This page provides information about plant food families, food additives, gluten, sugars, probiotics, and other useful information. It is a starting point for those who wish to improve their dietary intake.
We recommend choosing organic food as much as possible to reduce exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. Choose minimally processed foods when grocery shopping and eat a variety of foods.
Be mindful of vitamins and minerals that might be lacking in your diet if eliminating whole food groups.
Food is medicine and you are what you eat! Enjoy!
When reading food labels remember:
4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar
Label information refers to one serving per container – the container may have more than one serving, so you would need to multiply the amount of sugar per serving by the number of servings in the container to calculate the total sugar in the package.
Sugar by any other name:
Divided into three classifications:
1. Artificial sweeteners:
2. “Natural” high potency sweeteners:
3. Sugar Alcohols:
4. Other Sweeteners:
You may have heard the term “microbiome”, “microbiota”, or “intestinal flora”- and you may ask yourself, “What does that mean?”
Let’s start with some definitions:
A healthy gut may have 160 different species of bacteria living in it. Diversity in the microbiota is greatly influenced by diet. It is important to maintain good overall health to have a diverse microbiome. Variety in the bacteria that inhabit our gastrointestinal tracts helps ensure that we digest food properly, synthesize vitamins and metabolize nutrients efficiently.
Listed below are foods that are good sources of naturally occurring probiotics and prebiotics:
So, what is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics are live and are found in the foods listed above and can be delivered as supplements in capsule form. They can help maintain and/or re-populate the intestines with “good bacteria” which aid in digestion.
Prebiotics are made up of plant fiber which provides “food” for the bacteria already in our intestines. They are not broken down in the stomach or absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and are fermented by the intestinal flora (in the large intestines) and stimulate bacterial growth.
Gluten is a compound protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
In the USA, an item is defined as “gluten-free” if it contains less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
Gluten Containing Grains:
Oats may be contaminated during processing. Oats also contain the protein avenin, which is similar to gluten and may cause reactions in some people.
Products and foods that contain gluten:
Ale, beer, breakfast cereals (read the label), bread crumbs, breaded fried food, batter-dipped foods, bagels, buns, gravy mixes, crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, pita bread, pizza, pasta, sourdough, textured vegetable protein, seitan, malt and malt products, wheat germ oil.
Other hidden sources of gluten:
Salad dressings, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, luncheon meats, puddings, ice cream, dextrin, seasonings, beer (unless marked gluten-free), hard candies, condiments, edible starch.
Gluten-free grains and starches:
Always check food labels. If a wheat-derived additive is included in the processed food, “wheat” will be listed on the label.
The label below displays examples of hidden sources of gluten. Always read the whole label.
Food preservatives are added to prevent spoilage, extended shelf life, slow or prevent changes in color, texture, and flavors and maintain freshness.
Color additives are added to maintain color which can fade when exposed to light, temperature extremes, moisture, and poor storage conditions. They provide color to foods that would otherwise look dull after processing.
Added nutrients which replace vitamins and minerals lost in processing are referred to as “enriched”.
Foods that are “fortified” have nutrients deliberately added which are not naturally found in that particular food (e.g. Vitamin D in milk).
Listed are the most common food colorings, additives, and preservatives that have reported negative side effects.
Benzoates (Benzene Carboxylic Acid): also known as benzoic acid, potassium benzoate, propylparaben, propyl-p-hydroxy-benzoate. Extends shelf life of baked goods, cheeses, fruit juices, jams, margarines, syrups, ketchup, snacks.
Food producers use pesticides and herbicides to maximize their crops. They are used to reduce, repel or destroy insects, viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
As a general guide, soft fruits and berries retain pesticide residues, although celery is currently in the top 10 foods listed with the highest residues.
Each year in the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. You can check their ratings at www.ewg.org.5-digit
Some varieties of sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash sold in the USA are produced from genetically engineered seeds. Choose organic produce if you wish to minimize consumption of genetically modified produce (GMOs).
All organic produce sold in supermarkets will have a PLU code which starts with a ‘9’.
PLU stands for “Price Look Up.” Conventionally grown produce is given 4-digit numbers in the 3000 or 4000 range.
When avoiding certain food groups, it is important to consider nutrients that you may be missing by eliminating a whole category of foods.
Many people react to naturally occurring sugars in milk, known as lactose. Others react to the proteins in milk, casein, or whey.
Foods that contain milk: butter, cheese, cream, curds, custard, ghee, half & half, ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, nougat, pudding, quark, simplesse, sour cream, yogurt.
If removing dairy from the diet, alternative sources of calcium include:
If you are following a wheat-free, gluten-free, or Paleo (grain-free) diet, you may be lacking in some essential vitamins in addition to important antioxidants and phytochemicals found in grains.
Please note that this information is provided as a guide and is not all-inclusive.
We recommend that you always check the label on any processed or packaged food to check the ingredients, amount of added sugars, portion size, and for foods that you are avoiding. If any additive is sourced from one of the topmost allergenic foods, it must be listed on the label.
Corn by any other name: Masa, atole, tortillas, tamales, pozole, tacos, ceviche, chichi, hominy, grits, sagamite.
Caramel color, casein, caseinate, galactose, hydrolysates, lactalbumin, lactate solids, lactic yeast, lactitol monohydrate, lactoglobulin, lactose, lactulose, rennet, rennet casein, whey, lecithin.
Additives made from soy: hydrolyzed soy protein, soy concentrate, soy protein, soy protein isolate, soy lecithin, TSF, TSP, TVP.
Foods that contain soy: bean curd, edamame, kinnoko flour, kyodofu, miso, natto, okara, shoyu sauce, soy bran, soy fiber, soy flour, soy grits, soy milk, soy nuts, soy nut butter, soy sauce, soy sprouts, soya, soybeans, soybean granules, soybean curd, soybean flour, soybean paste, supro, tamari, tempeh, teriyaki sauce, tofu, yakidofu, yuba.
Egg-derived additives may be listed as: Albumin, apovitellin, fat substitutes, globulin, livetin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovoglobulin, ovomucoid, ovotransferrin, ovoitelia, ovovitellin, silici, albuminate, surimi.
Additives that may contain wheat: artificial flavoring, caramel color, dextrin, food starch, modified food starch, vegetable starch, glucose syrup, HVP, maltodextrin, MSG, TVP, vegetable gum, wheat protein isolate.