Friday, December 23, 2016

Stay Positive this Holiday Season: Stop Lurking!

A photo of someone scrolling through Facebook on a mobile device.
Photo credit: Bloomicon / Shutterstock
Holidays got you down? If you’ve found yourself spending hours scrolling through the endless feeds of Facebook and Twitter, social media could be one culprit behind your misery.

The BBC reports that a new University of Copenhagen suggests that seeing an abundance of “perfect” families, faces, and holiday festivities could trigger envy and feelings of isolation. It makes sense that when you’re feeling low and alone, seeing so much togetherness from a distance could make you feel even worse.

The study, which had more than 1,000 participants, particularly noted this effect when users are “lurking” on social media – simply taking all the information in without interacting or connecting with anyone.

The conclusion? “[R]egular use of social networking such as Facebook can negatively affect your emotional well-being and satisfaction with life.”

But these days, everyone is so plugged into social media that not partaking at all might also make people feel isolated. The researchers suggest some simple solutions: being more of an “active” user and engaging with others; and unplugging from social media when possible.

In fact, the study suggests that actively engaging with others will create a much more positive experience for users; so, if you’re not ready to take a break, consider changing your usage habits instead.

If limiting your time on social media seems like the best solution, consider taking an entire week off. Alternatively, try uninstalling social media apps from your phone and only checking Facebook once per day for a limited period. Not only could this help your mood, but it also might help you be more productive and less distracted at work or school!

It’s also important to note that many social media users tend to share only their happiest moments, best pictures, and envy-inducing events. Comparing your everyday life with someone else’s top highlights is an unrealistic comparison to make—it’s enough to make anyone envious! Remember that no one’s life is quite the same as it looks on the outside.

Have you ever experienced the “deterioration of mood” that this new study suggests? What have you found to be the best solution?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tips for Eating Healthy During the Holidays

A close-up photo of festive holiday cookies.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
With less than a week before Christmas, it’s time to prepare for all those deliciousalbeit unhealthytreats that will be at your disposal this holiday season. Trust me, I get it; it’s hard to turn down pumpkin pie, mac ‘n’ cheese, Christmas cookies, and eggnog. But if you want to be healthy, it’s absolutely necessary that you avoid the temptations that will come your way.

Tip #1: Find a Mantra

Find a word, phrase, or quote that you can repeat to yourself whenever you’re feeling weak. Your mantra should have special meaning to you, something that will keep you motivated to make the right choice. Some examples include:

  • I eat to fuel my body, not to satisfy an appetite  
  • Note to self: When I eat like crap, I feel like crap
  • It’s not a short-term diet, it’s a long-term lifestyle change
  • I’m strengthening my ‘resistance’ muscle. It’s getting stronger!
  • Looking and feeling amazing is the best revenge
Tip #2: Keep an Inspirational Photo Nearby

There’s a reason that vision boards are so effective. When we have a crystal clear vision of what we want, it helps us to manifest it that much easier. Take some time to sift through a magazine and find some fitness pictures that really inspire you. If you don’t have any magazines, search for images on the Internet. You can either keep a physical copy of this image on your person at all times, or you can store it electronically on your phone. Using pictures of celebrities is fair game.

Tip #3: Reward Yourself With Something Other Than Food

Look, eating healthy is hard work. If you can manage to resist all the temptations this holiday season, make sure you celebrate by rewarding yourself. The reward doesn’t have to be expensive; it can be as simple as taking a nice, hot bath. Other ideas include going to the spa, getting a massage, watching a movie, or going to a concert. Remember: this is a spiritual journey, and you should take part in celebrating the new and improved you.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Separate Living Spaces Make for Healthier Romantic Partnerships

A couple holding a cut-out of a house. They appear apprehensive about moving in together.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
We’ve all been there. In the beginning, things are great. The butterflies in your stomach are in full spring. You send each other sweet messages all day long. You stay up all night talking for hours. You cuddle every chance you get. Oh, and the intimacy is on point.

But sooner or later, things start to change. Your significant other no longer texts you with the same sweet emojis that they used to. Your sex life has begun to dissipate. All the sudden, anything and everything has turned into an argument. You’re practically at each other’s throats 24/7. You find yourself asking, what went wrong?

Chances are, it’s that you’re spending too much time together.

