March 9, 2019
[0:01:12] Podcast Sponsors
[0:04:19] Introducing Van Hari and Her Book
[0:08:21] Inorganic Phosphates (Pi) And Their Effects on Physical Performance
[0:12:14] Why Foods Are Manufactured So, Differently in Europe vs. The U.S
[0:13:13] Artificial Food Dyes
[0:25:21] Quaker Oats
[0:31:28] Podcast Sponsors
[0:40:47] To what extent the FDA is involved in regulating the foods we buy?
[0:47:29] Common Lies About Ingredients We Find on Packaged Food
[0:55:36] Concerns on Buying All Organic
[1:03:45] The Food Babe’s Diet
[1:12:11] Closing the Podcast
[1:12:56] Swiss Retreat and Liver Detox Event
[1:14:17] End of Podcast
Vani: They are so scared out of their wits about losing their advertising money from these big food conglomerates, and this is such maddening information once you learn it. You just get so angry because these are American companies who have decided that it's okay to serve us the toxic cheap stuff and serve other countries better stuff.
Ben: I have a master's degree in physiology, biomechanics, and human nutrition. I've spent the past two decades competing in some of the most masochistic events on the planet from SEALFit Kokoro, Spartan Agoge, and the world's toughest mudder, the 13 Ironman triathlons, brutal bow hunts, adventure races, spearfishing, plant foraging, free diving, bodybuilding and beyond. I combine this intense time in the trenches with a blend of ancestral wisdom and modern science, search the globe for the world's top experts in performance, fat loss, recovery, hormones, brain, beauty, and brawn to deliver you this podcast. Everything you need to know to live an adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life. My name is Ben Greenfield. Enjoy the ride.
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Hey, folks. As promised, I've got Vani Hari on the show today. She's known as The Food Babe, unless you've been living under a rock. You have probably heard of her or seen her on television talking about all of the issues that are presented to us nowadays in this modern post-industrial era where we've got a lot of processed and packaged foods floating around. She published a new book that I found absolutely intriguing. As a matter of fact, I found one section of this book very intriguing and really want to focus on it today.
But in the book, she goes into everything about how nutrition research is manipulated by food company funded experts and how to spot fake news generated by big food, different tricks that food companies use to make food addictive, why things like all-natural or non-GMO may not really be what they seem. She's got a whole bunch of information about different food marketing hoaxes that kind of gets you to buy junk food that's disguised as health food. And this is what she does. She's kind of like a watchdog in the health and nutrition industry who keeps her eye on labels and what the FDA is doing and tries to protect us.
The book is really good. It's called, “Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry's Playbook and Reclaim Your Health.” It was last month what inspired me to go give a presentation at my children's school on healthy lunches, and I literally had paper bags and paper bags full of processed and packaged food and a roomful of fourth and fifth graders, and we just spent time learning how to truly know whether or not that–I can't believe it's not butter is truly healthy, digging our ways through the healthiest of oils and going through some of the common foods that kids are eating, and it was fantastic. So, thank you, Vani, first of all, for inspiring me to go and talk to my kids' school with this book.
Vani: Oh well, that just makes my day hearing that, Ben. It really does because that is why I do the work that I do to inspire others to educate people about what's happening in the food system.
Ben: Yeah. Well, you're doing a good job. I know you're a controversial person and you catch a lot of flak for this stuff admittedly. I've even called you out on my podcast before. I'll throw that out there right there. I think what I called you out on was–I think it was something about like if a third grader can't pronounce it, you shouldn't eat it.
Vani: It's so funny you say that and it's not even my phrase. It was like [00:07:07] ______ who came up with that initially. He said basically, if your grandmother didn't–I can't remember exactly the words he said in his book. Food rules, but it was along the same lines. And so, I always say that like–and it's funny because my critics loved to take that and make me look stupid or unscientific by saying that. But honestly, if you don't know the ingredients that you're eating and you don't know what they are and if you can't pronounce them, absolutely, you shouldn't be eating it. You need to be able to go look these things up, know why they're there, and I mean you need to know what you're eating, and that was the point of it. It's a simple rule to follow to eliminate a lot of the process chemicals that have no business being in our bodies.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. So, if you see something like cholecalciferol or methylcobalamin or something like that that are technically decent vitamins, you should at least make sure that you know whether or not cholecalciferol is a vitamin or an artificial sweetener or a food dye, for example.
Vani: Yup, exactly.
Ben: Okay. Well, before we jump into–really, what I think was one of the more intriguing parts of your book, Europe versus America, I'm not sure if you saw this recent study that came out on inorganic phosphates, because I wanted to get your opinion on this. From what I understand, inorganic phosphates, and I'd love for you to fill us in on what those are and where we would find them, were investigated particularly on something I think very relevant to our audience, a lot of people who are exercise enthusiasts or athletes or coaches, and that would be its effect on physical performance. Did you see this study?
Vani: Yes, I did, yeah. This is additional information that is coming out about these additives. And for those of you who don't know, sodium phosphate or phosphates or inorganic phosphates are used by the food industry, mainly added to different processed foods to make them have a specific texture or to create some additional shelf-life to the product. A really popular example of a product that has it is like a lot of the boxed mac and cheeses out there or the soups out there. Taco Bell is something that uses phosphates all over their foods, as well as other fast food companies.
And so this is something that's being added to our food. And when you have a high level of this in your diet, it actually starts to affect your kidney function, which I think would probably be one of the reasons why it affects your performance. But also, it starts to–actually, you look at other studies too that have been done, healthy adults who have higher phosphate levels in their bodies, and they actually have a higher mortality rate as well because of the links to affecting the kidneys and other organs.
Ben: Now, why would inorganic phosphate be added? What's the value of that being in food?
Vani: Again, it's for texture purposes, for shelf-life.
Ben: Yeah. And this study that I saw, I think it was University of Texas was the latest one, where they basically gave rodent models the amount that you'd see an adult consuming, like an adult human consuming from an average food supply in the U.S. It was a pretty long study like it was 12 weeks of lacing their food with inorganic phosphate and they found that there was, probably due to the damage to the vascular system, an effect on endurance performance like they had a faster time to exhaustion on the treadmill. They had less cardiovascular fitness. But it even changed gene expression, specifically, the genes associated with fatty acid metabolism.
And then they did the same thing with people and they found that the higher the levels of phosphate in the blood, the lower the level of physical activity and the more sedentary behavior. Of course, there could be some confounding variables there. I'm not quite sure how they were feeding them phosphate or if the food that folks were eating were somehow influencing their inactivity, but regardless, it's brand new, just off the streets that if you value your fitness and you're working out, it's probably a pretty good thing to look for inorganic phosphate on label.
Vani: Yeah, absolutely. You'll find the most common way to find this is–it'll say some type of phosphate on the label and then sodium phosphate is the most popular one that the food manufacturers add as a preservative.
Ben: Okay. So, sodium phosphate would be what you'd want to look for. That's going to be what it'll mostly appear for on–appear as on actual packaging.
