Sushi Secrets

Secrets secrets are no fun!  Secrets secrets hurt someone!  That someone is you….


I love sushi!

As you might have heard, the Japanese are one of the cultures that have the longest life expectancy. Many studies have been conducted to find out why this is true. All studies point in one direction. Their diet. Raising land animals isn’t very practical in Japan, so right off the bat they are protected from factory farming practices and meat/dairy products that are filled with harmful additives, antibiotics, and growth hormones. The Japanese rely mainly on very healthful staples such as sea vegetables, fresh fish, rice, buckwheat (soba) noodles, and fermented soy products such as miso.

Cowfish – Taking the healthiest Japanese traditions and destroying them one cow at a time.  The typical Japanese diet contains little to no land animal products.

I, too, want to realize the benefits of these healthful foods and live a long life! So naturally, one of my favorite foods to eat when I am not cooking is sushi! I only eat certain kinds of sushi and have it prepared as simply as possible. The typical “American” Japanese restaurant is destroying the basic Japanese ancient health tenants, westernizing your meal by adding all sorts of chemicals and additives. If you are eating sushi because you think it is healthy – Please look a little closer at what’s really lurking in your roll…

Start with a simple salad  – Extra cucumbers and romaine lettuce make a excellent appetizer to sushi .  Always ask for dressing on side


Simply Prepared – Tuna Avocado Salad over shredded daikon noddles (Japanese radish) and ponzu on the side

Speaking of rolls, rolls were not typical in Japan. Neither was eating sushi on a normal basis. Sushi is considered a special occasion food and is very expensive in Japan.  Most sushi in Japan is served similarly to the picture below. This “nigiri” is prepared by the chef and the chef intends for you to eat it exactly like it is served, using your fingers. No, you don’t dip it in a huge bowl of sodium filled soy sauce.

Nigiri – The most common form of original Japanese sushi
Lots of variety of rolls out there – what’s really in these colorful little creations?

Rolls really are a western phenomenon that developed when sushi became more popular in other cultures outside of Japan. Most people who are just starting out with sushi are commonly recommended the “California Roll.” The reason westerners started with this roll, is because it was the most normal sounding.  “Already cooked crab meat and avocado, that can’t be all that bad – sure I’ll try it.” California was the entrance for many Japanese chefs that started serving sushi in America.  They needed a substitute for “Toro” fatty tuna and the oily and fatty nature of avocado worked perfectly. Also they hid the seaweed by making the roll inside out because Americans were not accustomed to the texture of seaweed “nori”.

Yasu from Nikko is my boy – Everyone should find a sushi chef they can trust

True Japanese chefs are artists and take the aesthetics and quality of ingredients seriously when preparing food, however, this has gone by the wayside in many sushi restaurants. The chefs have to use the ingredients the restaurant owners buy from food manufacturers… Food colorings, excitotoxins (MSG), harmful preservatives, and transfats are everywhere in those products. Let’s closely examine the favorite items from any typical sushi menu….

1. Don’t order the Seaweed Salad – Food coloring is added to make that bright green color as are additional harmful preservatives. Yellow #5 has the strongest link to severe allergic reactions and Blue #1 has caused brain cancer in lab animals.

Another dupe from Dean & Deluca
Lots of additives and food coloring for typical westernized seaweed salad!


This is the real deal rehydrated seaweed served with my Hamachi – yum.

2. Ordering Edamame – Beware of non-organic varieties, as they are full of pesticides and have been genetically modified. Skip it if the restaurant can’t tell you it’s organic.

3. Forget Fish Roe (Tokibo) – These tiny little fish eggs are cultivated and then dyed beautiful colors to help you feast with your eyes! Look but don’t touch!

Tuna Avocado Salad – Ask for the ponzu on the side and forget the Tobiko and you have some good eats!