If you find that the majority of your woes started shortly after the two of you moved in together, you’re not alone. It’s a very common phenomenon, and science has finally proven why. According to a study titled Idealization, reunions, and stability in long-distance dating relationships, couples that live apart retain more of the novelty and excitement that exists in the beginning of a relationship.

That’s because when you spend too much time around another person, you eventually get used to it and subsequently take that person for granted. That’s where the lack of appreciation comes from.

And while it’s human nature, that’s not to say that there isn’t something you can do to combat this effect. If you’re already living together and would like to salvage your relationship, here’s what you can do:

·      Spend more time with friends… AWAY from your significant other
·      Plan fun and exciting date nights with your partner
·      Sleep over at a friend or family member’s house for a few nights
·      Join a club, take an art class, begin a new hobby, or go to a social networking event

You wouldn’t believe the kind of difference it can make to have your own personal space. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about it either; yes, we as humans are a social species, but like any other species, we have our limits. The key is finding a healthy balance.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Study Finds That Pets Help People Cope With Mental Illness

A dog sitting on a lawn.
CC courtesy of Eric Sonstroem on Flickr.
People suffering from mental illness have known it for years, but science has only recently confirmed it: pets can help relieve the symptoms of mental illness. The study found that pets helped people cope with everything from loneliness to depression to schizophrenia and even thoughts of suicide.

The study was published today in the BMC Psychiatry journal. To many people, it’s not all that surprising. But in the health care field, it’s quite the breakthrough. The findings suggest that pets could become part of the treatment plan for patients diagnosed with mental illness. This is particularly important for patients who are seeking alternatives to medication.

Helen Brooks, lead author of the study, believes that part of the reason pets are so invaluable is that they serve as motivation.

"The routine these pets provide is really important for people. Getting up in the morning to feed them and groom them and walk them, giving them structure and a sense of purpose that they won't otherwise have," Brooks stated.

But that’s not the only benefit that pets provide. Several participants reported having a very close relationship with their pet, even surpassing the bonds they have with friends and family members.

"Many felt deep emotional connections with their pet that weren't available from friends and family," Brooks explained.

"When I'm feeling really low they are wonderful because they won't leave my side for two days," said a participant with two dogs and two cats. "They just stay with me until I am ready to come out of it."

According to Mark Longsjo, Program Director of Adult Services at McLean Southeast (an inpatient mental facility in Massachusetts), it’s not unusual for people to form really strong connections with their pets.

"We have so many patients come through, and we always ask them about their support system. Sometimes its family members, sometimes its friends, but it's very common to hear about pets," Longsjo stated.

I’m not going to lie—it warms my heart to hear about stories like this. As an animal lover myself, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without my dog, Ruby.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer

The words "cervical cancer" written across a pink banner.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Ladies, if you’re behind in getting your Pap smear, you need to schedule an appointment ASAP. Cervical cancer is no joke, and can become fatal if left untreated. The good news is that cervical cancer is 100% treatable if detected early.

Did you know that at one point in history, cervical cancer was one of the leading causes of death for American women? Thanks to the Pap test, the cervical cancer fatality rate has decreased by more than 50%. recommends women ages 21-29 get a Pap test done every three years. Women ages 30-64 only need to get one done every five years. It’s a simple enough procedure that takes about 15 minutes or so, and it’s well worth it because it can save your life.

Now, according to the National Cancer Institute, the average age of women diagnosed with cervical cancer is 49. It takes about 10-15 years for the pre-cancerous cells to develop into full-blown cancer, which is why it’s so important to get tested while you’re young.

Should you get an abnormal Pap smear result, keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer. There are a variety of different reasons why you can get an abnormal test result. However, if you do get an abnormal result, your doctor will likely want you to come in for a colposcopy.

A colposcopy is a procedure in which your OBGYN examines your cervix underneath a microscope. Should your doctor see any abnormal tissue, she/he will take what’s known as a biopsy. A biopsy is a small sample of tissue that is removed from the cervix. The biopsy will then be sent to the lab where the tissue sample can be examined in more detail.