Vani: Mm-hmm. That's right.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Now, speaking of packaging, this is the really interesting thing that I wanted to delve into. Europe versus the U.S., and you have a large section of your book devoted to us versus the rest of the world. One of the first examples that you give is Mountain Dew, and what the difference would be if you picked up say a can or a bottle of Mountain Dew in the U.K. versus the U.S. Can you walk through Mountain Dew and Pepsi products in general when it comes to how this is different and why?
Vani: Yeah, absolutely. One of the first investigations I started to do when I eventually quit my corporate job–I wasn't a food activist for most of my life. I was actually working in the corporate world, working for a big six consulting firm, doing something completely different. But I was working with like C-level executives and doing presentations and things. I really learned how to research. And so, one of the things that fascinated me was when I discovered that Kraft macaroni and cheese had a completely different ingredient label in countries overseas. That actually inspired me to start a petition to get Kraft to remove artificial food dyes in their version here in United States because they had already removed it in other countries. And the reason why they removed it is because there's a warning label that's required by the United Kingdom that says may cause adverse effects on activity and attention in children.
And so, Kraft, instead of putting this warning label on their products that have artificial food dyes, they said, “You know what, we're going to avoid this warning label and we are going to instead reformulate our product without artificial food dyes and use natural ingredients, beta-carotene and paprika, to color our mac and cheese. That's what we're going to do over there but you know what, we're just going to serve the same controversial ingredients here in the United States even though we know that this other country has looked at studies, a big study called the Southampton study that showed this correlation and this effect in animals and children too in terms of increasing their hyperactivity levels.” They basically said, “You know, instead of doing that for all of our products, which would be the right ethical thing to do,” they decided, “Hey, because we can get away with it, because the FDA doesn't regulate artificial food dyes here in the United States, we can just continue to use it here because you know what, it's cheaper.”
Ben: And you're talking about things like yellow number five and yellow number six, the kind of things that would make macaroni and cheese look really sexy?
Vani: Right. And you know what, it's funny because the beta-carotene and paprika, the natural ingredients, they look exactly the same and it tastes exactly the same, too.
Ben: Yeah. I would imagine turmeric could be another potential replacement.
Vani: Yup, absolutely. And that would be like have a health benefit, too. So, yeah. No. Absolutely. So, this just maddened me that food companies were getting away with this. And so, one of the big large investigations I did was comparing products overseas to products here in the United States, the exact same product, whether it was, as you mentioned, Mountain Dew, and just showing side-by-side comparisons of what the ingredient label looks like. It's not just Kraft that does this but it's every American company under the sun, I feel like, at least the big conglomerates, the big multibillion-dollar corporations.
Pepsi, what they'll do is here in the United States, they'll serve us their Mountain Dew with high fructose corn syrup, with sodium benzoate, with brominated vegetable oil, which is a very controversial chemical that's banned overseas, Yellow 5. But in the other countries, they will actually take out all of those additives I just mentioned, and they just use plain sugar, and they use beta-carotene again to just color the Mountain Dew. And so, there's distinct differences and what you're looking at when you see the ingredient label and the amount of controversial ingredients are removed when you buy the same product overseas.
My argument has always been that these are American companies, right? We're getting the short end of the stick. I mean, this information is so controversial, Ben, that no mainstream media will actually show the side-by-side comparisons of these products in the news because they are so scared out of their wits about losing their advertising money from these big food conglomerates. And this is such maddening information once you learn it that you literally just start to feel completely–I mean, you just get so angry because these are American companies who have decided that it's okay to serve us the toxic cheap stuff and serve other countries better stuff.
Ben: So, you don't find artificial dyes in like European Mountain Dew or European Gatorade but you do in the U.S. And if those dyes were to be present in those food products in Europe, they would be required to have a warning label. But is the reason that they still include them in the U.S. is because they feel like a warning label would reduce the amount of sales of a product like the warning label on a cigarette, or are there other reasons that they'd keep selling the version with the dye here in America?
Vani: I mean, the reason why they keep serving the version with the dye here in America is because our government has not regulated artificial food dyes like other governments overseas. And also, it's cheaper for them to use petroleum-based synthetic dye than real ingredients.
Ben: Okay. That makes sense.
Vani: Largely, the chemicals that have been invented in the last 50 years in our food system haven't been invented to improve our nutrition or to make our bodies healthier; they've just been invented to improve the bottom line of the food industry. I mean, they're creating these synthetic chemicals so that they can make their food, perform a certain way, they could use less real ingredients, they can make more money, or they can put their products on the shelf longer, so again, they make more money, or they create an addictive quality to the food which is a real sinister thing that happens. And that's exactly what the tobacco industry did in terms of making their cigarettes addictive and not really telling us what they were doing.
Ben: Yeah. It's kind of interesting. When my wife makes our children macaroni and cheese, she'll often use quinoa noodles and rice noodles and a wonderful local raw goat cheese or something like that. She makes macaroni and cheese that's like white. It's a totally different color than what I grew up. I grew up on comfort foods, right? I grew up on Kraft macaroni and cheese, Cocoa Puffs, Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, take and bake pizzas, Hot Pockets. I mean, that was my life growing up and it's very interesting to see my wife whipping up almost like healthy versions of these comfort foods in the kitchen. But one of the most remarkable things is they're completely different colors, and I think that that's of course part of the psyche of this is that the color of the food is quite appealing, especially to young eyes who like bright things and the dopamine and the serotonin release that you get from those.
Vani: Well, you say Hot Pockets. My stomach just starts churning because that's exactly what I was eating when I got sick that kind of led to this–
Ben: Oh, really?
Vani: Yeah. I used to eat those things all the time.
Ben: Oh man, I love them. I would skip the microwave sometimes and just literally bite into a frozen Hot Pocket. That's how much I eat Hot Pockets.
Vani: It's so awful.
[0:20:20] McDonald’s French Fries
Ben: Now, McDonald's is another one. I was completely unaware of this, but apparently, McDonald's–and I believe that–what I'd like you to get into is the French fries because that was very interesting to me. Apparently, the French fries in Europe are different than the French fries in the U.S.
Vani: Yeah. I mean, in U.K., they make French fries at McDonald's very basic. Probably how you would make it at home, potatoes, a little oil, and they add a little dextrose sugar, and then they add the salt after they cook it. So, it's like four ingredients, right? Then here in the United States, McDonald's uses all sorts of different oils like canola and corn and soybean and hydrogenated soybean oil, which is another–a finicky ingredient that they've created, the food industry has created, to sort of act like partially hydrogenated soybean oil. The jury is still out in terms of whether it affects our hearts just like trans fat does. And then they add–
Ben: Well, not to derail you but really quickly, do you know what kind of oil they use in the U.K.?
Vani: They use sunflower.
Vani: Yeah, sunflower, and then sometimes they use canola or rapeseed oil, what they call–
Ben: Right. Still a vegetable oil but a little less prone to oxidation.