4. Eliminate Imitation Crab – This the typical “fish” found in the California roll and many other rolls. This stick of processed crap is really comprised of minced fish meat from several different fishes left over in some factory somewhere, dosed with fillers of egg whites, gluten, artificial colors, sorbitol, and a bunch of other ingredients like hydrolyzed soy protein and disodium inosinate – forms of MSG, which are excitotoxins that are horrible chemicals that wreak havoc on the human bodies.  Check out this link to see a picture of all the ingredients in your “Japanese crab”. If you want to read more on why excitotoxins are dangerous check out this book or just even read the free reviews on amazon: “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills”

I am pretty sure that is a California Roll in the advertisement for Cowfish. Imitation Crab Meat is not good for your health.

5. Freak out on Farmed Salmon – I would say the majority of sushi restaurants serve farmed salmon. This stuff is dreadful – the poor fish are fed lots of corn, antibiotics, food coloring pellets to make them turn bright pink and left to grow in toxic pools with high levels of chemical pesticides. The main reason why salmon is healthy for you is because of the Omega 3 fatty acids, how is a farmed fish eating corn going to provide any of those nutrients to you? Did you know farmed salmon has about 50 extra calories per 3 ounce serving than wild salmon and contains half as much of the available Omega 3? Just choose other types of fish – here’s a great guide to sustainable and safe fish that my friends at EDF shared with me. They partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium to create it. There’s also a Seafood Watch App available on the iTunes store as well as Android Market for free! Although I don’t go there often because it’s too far from my house – New Zealand Café is one of the places that serves wild salmon sushi.

Aren’t those beautiful jalapenos! Choose other types of fish if there isn’t wild salmon

6. Limit your dip – One tbsp of soy sauce has roughly 500 mg of sodium…. Those little bowls are easy to fill up and if you fill it up to the top, it can contain over 2500 mg of sodium! That is a ridiculous amount of sodium to be consuming at one meal. Wonder why your skin is all puffy or why your stomach is bloated?  I personally don’t even use soy sauce anymore, I use a small amount of “ponzu” sauce that I ask the Japanese chef for. It’s a little sweeter than soy sauce because it contains some mirin (Japanese cooking wine), but has about half the salt of even the low sodium version of soy sauce.

7. Dairy doesn’t belong in Japanese cuisine! – Cream cheese? Spicy Tuna made with mayo? – These probably contain non-organic dairy and if you were paying attention from above, the typical Japanese diet doesn’t contain any dairy.  This is another example of how westernizing sushi has turned its health value upside down.  If you really can’t live without the garlic mayo – try asking the chef to include it on the side – a little can really go a long way!

8. What’s up with the fake Wasabi? – Real Japanese horseradish is amazing for you!  It’s got a wonderful anti-carcinogenic effect for your body.  Meaning, it can fight all sorts of toxins and pollutants your body can get exposed to over time and prevent many forms of cancers. Wasabi is also anti-microbial, which is important because it helps prevent forms of raw fish bacteria from harming your body. Now for the sad part, most sushi restaurants are using a cheap alternative they can get in bulk in the form of powder. This powder, unfortunately, contains harmful additives like food coloring (Yellow and Blue make Green!).  High quality restaurants will have the real deal, but you have to ask. Ask quietly and nicely and they might share with you!

Ask for the real deal – Japanese Wasabi Root “Rhizome”

9. Recognize your Rice – Sushi rice is typically short grain rice that is polished white, cooked and then mixed with rice wine vinegar.  When you add vinegar to the rice, this decreases its glycemic index, thus reducing the surge in blood sugar you normally would have if you ate rice alone. Ah ha! This is how the Japanese get away with eating white rice! Ancient Japanese secret unveiled! But does that mean you go crazy with the rice? No…. This is what I do instead. Since I prefer to have lower quality carbs as dessert, I order my vegetable roll sans rice and add asparagus – Check it out – this is so “delicious and refreshing” ….I’m quoting a business partner I recently went to lunch with…. He loved it and said “I don’t even miss the rice!”  Also there is the option of ordering brown rice at some places, this is a nice substitute if available.

My special roll, vegetable roll no rice + aparagus
Earth Fare is my go to grocery store for fast ready made sushi – Brown Rice tuna rolls and vegetable spring rolls in rice paper!

