Use These 27 Powerful Apps to Knock Unhealthy Food Out of Your Life

Use These 27 Powerful Apps to Knock Unhealthy Food Out of Your Life

Story at-a-glance -

  • Americans now spend about 10 percent more time on apps than they do on a web browser
  • Applications that can help you take control of your health include fitness tools for learning new techniques and tracking performance; diet apps to quickly evaluate carb, fat and protein consumption; shopping guides, including non-GMO listings; radiation calculators; and a handy app to evaluate vaccine ingredients

Eating Rules has assembled a grand list of apps to help you eat more healthily. The list includes apps for --

  • Healthier shopping and eating
  • Sustainable, organic, and non-GMO food
  • Eating locally and in-season
  • Allergy, gluten-free, and vegetarian/vegan food
  • Cooking and recipes
  • Calorie counting

Here's just a few examples of what they found:

Fooducate: This free app lets you scan the barcode of any product, then gives you a letter grade, the number of calories per serving, and additional relevant health-related information.

True Food: This free app from the Center for Food Safety is filled with tons of great information and resources, as well as ways you can take action.

Locavore: As soon as you start this free app, it finds your location and displays a list of local fruits and vegetables currently in season.

Is That Gluten Free: You can search their database of over 23,000 items to find out if food is gluten-free.

For many, many more, you can click on the link below.

In addition, here's another helpful app found by Gizmodo -- a calculator you can use to check how much radiation you are being exposed to whenever you fly in a plane.

By Dr. Mercola

As many of you know, technology has been one of my passions for many decades. It was my combined passions for health and technology that prompted me to start up this website back in 1997.

You may not be aware of it, but there is a computer platform revolution going on. The second link above documents that, for the first time ever, in June of this year, people in the US spent more time on mobile apps than they did on the internet. In fact, they spend about 10 percent more time on apps than they do on a web browser. The internet is being progressively relegated to a background infrastructure that allows people to access the data through apps with an elegant user interface.

This is shockingly remarkable when you consider that mobile apps have only been around for three years. Today, there are literally hundreds of thousands of smart phone and iPad applications available for just about anything you can think of, and some of them can be extremely useful, allowing you to access vital health information at a moment's notice no matter where you are. In this sense, technology can really allow you to leverage your ability to stay healthy.

It seemed appropriate at this stage of the technology revolution to highlight some of the better applications you can use to optimize your ability to improve your health.

Eating Rules has created a great list of 27 apps to help you find healthful foods, decipher labels, evaluate nutritional content, avoid potentially toxic food additives, and more. Plus I will list a few that I have personally found to be useful.

What is the Best Device for Mobile Applications?

Many of you may remember that I am not an Apple fanboy. I never purchased an iPhone and actually compared the iPad to a rock back in February of last year. I only got an iPad as a gift this past Christmas. But once I had a chance to use it, I became quickly convinced that it was precisely what Steve Jobs said it was: "magic."

A whopping three million iPad's were sold within the first 80 days of its launch in April of last year. The iPad is definitely one of my favorite gadgets. I simply do not travel without it as it is a nearly ideal way to devour electronic content. Every expert I have read gives it a significant advantage over other tablets and it will likely retain its lead for the next several years.

I hate wasting time and whenever I get stuck in line somewhere and have to wait unexpectedly, I whip out my iPad and make the unexpected delay useful.

It is not a great device for being able to write or edit content as you would need to hook it up to an external keyboard for that. However it is FAR easier to respond to emails on an iPad than it is on any smartphone, in my opinion. I also find it great for checking the weather. I've downloaded all the major weather applications and have concluded that the Weather Channel's free application is the best. It is particularly useful to use the radar section when big storms come through as you can predict with great precision when and how severe the storm will be. It helped me last week when we had severe thunderstorms and tornados blast through Chicago that shut down O'Hare and had them evacuate the terminals.

So if you have been on the fence with the iPad, don't be. It's an absolutely amazing device. I believe the iPad 3 is tentatively scheduled for release before this Christmas so if you can wait, then do so. If not, get it now.

Let me save you some money and grief though about which model to get. I would strongly suggest you AVOID the 3G model. You will pay $100 more and it only works if you activate for the monthly data plan through Verizon or AT&T. However it is a slow connection and most of the cool apps (see below) will NOT work as the speed is too slow.

So what you can do is purchase a Verizon 4G Mobile Hotspot for only $50, and about the same rate for the much slower 3G network. The speed is over 10 Mbps and is faster than 70 percent of most people's home internet connection. It works in nearly all the major urban areas but reverts back to slower 3G connection in rural areas. I personally switched my phone to the Verizon Thunderbolt, which also uses the Verizon 4G LTE network. It hotspots to my iPad and my computer and up to six other devices as the same time so it is very useful for sharing connections with friends or relatives when regular WiFi is unavailable.

