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What to Look for in Food Labels

I think that when people first meet me, they probably make the assumption that I’ve always been one of those annoying health nuts.  Would you have guessed that although I’m only in my thirties, that there was a time when I stumbled around in a brain fog, had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning and that pain was keeping me up at night?  That I could not sit on my couch, or walk my dogs, for fear of exacerbating my pain?  During that time, I was working as a physical therapist in an outpatient clinic, where we saw some patients who, despite appearing healthy and fit, were still limited by joint and muscle pain or depression.  Retirees were spending their Golden Years running from doctor to physical therapy to doctor.  What happened?  Just old age?  What about the guy in his 40’s, with a normal cardiac exam, running 5K’s every month, that suddenly dies from a heart attack.  What happened there?

In my personal struggle to overcome pain, I have done a lot of research.  From gathering information from reputable, scientifically backed sources, I found I had something in common with all these people that I have mentioned.  Chances are, many people also have this in common, but are unaware of it.  It is called systemic inflammation, and it isn’t always noticeable; but it is the root cause of many modern day diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and ailments such as allergies and arthritis.

Here’s the catch- This is not cured with a pill.  Although there are other factors that influence systemic inflammation, diet is a big one.  Changing your diet can dramatically reduce inflammation.  I’m not trying to get you to overhaul your diet today.  If you just start reading food labels, and start noticing what’s in food nowadays, then you’ve accomplished step 1:  awareness.  As Louise Haye says, “all healing begins in recognition.”  If you decide to do more, well, that’s even better. First — let’s get all the potential excuses out of the way

  • “This will require a lot of work and I don’t have time.”   If you don’t have the time to invest in your health now, when will you?  Don’t wait until you need a knee replacement to make smarter choices.
  • “I don’t have a lot of money, so I’m more concerned about the price of food and less about what’s in it.”  In 2008, BlueCross BlueShield reported Tennessee led the nation averaging 17.3 prescriptions for every person.  Even with insurance, I’ve heard of people spending close to $1,000 a month on medications.  My husband and I eat like kings and queens, and we don’t spend nearly that much per month on groceries!
  • “I seem to be doing ok.  I don’t think this applies to me.”  Alzheimer’s begins 20-25 years before it’s able to be diagnosed.  Half of those who’ve had a heart attack had normal lipid values.  The point is, systemic inflammation can go undetected for years, manifesting itself through occasional sore knees or as a new allergy.

Ok, so let’s keep this as simple as we can.  If a product has a label, then you should check that label.  In my research, I have found a general consensus among authorities on the subject about 3 “foods” that lead to disease.

  1. *Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, trans fats and rancid vegetable oils.  These include canola, cottonseed, palm, corn, or those simply labeled vegetable oils.  I generally use coconut, grapeseed, or rice bran oil.
  2. *Refined sugars.  These include rice or cornsyrup, malt, and anything that ends in –ose, like fructose, or dextrose.  If you don’t omit sugar, then at least choose a more natural form of it, like stevia, xylitol, or maple syrup (in moderation).  Any artificial sweeteners, such as Equal or Splenda do not count as good substitutes.
  3. *Processed grains.  White rice, white bread and white pasta.  If it doesn’t say “whole, stone ground, or sprouted” before the word “wheat”, then it’s processed and can lead to inflammation.  (It’s even better to take it a step further and cut out GMOs like corn, wheat and white potatoes entirely.  Then healing truly happens at the cellular level.  But that’s a topic for another day.)

*  Dr. Dan Pompa is a great authority on the subject of inflammation.  The information above was derived from his book, “21st Century Health and Weight Optimization Guide.”  I highly recommend getting the new edition, “The Cellular Healing Diet,” so that you can get a grasp on this enormous topic.  You can purchase it here.

Some people are fond of saying, “Well, we’re all going to die of something.  I may as well eat up while I can”. The problem with that way of thinking is that sometimes you have a lot of life to go after you are stuck with an illness. 

People who are afraid of making changes to their diet fear:

  • losing the foods that they love
  • the discomfort of the learning process
  • they do all this stuff and it doesn’t work

I get it!  But don’t let fear get in the way of making life changing decisions. Change your mind-set to look forward to reaping the benefits of change like the ones that I’ve experienced: extra energy, no pain, and new outlook on life  once the brain fog cleared.  And I love the tasty foods I’m eating now.  I’ve heard this so many times, and now I believe it — “I never knew how bad I felt until I started to feel good.”  Ignoring warning signs (like food labels) is risky.  If you’re going to take a chance on something, do it on something that could make you feel better, like paying attention to what the ingredients are in the foods you eat.  Is that a “risk” you’re willing to take? 


If you are interested in some serious cellular healing to decrease inflammation, or are faced with serious health challenges, I recommend going to Dr. Pompa’s link and listening to the cd that comes with the guide.

To your very good health,




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