10. Don’t be tempted by Tempura – Think twice about ordering any roll, menu item or dessert that is fried or has the word “tempura” in its description. What kind of oil are they using to fry? This is huge. Do they fry it in transfat? Corn or soy oil? Or the traditional seasme oil, which would be the best alternative – find out! Ask them before you order!

Nikko serves local GINGER icecream made at Elizabeth Creamery – Perfect for a let loose night out!  I asked Yasu for a traditional Japanese dessert that wasn’t fried.
SUSHI LOVE! Here with Joanna, the owner of my favorite sushi spot – Nikko!

305 Responses to “Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health”

  1. Renge'

    Thank you, Vani, for the gum info. I’m a big fan of Spry peppermint gum, but did not know about the digestive enzymes being released. I have heard of their production waning with age, and am currently in a weakened digestive system state and add them to each meal in pill form. Unfortunately, regarding your alternate suggestion, I hate fennel, and licorice flavor. Instead, I find a little swig of chlorophyll, preferably a mint-flavored one from the healthful store, to be amazing at freshening the breath. Also, munching on a plain stick of celery (yuck) really does the trick too! Thanks for all your efforts to educate the public, Food Babe!!!

  2. Michelle Cannon

    My kids stopped chewing gum YEARS ago, when they started sneaking aspartame into it. There is literally only one gum I can find that doesn’t have it. Of course, gum isn’t the only thing they sneak it into these days. As long as they keep sugar in the product, they can sneak the aspartame in without labeling it “sugar-free”, which used to be a heads-up for those of us watching out for this evil chemical.

  3. Ian

    Also if you look at the Spry gum it says it contains Titanium Dioxide, do some quick research on that and you will quickly find out why you should avoid that. I make all my own tooth paste for various reason including TD. Do some research on that to show just what people thinking brushing their teeth does to their bodies.

    • Nicole (to Ian)

      Could I PLEASE have your recipe for toothpaste? I cannot find one that does not contain carrageenan in it, even at the health food store :/


    Food Babe! Thank you very much for this powerful post on the horrors of chewing gum! Perhaps you and your fellow followers would be interested in VerMints certified organic, gluten-free and kosher mints! We are also vegan and nut-free!

    Check it out:

    • Michelle (to

      I am a type 1 diabetic and needed to replace glucose tablets(has artificial flavors, colors, etc.) for when my blood sugar is low. VerMints to the rescue. I keep them in my purse, coat pockets and car for when my blood sugar drops too low.

      • VerMints (to Michelle)

        Michelle! We are so happy to hear our mints are refreshing and were a perfect, healthy replacement to your glucose tablets! Happy Holidays to you!

      • VerMints (to Michelle)

        Michelle! We are so happy to hear that our mints have been a refreshing, healthy replacement for your glucose tablets! Happy Holidays to you!

      • VerMints (to Michelle)

        Michelle, if you could mind getting in touch with us via e-mail, we would love to ask you a few questions. Best, VerMints

      • Michelle (to Michelle)

        I emailed the address from your website on Dec 17 and have not received a reply. Possibly the holidays, possibly the wrong email address?

  5. Mallory

    So how about mints? Are those suitable to replace chewing gum?

  6. karen

    thanks a lot. I now know the demerits of chewing gum

  7. Leticia

    PHENYLALANINE is simply an amino-acid. It is a constituent of MOST PROTEINS and is 100% natural and 100% safe.
    The ONLY reason it is listed on gum packages is because people do not expect gum to contain any proteins… But they do contain some, apparently. And the protein-constituent phenylalanine can be dangerous for ONE kind of people: people who have phenylketonuria, a rare condition that prevents from metabolizing phenylalanine. Everyone else is perfectly safe with phenylalanine!

