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Corrin Ainley
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Quick Guide to Reading Food Labels

by on 24 January, 2018

Reading labels will help in making good choices. You will often find a different brand with varying amounts of sugar, carbohydrate and food additives. Here's a quick checklist to save you time.

Understanding what’s in your food choices is very important as advertising and packaging can be misleading, especially when it comes to foods listed as; diet, no added sugar, no fat, low carb, gluten-free and even some foods found in the health food section of your supermarket.


Sugar content per serve 
Serving size. Is this a realistic serve of what you would eat
Carbohydrates: this number is more important if you’re on a very low carb plan
Wheat or gluten, this includes MSG
Artificial additives and preservatives. Some additives are linked to some cancers, allergy, digestive symptoms, hyperactivity and behavioural issues in kids.
Beware of labels with no added sugar, no refined sugar, or sugar-free sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sugars and sugar alcohols.

Artificial sweeteners have been shown to cause weight gain, enhance appetite and cross the blood-brain barrier causing toxic cellular overstimulation. They also impact the gut. Splenda (sucralose) inactivates digestive enzymes and alters gut barrier function and destroys beneficial gut bacteria. Avoid:

Aspartame (951) - Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste Blue
Sucralose (955) - Splenda
Acesulfame K (950)
Saccharin (954) -Sweet ‘N Low, Sugarine, Sugarella, Sweetex

Sugar alcohols contain little calories and do not affect blood sugar, however, they can cause gut irritation, flatulence, bloating and diarrhoea. If you experience these symptoms check sugar alcohols in products. These can also be in powdered supplements. Forms include Erythritol, maltitol, mydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol.

Preservatives. The preservative sodium benzoate found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings – has been found to cause children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible. Sodium nitrite, a commonly used preservative in hot dogs, deli meats and bacon, has been linked to higher rates of colorectal, stomach and pancreatic cancers.

MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain dysfunction and damage to varying degrees -- and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and more. Avoid MSG also listed as (621) or glutamate numbers 622-625.


tsp sugar   4 grams =  1 teaspoon of sugar



1 June 1, 2013
2 Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology September, 2011; 25 (9): 511
3 J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-29.

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