Thursday, December 3, 2020
Home Food & Recipes Nutrition Labels in Health Products: Here's What You Need to Know

Nutrition Labels in Health Products: Here’s What You Need to Know

What's the fuss about "misleading" product claims? We give you an explainer!

During the past few days, two doctors have been making noise on social media for a feud over traditional and modern medicine. Filipino doctor Farrah Agustin-Bunch and Australian physician and YouTube content creator Doc Adam Smith had been criticizing each other for their differing views on healthcare.

The issue stemmed from Doc Adam’s YouTube video where he calls out Dr. Farrah for her videos that give “false” medical advice to viewers. The Australian doctor debunks Dr. Farrah’s suggestions to put a “cabbage compress” on any body part that is swollen or eat siling labuyo if you feel like you’re having a heart attack. (Read: Traditional Filipino Healthcare Practices: How Effective Are They?)

Pwedeng mangyari ang pamamaga sa katawan mo dahil sa ilang reasons: heart failure, kidney failure, blood clots, liver failure. So kapag namamaga ang katawan mo, hindi mo kailangan ng cabbage. You need a proper physical examination,” Doc Adam explained.

It can be recalled that Dr. Farrah’s clinic in Victoria, Tarlac was ordered closed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018 for selling unregistered health products. “We again conducted a test-buy and purchased an item which we sent to the Center for Food Research and Administration. We confirmed the owners did not register their products after the first notice,” said Allen Bantolo, then acting chief of the FDA regulatory unit.

reading-nutrition-labels
Photos from The Doc Adam Shop and Dr. Farrah Agustin-Bunch, MD Facebook

Why Are Nutrition Labels So Important?

Among the unregistered health products from Dr. Farrah’s clinic is the Pixie Dust—the same product that Doc Adam has been calling out in his YouTube video. “Kapag may [sakit] ka, kaylangan mong uminom ng tamang gamot. [Kaylangan mo ng] tamang medical care. Para maiwasan ang complications,” Doc Adam says.

He then emphasizes the importance of reading nutrition labels—reminding everyone that not all products that claim to give certain health benefits are factual. “As a doctor, sinasabi ko sa inyo: Do not believe those crazy claims!” Doc Adam says. (Read: How do you eat healthy while in quarantine? We asked a nutritionist-dietician!)

So how do you ensure that you’re not being fooled by these “crazy” product claims? The simplest way is to learn how to understand nutrition labels!

reading-nutrition-labels
Photos from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and (background) Getty Images / Cnet

According to the US FDA, there are various nutrients, percentages, and values that can be seen on a nutrition label. (Read: Why Do Food Products Need an FDA Approval?) But with so much information, it can be hard to understand while in the middle of a grocery store. So here’s a short explanation of the commonly used terms in these labels:

  • Saturated Fat – a type of fat that usually comes from animal sources such as red meat. It is high in cholesterol and intake—hence should be decreased as it may cause cardiovascular diseases in the long run.
  • Sodium – a naturally occurring substance in food, but increases in amount when food is packaged or prepared. Sodium intake should be lessened as it can increase the risk of certain illnesses like stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease if taken in high amounts.
  • Total Sugars – the amount of sugars naturally present in the food item. This includes the sugars added during the food processing.
  • Added Sugars – the sugars added when food is being processed—sugars from sweeteners, or from concentrates for juices.
  • Percent Daily Value (%DV) – refers to how much of your daily nutrient intake is in that specific food.

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