    • Kristina (to Leticia)

      Actually!!! If Phenylalanine is an ingredient, which, BTW, is an essential amino acid, it needs to be listed. NOT because it is a protein, but because people with PKU (a hereditary digestive disorder) can not digest phenylalanine. These people will develop the symptoms listed if it is consumed in excess amount. The average person needs this amino acids in moderate amounts and will not develop the symptoms. Please stop sensationalizing things and check your facts ppl!!

  8. Ingrid !

    Hi Vini! I recently found your blog thanks to the post on “El Tiempo” newspaper. I have to tell you that I am addicted to gum since i can remember and i almost fall on my butt when i read this post and the facts about aspartame. I decided then do some more reaserch to know the side effects from those that suffer from sweet poisoning and it turned i suffer from a lot of them!!!!!!!! It was so scary. I have thyroid issues that can also explain these symptoms; however, i do not want to know about gum EVER in my life! Thanks for sharing all these things with us and make us want to be healthier…..

  9. Amber

    Trident Cinnamon Gum burned me. Literally. The artificial cinnamon flavoring caused lesions in my mouth that felt as though I had swished with extremely hot water and scalded my entire mouth. I have NEVER had a reaction to natural cinnamon. Bad stuff, for sure!

    • MARY DEBBIE BESHAY (to Amber)


  10. Becky

    Just an FYI, xylitol is extremely toxic to animals, I know because my dog almost died from ingesting it. Ours was lucky, because she vomited most of it back up. Our vet said that most animals die from ingesting xylitol containing gum. So if you do buy products with this in it be sure to keep it far far away from your pets. You don’t want to end up with a $2000 vet bill like me or with a dead pet.

    • Kris (to Becky)

      Hi, I think everything can be toxic if a ‘safe’ dose is exceeded. My dog almost died from cardiac arrest after he’d eaten entire chocolate bar. What’s wrong with Xylitol after all? We’ve ditched all other sweeteners from sugar through stevia at home, now using only it.

  11. jill

    Stopping chewing gum (just like stopping eating animal products because of inhumane treatment) does not really solve the big problem. When I buy a NON sugarless gum, I expect it to be full sugar and nothing else. What can we do to keep aspartame out of non-sugarless products? I understand they are also (or soon will be) putting aspartame in milk. I believe the original dentyne and chicklets don’t contain aspartame, but you can’t get them anymore. Most people don’t even realize aspartame is in their food. Is there anything we can do to get these corporations to stop putting this in our food?

  12. Mary

    I’m interested in any supporting clinical documentation you have for the statement: “Artificial Sweeteners are proven to stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and promote fat storage and weight gain.”

    • Jo (to Mary)

      I, also, would like to see this documentation. Any citation at all would be appreciated.

    • Lynn (to Mary)

      Yes, I too, am interested in the data behind the statement.

    • Nancy (to Mary)

      I have read in multiple articles that artificial sweeteners increase your appetite. So much so that I thought that it was common knowledge. That’s why drinking a diet drink with your drive thru food is pointless. It still messes with your blood sugar. You could probably do a web search and find out plenty.

    • Scott Fuller, DC (to Mary)

      The book “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills” by Russell Blaylock, MD is a great read and has many references.

      Google the word “excitotoxins” and many good references will come up.

  13. Laura

    I love Glee gum. It is non GMO project verified!

  14. Kiran

    Hi Food Babe,

    You should consider vitamin gum, as a better alternative to the gums out on the market.

    The gum allows for fast and effective absorption of nutrients into the body, and contains 12 essential vitamins, including 10% each of the recommended daily intake of Vitamins A, C, D, E, B-complex and Folic acid. It is also sugar and aspartame-free!

  15. meiswade

    Now I wish my grandfather never would’ve quit smoking cigars using gum… He’s slowly killing himself with that poison.

  16. Jerri Greenawald

    As a massage therapist I don’t advocate gum chewing, because of how it effects the jaw muscles, I work on a lot of clients with TMJ issues. If I am going to chew gum this is the only one that I chew, its called Slique Gum: ingredients are Frankincense Resin (Boswellia frereana), Gumbase, Isomalt, Sorbitol, Natural Flavors, Calcium Stearate, Natural Sweeteners, Colors (Red Cabbage Juice, Turmeric,), Slimming Fresh Mint Essential Oil Blend: (Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) Oil, Spearmint (Mentha Spicata) Leaf Oil], Xylitol. Chewing frankincense resin is very healthy for you oral health.