Vani: Yes, exactly. And then they add beef flavoring here in the United States. So, people who are vegetarian or vegan may not know that they can't eat McDonald's French fries. Well, of course, they have the phosphates. And then they also fry their French fries that has–that same vegetable oil blend I mentioned, but it's also preserved with an ingredient called dimethylpolysiloxane. And this is an ingredient, and people hate when I say these things, especially scientists, they hate when I compare ingredients that are found in other objects that are not long–
Ben: Yeah. I think you caught that flak with the yoga mats ingredient in your subway sandwiches analogy.
Vani: But these chemicals that they've invented, they've invented these chemicals across industries. So, these aren't just chemicals that go in our food; they go in everything. And so, it makes you kind of wonder like, “Wait a minute, should we be eating these things?” So, dimethylpolysiloxane is an ingredient that the FDA has actually never actually had any safety studies conducted on. But they also allow it to be preserved with formaldehyde in a very small amount, which is just disgusting and terrible, I mean considering that something like that is even in our food.
It's one of these ingredients–dimethylpolysiloxane is not only in our French fries here in the United States and not in the U.K., but it's also–and this is what blows my mind. People don't even recognize. When I was a soda addict, one of the things I loved was going to a fountain soda machine because there's fountain soda always tasted so much better. I don't know why. But one of the ingredients that they add to fountain soda like Diet Coke, for example, the Diet Coke in the can does not have dimethylpolysiloxane. But when you go get a Diet Coke in a fountain format like at a fast food chain or at a gas station, it has dimethylpolysiloxane in there, too.
So, it's like how much of this stuff are we eating? This is crazy. And anytime you go to a fast food place and you're getting French fries or anything fried, I would say a lot of different restaurants beyond fast food are using this additive in their food. I mean, this one is the gamut. I mean, this is like five guys, some of the higher end chains. They still use this additive.
Ben: If I understand correctly, as an anti-foaming agent, the dimethylpolysiloxane would be primarily be used to prevent all those vats of oil from actually boiling over or foaming over in the kitchen and McDonald's, correct?
Vani: Yeah, yeah. It's basically to prevent foam. And so, if you fry something at home, it does get kind of foamy. And when you put it on a paper towel after you're done, you wait for the foam to dissipate. Well, they're just preventing that. Again, they want food a certain way, and that's why they're using this chemical.
Ben: Okay. Well, at least the crew in the McDonald's kitchen is safe. They're not getting burnt by overflowing oil vats.
Vani: I don't think it really prevents people from getting splashed on by hot oil. I don't think it's about that. It's really about preventing that foamy nature to be on their French fries as they serve them.
Ben: Interesting. Okay. So, French fries, you could actually make an argument that they actually are a little bit more guilt-free in the U.K. I'm not a fan just due to lipopolysaccharide formation, for example, of combining high oil and high starch-based foods together, like the dextrose and the fries and the–you said it was sunflower oil or soybean oil that they use over there?
Ben: Okay. Yeah. I'm still not a huge fan but it's definitely a healthier product or at least a less toxic product over there than here. What about Quaker Oats? That was another one I found very interesting. And I don't know about you, but I used to open up those–remember the little packets like the cinnamon and apple and the banana, and I think there was one, it was like it was blueberries and cream or something like that, but you know the little quick packets of Quaker Oats?
Vani: Absolutely. I mean, I would have those things in my desk drawer and I'd rip one open, put hot water, and I thought I was doing myself good by eating oatmeal in the morning first thing but–
Ben: Oh, yeah. When I was a personal trainer for my carb load, if I was doing pre or post-workout, I would do two packets of those and then a big spoonful of peanut butter. And then I'd cover that in milk and I'd microwave it for about four minutes so it turned into like a souffle. And that's what I would eat, was like a peanut butter Quaker Oats milk souffle. I'd always have horrible gas by about 11:00 a.m. after my morning workout, but I thought I was doing myself a service by eating my healthy grains, right?
Vani: Yeah. No, absolutely. It's really shocking when you start to look at the Quaker Oats that we get served here in those instant oatmeal packs and then overseas. Here in the United States, they're using artificial flavors, artificial food dyes. And I just want to take our detour right quick on artificial flavor and why this is so important. Artificial flavor can be so many different chemicals under the sun, all synthetic chemicals. That's why it's artificial.
And just recently, the FDA was sued by several nonprofit organizations who found that there were seven artificial flavor ingredients that are allowed in artificial flavors. So, they found seven different artificial chemicals that are in our food supply that are allowed to be used under the name, artificial flavor, when you see it on the label, that are actually linked to cancer in animal studies. And because it was linked to cancer in animal studies, the FDA has a duty to ban these under the Delaney clause. Okay? And so they weren't obviously looking at any of this stuff. It took these nonprofit organizations to sue the FDA in order to get this banned.
Now, the FDA said, “Okay. As a result of this lawsuit, we're going to ban these seven chemicals.” Now, one of the chemicals is rarely used, so it was not a big deal. But six of the other chemicals are being used all over the sun in terms of–and the most popular products that you see on store shelves, everywhere, which is candy and gums, all sorts of candy that is targeted towards children. That's on every eye level of every CVS and Walgreen and grocery store and convenient shop and all over the airport. And these chemicals, the food industry has up to two years to remove.
The one thing that I found so maddening was that the FDA did not require these food companies to tell the public which products actually contain these cancer-causing chemicals. So, right now, on store shelves everywhere, you are going to find artificial flavor on just about every product in terms of like on the candy aisle and they could have these cancer-causing ingredients that are banned that food companies have up to two years to remove that they're going to take their sweet old time because they always do, and they're going to of course try to get rid of all their product before they reformulate.
And so this is stuff that we're consuming. We don't even know what's in it. The food companies aren't required to tell us which artificial flavor products we should avoid. And they basically are just saying tough luck. Anyways, going back to this Quaker Oatmeal. The Quaker Oatmeal here in the United States has artificial flavor. So, we should have some concern about that, but it also has those artificial food dyes that again are linked to hyperactivity in children. And then when you look at the Quaker version in the U.K., oh, they're using an actual real fruit. They're using real–if you look at strawberries and cream here in the United States, they're actually using dehydrated apples and then using artificial strawberry flavor.
Ben: So, it does have some apples in it but it doesn't have actual strawberries in it, the strawberries and cream?
Vani: Right. They literally write strawberry on the label and have no strawberries in the product. They're using artificial strawberry flavor with Red 40 to make it look like strawberry. And then in the U.K., they can't get away with that over there because I guess they're smarter than us. I don't know what's the reason, Ben. I have no idea. Maybe because it caused–
Ben: Well, there is that stereotype of the intelligent bridge, right?
Vani: I don't know. I mean, this is just absolutely crazy. So, in the U.K., you'll find real strawberry freeze-dried pieces and real raspberry. Oh, my goodness. And so, they don't even try to get away with it over there.
Ben: Do they have artificial dyes in the one in U.K.?
