of FDA safety coverage. The main regulation the FDA has managed is that artificial food color additives should be used only at their intended level and for their intended purpose.

Where to Go from Here?

Popular foods such as Froot Loops cereal, Pop-Tarts, Cheetos, Hostess Twinkies, and numerous other snacks use artificial food dyes. It’s difficult to cut out foods you enjoy. Whatever your favorite processed foods, start by cutting back and easing them out of your diet at a pace you’re comfortable with. If you don’t want to cut them out entirely, restrict yourself to only an occasional indulgence.

Check labels carefully and when you can, find a substitute food that either doesn’t contain the color additive you’re concerned about, or which appears to at least contain less of that given color additive. Some grocery chains, including Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, make it easier by refusing to sell foods with artificial coloring.

The best approach, of course, is to eat only natural, whole foods. In most cases, it’s simply suggested that you add as much of those foods to your diet as you can. Just make sure to include “rainbow” fruits and vegetables to ensure a diet that supports good health. Talk to us at Garland Chiropractic Clinic, and in conjunction with any exercise rehabilitation, massage therapy, or other chiropractic measures your health requires, we’ll help you plan the best diet possible to achieve an active and fit lifestyle.

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Want to Protect Your Heart? Eat Red Meat Like Grandpa Used To

By now, if you follow the latest diet trends you might be a little confused. What’s the best way to eat if you want to be healthy? Should you follow a low fat, high carb diet or just the opposite? Should you eat like a caveman or live on protein shakes?

If you’ve always thought that Grandpa and Grandma ate what they wanted to and seemed to do just fine — you may be right.

image of a grilled steakOver the decades, many medical experts have led us to think that red meat, whole milk, eggs and bacon are enemies to good health and a healthy heart. But are these deeply ingrained beliefs really accurate?

It doesn’t seem so. A meta analysis (a review of research about previous research) of almost 400 studies indicate that saturated fat rich foods like beef and full fat dairy won’t increase your risk for heart disease..(1)

Another study, executed by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University between 2007 and early 2009, showed that a daily serving (between 4 and 5.5 ounces of lean beef) actually reduced cholesterol levels when eaten alongside a healthy diet consisting of vegetables, fruit and whole grains.

Grass-fed beef delivers superior benefits

To ensure you’re getting the highest quality beef, look for grass fed and grass finished beef. The fat in cattle raised under these conditions delivers three to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a powerful fatty acid, than the CLA in grain feed cattle.

CLA is also found in raw, grass-fed dairy.

The proven benefits of conjugated linoleic acid include:

  • Improvements in long-term weight management
  • lowered inflammation within the body
  • improvements in insulin resistance
  • reduction of tumor size in patients who have cancer
  • lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels

In addition to CLA, grass feed beef has higher levels of certain vitamins including vitamin E, thiamin and riboflavin and is higher in omega 3 fatty acids.

As for whole fat dairy, a frothy glass of ice cold whole milk could also benefit your heart. That’s because the calcium in the milk helps to lower blood pressure and the vitamin K2, found in whole milk has artery protecting benefits. Organic whole milk is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And if you eat raw cheese, you’ll tap into even more of the benefits of conjugated linoleic acid.

So back to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s diet. (For you twenty and thirty year olds, you may need to think back one more generation.) If you’re like me, you may remember a relative who lived to a ripe old age. In my case, it was my grandmother, who lived to be one month shy of 98. She was very healthy, never fussed over her cholesterol levels and ate what she wanted to.

So what was the difference with this generation of healthy 70, 80 and 90 year olds? The answer seems pretty simple.

Your Nana and PawPaw, and my grandmother, ate lots of home cooked food, including meats, vegetables and whole grains. My grandmother started off each morning with yogurt and fresh fruit.

What they didn’t do was eat a shopping carts worth of highly processed foods like potato chips and crackers each week. Neither did they supplement their daily meals with McDonalds and Taco Bell. And if you were to monitor their sugar consumption, you’d probably find that they drank less soda pop and ate fewer desserts.

Vegetables were a stable of their diet. And exercise was a natural part of their daily routines, whether it took the form of gardening, raking leaves or walking to the store.

We know that it’s hard to let go of long held beliefs, so If you’re still afraid that a steak might not be good for you, then follow the American Heart Association recommendations — 6 ounces of lean meat a day. Lean cuts include chuck, loin, sirloin or round. In the context of healthy eating, there’s nothing wrong with adding red meat and whole fat dairy in moderation to your diet.

So, if you’re craving a succulent grilled steak, go fire up the grill. And if you’re accompanying that steak with a baked potato you might try adding some grated raw milk cheddar cheese to the top.

Go ahead, live a little! You deserve it.

Spicy Ways to Reduce Joint Pain – Garland Chiropractor

If you frequently eat exotic dishes like chicken tandoori, or spicy curries, you may be doing your body a favor.

Turmeric, a favored spice in Indian cuisine is what adds the wonderful rich, golden color to curries as well as the bright yellow to traditional mustard. It is an herb that has been used for centuries in both Indian and Chinese traditional medicine.

Image of how turmeric offers ways to reduce joint painBut for those of you who frequently turn to your chiropractor for help, this pungent herb may offer surprising ways to reduce joint pain.

When your joints are stiff and sore, inflammation is almost always a factor. Reducing inflammation will make it easier for your chiropractor to provide effective chiropractic treatment to correct spinal and joint misalignments. These misalignments (called vertebral subluxations in the chiropractic world), can hamper the brain from communicating effectively with the body. It is believed that spinal subluxations can be a factor in everything from headaches and high blood pressure, to stomach problems and poor leg circulation.

Eating Spices can be effective ways to reduce joint pain

This is where turmeric can play an important role. Curcumin is the most active pharmacological agent in turmeric, and it is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin is so effective in reducing inflammation that it has been compared to Ibuprofen, and to prescription medications such as hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone.

Fortunately, like many other herbal remedies, turmeric has no toxicity. Compare this to the pharmaceutical drugs mentioned above which have been linked to stomach ulcers, increased risk of stroke and gastrointestinal bleeding. Curcumin can also increase the liver’s ability to detoxify our bodies of unwanted substances.

The curcumin in turmeric has been used to treat other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis successfully, and shows promise for many other troubling diseases like Alzheimers.

Curcumin as an antioxidant

Within everyone’s bodies, there are certain chemicals that move through our systems creating problems by damaging healthy cells and cell membranes. These chemicals are called free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for inflammation and damage that occurs in joints from diseases like arthritis. But many people have been able to find relief from the pain and discomfort of arthritis by drawing upon the combined antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of curcumin. Some of the improvements cited were less joint swelling and stiffness and more comfort when walking.

Promising protection against a variety of diseases

Curcumin has also been used to prevent and to inhibit the growth of cancer. This is accomplished mainly through its antioxidant properties. It is also likely that curcumin can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and lower cholesterol

Don’t like the flavor of turmeric?

Even if you don’t like turmeric’s warm, peppery flavor, or don’t want to eat it every day, you can still get all the advantages of turmeric and the vital compound, curcumin, through nutritional supplements. One of our favorite products is Inflavonoid by Metagenics. This professional grade supplement is available through our website and our office. It contains curcumin, bioflavonoids, ginger and vitamin C.

About our office

At Texas Spine and Wellness we offer advanced treatment for neck, back and joint pain, through chiropractic treatment, massage therapy and physical rehab. We also offer lab-based nutritional medicine and counseling. If you would like to discuss how Dr. Mixon and his staff of health care professionals can offer ways to reduce joint pain while improving your range of motion, please call contact our Garland chiropractic office at (972) 840-2520.