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My Favorite Mobile Apps that Help You Take Control of Your Health

One of the primary reasons for posting this article was to get YOUR feedback. Many of you have been using these health apps for some time and I suspect you have found some good ones. So let's make a deal. I will share my favorites and in exchange you can write a comment in our section below that tell us yours and what your experience has been with them. This will not only help me but all the millions of others that read this site.

So, I will start. My two favorite apps that I use virtually every day are Fitness Builder and MyFitnessPal.

There are loads of exercise applications on the net but FitnessBuilder is the most comprehensive fitness database in the world. It contains the largest library of exercise images and videos, the most challenging workouts across all disciplines, access to a live personal trainer and a complete set of every fitness tool, calculator and tracking feature available. Most all of the apps I have are free but this one costs $10 for the base version and it is worth every penny if you use it as it helps you keep incredible records for your workouts so you can keep things straight.

They have upgraded versions that charge monthly fees, which do not seem to be as good a value, but that is how they can justify nearly giving this amazing app away for free at $10.

MyFitnessPal has an easy to use interface that allows you to access about one million food items in its database, plus you can also add your own foods and recipes at any time and access them from anywhere with an internet connection. Once you enter new foods' nutritional information, it will be there for you the next time you need it.

I really love this app as it can quickly and easily allow you to see the number of grams of carbs, fats and protein you're eating. I consider myself fairly sophisticated nutritionally, but I was really shocked when I found out what the actually numbers were. This a very powerful tool and best of all it is free.

Other Mobile Apps that Help You Take Control of Your Health

I really haven't used many of the ones on the list compiled by Eating Rules, so can't comment too much on them but thought we could explore them as a joint project and come up with some ideas on which ones are the best. If you've used any of them, please share your insight with the rest of us by commenting in the Vital Votes forum below.

However, on this list, I did find a few that you don't have to waste your time on as there were clearly better ones, or they just didn't measure up to high standards.

The ones I would exclude are:

  • Good Guide
  • CSPI Chemical Cuisine
  • True Food
  • Dirty Dozen
  • What's on my Food
  • Lose It

Genetically modified (GM) foods and food ingredients are at the top of my list of things to avoid, and here you now have two good mobile app options:

Clearly, the best way to optimize your health and avoid potentially toxic contaminants, including GMOs, is to eat organic, preferably locally-grown organics. The Farmers Market Finder application can be helpful in this regard. However, it only includes about 30 Santa Clara County, CA farmers markets for free. Listings for California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington DC are available for a fee.

I also want to mention two other health related applications that can be useful. These aren't mobile apps, but you can pull them up on your smart phone or iPad:

My Favorite NON-Health Apps

It occurred to me that many would be interested in the apps that I find the most personally useful and use every day so let me list them for you here.

Flipboard is without question my favorite app. I have used RSS feeds for well over a decade, but Flipboard takes them to a new level. It is like a personalized magazine. It's actually one of the most popular apps on the web, You can easily find RSS feeds and blogs on any topic and easily add them.

Zite is a lighter weight version of Flipboard but can also be useful for novices.  It's a personalized digital magazine that updates virtually every time you open it up to crawl over half a million Web sites to find specific reading material that would be of interest to you. It is a snap to learn and use. You can review a recent WSJ article on it here. 

Another justification for purchasing the iPad is that you can get free subscriptions to some of the best papers in the US as they all have free apps. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today are all on my home page. Subscription to the WSJ costs hundreds of dollars a year but you can get virtually all of the articles for no charge on the app and for the ones you can't get, all you need to do is type the article headline in a search engine and it will give you a link to the full article where you can read it for free.

As I said, I have carefully reviewed all the major weather apps including the paid ones and the very clear winner if free and from The Weather Channel. If you want to know what the weather is now or will be in the near future I don't know of a better app out there than this one.

If you like to listen to music, I really think the new model is to rent it. Forget about paying for files you can lose. You can have access to five million songs and pay about $150 per year to listen to any of them, which covers well over 95 percent of the music you would like to listen to. For your favorite oldies it will also show you other artists who have recorded the song and you can put those in your playlists. I like Rhapsody, but there are others you can use as well.

Dragon Dictate is another free app that is shockingly accurate and will allow you to dictate emails and texts on your phone or iPad. Finally, Dropbox is an essential tool to transfer files and sync them between your computer and the iPad. However, this will not be necessary with the release of Apple’s new operating system iOS 5.

Remember, it is becoming very clear that there is a new dramatic shift in computer platforms and it is crystal clear that it is all about the apps. Hopefully you enjoy the information I shared about the apps I found useful and share your own favorites.

+ Sources and References