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Fillers & Fakes in Healthy Food?

diet fat healthy eating tips Apr 14, 2022

YES, unfortunately food that we think of as healthy is commonly loaded with unnecessary fillers and fakes. These two smuggles are in addition to the first two you learned about last week: #1 Fat and #2 Flavor. The bottom line tips from last week were: "Add your own flavor, buy the plain version. And buy full fat or whole milk products.” Read more here to learn the other two “Fs” that cause food to fail the “healthy” standard.

#3 Fillers are fake food and are a common replacement for fat. When a product is advertising low-fat, reduced fat or fat-free, you can be sure you’ll find fillers. Fillers are also used to stretch products and extend the ingredients to help improve profit margins. 


Filler examples are found in all dairy products, like milk, ice-cream, creamers and cheese. Also baked goods, jams, jellies and even meats. On the package it’s either a gum or a starch. Types of gum include guar, glean, tara, locust or carob-bean, acacia or gum-arabic, xanthin, cellulose, carrageenan and sunflower-lecithin. Modified food starches are also used to thicken foods or can be added as an anti-caking agent. They are definitely a carbohydrate, because they are starchy, fast-acting carbs sourced from potato, corn, rice, tapioca, and wheat. And you’ll see them listed as potato starch, corn starch, etc. 


Recommendation: Read the list of ingredients for fillers. Even full-fat dairy will commonly include gum of some-kind to stretch the product. Unfortunately, even “Organic” products can still include these popular smuggles. Buy whole cheese in a block and shred it yourself to avoid the added starch fillers. 


#4 Fakes are the imposters that try to imitate the healthy function of a real nutrient. The top key nutrients are fiber, protein and fat. We’ve already seen how fillers are used to “fake-fat” and the mouth-feel and density that real fat provides. Fake fiber is common, especially in foods featuring low-carb or keto. And fake fiber is dangerous because it can cause choking and other digestive issues. The FDA is working to limit and restrict its use in products and change labeling laws to require appropriate warnings. But until then, it’s best to avoid imitation fibers. And imitation proteins, while less dangerous, can produce unpleasant side effects like excess gas, bloating and discomfort. 

Fake examples of imitation fibers include most of the gums previously listed above. As well as psyllium husks, cellulose, inulin and many more. The problem with fakes is they don’t perform all of the functional benefits the same as the naturally occurring fibers found in whole foods where the fiber is intact and intrinsic. When you see fiber in a dairy product, you know it’s not real fiber. There’s no natural fiber in meat or dairy. 


Recommendation: Avoid fake fibers and find real fiber in whole foods instead. There’s no short cut powder, supplement or pill that can provide the same benefit as functional fiber found in whole foods. Avoid protein powders and protein concentrates for the same reason. Get the key nutrients your body needs from real, whole foods. Your body can recognize the real food vs. the imposters.

Bottom line real foods satisfy real nutritional needs. Fake foods and fillers don’t satisfy real hunger and in most cases they can stimulate hunger, cravings and appetite, which can lead to over-eating. Always read the list of ingredients. Never trust, always verify! 


For more information on this topic: 

Ovvia Members see the video library and watch the 10 videos in the Nutrition Series: Fiber, Protein and Fat. Sugar Sabotage category includes 3 videos. And series 5 videos in the “Hunger vs. Cravings” series. 

Read more BLOGs here!  

Podcast episodes that are free to all include: “Why You Can’t Stop Eating” and “Sensible Substitutes”. 


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