If you think you may already have cervical cancer, here are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for:
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Unusual vaginal discharge (a change in color or texture)
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (such as after sex, after menopause, or between periods) 
If you have any of the above symptoms, please call your doctor immediately. And please help get the word out by sharing this post.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fight Wrinkles With Exercise

A photo of a woman jogging in a park.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Research has shown that exercise can delay (and even reverse!) the signs of aging. A study conducted by McMaster University revealed that sedentary lifestyles contribute to balding, grey hair, saggy skin, and wrinkles.

Researchers used mice for the first portion of their experiment. The rodents were split into two groups: one group had an exercise wheel and the other did not. Results revealed that the sedentary mice quickly became frail and ill. Their fur also began to grey and fall out.

Meanwhile, the mice that exercised never got grey fur at all. Although their fur did fall out, it was in much smaller percentages than in the sedentary group. But most importantly, the active mice maintained healthy organs.

After examining the results of the study, the researchers decided to see if the same results would occur with people. Again, two groups: one group exercised for three sessions a week, the other didn’t exercise at all. Participants ranged in age from 20 to 84.

Researchers found that those who exercised had dramatically better skin. But researchers also acknowledge the fact that some of the differences could be attributed to diet, genes, environmental factors, and other lifestyle choices.

The only true way to examine the effect then, would be to take the sedentary group and have them start exercising. So that's what researchers did. After just three months, researchers found improvement in the tone, appearance, and texture of their skin.

Scientists still haven't pinpointed an exact reason as to why exercise makes for young-looking skin. Some researchers theorize it’s because of the increased blood circulation. Others believe it’s because exercise relieves stress, which can be a major contributor to skin problems. And yet others think it’s because exercise helps the body get rid of toxins. Either way, there’s substantial evidence that points to the fact that exercise gives people a more youthful, radiant glow.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Marijuana for Veterans

A prescription bottle with marijuana inside of it sits on top of an RX note.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
New research suggests that marijuana can help alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. The recent study was led by Zach Walshan associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. Walsh believes that the clinical side of marijuana should be taken more seriously.

“This is a substance that has potential use for mental health,” Walsh stated. “We should be looking at it in the same way [as other pharmaceuticals] and be holding it up to the same standard.”

But the idea that marijuana can be used to reduce the effects of PTSD is hardly new. For years now, users have been touting about how it can ease anxiety, irritability, and depression (all of which are symptoms associated with PTSD). But despite it being so widely talked about in a general sense, the scientific community hasn’t really studied these claims in much detail… until now.

"In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points," Walsh asserted.

The study, which was published in the Clinical Psychology Review, is making headlines for its controversial findings. Walsh is hoping that the study can erase some of the stigma associated with cannabis use. The study was published yesterday, November 16, 2016, and several big-name media outlets have already written about it, including Time Magazine.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, several states permit medical marijuana use for PTSD. However, don’t get too excited because the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs also warns that regular cannabis use can lead to chronic bronchitis, psychosis, and even addiction.

Veterans who want to try cannabis as a treatment option are advised to seek medical guidance beforehand. A complete list of states that allow medical marijuana use can be viewed here. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Before You Panic About ObamaCare Being Repealed, Read This

A close-up photo of the Affordable Care Act document.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
 First of all, everyone needs to know that it will take a very long time before ObamaCare is repealed. I know that Trump laid it out as one of his top priorities in his 100-day plan, but due to his lack of experience, he doesn’t understand just how long it takes for this type of legislation to go through.

Linda Blumberg, a health care policy analyst, says that if ObamaCare were to be repealed, the government would have to give Americans ample time to switch over to a new plan.

"If you with a stroke of a pen took the Affordable Care Act away and there was no transition period, there would essentially be havoc in the markets," Blumberg stated.

Several other health care policy experts echo Blumberg’s sentiments. Timothy Jost, a health care law pundit at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, believes that the consequences would be fatal.

"You would just have an awful lot of people be uninsured, and then that ripples back through the health care system. Basically, you would have a lot of people die because they couldn't get health care,” Jost stated.

Worst-case scenario, the earliest ObamaCare would be repealed is January 2018. But before you panic, just know that there are several roadblocks in the way.

First of all, 60 U.S. senators would have to vote for a full repeal before it could ever be enacted. According to Forbes, this would be next to impossible since there aren’t 60 Senators who would support such a repeal. In 2017, Republicans will either have 51 or 52 seats, depending on the outcome of a Louisiana runoff. That’s not enough to garner enough votes.

