By David Sautter
From the bombardment of advertisements that you see while riding the subway or waiting in traffic, you assume that living healthy has caught up to the on-the-go lifestyle. From your organic green juice to your sugar free lattes, it would seem like nutrition has never been easier. The truth of the fad food industry is that most are causing far more harm than you’d expect. Let’s review the top 4 trendy “health” foods that are wreaking havoc on your body.
- ON-THE-GO JUICE BLENDS
How can you argue with a drink that’s made from vegetables and fruit? One word: SUGAR.
The world has a sugar addiction! It’s difficult to search your local grocery store and find truly sugar-free products. These fad vegetable and fruit drinks are no exception. In addition to the natural sugar from the fruit, many of these drinks also contain a ton of added sugars. Taking the time to read a label will help save your body in the long run. When you grab a container of vegetable or fruit juice, take a look at the back. There will be a bold line about the percentage of actual or real juice. Many of these drinks, such as Minute Maid and Ocean Spray may contain only between 5% and 50% of real juice. What is making up the other half of the equation? More often than not, it’s added sugar.
What’s the big deal about the added sugar? Over consumption of it has been linked to serious health conditions, illnesses and diseases including:
- Heart/Cardiovascular disease (Study published in the American Heart Association, Study published in JAMA Internal Medicine)
- Cognitive decline (Study from The Journal of Physiology)
- Diabetes (Study from PLOS One)
Best case scenario: You find a vegetable and fruit juice blend that is 100% juice. The sugar content, however, is still likely to be high from the natural sugar. This may lead you to wonder what the difference is between a piece of fruit and fruit juice. The answer is fiber. Sugar, without the fiber found in the skin and flesh of the fruit or vegetable, results in that unhealthy blood sugar spike and crash. Fiber allows for a slower breakdown and healthier digestion of the ingested natural sugar.
Make your own vegetable and fruit smoothies. You can adjust them to your taste and they will contain the natural fiber of the produce.
- PROCESSED ORGANIC AND VEGAN FOOD
When you pick up that box, bag, or can of organic food, chances are you feel like what you’re eating truly is healthier and/or better for the environment. You may also love the simplicity of eating organic foods that have been placed in convenient, shelf-stable packaging. Either way, you find it worth the comparatively higher price tag. That processed lifestyle can hurt not only your wallet, but your health.
Processed foods, regardless of the organic title, contain a number of fillers, preservatives, and your old friend, sugar. A study published in Nutrients shows the harmful effects of processed ingredients, linking it to serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
If you’re still getting used to cooking for yourself, you may be relying heavily on canned foods. Again, the convenience of canning takes so much stress out of your trip to the grocery store. Unfortunately, the vegetables and fruits inside that can are soaking in a dangerous industrial chemical. Bisphenol A, or BPA, can be found within plastic products and, more importantly, inside the lining of the food cans you use. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives has demonstrated the link between BPA and hormonal imbalances in women. If you’re pregnant, or considering it, stay far away from canned foods.
It’s not realistic to drop the habit of processed products all at once, so start incorporating more natural produce into your diet at a reasonable pace. Your goal is to eventually weed out those boxes, bags, and cans. If you must continue with the canned goods, look into Eden Foods. They are the only company that currently offers BPA-free canned foods.
- THE SALMON KICK
Thanks to celebrity doctors such as the Oz man, salmon has exploded in popularity as one of the best super foods you could have in your diet. This salmon kick isn’t without reason. Salmon has been shown to have above-and-beyond levels of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. As discussed by the University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega-3s are an anti-inflammatory that can protect the body from diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.
This increased demand on the fishing industry has resulted in the prevalence of fish farms to meet the demand, and therefore most consumers to, understandably, eat farm-raised salmon. Research has shown that farmed salmon contains high levels of POP (persistent organic pollutants). As you can see in this study from Alternative Medicine Review, POP consumption via farmed salmon has been linked to the development of insulin resistance and Type II diabetes.
Be patient and spend a little more on the real thing. Wild salmon is worth every penny.
Probiotics have become a household name since study after study has revealed the amazing benefits associated with daily consumption of these gut-friendly bacteria. Probiotics help to regulate digestion, ease and resolve skin problems, and improve overall health (to name just a few). One of the best sources of probiotics is fermented foods – but since breaking out a can of sauerkraut on the bus might get you a few strange looks, the next best thing is yogurt. Yogurt in its most natural form is plentiful in probiotics, protein, and calcium. What it is not rich in is sugar. So what’s the problem? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you’ll find in the majority of most popular brands such as Yoplait and Dannon. As mentioned above, sugar is nothing but trouble for your health. What’s more, these same brands may not contain the level of probiotics needed to see a difference in your health.
Grow to love plain yogurt from a trusted brand such as Stonyfield or La Yogurt. Adding some fresh fruit to plain yogurt help to make this easier. If the taste is still too much, then there’s always sauerkraut, kefir, or fermented pickles. All of which are probiotic powerhouses.
Don’t let the marketing fool you! Just because an item claims that it is organic or all-natural doesn’t mean it’s going to be healthy for you. The on-the-go convenience of healthy eating usually comes with a high price for your body. Take the time to read into the brands you buy. Strive to get back to the basics (even if it means a bit more time in the kitchen).