03 May 2018
Watch Out: Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Safe!
Don’t be fooled, “natural” doesn’t always mean safe!
Have you ever bought a product because its label says it’s “natural”? Is “natural” something that makes you feel good about your purchases? If you ever grabbed a product off the shelf without actually looking at the ingredients list on the back because the label claims it’s “natural”, you are certainly not the first person to do so. But beware, there may very well be ingredients in that product that could be unsafe or detrimental to your health. Word of caution – don’t assume that natural equals good. Unfortunately, assuming that natural equals good is simply wrong. Let me explain.
The problem is twofold.
First: “natural” doesn’t mean good – not entirely and not always. All kinds of products are labeled natural these days, from chicken and soda, to cosmetics and oven cleaners. But sometimes that natural claim can be misleading. For one thing, not all natural ingredients are the breath of fresh air you’re looking for. Take carminic acid, a red dye extracted from pregnant scale insects; citric acid, made from fungus fermentation; and gelatin, made from the bones of livestock. And not all natural ingredients are benign. Some herbal ingredients like d-limonene from citrus oils and sodium lauryl sulfate, derived from coconuts, can irritate your lungs and skin. I certainly wouldn’t want to put lead on my skin or eat arsenic, both chemical elements that we find in nature.
Second: “natural” sometimes doesn’t mean anything at all, at least not in the way it’s most commonly used – to present a vaguely positive attribute in the hopes that we, the consumers, will buy it. In fact, in many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, there are no rules covering personal care products, cleaners, or processed foods when it comes to their labeling. So, companies are free to slap that on the label without any guidelines or anyone verifying their claim.
What can you do about it?
Next time you are about to purchase a product that claims to be “natural”, check the label. Become more educated about what you consume and why a product is good for you if it claims to be. Ask questions, research, learn, and if you’re not happy with what you find out, work to change the products you buy, your consumer behavior, or both. Remember that some products might actually be safe for you, not every company makes false claims; trying to lure consumers into buying their products. Just be mindful and don’t be fooled because more often than not, the “natural” claim doesn’t necessarily always mean good for you.
In my upcoming articles, I will discuss everyday products, talk about what to watch for and present you with options that are safer for your health. Stay tuned!
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