Here’s the gist: As consumers, we have to be very vigilant when buying food. If it has a label or needs advertising as being “natural”, sadly, chances are it isn’t. We all know the well-deserved hype around kale now….but think about it, when was the last time you saw a bunch of kale advertised on TV?
Growing up in NYC, I remember eating in Chinese restaurants and always hearing people request “no MSG” with their orders. Perhaps this rings a bell for you. Back then, I didn’t understand what MSG was, but it was clear that nobody wanted to eat it with their food. Now I understand why: it is a widely-used additive in the food industry and responsible for symptoms in people such as upset stomach, headaches/migraines, and heart irregularities. Guess what!? There is MSG in many common foods we buy today and we don’t know it because it’s hidden under a different label.
Let’s take this herbal tea bag as an example. There are many kinds of teas out there, with some brands having longer, scarier ingredient lists than others. The tea in the photo is a lemon-ginger, caffeine-free tea. Its ingredient list reads, “100% natural ingredients: ginger root, lemongrass, lemon flavor, safflower, hibiscus, and citric acid. ”
I want to draw your attention to the two words “natural” and “flavor” because these are key words that should sound alarms in all of us. As this article says, we shouldn’t be fooled by “natural flavors.” As long as you start with a natural ingredient, like a real lemon, “you can do whatever the heck you want with it, and the end result, regardless of how many solvents you used or how you processed it, will be labeled as a ‘natural flavor.'” And, well, what d’ya know…… “natural flavors” are just one example of a hidden source of MSG.
This is just one little tea bag….I admit, not much of a big deal. The labeling is still very misleading, though. Plus, after enough tea, if you are sensitive to additives, you may have symptoms without realizing why. We need to be aware of what is hidden in ingredient lists. Check out some lists….and notice how often the words “natural” and “flavors” are used. Once again, if you care about your body, I stress the importance of eating real food.