Thanks to massive and successful corporate marketing campaigns, we have been led to believe many of the foods we eat are healthy. Many times this is the furthest thing from the truth, and one of the reasons America's waistline continues to grow. It is unfortunate that many are led to believe they are eating healthy, when in reality they are many times consuming something with the nutritional value not far behind a candy bar. Here is a list of 5 of the unhealthiest "health foods" and why...
1. Sports Drinks and Energy Bars: This is a common one many violate that workout on a regular basis. For starters, sports drinks are loaded with ingredients you want to keep OUT of your diet as much as possible. These include high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and artificial colors and flavors. Their contents also make it 30 times more corrosive to your teeth than water. A good alternative to get electrolytes before, during or after your workout would be coconut water. Just be sure sure it has NO sugar added. Energy bars are not much better than sports drinks, and are really not much better than a candy bar. Stick with eating whole foods before/after your workout that are low in sugar.
2. Fruit Juice: First off, if a fruit juice can sit on the shelf at the super market for 60 days and still be fine to sell do you really think it could be good for you? Not only are most fruit juices loaded with added sugar, they are also extremely processed which allows them greater shelf time. Many companies add artificial flavor packs, which are essentially chemical perfumes. If you are dead set on having your morning OJ, be sure it is fresh squeezed from organic oranges to keep it as pure as possible. This should still be kept to a minimum as it still contains approximately 8 teaspoons of sugar in an 8 ounce glass.
3. Low Fat or Fat Free Foods: This one drives me crazy, and is another that started from intense marketing. We were led to believe for years, and many still do, that fat is bad. Not true. Yes, some fat is extremely unhealthy, but a healthy saturated fat like olive oil, coconut oil and avocados can be extremely beneficial to your diet. This low-fat craze has caused people to consume large amounts of sugar (which is what is added when fat is taken away) in their diet. With sugar is known to be a leading cause of many chronic diseases, this is very deadly.
4. Breakfast Cereals: Breakfast has always been touted as the most important meal of the day, yet many start it by consuming a highly processed product with little to no nutritional value. Most are high in processed sugar, toxic pesticides, and genetically modified ingredients. The only way to know that your cereal doesn't contain these is if it says "USDA Certified 100% Organic", however still be aware that many of these products can still be high in sugar. You may want to try skipping breakfast all together (see previous post on intermittent fasting) or push it to later in the morning. This has been shown to balance blood sugar and reduce food cravings.
5. Artificial Sweeteners: This is one that is big among the "diet" crowd because most are worried about counting calories. As a result they consume processed foods that are billed as healthy because of their very low or non-existent calorie content. The common names for these sweeteners include Aspartame, Nutrasweet, Splenda, or Sweet'N Low. Be aware however, that companies are coming out with new products every year under different names. This a complex topic, one that likely will warrant a future blog post, but artificial sweeteners are some of the most dangerous products on the market. They have been linked to insulin sensitivity, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease just to name a few. Be on high alert if you see products promoted as "sugar free", as it likely means they contain one of the dangerous chemicals that make up artificial sweeteners. Yes, sugar consumption should be kept to a minimum, but do not replace it with any of these products.
Finally, you need to not only to eat well, but also be healthy in every area of your life. Eating well, and neglecting your spine and nervous system, mental/spiritual health, and physical well-being will never lead to maintaining the healthy life that we all dream of. You need to LIVE well, to BE well...