So although the thought of ObamaCare being repealed is scary, please don’t panic. Republicans are going to have to jump through a lot of hoops before any major change to the health care system can be made.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Flash Cards to Combat Anxiety Attacks

Woman with anxiety shown with a bunch of random scribbly symbols coming out of her head.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
We normally think of flash cards in regards to children’s learning. But there’s a reason why they’re so popular... it’s because they work. Flash cards help you remember information through the use of visual cues. In this case, these flash cards will help you remember the steps you need to go through to combat an anxiety attack. You can either create physical flash cards or electronic ones that you can carry with you wherever you go.
Card #1: Breathe
Breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds, then breathe out through your mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat this process at least five times.
Card #2: Identify the Problem
What is on your mind?
Card #3: Analyze the Problem
Why is it on your mind?
Card #4: Allow Yourself to Feel
What emotions are you experiencing right now? Accept your emotions and allow yourself to experience them, even if they’re unpleasant.
Card #5: Find a Solution
Is there anything you can do about this problem right now, in this moment? If so, get started on it right away! If not, come up with a plan of action! If there’s nothing you can do about it at all, take a moment to remind yourself that it’s completely out of your hands.
Card #6: Talk to Someone
Talk to a trusted source about your problem, whether that’s a friend, a family member, significant other, or a counselor. You’ll be surprised at how much relief you’ll feel by getting it off your chest. If you don’t have time to do this step right this second, make a commitment to do so in the near future.
Card 7: Return to the Present Moment
Anxiety happens when you’re living in the future instead of the present. In order to bring yourself back to the present moment, focus on your senses. What do you see, touch, hear, smell, and feel in this moment? This is really one of those steps that you need to practice day-by-day, minute-by-minute.
Reviewing these cards whenever you have an anxiety attack will get you into the habit of dealing with stress in a healthy and constructive way. For more tips on how to combat anxiety, click here.

Friday, October 28, 2016

How to Trick Your Mind into Eating Less

A young attractive woman holds a small plate full of fresh veggies.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
If you’re struggling with portion control, the following tips can help limit your food intake.

Brush Your Teeth After Every Meal

Brushing your teeth after every meal is a huge pain in the neck. And yet, that’s precisely the point. You’ll think twice about snacking throughout the day if you know you have to brush your teeth every single time. This tip is designed to limit you to eating only three meals a day.

Drink Water Before Each Meal

Believe it or not, often times when we feel hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Drinking water before a meal automatically makes us feel fuller and prevents the bloated feeling we get when we overeat. Plus, drinking water before a meal helps your body digest food more easily.

Use Smaller Plates

By nature, we can’t help but want to fill empty spaces. That’s why we pile way too much food onto large plates. Using smaller plates tricks our mind into thinking there’s more food on the plate than there actually is.

Wait 20 Minutes Before Going Back for Seconds

Most of the time when we overeat, it’s because we didn’t give our body enough time to let us know that it’s full. It takes time for the body to process food and if we’re not patient, we’ll end up overstuffing ourselves. Waiting 20 minutes before grabbing seconds will help give your body the time it needs to digest what it’s been given.

Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating means focusing on the taste, texture, and smell of our food. It means taking the time to fully savor each bite. When we eat in front of the TV, it diverts our attention away from our food to whatever is happening on screen. It mutes the full signal that our body sends to us. A quick easy fix to this problem is to limit distractions while eating.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fast Food Health Food

Photo: Shutterstock
Ever wonder why there hasn’t been a fast food restaurant that serves healthy and nutritious meals? I guess the closest thing we have to that would be Chipotle. But if you’re like most Americans, you can’t afford to spend upwards of $8 on lunch everyday. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of what I call, “fast food health food.”

All of the items that I list can be found at your local grocery store. They’re cheap, healthy, and require little to no effort to prepare.

Salad Kits

It’s not your fault that between work and your personal life, you don’t have a whole lot of time to spend on prepping salads. You have to buy all the veggies, wash them, slice them up, mix them together, and then put it all in a container to keep it fresh. This process dirties up a lot of dishes. Fortunately, the pre-packaged salad kits in your local supermarket do all the work for you. It’s cheaper than going out to eat and all you have to do is grab and go.

