Fall is just about here! That means cozy sweaters, changing leaves, and — you guessed it! — pumpkin spice everything. In particular, pumpkin spice lattes are a classic fall treat.

I get it! Who doesn’t love the warm flavors of fall and sipping on a hot drink? Yet, I don’t love all the nasty ingredients most coffee shops put in their pumpkin spice lattes. Most don’t actually contain any REAL pumpkin.

What’s in Your Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Read on to find out what’s hiding in your pumpkin spice latte. Then I’ll share the details on my favorite alternative: Pumpkin Spice Paleo Protein!

1. Sugar

Sugar wrecks your health on so many levels, that this one should be a no-brainer! One medium (16 oz) latte can contain 50 grams of sugar! The American Heart Association sets the daily limit for women at six teaspoons per day.1 Fifty grams is more than twice that amount!

What’s more, many coffee shops use high fructose corn syrup to flavor their lattes. High fructose corn syrup is a highly refined sweetener that contains an unnatural amount of fructose. You can’t process this! 

Eating or drinking foods with high fructose corn syrup can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Additionally, nearly all high fructose corn syrup is genetically modified. GMOs are associated with thyroid cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and infertility.2

2. Dairy

If you’re familiar with The Myers Way®, you know that dairy is one of my top two foods to avoid. ALL lattes made with cow’s milk are bad news because dairy causes inflammation. However, even if you take your pumpkin spice with an autoimmune-friendly, non-dairy milk such as coconut milk, you may still be at risk.

That’s because the syrups that coffee shops use to flavor their pumpkin spice lattes are typically made with condensed skim milk. Plus, the pumpkin syrup in your latte is probably not organic. This means you’re also sipping on the antibiotics and added hormones found in conventional dairy products.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine is a toxic food that has no place in a healthy lifestyle. It can cause or worsen anxiety, interfere with quality sleep, and lead to adrenal fatigue. Furthermore, caffeine leaches calcium from your bones and puts you at greater risk of osteoporosis, especially if you are a woman.3 It also contributes to insulin resistance, blood sugar imbalance, and stress-induced inflammation, which is at the root of nearly every chronic illness.

4. Natural and Artificial Flavors

Virtually every “pumpkin” flavored latte lacks one ingredient: pumpkin! They get that yummy pumpkin pie taste from artificial flavorings. Scientists synthesize artificial flavors from chemicals in a lab. They can use anything from paper pulp to petroleum as the source of those chemicals.4

On the other hand, natural flavors come from an edible source. However, natural flavors are still produced in a lab. They could be even worse for your health than their artificial counterparts. 

That’s because our government requires artificial flavors to be more rigorously tested for safety. In fact, “Natural” can be a catch-all term for highly processed ingredients as long as they were once derived from a plant or animal.5 By this definition, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame are natural.

5. Carrageenan

Most coffee shops top their pumpkin spice lattes with a big, fluffy mound of whipped cream. Aside from the problematic dairy, commercial whipped cream also contains carrageenan. Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and is used as a stabilizer and emulsifier to give foods a creamy “mouthfeel.” It may trigger an immune reaction that causes inflammation in your digestive tract. Chronic inflammation puts you at increased risk of autoimmunity and other illnesses.6

6. Preservatives

The syrups that flavor pumpkin spice lattes all contain some type of preservative, including potassium sorbate. Manufacturers use potassium sorbate to prevent food spoilage from bacteria, fungus, mold, and yeast, and to help delay changes in color, flavor, and texture of foods. It can trigger a heightened immune response and food sensitivity symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, and abdominal pain. It can even cause migraines in some people.7

Those syrups may also have sulfites. Sulfites are added to foods as preservatives, “anti-browning” agents, bleaching agents, processing aids, and antioxidants. They can trigger adverse respiratory reactions in those who are sensitive.

While asthmatics are particularly at risk, 30% of reported cases of sulfite sensitivity occur in people with no history of asthma. There have even been reports of life-threatening reactions to sulfites, including anaphylaxis.8

7. Caramel Color

Caramel color is the most commonly used food dye in the world. Despite its name, caramel color bears no resemblance to actual caramel. In fact, it often contains a dangerous chemical known as 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Me. Research shows it causes cancer in mice. 

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared this chemical to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”9

I consider this good enough reason to stay away from anything with artificial colors. It’s just not worth the risk.

<img src="What's In your Pumpkin Spice Latte? - Infographic - Amy Myers MD" alt="">

A Better Way to Satisfy Your Pumpkin Spice Cravings

Now that you’re avoiding those enticing pumpkin spice lattes, what can you do instead to satisfy your cravings for this fall treat?

I’m reissuing my limited-edition seasonal flavor of Paleo Protein: Pumpkin Spice! I made it with REAL organic pumpkin — not “pumpkin syrup” — and REAL whole spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. No artificial flavors produced in a lab here! 

Because ’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free, you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging your love for pumpkin spice. Plus, with 21 grams of protein per scoop, it’s an excellent source of protein to keep you full and satisfied. Also, it’s chock full of collagen and amino acids to help seal a leaky gut.

I custom-formulated Pumpkin Spice Paleo Protein to include only the cleanest protein sourced from non-GMO, antibiotic- and hormone-free, grass-fed beef. Best of all, it tastes DELICIOUS. It’s only available for a limited time so stock up now to enjoy frothy pumpkin spice lattes, smoothies, and shakes long after the season is over!

Get yours today!

Article Sources

  1. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424534/
  3. https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/diet-dangers#3
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/eustaciahuen/2015/10/01/what-manufacturers-really-mean-by-natural-artificial-flavors-according-to-museum-of-food-drink/#2591db851569
  5. http://]https://www.businessinsider.com/facts-about-natural-and-artificial-flavors-2014-1
  6. https://www.cornucopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/CarageenanReport-2016.pdf
  7. https://www.livestrong.com/article/353871-adverse-health-effects-of-potassium-sorbate
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017440/
  9. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/01/caramel-color-the-health-risk-that-may-be-in-your-soda/index.htm