Are we being deceived?
Marketing plays a HUGE role in what we eat and what we feed our children. It is well known that companies now advertise heavily towards children and they use many techniques. For children it is about the appeal of the packaging; colours, patterns, well known movie or television characters. For adults it goes even deeper. It is now quite common for the words ‘natural’, ‘healthy’, ‘no added sugar’, ‘full of vitamins’, ‘organic’ (just to name a few) to be posted all over food packaging today. Health foods are a huge commodity now and the advertising VERY deceiving!
As parents we are always trying to do our best for our children. Unfortunately, companies take advantage of this and use clever marketing to gain our trust and get us to buy their products. However, along with being diligent and sceptical with our label reading we must also be aware of the government and industry guidelines. We have the ‘Health Star Ratings’ and the Heart Foundation ‘Tick of Approval’ which we can look at now. Muesli bars are just one example of a lunchbox staple that is full of suspect ingredients, and yet it has a 4-star health rating. How does this happen? You ask…
Looking into how the health rating system is done is a start. It is stated on the actual health star rating website that it isn’t really a very good guide at all. Firstly, they are only designed to compare similar products to each other. So it will tell you if this muesli bar is healthier than that one, but not if they are healthy in the first place. The way the food is made and any additives preservatives or colours are also not taken into consideration when judging for health. This is ridiculous! Not only does the process of making these ‘foods’ actually make them toxic for our bodies, it also denatures them and often removes any of the goodness the original ingredients may have had. As for the additives, flavours and preservatives, these are well documented to be toxic to humans.
So let’s take a look at these muesli bars. These are something I know myself and many of my friends used to have at school and are still very common with my son’s school mates.
YOGHURT & RASPBERRY MUESLI BAR
Our much loved muesli bars have:
-4 out of 5 Health Stars
Proudly made with 100%
Aussie Oats grown in the great Outdoors.
Perfect for the lunch box, our bars come in a variety of delicious flavours and pack sizes.
*average sugar per bar as shown in nutritional panel
It is understandable that anyone would look at this product and think it’s not a bad snack. Especially with the claims on the packet. We must however, look more closely.
For now, we will just look at the ingredient list. Sugar (from wheat) is the second ingredient. Not a good sign considering the ingredients are listed in order of highest content to the least. Sugar is also listed another 4 times! There is also wheat which you may think of as healthy but it contains gluten which actually damages the body by promoting the opening of the gut lining “leaky gut”. Wheat also contains lectins which stop the absorption of nutrients (just to name 2 things).
Vegetable fats, these are very unstable and go rancid very easy which means they are a toxin to us. Yoghurt powder and whey powder… these are already damaged products as any possible health benefits are destroyed during the manufacturing of them. Also many children will have a sensitivity (realised or not) to dairy causing more inflammation and stress on their bodies and their immune systems.
Soy…. Soy is highly genetically modified, it is a known endocrine disruptor effecting hormones in the body and also contains lectins…. the list goes on. Let’s just say that it is clear to see this should not be advertised as a healthy food to be eaten.
This product will also spike blood sugar levels in the person who eats it, requiring the body to react to bring it back down to safe levels. In children you will also generally see a change in behaviour, most likely an energy high followed by a crash. High sugar ingestion also depletes our vitamin and minerals. To metabolise each molecule of glucose ingested, it takes 52 molecules of magnesium!
The Tick of Approval
The Heart Foundation tick of approval is actually now being phased out. It was brought in to help direct people towards a healthier diet. It is currently still on food labels at this point in time. For many years it has been used by the public to determine healthier food options. So ideally if it has the tick of approval it should be healthy right?…
Let’s look at Flora margarine. It has The Heart Foundation tick of approval. It is advertised as being healthy as it is low in fat, has ‘healthy’ fats in it and Vitamin E. But how healthy is it really?
“Flora Spread Salt Reduced 500g
“This tub of tasty Flora is made with the natural goodness of sunny sunflowers (sunflower seed oil naturally contains Omega 6 and Vitamin E) your family will love. It tastes great melted on your toast for brekkie. Flora Salt Reduced is great for spreading, cooking, and baking. Flora, the better choice for your family.”
At first glance it might seem healthy, but sunflower oil (or any vegetable oil for that matter) is extremely delicate. It goes rancid very easily when exposed to oxygen heat or light. During the extraction process from the sunflower seed, it is exposed to solvents and extreme temperatures. This happens again when it goes through the processes to turn it into margarine. These rancid oils are very inflammatory and toxic to our body and can cause damage to almost every system in our bodies. Our immune system and cardiovascular system just to name two. These damaged fats will be used to make new cells in our bodies, needless to say, they don’t make healthy ones! They also alter the way in which our bodies can use fatty acids and can cause atherosclerosis, cancer and damage to our DNA. For more information on fats see www.westonaprice.org.
I will go into the other ingredients listed here in the next post. It is clear enough through this first ingredient alone that the ‘tick of approval’ isn’t something for us to rely on when we are looking for healthy foods for our children and ourselves. As with all industries, it is all about making money. We need to be aware and actually read into claims that are made by manufacturers, as most are very misleading.
When buying a packaged product, it is imperative that we read the label to ensure we are only getting real food. Sadly, there are also issues with this system. Below is an extract from the Australian and New Zealand Food standards code found on www.legislation.gov.au.
Here we can see that not all ingredients need to be listed on the packet of a food product. By looking further through the guidelines we find other circumstances where ingredients are not required to be listed on the label.
- If an ingredient it is already included in something they use in the food. For example, if a company uses a fish sauce in their product and this fish sauce contains preservatives and colours, they are not required to list those on the final products label
- If an ingredient makes up less than 5% of a product.
- An additive can be listed as a ‘Natural Flavour’ if it is chemically the same. It does not have to come from a whole food.
- Trans fats don’t have to be individually itemised on labels.
It is basically impossible to buy a processed food and know for certain that it does
not contain anything harmful.
When growing a plant, we must provide it with healthy soil and nutrients in order for it to grow, humans are no different. What we put into our mouths will be broken down by our bodies and be used to build, repair, and function. If we are not putting the correct nutrients in, we do not make healthy functioning cells, which means dysfunction into our organs and systems within our bodies. This equals illness and diseases.
In the next post I will go into more detail about what exactly to look for when buying foods.
Until next week.
In Good Health,
Chloe Brooks. Nutritional Therapist.