Vani: No. And no artificial flavoring. We need to rise up as Americans and demand better of our own American companies. The fact that we've allowed this to happen is just insane to me, and that is why I do the work I do, and one of the reasons I wrote “Feeding You Lies” because I want people to recognize the lies that we are being fed and that these food companies can make safer, better versions of their products and they're making them right now to reinvent the wheel. They don't need to do anything differently other than just allow us to have the same product.
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You talk about Doritos in the book, and I don't think it's any surprise to anyone listening that of course in the U.S., you'd have Yellow 6 and Yellow 5 and Red 40. And then you mentioned how they use paprika extract and something called annatto in the U.K. And they're also non-GMO, like they don't actually use GMO corn, which is of course completely controversial, and we could go down that rabbit hole if we have time later on. But the big issue with GMO is, of course, it's contaminated with glyphosate, the weed killer. But another one you get into is ketchup. What's the deal with ketchup in the U.K. versus the U.S.?
Vani: Yes. Heinz ketchup is one of these. This is just the dawn of my existence. Okay. I love ketchup. Who doesn't like French fries with ketchup?
Ben: Me too. Shout out, by the way, to Mark Sisson. I use his Primal Kitchen Ketchup. I love it.
Vani: That's the only one that I'll give my daughter, right, Primal Kitchen. And it's funny and the only reason she started to eat ketchup is she saw me eating ketchup. And I'm like, “Oh, crap. Why did I do this in front of her?” But then okay, we have Primal Kitchen. So, all is good in the world. But ketchup is literally in every restaurant across America. Every fast food restaurant, everywhere you eat, every fine dining restaurant, every fine dining hotel has Heinz ketchup. Okay. They might be put it in those little glass bottles but it's still the same Heinz ketchup, right?
Here in the United States, we're getting the GMO high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. And then in the U.K., they're getting just sugar, regular old sugar and tomatoes and vinegar and some spices, like how you would make ketchup in your own kitchen. And that I find really maddening because it's like, you know, people don't really necessarily see the stark difference when you're tasting a product or you see the label and you really don't pay attention to the ingredients. But what is happening beyond what you see on the label and what you're tasting is that we're being exposed to genetically engineered corn that has been developed and patented to withstand heavy doses of a chemical that's now a probable carcinogen according to the World Health Organization. And other people in other countries are not being exposed to those chemicals. And that is a big issue. Why are our own American companies poisoning us? I mean, that's basically what's happening.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And I know some people will say, “Well, the high fructose corn syrup versus the sugar, it's really not that much different. It's maybe 5% extra fructose.” Although in many cases I know, and I don't know if you've looked into this, I think high fructose corn syrup can have up to 80% fructose and 20% glucose. Regular table sugar is like a 50/50 mix. And a lot of high fructose corn syrups are maybe 55% fructose and 45% glucose. And that might not sound like much but if your fructose consumption or your high fructose corn syrup consumption is high, that's where it becomes an issue in terms of liver metabolizing and the increased triglyceride synthesis, fat storage in the liver.
It's a shocking number of youth now that have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. And of course, I have to be careful because my company makes a bar that has honey in it, but I've also commented on the very small traces of natural organic honey found in it, and I've also commented on the fact that folks are not supposed to be sitting at their desks like eating two of these bars or chomping through three on a long airplane ride. I designed these to support physical activity and an active lifestyle. So, high fructose corn syrup, it's kind of like the doses to poison.
Vani: Yeah. I mean, your honey is an ultra-processed even, like high fructose corn syrup is one of the most processed ingredients in our food supply, so processed that people have found it contaminated with mercury. I doubt your honey is contaminated with mercury.
Ben: Can you get into that? Are you comfortable getting into that, the processing of high fructose corn syrup?
Vani: I'm not an expert on how it's processed but I mean it's a pretty involved process, multi-step process in order to extract the syrup from the corn, and I'm sure they're using all sorts of solvents and chemical solvents, and that's one of the reasons why you had the contamination.
Ben: Right. And the derivative, if I'm not mistaken, is actually GMO corn that you're using. When you're processing the corn starch to actually generate the high-fructose corn syrup, not only is a pretty intense chemical process but the origin of it versus say like natural honey from a hive, it's corn, it's GMO corn. And so, you return to the same glyphosate issues that we were talking about earlier.
Vani: Yup, absolutely.
Ben: And I'm definitely not a Robert Lustig fructose's poisoning kind of guy, but ultimately, yeah, I mean high fructose corn syrup is different than fructose. Not all fructose is created equal, kind of a rabbit hole there but important when you're looking at your ketchup label.
Vani: The entire, like the vitamins, the minerals, all the things that you would naturally find, and I guess a good piece of corn, are completely extracted from it as well. And so, I feel like when you eat a piece of corn, there are things in there that balance out the sugar that you find in that ingredient, right? The same thing I think goes with honey. There are a lot of beneficial qualities to honey. But when you start to process these ingredients and make them into something they're not supposed to be, that is when our bodies really start to handle them differently.
Ben: Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah. And regarding the genetically modified ingredients–and again, I'll admit that there is not a host of human clinical data on the effects of some of these compounds but I know that when they use certain enzymes to actually break down the corn starch, those enzymes are also genetically modified in order to allow them to break down the fructose. So, you've got a double whammy of genetically modified corn, and then also genetically modified enzymes that are used to break down the corn to make the high fructose corn syrup. And for me, I'd rather– when it comes to GMO, I just play it safe. I can't necessarily say that there are bodies in the streets yet showing that GMO is causing a huge health issue, but I play it safe basically as my approach.
Vani: Yeah. No, absolutely.
Ben: Now, let's get into actual FDA regulation because this might confuse a lot of people. When they're picking up a packaged food, whether it's at Trader Joe's or maybe in the airport newsstand or at Walmart or wherever, how is that actually regulated or is that regulated by the FDA?
Vani: Yeah. So, there is this phrase called generally regarded as safe. And this is something that a manufacturer or food company can voluntarily send their grass determination to the FDA, but it's not mandatory. What's important for people to recognize is that out of the over 10,000 food chemicals that are allowed in our food supply, the food companies themselves submit the data to get them rubber-stamped by the FDA.
Now, we have this underlying assumption, I believe, like a lot of Americans do and we're very trusting of our government. We have this assumption that there's some regulatory body out there testing these chemicals from a third-party independent perspective to look over the safety of the world, right, the safety of us to make sure the things that we're eating are safe. And there's this assumption that every single little thing you find on grocery store shelves is safe. But what's actually happening is the food companies invent these ingredients to probably save them money in some form or fashion and not probably but they are. I mean, I would say 99% of the chemicals invented over the last 50 or so years have been just invented to improve the bottom line of the food industry. Those chemicals are being safety tested by the food companies themselves. So, they look at the safety of these chemicals they created and they say, “You know what, we're going to put these rats under three months or six months or nine months.” They use these very short term studies and then they submit this data to the FDA to get rubber-stamped.