Frozen Organic Meals

People can talk about how unhealthy frozen food is all day. But you know what? Frozen organic meals are still a whole lot healthier than pizza, burgers, and fries (which is what people normally resort to when they’re feeling too lazy to cook). If you’re looking for some low-calorie, organic, non-GMO frozen meals, check out Amy’s.


Smoothies are a breakfast favorite of mine because of how fast they are to make. Additionally, they’re incredibly easy to consume and don’t dirty up a bunch of dishes. I use fresh bananas, frozen strawberries, and almond milk to make my smoothies. If I had to estimate how long it takes me to make, I’d say five minutes max.

Pre-Made Sandwich Wraps

Most grocery stores have a deli section that sells pre-made sandwiches and wraps. I can tell you right now that they’re a whole heck of a lot cheaper than going to Subway or Jimmy John’s. It’s nice too because you don’t have to buy all the ingredients individually. Much like the salad kits, all you have to do is grab and go.
What do you think of my idea of “fast food health food”? Do you think it’s helpful? Feel free to share any tips or tricks you have on convenient healthy eating.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lack of Sleep May Be Responsible for Weight Gain

A close-up photo of a preschool girl eating at a table alongside her fellow classmates.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Have you been getting your recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night? If not, here’s a new reason to catch up on those z’s: a study published by the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.

In all fairness, the study was conducted on preschoolers (ages 3 and 4). But that doesn’t mean the results aren’t relevant to older age groups. The study revealed that sleep-deprived preschoolers ingested about 20% more calories than normal. The preschoolers also consumed 25% more sugar and 26% more carbohydrates.

The next day, the children were granted as much sleep as they wanted. Researchers found that on this “recovery day” the preschoolers’ sugar and carbohydrate consumption returned to normal. However, they still ingested 14% more calories and 23% more fat than usual.

Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, lead author of the study, hopes that her latest research will provide answers to the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States.

"We found that sleep loss increased the dietary intake of preschoolers on both the day of and the day after restricted sleep," said LeBourgeois. “We think one of the beauties of this study is that parents were given no instructions regarding the kind or amount of food or beverages to provide their children."

The latest study comes at a time when the CDC estimates that more than a third of U.S. children and adults are either overweight or obese. While similar studies have been conducted in the past, this will be the first study to examine the effect that sleep has on eating habits in preschool children.

That’s not to say there aren’t issues with the study. For example, only five boys and five girls were studiedan incredibly small number to draw conclusions from. Additionally, since parents were in charge of tracking their children’s eating habits while they were at home, there’s no real way to verify the accuracy of those recordings.

With that being said, the study still reinforces the importance of sleep. Whether it’s for weight loss purposes or not, getting enough sleep is a cornerstone to good health.

Friday, October 7, 2016

New Study Illustrates the Health Effects of Hookah

A photo of a man smoking hookah.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Researchers from New York University’s College of Global Public Health and The Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health of the New York University School of Medicine have published a study on the health effects of hookah use. The study, let by Dr. Michael Weitzman, specifically focuses on youth and young adults.  

"We believe that our research adds to the understanding of the geographic and socio-demographic factors underlying hookah use," said Dr. Weitzman.

Statistics show that nearly 20% of young adults (ages 18-24 years) currently use hookah, which is nearly equivalent to statistics on cigarette use. Dr. Weitzman and his team tracked hookah smoking across the U.S. and examined the effects of long-term usage.


The findings were astonishing. Researchers found that hookah smoking has almost doubled among American adults within a very short time period. Researchers believe the recent increase is due to the societal belief that hookah is a healthier alternative to smoking. But Dr. Weitzman and his co-authors warn that hookah is just as addictive, poses similar risks as cigarettes, and actually results in larger quantities of smoke inhaled.

Interestingly enough, researchers also found that hookah smoking is more popular among single men with a higher education and income status. On the contrary, cigarette smoking is more common among poorer people with a lower level of education.

The team hopes that the new findings will result in stricter regulations when it comes to hookah smoking. They’re also hoping that new anti-hookah campaigns will be launched, much like anti-cigarette campaigns. But more than anything, the researchers want to protect the health of children and young adults who may not know any better when it comes to the risks they’re taking.

