“Nutrition” shops are popping up all over the place selling shake drinks that make you think you are doing so good for your body. You might want to read further to see if that’s really the case.
You may remember a couple weeks ago I wrote “My Honest Review of Isagenix”. You can read that here if you missed it. Today’s post includes My Honest Review of Herbalife. Again, I have many people asking if this is all it’s cracked up to be. I had an opinion before I really researched but I was even more unpleasantly surprised when I dug into the facts. So, here’s the information I found.
As with Isagenix, I dug deeper into the label – not just the food facts panel on a few of their popular products. I was unable to get a good image of the nutrition information so here are the links to the information from Herbalife’s website I analyzed for each product. But, it all boils down to these main, unhealthy ingredients.
Protein Drink Mix:
Express Meal Bar:
SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE
One way to describe this is “YUCK.” Most of today’s soybean production comes from genetically modified (GMO) soybeans or “Round Up Ready” soybeans. I’ve read sources that say that anywhere from 85% to 95% of soybeans are genetically modified UNLESS a product is labeled nonGMO. These products do not make that claim.
In addition, soy consumption – which is high due to it showing up in tons of processed foods – is associated with hormonal disruption, thyroid disease (it is goitrogenic), gynecomastia (breast enlargement, even in men), digestive problems, food allergies and much more.
MONO- & DIGLYCERIDES
As you may have heard me discuss before, this is just another form of a trans fat. But, the FDA food labeling laws make this seem like a safe and benign ingredient in many foods. In processed products such as Herbalife, mono and diglycerides are used as an “additive” to emulsify the ingredients and give the product some shelf life. The bottom line, though, is that they do contain trans fatty acids but don’t have to be called out on the food label. Don’t fall for it.
ACESULFAME K & SUCRALOSE
AKA, artificial sweeteners. These are bad on many levels. Often, these products that are advertised as “healthy” are often marketed to young athletes. This bothers me. One of my goals is to make sure young people get the right information to keep them healthy rather than sick by the time they are 40. Artificial sweeteners impair gut health. This causes symptoms of depression and can lead to leaky gut and the associated food allergies and symptoms. Artificial sweeteners are also associated with migraines and nerve damage.
MILK, EGG, SOY & WHEAT
These products contain many common food allergens but the ingredients of these are hidden at the bottom of the label. I just pointed this out so that you are aware if you have one or all of these.
SYNTHETIC NUTRIENTS – VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Many of the ingredients listed on food facts panel show the inactive, cheap form of the vitamin or mineral. If you haven’t studied nutrition, you probably wouldn’t know this. Why would you? And, if a vitamin is listed as just the vitamin, such as Vitamin D, it is more than likely biounavailable. It should say something like Vitmamin D (as cholecalciferol). But many times, the description is still the cheaper form. Another example is DL – tocopherol acetate. This is just another form of the active D form. It is synthetic and according to Green Med Info’s website, “Dl-alpha tocopherol is a byproduct of a petrochemical dependent manufacturing process and may have adverse endocrine-disrupting activities, despite its molecular/chemical similarity to the natural isomer known as D-alpha tocopherol.” This is basically fake Vitamin E which is an antioxidant. But this site lists several sources that describe the damaging effects of this compound.
FRACTIONATED PALM OIL
This is just another hidden trans fat. Palm oil in and of itself is a good oil to use. It’s primarily a saturated fat – and no that’s not inherently a bad thing (keep watching for related posts on that topic). However, the process of making this oil is a bit disturbing. It is heated, cooled and then separated (fractionated) by using hexane (6-carbon compound) and acetone – you know the stuff in nail polish remover? Fractionated palm oil is used in processed foods for two main reasons:
- It can be used WITHOUT having to account for the trans fat (see labeling law info above)
- Since it is primarily saturated, it is more stable and contributes to a longer shelf life which is needed in processed, packaged foods.
So, there’s My Honest Review of Herbalife. I’ve touched on some of the obvious things that stood out to me to explain the unhealthy ingredients in Herbalife products. Again, people flock to the stores/people who sell this stuff under the guise of doing something good for their bodies. But buyer beware! It’s not healthy and it can actually cause you other health problems or make current problems worse. Please just be informed and at minimum, use these or any easy, go-to food very sparingly.
Hum. Reprod. (2008) 23 (11): 2584-2590. doi: 10.1093/humrep/den243
Hum. Reprod. (2010) 25 (12): 3083-3094. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deq288
Workplace Health Saf June 2008 vol. 56 no. 6 251-259