Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, ROHP

International Best-selling & 16-Time Book Author, Board-Certified Doctor of Natural Medicine, Registered Nutritionist, Herbalist

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Dispelling the Myths about Probiotics

Discover the truth about probioticsThe other day I was flipping through a medical journal which touted probiotics as the “supplement of the year.”  I opened my e-mail inbox only a few hours later to find a news story showcasing probiotic-rich foods as the “health food of the year.”  It seems probiotics and probiotic-rich foods have earned their rightful place in the health and nutrition world. 

But it seems there is almost as much misinformation about probiotics as there is mention of these beneficial microbes.  As a probiotic researcher for 25 years and author of the soon-to-be-released book, The Probiotic Promise (DaCapo, January 2015), I’d like to shed some light on the facts and expose the fiction.  Be sure to subscribe to this blog as I’ll be sharing critical information over the weeks and months ahead—information that you can use to improve your health and quality of life.

Before I start tackling the essentials about probiotics, let me introduce myself a bit further.  I am a board-certified doctor of natural medicine, registered nutritional consulting practitioner, and registered orthomolecular health practitioner.  As the author of 16 books including several international best-sellers, many readers count on me for practical, no-nonsense health information.  Unlike many health sites on the internet, I have the clinical experience and health background to provide accurate information in my blogs.  You wouldn’t buy the plans for your dream home from an architectural coach; I think you should be as selective about where you get your nutrition and health information.

So, what exactly are probiotics?  Probiotics are living microorganisms that bestow health benefits when ingested in food or supplement form.  The first myth I regularly hear is that probiotics are “beneficial bacteria.” While it is true that probiotics count many beneficial bacteria in their numbers that is only part of the story.  Probiotics can also include other types of beneficial microbes.  Some beneficial yeasts are an example. 

Immediately when I say “beneficial yeasts” someone immediately pipes up that yeasts cause yeast infections.  Beneficial or probiotic yeasts DO NOT cause yeast infections and may even help boost your immunity so your body is better able to fight harmful yeast infections.

Stay posted.  I’ll be sharing lots more news you can use and helping you to get the facts straight on probiotics.  If you haven’t already subscribed to this blog, I hope you will. You can subscribe here.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, ROHP is an international best-selling and 17-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose books include:  60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, The Ultimate pH Solution, and Healing Recipes. She is the publisher of the free e-magazine World's Healthiest News.  Subscribe to receive health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Learn more about her work on her website DrMichelleCook.com.

Dr. Michelle's HealthySurvivalist.com Blog

The Disturbing Truth about Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte

Artificial Ingredients and No Pumpkin in That PSL

Before you grab that ever-so-tempting Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte on your way to work, you might be surprised to learn what’s in it…and, well, what’s not.  Since it is packed with artificial ingredients, I’ll start with what’s not found in the beverage.  There’s no pumpkin in a “Pumpkin Spice Latte.”  Isn’t it misleading to name a beverage after a nutritious and delicious food that doesn’t even make an appearance?  Based on the lengthy ingredients list, it is possible that there is pumpkin flavor, but no actual pumpkin.  Even if that’s the case it would be like adding apple flavor instead of apples to apple pie. 

And that’s just the beginning.  A grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte contains a whopping 49 grams of sugar!  That’s a lot for a single day, never mind a single beverage.  It also contains a massive 380 calories and 13 grams of fat, 9 of which are saturated fat.  While all of that is less than impressive it’s the artificial ingredients and preservatives that really concern me.

Here’s a list of ingredients found in a Pumpkin Spice Latte:

Sugar—No real surprise there except that it contains more sugar than a can of Coke (39 grams vs. 49 for the latte). 

Condensed non-fat milk and Sweetened condensed non-fat milk—Allergy alert:  even if you order a milk substitute like soy milk for your Pumpkin Spice Latte you’ll be drinking some dairy products.  So be aware if you have an allergy.

Annatto E160B color—While derived from natural sources, adverse reactions to annatto can include skin, gastrointestinal, airway, and central nervous system reactions. The journal Annals of Allergy reports on a case of a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction to annatto.  It is also reported to severely lower blood pressure.  Added for color to an otherwise dark brown coffee, it really serves no purpose.

Natural and artificial flavors-- This is a whole category of possible ingredients, none of which is specified and are usually classified as trade secrets.  However both natural and artificial flavors typically contain the toxin monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is frequently used in laboratories to create obese animals for testing.  Here’s an example of this practice.  And another

Caramel color E150D—According to Consumer Reports, “Some types of this artificial coloring contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI).” Adds Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., toxicologist and executive director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety & Sustainability Center, “There’s no reason why consumers should be exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food brown.”  Besides that, what’s a potentially health-damaging ingredient that serves no purpose other than to dye a food brown doing in a coffee when the coffee will make the beverage brown?

Salt—A “grande” contains 240 mg of sodium, which is a lot for a single beverage.

Potassium Sorbate E202-- Potassium sorbate has been shown in human studies to be both genotoxic and mutagenic. That means it damages genetic material and can cause mutations linked to disease, including cancer.

Milk--Starbucks uses 2% milk unless you request a different option.  The milk is from cows fed with antibiotics and likely fed genetically-modified corn, soy, and cottonseed as well.

Espresso—A “grande”-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte contains two shots of espresso. 

Whipped cream (contains vanilla syrup which further contains sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and caramel color.)

Pumpkin Spice Topping—contains cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and sulfites.  Sulfites have been known asthma triggers for many years and have even been banned from foods like salads.  According to Consumer Reports, “Sulfites can trigger severe asthmatic symptoms in sufferers of sulfite-sensitive asthma. People deficient in sulfite oxidase, an enzyme needed to metabolize and detoxify sulfite, are also at risk. Without that enzyme, sulfites can be fatal. Because of the danger, labeling is required when sulfites are present in foods at levels at or above 10 parts per million (ppm) or whenever they’re used as a preservative.”  Yet, I couldn’t find any mention of the Pumpkin Spice Latte containing sulfites on the Starbucks.com website and only discovered its inclusion from calling the company’s head office and asking for information.  Considering that 18.7 million American adults have asthma, and there are 3345 deaths caused by asthma annually in the US, use of sulfites shouldn’t be allowed and certainly not included in a spice blend on a popular coffee beverage. 

Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox and 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites HealthySurvivalist.com and DrMichelleCook.com, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.  Take the FREE WEEKEND WONDER DETOX QUIZ to determine which detox is best for you.


Make a Difference:  Tell Starbucks to Stop Using Toxic Ingredients in its Food and Beverages.