Sometimes it can feel like you need an advanced degree just to go to the grocery store. There are complicatedfood ingredients, confusing acronyms, and bewildering statements on thefood labels of many of the foods we buy. Thankfully, Nunbelievable uses onlythe highest quality, all-natural ingredients in our delicious cookies. But, you can’t live on cookies alone (or so we’re told!), so we’ve asked Kristen Carli, RD, our nutrition consultant and the owner ofCamelback Nutrition &Wellness in Phoenix, to help explain the facts about various artificially engineeredfood additives while also discussingnon-gmo projects.
GMOs, Artificial Sweeteners, Preservatives, and Artificial Flavors - Oh My!
By Kristen Carli, RD
You may be familiar with - GMOs, also known as “genetically modified organisms.”GMOs are made through genetic engineering. This includes the process of selecting for and carrying on individual genetic traits in foods, such as better taste or improved appearance. This excludes the natural orwhole foods that you would find at the grocery store.
In the United States, most corn and soy isGMO, meaning that a lot of thefood products we consume containGMOs. While theFood and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all state thatGMOs are safe for human consumption, there areconcerns about their long term healtheffects. You can always check and see if the food you are buying is deemednatural food or labelednon-gmo. When shopping for oils too, you may find thatcanola oil fits within the category. Otherhydrogenated oils andvegetable oils, although might not fit intoGMO, may still be unhealthy due to their amount offatty acids andtrans fats that makeweight loss difficult to achieve.
These days there are manyartificial sweeteners available, includingaspartame, saccharin,sucralose, and many others. While these have been shown to be an effective sweetening solution for those with type 2 diabetes, some research highlights concerns about frequent use.
For one,artificial sweeteners are significantly sweeter than table sugar, ranging from200-700 times sweeter. I’ve had a few patients in my practice who had regularly consumedartificial sweeteners and made the switch to table sugar, only to realize that sugar was no longer sweet enough for them.
Additionally, research shows that consumption ofartificial sweeteners, such assplenda, can have detrimental effects on the health of thegut microbiome. Nutrition science is now understanding the large role that a healthy gut has on many disease states. Research has found thatartificial sweeteners can lead to dysbiosis (an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria), which has been linked todecreased blood sugar control. This means that the body is not efficiently processing sugar from one’s diet, keeping it in the bloodstream and leading to hyperglycemia.Artificial sweeteners can be found in foods such asice cream and dairy products.
Mostfood products sold in the United States usepreservatives andmaltodextrin in order to maintain freshness and expand on itsshelf life. While mostpreservatives have been declared safe for consumption, some research suggests that their consumption is linked to negative health effects.
For example,carrageenan, apreservative often added as a thickener to non-dairy milks and dairy products, has been associated withincreased fasting blood sugar andgastrointestinal disorders in animal studies. Additionally, sodium benzoate, which is often added as apreservative to many fruit juices andsalad dressings, has been linked toincreased hyperactivity as well ascancer when combined with the consumption of sources of vitamin C andcitric acids.
Fermentation, defined as the extraction of energy fromcarbohydrates in the absence of oxygen, is also a popular form of preservation for products such as yogurt.
Along the same lines,artificial flavors andartificial colors are frequently added byfood manufacturers to manyfood products to enhance their taste instead of thenatural flavors on thelabeling. Research studies conducted on animals suggest that artificialflavorings are associated with a toxic effect onbone marrow cells. Further research is needed to examine their effect on human health and overallfood safety. Popularartificial flavors, such asvanillin, aim to mirrornatural flavors.
At Nunbelievable, we believe in the power of good tasting food that is good for you. We will continually strive to make sure that our cookies don’t contain genetically modified organisms, artificial flavoring, or preservatives like otherpackaged foods. Our mission is to bake cookies that taste great and serve others throughorganic foods without the usage ofpesticides. We also try to avoidprocessed foods without the use ofemulsifiers anddiglycerides. Each cookie purchased provides a meal to those in need. Every cookie we’ve baked has changed a life for the better. Together, we can end hunger one cookie at a time.