Caramel Coloring Dangers

Ever wonder how your “Coke or Pepsi” soda got it’s dark brown/black color? It actually comes from an ingredient often listed as “caramel coloring” …which isn’t so good for your health!

What Is Caramel Color?

Caramel coloring is the result is a burnt sugar and is the world’s most widely consumed (by weight) food coloring ingredient. It is not found only in colas, but also in sauces, gravies and baked goods.


Caramel Color Ingredients

The main concern scientists and consumers face today, is associated with the ingredients found within caramel color that form as a bi-product during processing. Recently (January 2014), The Food and Drug Administration (USA’s Health Regulatory body) started reviewing the literature and on Caramel Coloring in response to a study by Consumer Reports that showed varying levels of 4-methylimidazole – an impurity formed in some caramel coloring at low levels during the manufacturing process – in 12 brands of soda from five manufacturers.

coca cola

Image Source:

What is 4- MEI?

Though studies have to been conclusive about whether 4-methylimidazole is a carcinogen, California includes it on the state list of carcinogens and a state law mandates a cancer warning label on products that have a certain level of the substance. In reaction to that law, Coke, Pepsi and other soft drink makers have directed their caramel-colour suppliers to reduce the levels of 4-methylimidazole. Note however that It is not found in all caramel coloring’s.

Caramel Color Dangers

Why is this bad? It comes down to quantity consumed. Canadians consumed 3.5 billion liters of soft drinks in 2009, about 105 litres per person. What’s worse, is the Centre for Science in the Public Interest estimated that the caramel color in coke “Coke and Pepsi products” tested is causing about 15000 cancers in the U.S. population a year.

coca cola cancer

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed the chemical as being a possible cancer causing agent, while the State of California – under California’s Proposition 65 law – has placed a limit on the amount of caramel color that can be added to foods and beverages (29 mg), before a health-warning label must be applied to the manufacturer’s packaging. Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep tabs on the exact quantities these companies are putting in soft drinks, and studies are finding levels higher than 29 mg in one too many products.

So how can you avoid these harsh ingredients? It’s best to just limit the amount of soda you are consuming, or try to seek alternative options. Try looking on the label and avoiding the soda which has “caramel coloring” listed as an ingredient.

Matcha Benefits

Matcha is a high-end type of “green tea” that has the most incredible health benefits. If you’re not drinking matcha green tea yet, you’re behind the times! You must try this metabolism-enhancing, stress-reducing, immune-boosting, cholesterol-lowering, teenage-mutant-ninja cancer fighter!

Matcha Taste

Matcha tastes different to different people. However, many matcha enthusiasts would generally agree on the characteristics: 1. Alluring 2. Bitter 3. Misunderstood 3. Addicting 5. Complex.

If you don’t like your tea bitter and are a little afraid to purchase real matcha right away {despite the amazing benefits}, why not purchased a flavored version of the tea, such as the one by “Stash” below:

Matcha Benefits

What makes matcha more healthy that other types of green tea is the fact that you are actually drinking the “ground up tea leaves” themselves – instead of just the antioxidants etc. from the steeped tea.

How healthy may you ask? Lets just say Matcha green tea possesses an antioxidant levels 6.2 times that of goji berries, 7 times that of dark chocolate, 17 times that of wild blueberries and 60.5 times that of spinach!

To sum up all of the incredible benefits of “macha” green tea, refer to our lovely infographic below:




Matcha Recipes

Matcha can be quite intimidating when you first look at it and many people find themselves unsure of how to drink it. It can be a tad bitter, so it’s best to mix it with other ingredients. Here are a few Matcha Recipes:

matcha recipe

4 Surprising Foods That Will Help You Sleep

Natural Solutions For Insomnia Suffers

Are you someone who takes hours to fall asleep? Or perhaps your so stressed from your job and busy life that you can’t shut your brain off? Maybe it’s to much out of your control and you suffer from severe insomnia or jet lag? Why not consider a natural alternative? For example, did you ever think that the foods in your diet could help aid in a better night’s sleep?  This article focuses on four key foods high in melatonin, to help promote a better night’s sleep.

What Is Melatonin?

If you aren’t sure what melatonin is, let me explain. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in our body by the pineal and pituitary glands at the base of the brain (the part that regulates sleep and wake cycles). Melatonin plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system and is great for sleep regulation. It is also a very powerful and unique antioxidant.

The natural production of this hormone is greatly affected by light. Usually, the levels of this hormone begin to rise in the mid-to late evening, remaining high for most of the night, and then decline in the early morning hours.

Can Foods High In Melatonin Help You Sleep?

Our bodies naturally produce melatonin at night when we sleep. In fact, according to the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, approximately 5-25mcg of melatonin circulate in the blood stream of healthy young and middle aged men at night time. If we take an average of 15 mcg (which equals 15000 ng), this number can serve us as a comparison to foods with melatonin.

