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risky substances


Risky substances aren't limited to drugs, alcohol and nicotine. There are many risky substances disguised as food in our everyday lives. We have both a virtual Lunch & Learn as well as a Live Presentation in the Lake Nona Performance Club Wellness Hub to discuss how to support and speak to a loved one with substance abuse alongside helpful resources to the road to recovery. Check out our Calendar of Events for the day and times.

Recovery & addiction support resources

Resources for kids, teens & Parents

Avoiding Risky substance resources

Risky substance lurking in your daily life

Throughout the week of Lifestyle Medicine. we'll target some not-so-well-known risky substances so you can be more aware and make better choices for your health. Check back to see this list grow!


Additives & Flavorings

Chemicals are put in almost all processed foods and drinks to keep them from clumping, to make a liquid thicker, to emulsify or enhance flavor (with msg), and to preserve food from molding. They can also be coloring, artificial sweeteners and shelf stabilizers. When these additives and flavorings are in everything we eat, day after day, year after year, they cause digestive disorders and inflammation in the gut. But, with too little time to study their effects on human health, we can only guess that they are leading us into the future of cancer.

Most people don't understand the difference between natural and artificial flavorings. Artificial flavorings are made in a lab while natural flavorings started in nature, but then morphed in the lab. Both, at the end of the day, are artificial in the human body, and the bottom line is that you shouldn't be consuming processed foods that have artificial or natural flavorings added.

Flavorings are also driving the sodium levels we see in packaged goods - not salt. Did you know that one natural flavor can have more than 120 chemicals? It's a massive business for scientists. They create them and then sell them to Frito Lay and other big corporate companies.


Food additives are not Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), yet the FDA allows it in our foods where Europe generally does not. Flavorings are also loosely monitored by the FDA. The EWG website is helpful with up-to-date studies on these chemicals.


For a timely example, on August 23, 2022, it was announced that Starbucks is Being Sued in Federal court for their Refresher Drink missing any real fruit ingredients. This is a deceptive marketing tactic that's all too common in our society.


For more related educational content, click here to visit, 'Reading Ingredient Lists vs. Nutritional Labels' and click here to download a simple recipe for a healthy twist on a Starbuck's Refresher drink.

Processed Sugar

Refined sugar is added to most processed and packaged foods, pastries and sodas because of its addictive qualities to keep you hooked and coming back for more, just like a drug. The lasting effects are seriously hazardous to your health.

Added sugar is empty calories with zero nutrients and is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It wreaks havoc on your hormones, is a major cause of inflammation, and depletes energy. Without any fiber to slow down the glycemic index, you have the high of the sugar drug and then the crash that follows.

You can liken foods with added sugar to cardboard and chemicals once you accounted for the sugar, fillers, additives and natural or artificial flavorings.

Even the healthiest packaged granola has a ton of added sugar. It's easily disguised with hidden names so sugar doesn’t have to be listed as the first ingredient on the package. You'll instead see and should beware of any product that lists corn syrup, brown rice sugar, sucralose or anything else that ends with ‘lose’ as a first or second ingredient.



Like most subjects, you can find research to show the benefits and the health risks of caffeine. In reality, it impacts your nervous system, can impact sleep, depletes minerals, causes dehydration, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, nervousness, and an increased heart rate.

If all that doesn’t sound bad enough, it’s important to also know that mold is found in all coffee beans, so you aren’t just taking in caffeine, but also mold and neurotoxins. It’s best to drink organic coffee but you’re still likely getting microtoxins.

How can I get energy without coffee?

The truth is that nothing is going to give you an energy spike like caffeine, because it’s just like a drug and a great reason this topic is under the Risky Substances pillar of Lifestyle Medicine versus Nutrition. How do you get high without a drug? You simply can’t.

Caffeine puts your energy into a state of fight or flight; it brings you up and back down, just like sugar. Did you know there is no other food that does this, than sugar?

What about the mushroom coffee trend? The verdict’s still out as we’re skeptical about the sourcing from some of the most well-known brands. Mushrooms, when found through a clean and healthy source, are awesome and extremely medicinal.

The bottom line is if you want to have good, sustainable energy, you have to have a healthy lifestyle – sleep, nutrition, exercise, all plays a role.

So, what’s the prescription for a healthy lifestyle? A good start is to begin each morning with warm lemon-ginger water, have a juice followed by a smoothie, a meal and then dinner between 6 and 6:30 pm.

Salt / Sodium


Our bodies need salt to function properly, and it's a necessary ingredient when cooking to enhance the flavor in food. But, not all salt is created equal, because many are processed and bleached. It’s best to find Celtic sea salt, Himalayan salt or rock salts that need to be grinded.

In excess, salt can be harmful to your health. As shown on nutritional labels, salt is labeled as sodium, but most sodium doesn’t actually come from salt. It’s found in processed, packaged food and is used for flavor and shelf life. While sodium is a naturally occurring mineral found in foods, it can also be added during the manufacturing process. This is when it becomes harmful to your health.

Natural sodium and salt are healthy for the body, but when sodium-rich processed foods are eaten in excess, it can cause kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even high blood pressure.

To reduce sodium in your diet, you must make real food on your own. Sodium is in most processed foods, condiments, frozen foods, and even the flavor enhancers commonly used in packaged foods today. It’s a massive business with very low FDA regulation, so you must be very cautious about how much you and your family consumes in a day and throughout the week.


It’s the things we do day in and day out that determine our future health. Enough time has not past to study the long-term effects of these sodium-rich flavorings, but we are confident when we say, they are the future of cancer.

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