One thing the study doesn’t cover is the second-hand smoke effect of hookah. However, Dr. Weitzman and his team stated that this is a factor they would like to look into in the future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Latest in Cancer Treatment

A photo of a cancer pating laying in bed. She is listening to her doctor.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Part of what makes cancer so dangerous is that many cancers (especially those that attack organs) metastasize. Metastasis is when malignant cells or diseased organisms spread to other parts of the body by traveling through the blood, lymphatic system, or membranous surfaces. Metastasis makes it difficult for the immune system to even recognize that anything is wrong. That is why it sometimes takes so long before cancer is diagnosed.
Recent research has shown that a possible reason that tumors become “invisible” to the immune system is because they develop a deficiency in a certain protein called interleukein-33, or IL-33 for short. IL-33 seems to act as a marker for the immune system, allowing it to communicate that something is wrong and then attack the problem. Losing IL-33 and becoming invisible is obviously in the cancer’s best interest, but researchers are looking for ways to combat that.
Researchers think that by reintroducing IL-33 to tumors which have begun to metastasize, they might be able to keep them on the immune system’s radar. It’s important to realize that when tumors are noticed and removed, cancer patients often suffer relapses because once a cancer has metastasized, it won’t ever produce IL-33 again. In other words, if you don’t get rid of all of the cancer within a single procedure, it could come back. But reintroducing IL-33 gives the body a chance to fight cancer on its own terms.
Finding ways to use the immune system to fight against cancer is one of the major goals of cancer research, as the body provides a wonderful resource for healing itself. Unfortunately, things like cancer can adapt a lot faster than our bodies can, but with a little help from science now and then, the immune system has a much better chance of winning these biological wars.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

9 Fraudulent Foods That May Be Ripping You Off

A photo of a business man holding a burger stuffed with money.
Image: Shutterstock

The Congressional Research Service has just released a list of nine food categories with the highest reported instances of food fraud. Food fraud is when food manufacturers purposefully mislead consumers by mislabeling their products.

The most common form of this takes place when cheap ingredients are substituted for their more expensive counterparts. The consequences are horrific, and in some cases, even deadly. But consumers can protect themselves from falling victim to this scam by educating themselves about the most common food archetypes. Read on to learn more about why each one of these food categories is a target for con artists.


Certain varieties of fish can be quite expensive, leaving a huge loophole in which shady seafood companies can take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Oceana, an ocean conservation group, conducted a study on more than 25,000 seafood samples. The group found that one in five samples were incorrectly labeled.

Olive Oil

Like fish, olive oil can be expensive. Companies looking to make a quick buck are mixing cheaper oil varieties (such as canola, seed, and peanut oils) in with actual olive oil and passing it off as premium extra virgin olive oil.

Dairy Products

Milk is one of the most tampered with products on the market, probably because it’s so easy to get away with. Milk powders, urea, and rennet are among the most popular additives found in cheeses, yogurt, and infant formulas. They are used to recreate the creamy consistency of milk, but in actuality are just cheap, unhealthy knockoffs.

Natural Sweeteners

Maple syrup falls victim to this fraudulent activity all the time. In fact, most of the syrups sold in super markets are merely high fructose corn syrup, which is just a euphemism for overly processed sugar. Honey often falls victim to this practice as well. Real raw honey should be minimally processed, and is usually a bit pricey.

Fruit Juice

That “100% juice” sitting in your fridge? Yeah, it’s more than likely watered down or infused with food dye.

Coffee and Tea

Low-end coffee is often low-end because there are leaves, twigs, and other debris mixed into it. The same goes for tea, where mysterious shrubs, weeds, and herbs are mixed in with color dyes to impersonate the real deal.  


Take special care when purchasing pepper, saffron, turmeric, star anise, paprika, and chili powder. These are among the most common spices that are filled with counterfeit ingredients and artificial flavorings.

Organic Foods

Unless a product is specifically labeled “USDA Certified Organic,” it should be approached with caution. Any company can label their product “organic” or “all-natural” without oversight from the federal government. That’s why the only way to protect against non-organic products being sold as organic products is to make sure it is USDA certified.

Clouding Agents

Clouding agents are used to visually deceive consumers. They make products like jams, juices, and soups look more visually appealing by creating a murky effect. Of particular concern is a recent trend by some manufacturers who are replacing the typical solution with the plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). Studies have linked DEHP with cancer and reproductive complications.