Before you continue reading this article please consider which one of the following categories you fall into:
1- You go about life eating what you please without caring how it has been processed and what it may contain nutritionally for your health or that could be detrimental to your health.
2- You would like to understand if possible what you place in your mouth and are concerned for your own and your families well being both today and tomorrow.
If you are in the first category this article may not be for you and if you fall into the second please read on as today we will be talking about natural flavours.
So let’s begin with – what is the deal with natural flavours? It seems very weird that foods require natural flavours! Think about it this way, if a food is natural shouldn’t it contain its own flavour without adding something extra… Hmmm makes you think a little bit right?
Maybe the real question is, that if a manufacturer is listing an ingredient as a natural flavour, what is it and why is it been hidden under the label “Natural Flavours”? Now to really make things clearer most government bodies will define natural flavours as:
“the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolystate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavouring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf of similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
Well that’s as clear as mud!!!! However this particular piece of the statement is interesting – “whose significant function in food is flavouring rather than nutritional.” Does this mean that these Natural Flavours are present to trick our brains that this food tastes really nice?
Just a little more food for thought.
However the above statement means that Natural Flavours can be derived from almost anything that has not been chemically engineered in a laboratory so thats a tick on the positive side. Tally so far; much confusion and a little good news.
The words “Natural Flavour” are apparently in place to protect many companies “secret” ingredients in their recipes. The bad news this is occurring in almost all processed foods to give them that seemly irresistible flavour that keeps you coming back for more and ultimately making you unfit, sick, diseased and have various other medical complications.
Furthermore by not understanding or being told what these Natural Flavours are makes it hard if you suffer from food allergens to determine if certain foods are causing your particular reactions. You could suffer from rashes or a upset stomach for example and find it particularly hard to identify the root cause of the problem.
Reading and understanding food labels is a challenge at the best of times, however if a particular ingredient such as “Natural Flavours” makes the task almost impossible as the flavour could be sourced from virtually 1000’s of different plant or animal sources.
A particular Natural Flavour that came under fire in recent years and has had to be disclosed on all packaging is MSG or Monosodium Glutamate that was discovered by a Japanese scientist in 1907. MSG has been found to react unkindly to many peoples health and thus the pressure was finally so immense that this ingredient had to be disclosed.
This doesn’t mean that all Natural Flavours mean you harm, however the point of this article is to explain where some of these Natural Flavours are sourced from and if you knew would you continue to consume certain food items if you knew exactly what Natural Flavour was being added?
Many meal replacement supplements are full of natural flavours and are more than happy to promote their product as the healthy alternative. If it is so great for you why are they using the words natural flavour on the label? Here is a little extract form the Isagenix website http://www.isagenixhealth.net/what-are-natural-flavors/ where they open with the following statement:
“Contrary to what some people may think, use of the term “natural flavors” on nutrition labels is not a deceitful tactic by food manufacturers to hide harmful or unappealing flavoring agents.”
Now read into this at this as you please, but to me it seems that they should be open and honest and state exactly what Natural Flavours are being used. They also state that:
“”Natural flavors” is a term used on food labels to reduce confusion.”
Seriously, how silly do they really think we are? Anyways read the article yourself and by the end you will have read a whole heap of big words and well constructed paragraphs designed to dumb you down and stop you from researching things deeper for yourself because they only use natural flavours and nothing artificial…
So lets take a look at what these added Natural Flavours could potentially be.
Primary Use: For Vanilla and Raspberry flavours foods. Think icecream.
From: Extracted from the dried glands and secretions of beavers behinds.
Name: COCHINEAL & CARMINE
Primary Use: Colour apple sauce, baked goods, meats and spices.
From: Boiling Cochineal beetles from South American and Mexican Cacti.
Name: CONFECTIONER’S GLAZE, SHELLAC, RESINOUS GLAZE
Primary Use: Lollies, cosmetics and chewing gum.
From: Scraping secretions from a small red bug usually found in tree bark.
Primary Use: Flavour enhancer, stocks and broths.
From: Is a salt salt of the amino acid Glutamate.
Primary Use: For Almond flavouring.
From: Extracted from peach pits and is a poison.
Primary Use: In baking goods.
From: Derived from human hair and duck feathers.
Primary Use: Sweetener.
From: Genetically modified corn.
Here are a few of those numbers we often see on the food labels also:
* E542-edible bone phosphate
* E631-sodium 5′-inosinate
* E920-L-cysteine hydrochloride
* 620-625; MSG is 621
Some side effects induced by additives:
* headaches or migraines
* rashes (hives, eczema, dermatitis, other itchy rashes)
* stomach aches, bloating, reflux, constipation, bedwetting, sneaky poos
* asthma, frequent cough, stuffy or runny nose
* frequent colds, flu, ear infections
* joint pains, swelling of the joints
* heart palpitations, fast heart beat, pseudo heart attack
* sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep, frequent night waking, night terrors, restless legs)
* restlessness (loud voice, irritable, easily distracted, demanding, easily bored)
* irritability (touchy or easily annoyed, loses temper, throws tantrums)
* oppositional defiance (temper outbursts, often says no, refuses requests, defies rules, angry)
* inattention (forgetful, disorganised, foggy brain, dreamy)
* anxiety (lethargic, depressed, panic attacks)
* unhappiness (grizzly, miserable, cries frequently)
Another point to consider is the use of the word organic on some foods today. There is a massive movement behind purchasing organic foods which is great, however the price is a bit out there and I’m sure that you will agree with me on that!
Now although yes a natural flavour such as Castoreum (Mr Beaver) is organic would you choose a different brand that didn’t contain this ingredient if you knew that it was present.
This is really the whole point of this article, would we all be making different food choices if we was 100% aware of each ingredient? Well the answer is yes for some and no for others and that’s OK and I’m sure that you would agree with me that it would be great to be able to have that choice however unfortunately we don’t really have it.
Is there a way of knowing if a Natural Flavour or any other additive natural or not is affecting me?
As the possible side effects can become apparent anywhere between 30 minutes to 48 hours later makes things a little difficult. You may have a soup containing 635 (Ribonucleotides) for dinner tonight and then suffer sleeping difficulties or diarrhoea tomorrow night and think that the problem came from tomorrow’s dinner!
Having a allergens test may help you identify possible reactions to different foods that may help you become more aware of what could effect you.
How can we avoid Natural Flavours and Natural Colours?
The simple answer is to stop eating foods that are pre packaged, canned, boxed and processed. Instead eat foods in their most natural state and you can get all the nutritional value you need rather than needing to take supplements.
Supplements have a place in some cases however 90% of them are garbage and can be beaten hands down by a well balanced diet containing both macro and micro nutrients, and of course water. This will result in your food addictions dissipating and you may even drop a dress size or two, and thats great news.
So next time you pick something up at your local supermarket and it states INGREDIENTS: Apple Slices, Water, Cane Syrup, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Spices, Salt, Natural Flavour and Artificial Flavour. Ask yourself “What is the Natural Flavour that is used here?” and “Am I under the impressions that the natural flavour is natural apple flavour?” or and your response might be “It could it be anything!” as you go and buy some apples instead.
Matthew Goss, Co-Founder Bangin’ Bodz Health & Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer and Member of The International Association For Health Coaches.