Have you ever heard this guideline: “If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it”? When it comes to food labels, that’s only partly true. Here, I’m going to list and explain a few of the tongue-twisting words on your favourite cereal box, soup or crackers that are not just harmless, but may even be good for you:

d-alpha tocopherol: This is the chemistry name of the essential vitamin, Vitamin E. Tocopherols are used as natural antioxidants in certified organic cereals and crackers. Without antioxidants, grains become rancid because their oils become rancid quickly when exposed to heat and oxygen. The body needs tocopherols to protect cellular membranes from oxidation, which would otherwise damage them.

Natamycin: It sounds like an antibiotic drug, but it’s actually a mould-inhibiting substance produced by bacteria. You’ll find this one in bags of pre-shredded cheese, and some types of solid block cheeses to extend shelf life, naturally.

Pyridoxine hydrochloride: This is the chemistry name for Vitamin B6—-an essential nutrient for protein synthesis, and many other other metabolic processes. You might find it in ‘fortified’ breads, cereals and cereal bars.

Bacillus coagulans: It’s a species of ‘friendly’ bacteria you may find added to health drink powders. Like its friends lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis, streptococcus salivarius and more, consuming b. coagulans may have health benefits that extend from the digestive system to the immune system and even other body systems.

Iso-malto-oligosaccharides: These are sweeteners produced by fermentation of a starch. You’ll find in certain candy-style snack foods sold at health food stores. They are described as digestion-resistant because our own digestive enzymes are not capable of breaking them down for us to extract energy from. However, they aren’t exactly free of calories; our gut bacteria eat IMOs, so they serve as pre-biotics (food for bacteria). In this way they may support a healthy GI tract. But a word of caution: Excess consumption of IMOs–like all fermented foods—can cause gas and bloating.

These are just a few of the scary-sounding ingredients I’ve seen on labels that clients have asked me about. What food ingredients should you really fuss about? Watch for my next blog to find out!

By Andrea

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