A lot of times, the FDA doesn't even have the manpower to look over all of the information or even look through all of the different chemicals that the food companies are using and they just allow it through. And then what happens is they get into the food supply and then things like what happened with trans fats start to happen. You start to realize that, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. We just approved an ingredient partially hydrogenated fats that are, oh my gosh, actually creating heart disease and creating heart attacks, and oh my goodness, according to the CDC have been linked to 7,000 deaths per year and 20,000 heart attacks and this is an ingredient we said that was generally regarded as safe and entered into just about every processed food and basically was killing Americans.” And it wasn't until the last few years that this ingredient has even been banned.
Ben: All ingredient manufacturers have to do is what you're saying then is they can have their own internal team like let's say, Kraft, for example. And they can hire their own experts to claim under reasonable certainty in the minds of their competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use, and that's all they need to have it deemed as grass?
Ben: Now then, they can send that to the FDA but they're not required to?
Vani: That's right.
Ben: Okay. So, the FDA–and I think you have a quote in the book about how their former deputy commissioner said they just can't even keep up with figuring out whether or not a chemical is safe when it actually is submitted by a food manufacturer. And so, as you just alluded to, it's almost like we're using our population as a giant test canister for a lot of these chemicals that we might find out, later on, are not safe. But has the FDA ever been, I guess, audited on these practices in terms of their oversight of food ingredients?
Vani: That's a good question. So, there's a wonderful group, the NRDC, that has took on the job as watchdog and started to look at some of these chemicals and starting to audit what's going on. That was one of the results of that lawsuit that I talked about earlier with artificial flavor, but there are a lot of things that need to be addressed. One great example is Artificial Food Dye Number 3. Now, back in 1990, the FDA basically banned Artificial Red Number 3 from cosmetics because it caused cancer and animal studies, but they still allow it in food and the reason is because Red Number 3 was actually one of the main ingredients in maraschino cherries. And if you guys know the alcohol industry and every bar across the world uses those little red maraschino cherries in their alcoholic drinks. The maraschino cherry lobby did whatever they could to get the FDA to not ban it in food, but they still ban it in cosmetics. So, that's a perfect example of how absolutely ridiculous the oversight is at the FDA and how it completely just doesn't even make sense.
Ben: Interesting. So, this GAO that you talked about in the book, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is that different than this other organization that you were talking about that ran an audit?
Vani: Yeah, yeah. That's a different–
Ben: Okay. What's the GAO?
Vani: The GAO is basically an organization within the government that is a fact-based, nonpartisan situation but they are someone that you basically want to contact and you can contact when you see these different issues. That is what these other nonprofit organizations will do is they'll contact the GAO and submit these different claims to try to get them addressed.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So, ultimately, the big picture here is that even if something is generally recognized as safe and approved to be added to a product, that can all be based on internal testing which admittedly could be highly biased by scientists hired by the food manufacturer themselves.
Ben: Yeah, that's scary. Now, what are what are some of the things–you talked about common lies on the label of packaged food. What do you mean when you say lies? What are some of these?
Vani: Well, here's a perfect example. There was a study that happened a few years ago that looked at Parmesan cheese, and they found an ordinary amount of cellulose being added to Parmesan cheese. And cellulose is an additive that you'll use to prevent anti-caking of the cheese so that it comes out of the shaker without the particles sticking to each other, or in shredded cheese, you'll see it so that the shredded cheese will stay in those little individual pieces.
They found that there is up to sometimes 13% of cellulose in a product that was labeled Parmesan cheese, and the food manufacturers were basically getting away with selling less cheese and more cellulose to people. The reason why this became such an issue is that there is a study done in nature that looked at cellulose and how it affects gut metabolism and it starts to affect the way your body gets rid of fat and how your liver performs. So, this became an issue.
So, people started eliminating or started to look beyond packaged, processed cheese and started looking to getting blocks of cheese on the block. That makes a lot of sense and a lot of real foodists will say, “If you want to eat cheese, get it on the block and grate it yourself so you avoid these other additives that are in the packaged version.”
Well, Sargento obviously was like, “Oh, yeah. Of course, you need to have off-the-block cheese.” So, Sargento is an example of a cheese manufacturer that wanted to basically capitalize on this new awareness about cellulose but they did it in such a sneaky, just a completely deceitful way. They actually put on their product, that's a shredded cheese product, off the block. It literally says, “Off the block,” on the front of the package so that you think that they've taken cheese and they've shredded it themselves and put it in the bag and that's all there is in that bag. But when you turn the package over and read the ingredients, they're still using cellulose. So, for me, that's a lie, like completely lie.
Ben: Why would you even need cellulose if it's a block of cheese?
Vani: Exactly. The reason is because they're still putting these–they still want to process the cheese and not let it stick to each other.
Ben: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Vani: So, they're basically lying to us and making us believe it's off the block when it's really not.
Ben: Yeah. Indicating that it's not pre-shredded, therefore, it doesn't have cellulose and that it's, whatever, cut by your grandfather off the block of cheese but it's actually covered with cellulose, basically laced with cellulose. Interesting.
Vani: Right. Yeah. This is another example that I just–you sell a bar, right? This just makes me so mad. So, a few years ago, the former CEO of Whole Foods called me and he says, “Vani, what ingredient trends do you see on packaging? I want to know like what you're seeing or what you think is going to be the next level. I really want to get your ideas on this.” So, I put together a list of things that I felt are going to be the next level things. The first thing I said was, “Walter, you're going to see the ingredients on the front of packaging. You're not going to see it on the back written in a type that's hard to read like you do now. You're actually going to be seeing the ingredients on the front of packaging because consumers are going to be so hyper-aware of what they're buying and what they want that they want to have that information right dead and center. And so, the other marketing labels are going to take a backseat. That's one of your trends.”
And so then, all of a sudden, I started seeing this bar pop up in every juice bar I went to and every smoothie bar and it was called the RXBAR, and it had the ingredients listed on the front of the label. I was like, “Yes. This is great. This is exactly what I predicted that this was going to happen.”
Ben: Yeah, and everybody is seeing the RXBARs I think by this point. What is it? Like two cashews, three eggs or six almonds, two dates, no BS. That's basically what their label says.
Vani: Yeah. They say what's in their bar on the front and then at the very bottom they say, “No BS.” I was like, “This is great marketing.” Yeah, the product is not organic. Yeah, they're using factory farmed eggs, probably, and caged eggs. Who knows where their eggs come from? But you know what? They're putting the ingredients on the label. That's really cool.
So, then I pick up the product, I turn it over, and I realize they're adding natural flavoring to it to create that burst of flavor in the brain. Natural flavoring is not going to kill you, but it is an ingredient that the food manufacturers use to create a certain flavor and sometimes an addictive quality to a food. And this bothered me because on the front of the package, they're willing to put all the ingredients except that one. And so, why were they hiding that and why were they lying to us by saying that there was no BS? That really made me mad.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I mean like natural flavors, those can have literally over 100 different chemicals like natural apple flavor can be propylene glycol and polysorbate and BHT and BHA and those are all just–I think in the book you describe them as incidental additives. They aren’t even required to be labeled by the FDA.