    • Donald J Marcus (to Jerri Greenawald)

      That gum can only be purchased through young living or any young living distributor.
      They also make it in a tea formula.

  17. Tiffany M

    I found Peelu gum to be effective as well.

  18. Don Yosef Marcus

    Go into any Indian food stores to purchase These candied fennel seeds. It seems the Indians were way ahead of us in knowing about & chewing fennel seeds after their meals.

  19. Maritza Gomez

    Try “Simply Gum!” Only six 100% natural ingredients. It’s tastes great and you can even make bubbles!

  20. Jennjenn

    What about the gum pur?

  21. Christina

    I can definitely see gum in the first picture…. Not quite sure what you were trying to prove there but just FYI there are 4 different brands of gum in that picture. And where can I find the research or any studies about how chewing gum taxes your digestive system and makes is produce less and less digestive enzymes ? Thanks!

  22. Seekthetruth

    I assume you know that chewing gum was banned in Singapore to prevent littering. What am I saying? Of course you don’t!

  23. Michelle Middleton

    Somehow when on this page I ended up at a website advertising/selling Simply Gum. What do you think of this brand. Obviously I will still keep in mind the enzyme production, but for kids maybe switching to this occasionally as a treat perhaps?

  24. Jenn

    What are your thoughts on B-fresh gum? I use Spry for their mint gum, but for bubblegum, I use B-fresh. Here are the ingredients….

  25. sarah

    Simply Gum is the only 100% natural gum on the market – all other gums contain “gum base.” Gum base contains a ton of horrible chemicals, including polyvinyl acetate (plastic). That includes Glee, Pur, Spry, etc. – look at the ingredient list – they all have “gum base.” If you ask any of these companies what’s in their base, they will admit that it’s synthetic plastics.

    • Dee (to sarah)

      I’ve personally contacted Spry, they said their gum base is naturally derived from jelutong tree and contains no synthetic plasticizers.

  26. Andrew

    GLEE gum is pretty good….give it a try. No GMOs or other bad things in it :D

  27. Lori Lieberman, Rde, MPH, CDE, LDN

    hmmm, encouraging sugar alcohols because they’re natural? I guess if you like the resulting natural diarrhea that results from high intake of the stuff.

  28. Cathye

    Please do not publish this comment, as my friends, who do not believe me, will recognize this post! Would you please write about the dangers of microwaving in styrofoam as well as plastic bowls and plastic wrap? Nowadays, mu friends just call me a nagging friend and refuse to listen. However, they LIVE by your writings! Thanks so much and forgive me if you’ve written about it recently, as I’m new here! Please, please post it again! You just might be saving a few lives! Thanks again!

  29. Sue

    In looking up Xylitol info, here is something I found:

    In a long term toxicology study on rats researchers found that xylitol caused a significant increase in the incidence of adrenal medullary hyperplasia in male and female rats in all dose levels tested (5%, 10% and 20%).5 That means it caused abnormal cell growth in the adrenal glands. In one higher-dose study in which mice consumed 20 percent of their diet as xylitol, there was a significant increase in the mortality of the males as compared to those consuming sucrose.6 A major study in dogs found an increase in liver weight associated with xylitol use.7

  30. Mark Stolzoff

    Spry gum has gum base

    Instead of telling customers what they are really chewing, the phrase “gum base” is used to generalize a list of ingredients that is never actually published. As the name implies, it is the foundation agent of chewing gum. We have tried exhaustively to find exactly what modern “gum base” is made from. We found the following babble repeatedly regurgitated by all of the major gum companies. It was obviously meant to derail serious research:

    “Gum base is produced through a blend of raw materials which can be categorized in five classes:

