Misinformation and rumors about health and nutrition run riot online and from one person to the next person. In the midst of all the froth and bubble, it can be difficult for the average consumer to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
So I have done it for you and here are my top five most commonly perpetuated health-related fictions…….or should I say frictions.
I am amazed how gluten-free foods have become such a huge phenomenon. Some may say people power or is it the power of the marketing machines? It is certainly a very topical issue these days and with good reason.
Restaurants serve gluten-free dishes, supermarkets are over stocked with hundreds of gluten-free items and dieters are deserting gluten in droves. The gluten-free fad is a baffling one to medical professionals since it is supposedly not based on any concrete medical evidence.
The origins of the gluten-free craze lie in the growing public awareness of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the intestine which is caused by sensitivity to proteins found in grains like wheat and barley. In the past few years, increased rates of diagnosis of celiac disease have led to a popular assumption that centuries old grains like wheat are unhealthy.
Although foods with gluten should be avoided by people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease Dr Chris Kresser, and others, think quite differently on the gluten issue as stated in his article (which you should read by the way) “When Gluten Free is Not a Fad”. He also states, “Research shows gluten intolerance is real—and “science journalists” are clueless.” Something I often tend to agree with.
He goes on to say, “Gluten intolerance is “fake”—at least according to many recent news stories. But what does scientific research have to say on this topic? Is going gluten-free just a crazy fad? Is gluten intolerance over-hyped as the media claims, or is it a legitimate condition that may be even more common than currently recognized?”
The dubious practice of detoxification has been around for literally thousands of years but every so often it pops its ugly head up and becomes the latest body cleansing fad as though it were the latest panacea to perfect health. This is usually related to some other ‘big’ news item like the current state of mercury levels in fish.
To my mind the modern day Detox is just another popular fad promoted by those who claim that the body needs to be cleansed of dangerous toxins that will damage our health, sap our energy and decrease our feelings of wellbeing.
One of the main issues I have with the detox craze is that it has gone from a qualified medical procedure (e.g. to rid the body of dangerous drugs and excessive alcohol etc) to a DIY kit you can buy over the internet.
Several different popular detoxification methods are fasting, nasal and colonic irrigation (why waste perfectly good coffee on such a practice) and spa treatments known as detox baths. The truth is the human body already has its own perfectly good detoxification system.
One of the main agents of detoxification is the liver.
Protecting your liver by maintaining a clean and healthy diet chocked full of fresh fruit and vegetables, and importantly, avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol and the bad fats as in fast foods will do far more to protect your health than any fad diet.
Claims that excessive waste and parasites in the digestive system needs to be purged or eliminated are pure pseudoscience.
You have to ask yourself, “What benefits do these detox practices really offer me?”
Trendy diets are only as good as the length of time they are designed for. Two-week-long fad diets of juiced fruits and vegetables are simply unsustainable. To be successful, a diet must be long-term and well balanced.
A good diet includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins that are found in foods like free range chicken, sustainable fish and raw seeds and nuts. A diet is not simply what you eat for a few weeks or months, but what foods you will consume for the rest of your life.
It is well proven that diets accompanied by regular exercise are the most effective.
Starting and continuing on a consistent routine of healthy eating combined with regular exercise will result in many long-term benefits to both body and mind.
4. Fresh vegetables
The key component of every balanced diet is plenty of fresh vegetables.
In another life I was a farmer growing vegetables and breeding cattle so this section is dear to my heart as is my understanding of the industry.
Unfortunately, because of the way most vegetables are grown and shipped in today’s globalized economy, grabbing a bag full of green beans from the produce section of your grocery store may not be the best way to gain the optimum amount of vitamins and minerals.
So instead, why not head to your local farmers markets each weekend and stock up for the week.
You will be able to treat yourself to some super fresh produce that has been picked within the last twenty-four hours and is only a short drive away from the market; by talking to the grower himself you will know where it came from and how it was gown and you will reap the benefits of a relaxing hour or so shopping rather than fighting with a shopping trolley that has a mind all of its own.
If you can’t get to a farmers market near you then have a good look at Aussie Farmers Direct. They provide great tucker and you will be supporting local jobs and local people so the money stays here and goes round here rather than into the claws of the big multi-nationals pockets. And if you happen to live in the US I have had some excellent feedback about Good Eggs. It is one of a handful of companies that is having great success in the real food business by bringing the farmers market right to your front door.
Failing all that try the frozen food section in your supermarket where you can find a large selection of vegetables that are blanched and frozen when they are actually fresh, sealing in key nutrients and freshness. It is commonly accepted that frozen vegies are more than often a better buy than those on the supermarket shelves that have been sitting in cold storage for who knows how long then hauled all over the country. And you have to admit, they are convenient especially when you are in a hurry.
But just one word of warning………if you are concerned about product origin and how it was grown then check the label although they can be very confusing and do not always tell the full story so you might have to do some further research.
Next time you shop just stop and have a think about the future of Australian food. It is amazing the number of people I see driving big flash cars, decked out in the latest designer gear but buy the cheapest food they can for their children to eat. It really doesn’t make sense, does it?
Eggs have a poor nutritional reputation. Nutritional narratives tout the egg as a dangerous foodstuff loaded with bad cholesterol. Consumers are afraid to eat eggs for fear of spontaneously developing heart disease or going into cardiac arrest.
Well that one sure has had plenty of airplay of late.
The truth is that eggs are replete with essential vitamins and nutrients. They are a good source of Vitamin D, which is especially necessary to consume during the winter when sunshine is weak.
The cholesterol in eggs could potentially be harmful to a person who already had heart disease if they regularly ate more than the recommended amount of 300 mg a day.
However, most people will suffer no ill effects from eating eggs frequently and will actually benefit from healthy vitamins like B12. The human body also utilizes almost every part of the egg, making it a great choice for everyone from hikers to astronauts.
So what is the upshot of all this discussion?
Well it is not rocket science, just plain good old common sense and a bit of will power. It is hard to go past the good advice of my dear departed grandma who died at the ripe old age of 96; everything in moderation (including the glass of rum she had every night before dinner right up until the day she died).
May God bless you Granny Smith for all the love you so selflessly gave and for the many wonderful lessons you taught me.