Vani: Yup. That's right. And so, they're carriers for those ingredients. You actually will see some of these carriers on the label of different flavorings if you're a baker and you want to go by like butternut squash, or not butter–I'm sorry, like butterscotch flavor. You want to do a certain type of flavor for your frosting or something like that. You can see sometimes these carriers are listed on the other side and you can actually see what is actually behind some of these flavorings, which is really interesting.
But the whole flavoring industry is very cloaked in secrecy about what's actually in these flavors. And a lot of the food manufacturers that buy flavoring, they don't even know what they're putting in their product because the flavoring they buy is proprietary. And so, they're testing out different flavors and they eventually pick one and they don't even know what's in it. That's actually why I think companies like LaCroix are being sued for the flavoring that they're adding to their products because some people like, I think the lawsuit says that someone tested it and saw some synthetic chemicals and they're using the terms that they're all natural. A lot of these flavorings do have synthetic chemicals out of them.
Ben: Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely like the new Diet Coke campaign. They've got like zesty blood orange and feisty cherry and twisted mango and ginger lime but there's not actually any orange, cherry, mango or ginger or lime in any of them. They're just basically all-natural flavors. I pulled my hair out for two years trying to do that bar I mentioned that's got the honey in it. If you read our label, it's honey, almonds, cocoa nibs, gelatin, quinoa, chia seeds, coconut flakes, cocoa beans, water, organic rice protein, sesame seeds, cocoa butter, sea salt. And the only ingredient on there that I've caught flak for a little bit has been tocopherols. Basically, a vitamin E-based antioxidant, but even that does not fall into the category of something that's laced with a lot of these compounds that natural flavors have in them.
I also wanted to touch on the section that you talk about in the book about organic foods because I think this is important for people to know. If they've decided they're just going to clean up shop and buy all organic, can organic foods still be something that people need to worry about?
Vani: Yeah. I think what's really important is there's a different levels of organic. You have products that are 100% organic, and that means every single ingredient has to be organic in the product. They can't use any other ingredients in there that are other than salt and water that are non-organic.
Then you have the next level which is 95% organic, and that you'll see USDA certified seal on. That means that the other 5% of the ingredients are basically can be any long list of additives that are allowed in organic food. So, there are a bunch of additives that are allowed in organic food that are–most of them are pretty benign but some are controversial like carrageenan that causes intestinal inflammation. You'll find that ingredient in some of the nut milks and things like that that's allowed in organic food. So, you still need to read the ingredient list even if you're buying USDA certified organic for some of these additives that could be questionable.
Then you have–this one is the one that gets me, is made with organic ingredients. And this is the one that I'll find my husband comes home and he'll buy a product that says organic on it or made with organic and he'll be like, “Ah, it's organic,” or my mom will find something and she'd be like, “Oh, it's organic.” Those products, only 70% of the ingredients have to be organic but the other 30% can be anything under the sun. And this is a really popular bar. You will find this to be the case where they're like CLIF Bars.
They're using all sorts of big organic ingredients but then they're using like non-organic soy protein, which is like, “What?” Soy protein isolate and soy lecithin and other things that I think their intention is to eventually go organic because I don't know if you saw this, but they took out a whole huge ad in the newspaper and asked their competitor, KIND Bar, to go organic as a, I guess a marketing campaign to–
Ben: I didn’t realize that. Which newspaper, do you know?
Vani: I think the New York Times.
Vani: Yeah. It just happened yesterday or the day before. And so, CLIF has the prospects of going all organic but they've been getting away with using the words organic and not being 100% or even 95% organic for a really long time and confusing a lot of people.
Another product line that does this a lot is Newman's. They make like better for you Oreos and things like that and they have made with organic ingredients on the label but then when you turn the product over, you'll realize that not all the ingredients are actually organic.
Ben: You mean the Paul Newman stuff, the guy that does the salad dressing?
Ben: Oh my gosh, I used to drink so much of that salad dressing. And I say, “drink,” but it was on my salad but essentially it was iceberg lettuce floating in Newman's salad dressing, which I also thought was healthy.
You mentioned something important in the book and that's the whole pesticide with organic crops and how sometimes people will claim that there are these horribly toxic pesticides used on organic crops like rotenone and copper sulfate, but I believe what you say in the book is that that's actually–it's not true or that it's a very rare case. Is that correct?
Vani: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that have to happen when you have a certified organic farm is you have to completely use as many as natural pesticides as possible or any natural method of controlling weeds before you even are allowed to even consider using those other two that you mentioned, and that is what is really interesting. And then the other thing is that they actually test for the different types of chemicals that are being used. I mean, there's this underlying thought that if you eat organic you're avoiding all pesticides, and that's just unfortunately not the case, but what you are doing is actually reducing the load on your body. Even organic food is now being contaminated with glyphosate. It's because it's just so widespread you use the–
Ben: Yeah. The wind will spread it.
Vani: Right, exactly. And so, I think what's really important for people to recognize is there's been this huge wave of non-GMO project certified foods and non-GMO foods, and this has been this huge category to hit store shelves over the last few years. And I know a lot of people probably listening here will go and buy a non-GMO product or bag of chips or something and say, “Hey, it's non-GMO. That's way better than the conventional counterpart.”
Yeah, you may not be getting some of the food from a crop that has been patented to withstand heavy doses of Roundup, but you're still buying product that could be sprayed with Roundup because it's really important for people to recognize that conventional produce, conventional foods, a lot of things that you would never think to have Roundup tomatoes, almonds, et cetera, have Roundup sprayed to it either pre-harvest or part of the process. We, in this country, is actually sprayed with Roundup conventional wheat before it's harvested. And so, it's really important that you buy USDA certified organic food to avoid exposure to these chemicals because in USDA certified organic food, the synthetic pesticides are prohibited altogether.
Ben: Yeah. With the biggest issue being that glyphosate residue is most likely going to disrupt the intestinal microbiota and alter the microbiome in a very unfavorable manner. And there are certain ways you could protect yourself against that; diet rich and things like bone broth and raw dairy and fermented foods. There's a guy, a really smart doctor, Dr. Zach Bush. He even is working on different products that he extracts from soil, like lignite is one that even my own children use before eating their organic produce simply because we're smack dab in the middle of Spokane surrounded by farm fields, and I know that it's possible even our own vegetable garden right here in our backyard could have glyphosate residue on it just from wind-borne contamination. So, yeah, it's a serious issue that I think is–even in the absence of the GMO argument, just the glyphosate on its own, is a definite issue that I think a lot more people need to be aware of even if they're buying organic.
Vani: Mm-hmm. Just to go back to that point that you made about rotenone. That is actually a pesticide that isn't even used anymore in America. It was actually used a while–I don't know how many years ago but it was approved to use in organic crops but the APA actually banned it. So, this is actually an argument that you will see from the critics out there that want you to continue buying the conventional and GMO foods as they'll say, “Oh well, organics use pesticides too that are controversial and so you're still going to be consuming them.” But in all of the data that I've seen when all the studies have come out that are testing products from store shelves for glyphosate and other herbicides and pesticides and their exposure, every single time the organic product has less.
Ben: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Vani: Significantly less. Yeah.