If our body produces approximately 15 000 ng of melatonin when we sleep, you can see how “tart (sour) cherry juice concentrate” could be very effective at helping us get to sleep (refer to infographic below). In fact, cherry juice concentrate has even more melatonin in it than our bodies produce at night! Therefore, if you want to have a good night’s sleep, you will only need as little as 100g before bed. I added a link to tart cherry juice concentrate below, if interested:

foods to help you sleep - high in melatonin

Melatonin Dosage

Generally, when you go to the store and get a natural supplement of “melatonin”, a single dosage can be way to strong and overbearing for what you actually need. Indeed, most melatonin supplements can be of animal origin (made of ground up pineal glands of cows or sheet) and synthetic (man-made).

Keep in mind the the daily dosages of synthetic melatonin vary greatly depending on the age and medical condition of a person and typically are in the range of 0.25-10 milligrams (the most common doses are 2-5 mg) to be take 20 to 120 minutes before bedtime.

Foods High In Melatonin Versus Supplements

What most people don’t realize is that even the smallest dose of synthetic melatonin is much higher than the amount normally circulating in one’s natural blood stream at night. Human blood contains between ~5-25 mcg of melatonin at night, so even the smallest dosage available synthetically (aka sold to you in the store) is 10-15 TIMES HIGHER than what is normally found in your blood!

It is important to remember that melatonin is a synthetic “hormone” and hormones can be quite scary. Even the smallest doses can offset in your body and result in unwanted implications such as abnormal health rhythms, dizziness, irritability, mood changes, itching, seizures, sleepwalking, stomach problems, vivid dreams, reduced sperm count.

Why not just consume foods high in melatonin? It makes complete sense. Scientific studies even show that higher doses of 10 mg/day (400 times higher than normal) do not produce better results than 0.25mg/day. This means that the most commonly used doses of 2-5 mg/day are then 80-200 times higher than melatonin normally found in the blood. YIKES!

This just shows you, how natural alternatives can sometimes be all you need. TART CHERRY ORGANIC JUICE CONC. is definitely something to consider or Ultra Slender Tea, as it is high in ginger – which contains lots of melatonin.

The High Fructose Corn Syrup Epidemic

Let’s face it, most of us don’t understand half of the ingredients on the side of a food label! It can be so daunting and confusing. However, one main ingredient you should keep an eye out for is “high fructose corn syrup”. Shockingly, American’s consume ~50 pounds of the stuff every year! This is almost as much as sugar itself, which comes in at 63.6 pounds.

High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks. As use of high-fructose corn syrup has increased, so have levels of obesity and related health problems, leading some to wonder if there’s a connection.

Why Is “High Fructose Corn Syrup” bad for your health?

It actually can increase your levels of (1) mercury exposure (2) hypertension and elevated blood cholesterol levels (3) long term liver damage (4) increase your risk of type two diabetes and (5) significantly increase your risk of weight gain and diabetes.

Below you will find an infographic on the deception and dangers of HFCS. The infographic also touches on the 6 main ways to avoid high fructose corn syrup.


You should follow me on facebook.

Kombucha Recipe

Kombucha Tea

Have you ever heard of kombucha tea? It’s taking storm at the moment and there are hundreds of natural “kombucha recipes” popping up everywhere {note: my favorite recipe is by “deliciously organic” here}. However, if you aren’t into making your own there are a few GREAT STORE-BOUGHT options now – which is quite exciting {the stuff takes 2+ weeks to make at home!}. Natures Emporium offers the most selection I have seen of the drink thus far.

What Is Kombucha?

Made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY, a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance), Kombucha didn’t gain prominence in the West until recently.

History of Kombucha

Kombucha has actually been around for more than 2,000 years. It is said to have originated in ancient China and was referred to as the “beverage of immortal health”. Today it’s gaining mainstream success in Montreal largely because of the local brand RISE Kombucha (refer to picture below), which is owned by Crudessence Kombucha Inc.

Popular Kombucha Brands

Since 2009, one brand in particular called RISE has sold more than one million bottles since 2009. The only downside is that it is a bit expensive – a standard 355 mL bottle costs around $3.50 to $4. However, it’s WELL worth it. The drink, which comes in bold flavors like mint chlorophyll and blueberry maple, is gaining a devoted following among health-conscious individuals looking for an alternative to sugary soft drinks.

kombucha recipe

I was also surprised to see that YOGI tea came out with their own Kombucha green tea {although I am not sure how the cultures can remain “live” in teabag form).

Health Benefits of Kombuca Tea

The benefits of kombucha are amazing. Many articles have been written on this topic, so I won’t get into it too much. Just know, it is very good for joint care (rich in glucosamines to prevent and treat arthritis), digestion and gut health (it’s a probiotic beverage), fight harmful yeast overgrowth in the body, reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, improve immune system (antioxidant rich), increase energy and aid in detoxification.

When you dive into the research you will even find that the Russian’s scientifically proved centuries ago the incredible benefits of Kombucha. For example, one study published in the International Journal of Food Research stated:

“Research conducted in Russia at the beginning of the century and testimony indicate that Kombucha can improve resistance against cancer, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote digestive functions, stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammatory problems, and can have many other benefits.”

So if you want an energy boost before the holidays and ensure that you do not get sick, make sure to pick up some Kombucha.

What are your thoughts on Kombucha? Do you like it? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