    Elastomers, act as the key ingredient and provide elasticy
    Resins act as binders and softeners
    Plasticizers render the elastomer soft to ensure thorough blending of the gum base
    Fillers contribute to the overall texture
    Anti-oxidants prevent oxidation of the gum base and flavors during shelf life”
    Since this was repeated identically at all websites that we looked at, we can only assume that all of these companies are actually owned by the same people, or at least they are working together as a cartel to cover-up an honest disclosure of what is in gum. We eventually confirmed that the ingredients of gum base are commercial trade secrets. None of the websites told us the full ingredients. For instance, exactly what plasticizer is used? Are people chewing on super-toxic PVC? The plasticizing agents could contain dioxins, and quite frankly, they probably do.

  31. Ken

    I am not saying Spry gum is good or bad, but before you supoort any product, please read the ingredient list and do your own research:
    Xylitol is made from sawdust that is chemically treated and digested.
    Peppermint Oil contains pesticides (natural psticides, but are those safer than synthetic pstticides).
    Is the vegetable gylcerin made from non-GMO veggies?
    Titanium dioxide is used to paint tennis courts and spaceships, and has recently been classified by IARC as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
    Is the beeswax harvested from hives protected from pesticides and GMO organisms?
    Spry’s and Food Babe’s marketing is the best…It will fool even the smartest of people unless they know to ask the nature of certain ingredients, and don’t assume that because some ingredients are non-GMO that doesn’t mean all are.
    Do you really chomp on this gum? Would you really suggest others do as well?

  32. Holly

    I personally have experienced oral problems associated with commercial sugar free gums. It used to be my go to fix whenever going to the gym or when I wanted to suppress my appetite. Then I started to have a serious burning inside my mouth especially the lips and my inner cheeks. I was diagnosed with Oral Lichen Planus. An auto immune disease. I would have weekly flair ups. A year ago I stopped chewing these gums and have not had a single problem since. I found the culprit.

  33. serulin

    Wow thanks so much for this post! Awesome alternative to any freshener and its healthy!

    1 question though, how long does the effect last? And do you really have to chew 1/2 tsp? That sounds like a lot.

  34. ANGEL

    Have you tried Pur spearmint gum which is aspartame free? We get it on amazon, and the ingredients are:
    xylitol, gum base, natural flavors, carnauba tocopherols.
    The flavor doesn’t last long, but it’s not as harmful as most gum.

  35. Racheal Layhee

    My son takes an inhaled steroid daily and because of that has a huge # of cavities. Apparently the steroid is drying out his mouth so his dentist recommended that he chew 2 pcs. of Spry gum 3 x daily to help create saliva in his mouth to protect his teeth.

    Do you recommend anything else besides gum to help him keep his mouth moist on a daily basis to protect his teeth? My son is only 5 and we want to do all we can to keep him healthy!

    Thank you!! <3

  36. Jennifer

    I have known about the dangers of aspartame for years and finally found a gum I can chew. It’s called Pur. No aspartame. I can only find it at Meijer though. Less gum and more expensive but if you are an every gum chewer, it’s worth it! I also stay away from fluoride and only drink distilled water.

  37. aed939

    Regarding Pur, Glee or Spry gum, can anyone confirm that there is no hidden neotame? My understanding is that neotame is so sweet compared to aspartame that it does not have to be listed in the ingredient list, as it is less than 1% of the ingredients (or it is hidden under “natural flavors”).

  38. Ricky

    Does this lady think Singapore doesn’t have gum because it is unhealthy? Gum is illegal there because people stick it under chairs and tables. Spitting is also illegal there.

  39. Linda (to Gerald)

    Artificial gmo sugar could come from genetically modified beets or corn syrup. It is artificial because it may contain DNA from species unrelated to the plant, such as DNA from fungus, bacteria, or a virus found to have been resistant to certain pesticide(s).

  40. Gerald (to Linda)

    This is just wrong. Learn about genetics before you post, please.

  41. Nick (to Linda)

    Sugar is a molecule. It doesn’t contain DNA.


Leave a Reply