Ben: Yeah. Well, you get into a lot more of this in your book, but I also had a fun question that I wanted to ask you because I'm just curious, how do you eat? What's a typical diet look like for the Food Babe?
Vani: Yeah. So, it's nothing like you, Ben. No, I think we probably have some similarities.
Ben: You could be surprised.
Vani: Yeah, but I'm not training to be like an ultra-crazy athlete; I'm just trying to get by as a mom, a reader, and not kill my body and try to live a long life, and I think we have that in common in terms of wanting to live a really long, healthy life. And so, what I do is I try to avoid as many packaged processed foods as I possibly can on a daily basis. So, when I'm in control and I'm at home, in which I'm very lucky I get to work from home and I don't have to travel as much anymore because I just decided not to in terms for work. I am pretty much eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at home. And so, I have full control over what I'm putting my body, which feels really great because I've not outsourced that to someone else and I've got a pretty awesome garden that I choose from as well.
So, my morning will go something like this. I'll have warm lemon water with cayenne pepper first thing in the morning and then I will usually have a big crock pot of steel-cut oatmeal that is not the Quaker oat instant packs that we talked about, it's like the whole steel-cut oats that cooked overnight literally takes me five minutes to prepare the night before. I'll throw some ground flax seed or some other type of fat in there; hemp seeds, chia seeds. And then I will put fruit on it usually and I'll eat that.
The only reason I've done that, which has been the opposite of what I usually used to do before I had a baby was–before I had a baby, I actually would have a smoothie or a shake or something with lots of greens, very minimal fruit and some type of protein included in that, but I switched it up because I'm still breastfeeding and oats and flax seed are incredible for milk production. I've never had an issue with milk production in two-and-a-half years so I'm good to go there.
And so then I'll go work out usually. My workout consists of–I like Orangetheory a lot. I do a bar class that's–it's called a Hilliard Studio Method and it's weights and stuff and I do yoga as well. Ben, you probably can inspire me to get my fitness goals again but I just haven't had those in my mind just writing a book and getting this out to the world was the most important thing. So, I need to get back into figuring out a good fitness goal to challenge myself but–
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Well, when I'm in hardcore writing mode, a lot of it is walking on my treadmill with a little Dragon dictation program up and a headset so I can actually walk on dictating my thoughts. Kettlebell on the floor of the office, hex bar deadlift in the room next door and a pull-up bar, and I can just jam all day and sprinkle in working out in between my exercising. And when I'm hardcore deep in writing, that works pretty well. My philosophy is make a formal exercise session at the end of the day optional, not a necessity, and so I just kind of weave everything in throughout my day, and it works.
Vani: That's really cool. That's efficient.
Vani: And then for lunch, I almost always have a salad. So, I have this amazing garden that luckily, my husband has the green thumb in the family. I do not. So, we have kale and cilantro and everything growing and I just literally go pick it every single day almost and make a salad. And then if I don't have time to make a salad, which there's a lot of days lately that I haven't had time, I go sometimes and get takeout occasionally from this organic place here in Charlotte called Living Kitchen. It's like 100% organic and I'll get an awesome salad and I'll put some type of lean protein along with it. We make a lot of wild salmon around here and different–we do chicken, we do turkey but I make sure I get it from really high-quality sources, making sure it's pastured and all that kind of stuff.
And then for dinner, I make dinner pretty much almost every night. We try to take my daughter, Harley, out to eat at least once a week because we do a long nice meal with her. She's really great about sitting at the table and I want to continue to have that habit with her because it's so cool to be able to sit and have a four-course meal and she'd be entertained and be fine and enjoy the food. I've always served food in courses for her, and so she's just used to that. She gets her vegetables first and then maybe some meat or some grains and then some type of fruit for dessert or something like that. And so, she's used to that. So, that's what we do at night, too.
Last night actually, I was really lucky, my husband made dinner and he made jerk chicken, this amazing marinade he created like two days ago and it had to sit and had all these crazy habanero peppers in it. My poor daughter, her mouth probably got so much on fire from eating it, but she had it and she was fine. And so, that's what we had. We had some sweet potatoes with that and–what else do we have with that? I made some cabbage. And then I think the kryptonite that I have is I have to have, after Harley's gone to bed and I'm sitting on the couch, I have to have some tea and then I like to have something bad for me. And usually the bad for me thing is something I make from scratch with organic–
Ben: Mountain Dew and French fries?
Vani: No, no. But it's usually something that I'll make from some junk food organic ingredients, like some organic cake mix or some crap but I will eat that, and yeah, it's not the perfect thing but it is my one thing that I just I have like kryptonite for it. Another thing that I make all the time are organic brown rice, rice krispies but not the Kellogg's version and not the marshmallows that have the blue dye in them or whatever. I'll get the good marshmallows and use grass-fed butter and the brown organic rice krispies and I'll make rice krispies treats and I'll eat half the pan and I have no shame in my game.
Ben: I love it. My kids have a cooking podcast and one of their episodes is on marshmallows. They made marshmallows with glutamine and bone broth and they're absolutely well. They're like the big giant square marshmallows and they made those with a dark chocolate fondue. So, that's how I'm get my marshmallow fixed these days because I make my kids make marshmallows.
Vani: Oh, cool.
Ben: Well, it sounds like you're eating real food. You're not doing all of your shopping at Trader Joe's and Walmart and neither are you on a carnivore diet or a keto diet or any of these other myopic or dogmatic approaches to eating. You're simply eating a real diet, rich in a variety of real recognizable foods. That's, I think, the takeaway message too from your book is if you're relying on the food industry to package and deliver to you your foods, you have zero control over the ingredients.
Vani: That's exactly right. So, I just try to eat as much unadulterated food as possible, making that 95% of my diet and then allowing myself to have a little bit of fun.
Vani: Because there are something fun to eat foods, as Marion Nestle always says, “There's fun to eat foods.”
Ben: Yeah. She's got some great books too, Marion Nestle. Well, speaking of Marion Nestle's books, I'll hunt down a few of my favorites from her and link to those in the shownotes. I'll also link this book by Vani Hari, the Food Babe, “Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry's Playbook and Reclaim Your Health.” I'll link to those studies that recently came out on inorganic phosphate to the Primal Kitchen Ketchup and so much more if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/feedingyoulies. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/feedingyoulies.
Vani, thanks for writing this book. I think it's going to help a lot of people out and thanks for coming on the show today.
Vani: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me, Ben.
Ben: Awesome. Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with the Food Babe signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. The URL is BenGreenfieldFitness.com/feedingyoulies. Have an amazing week.
Oh, hey. Before you go, there is an event I'm leading next year that's filling up really fast but it's a completely non-run-of-the-mill two-week detox retreat over in the Swiss Alps. So, we'll be doing hyperthermia treatments and liver detoxification treatments, but it's very unique because we're combining that with hiking in the sunshine and the Swiss Alps, eating this fresh, flavorful, healthy food, speaking Italian, Buongiorno in the Italian quarter of Switzerland. I'm going to fly into Milan, take my family up there and they have just a couple of rooms left in this high-end medical retreat.
If you've always wanted to just like push the giant reboot button on your body and use a lot of these European biological medicine procedures we don't have access to here in the U.S., this is the place for you. It's going to be wonderful. I'm looking forward to as one of the highlights of my summer. You can get in, there are still a couple of rooms left, if you go to greensmoothiegirl.com/bengreenfield. Green Smoothie Girl is Robyn Openshaw. She's the person I'm putting on this retreat with. So, you go to greensmoothiegirl.com/bengreenfield. You get into this two-week Swiss detox retreat. Join me and my family there. It's going to be in June and July of the summer of 2019. You won't be sorry. Go to greensmoothiegirl.com/bengreenfield.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
In her new book “Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry's Playbook and Reclaim Your Health,” my guest on today's podcast, Vani Hari (AKA “The Food Babe”) exposes the lies we've been told about our food and takes readers on a journey to find healthy options.
There's so much confusion about what to eat. Are you jumping from diet to diet and nothing seems to work? Are you sick of seeing contradictory health advice from experts? Just like the tobacco industry lied to us about the dangers of cigarettes, the same untruths, cover-ups, and deceptive practices are occurring in the food industry. Vani blows the lid off the lies we've been fed about the food we eat – lies about its nutrient value, effects on our health, label information, and even the very science we base our food choices on.
In the book, she discusses:
-How nutrition research is manipulated by food company-funded experts…
-How to spot fake news generated by Big Food…
-The tricks food companies use to make their food addictive…
-Why labels like “all natural” and “non-GMO” aren't what they seem and how to identify the healthiest food…
-Food marketing hoaxes that persuade us into buying junk food disguised as health food…
Vani Hari started FoodBabe.com in April 2011 to spread information about what is really in the American food supply. She teaches people how to make the right purchasing decisions at the grocery store, how to live an organic lifestyle, and how to travel healthfully around the world. The success in her writing and investigative work can be seen in the way food companies react to her uncanny ability to find and expose the truth.
Impassioned by knowing how food affects health, Vani loves sharing her message on the blogosphere to 3 million unique readers across the globe. Vani convinced the biggest fast food chain in the world, Subway, to remove a controversial ingredient after receiving 50,000 signatures in 24 hours on her petition to the chain. After receiving tremendous attention on her posts about Chick-Fil-A, she was invited by the company's leadership to meet at its headquarters to consult on specific improvements to ingredients used by the national chain, which they later implemented. 7 months after Vani petitioned Kraft to remove harmful petroleum-based artificial food dyes from Mac & Cheese, Kraft responded by removing the dye from all products aimed at children.
Other major food companies that have responded to her writings include Panera Bread, Whole Foods, Lean Cuisine, McDonald's, General Mills, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Chipotle, Yoforia, and Moe's South West Grill.
Vani's activism brought national attention at the Democratic National Convention when she used her status as an elected delegate to protest in front of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on the issue of GMO labeling. Vani has been profiled in the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, The Doctors Show, NBC News, Fox News and is a regular cooking contributor on NBC's Charlotte Today and a food expert on CNN.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Inorganic phosphates (Pi) and their effects on physical performance…8:20
- Here are the two studies mentioned:
- Pi is used by the food industry to give processed foods a certain texture, longer shelf life, etc.
- Adults with high Pi levels have a higher mortality rate: affects kidneys and other organs
- Study at Univ. of Texas:
- Pi lowered performance,
- Changed gene expression
- Higher level of Pi, the lower the physical activity
- Sodium phosphate is the most common ingredient used as a preservative
-Insights into Vani's investigations into why foods are manufactured so differently in Europe vs. the U.S….12:15
- Vani became aware of this when she noticed the ingredients in Kraft mac and cheese was very different in Europe than in the U.S.
- Started a petition to get Kraft to remove artificial food dyes in the U.S.
- U.K. requires warning label: “may cause adverse effects on activity and attention in children”
- Kraft decided to use natural ingredients rather than put on the warning label
- Chose to not do the same in the U.S. because the FDA doesn't require a warning label; it's simply cheaper.
- Natural ingredients look and taste the same as yellow #5 and #6
- Every major American company does this
- Pepsi serves American version of its products with artificial preservatives; and one with plain sugar, beta-carotene, etc. in Europe
- It comes down to money: synthetic ingredients are cheaper
- French fries are vastly different in the U.K. from the U.S.
- These chemicals go into many things, not just food
- The dangers of artificial flavors:
- FDA was recently sued by several non-profits because 7 ingredients were allowed to be used that are linked to cancer in animal studies
- FDA banned the chemicals due to the lawsuit
- Found everywhere in candy
- They have 2 years to remove the chemicals
- FDA didn't require companies to tell the public which ingredients are the cancer-causing ones
- Quaker Oats is allowed to write “strawberry” on the label and not actually add strawberries to the product
- Mark Sisson's Primal Ketchup
- U.K. gets just sugar and tomatoes, vinegar and spices
- U.S. gets GMOs and artificial preservatives
- We get exposed to genetically engineered corn that's been developed to withstand carcinogens
-To what extent the FDA is involved in regulating the foods we buy at the grocery store, airport delis, etc…40:45
- Common phrase: “Generally regarded as safe”
- Not mandatory to report to the FDA
- Americans are very trusting of their government to oversee, ensure what we eat is safe
- Food companies invent ingredients;
- Safety tested by the companies,
- FDA doesn't have the resources to check everything
- How is the FDA regulated?
- NRDC, watchdog organization
- WTF: Red dye #3 was banned in cosmetics, but not in maraschino cherries?
- GAO: Org that exists to submit claims with concerns about unsafe ingredients
-Some of the common lies about ingredients we find on packaged food…47:30
- Parmesan cheese had up to 13% cellulose added to it
- Sargento capitalized on new awareness, but in a deceitful way
- “Off the block”
- Read the ingredients, still using cellulose
- Former CEO of Whole Foods asked Vani for “next level” of package labeling trends
- Will see ingredients on front, vs. the back of packaging
- RX Bar: “No BS”… had “natural flavoring” on the back of the package
- Natural flavors can have multiple chemicals used
- “Incidental additives”
-What concerns we should have if we buy all organic…55:36
- Different levels of “organic”
- 100% – every ingredient is organic
- 95% – up to 5% non-organic allowed
- “Made with organic ingredients” – only 70% need to be organic
- Pesticides used on organic products
- Certified organic farm must use natural methods of controlling weeds before using pesticides
- Types of chemicals are tested
- Eating organic doesn't avoid pesticides; it does reduce the load on your body
- Beware of glyphosate
-What does the diet look like for The Food Babe?…1:03:50
- Avoid as many packaged and processed foods as possible
- Eat most meals at home
- Steel cut oatmeal w/ flax seeds, chia seeds, fruit
- Make a salad for lunch
- Dinner: 4-course meals
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
–Primal Kitchen ketchup
-Zach Bush's Restore as an anti-glyphosate strategy
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