17 Sep Health Trends and Myths
I know you’ve got some burning questions about whether or not the latest health trends are actually improving your health. So let’s dive in.
You ask: Do cleanse programs actually rid your body of toxins?
Cleanse programs like the popular Master Cleanse and juice diets, may be effective in giving your digestive system a rest from the work of breaking down food. But they do not support your organs in detoxification. Our organs require high-quality nutrients and fiber to perform this job. When fiber is eliminated – as in a juice fast – the bowel is not stimulated to excrete toxins and waste. As a result, many people become chronically constipated following a juice fast or restrictive cleanse.
To compensate for this likely side effect, many cleanse kits use cathartics that work by irritating the intestinal tract to promote defecation.
We want to support the liver and gastrointestinal tract when cleansing. Not aggravate it. Fiber bulk from whole foods will get toxins out of the body naturally. Look for a cleanse that promotes eating whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds & legumes. It’s a much more natural (and pleasant) way to detoxify your system.
You ask: Do vitamins really work?
Over the past 10 years, drugstore shelves have exploded with a seemingly endless selection of vitamins and supplements. But not all supplements are created equally. When it comes to vitamins and supplements, you typically get what you pay for. Less expensive vitamin brands like Jamieson, Equate, Swiss, Kirkland, Life and “gummie” varieties are often cheaply formulated with fillers and additives to keep costs down, and many such formulations are not easily absorbed by the body. Nutrient doses are often not in therapeutic amounts, meaning you won’t derive the expected health benefits from these low quality options.
Look for quality assurance certification on professional supplements and seek the advice of a qualified nutritional health professional to ensure you are only spending money on high-quality supplements that you actually need.
You ask: Do probiotic yogurts like Activia improve digestion?
The truth is that probiotic yogurts don’t contain enough living good gut bacteria to be therapeutic and actually restore intestinal balance. Another is that they contain added ingredients. When we looked at Activia for example, 5 teaspoons of sugar are added, along with carageenan – which can create inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and non-specific “flavour”. The milk-base of these yogurts is not organic; which means that there are toxins like antibiotics present, and the cornstarch added is likely GMO. Be cautious of versions that advertise fat-free and are made with skim milk. These are even more processed, causing further imbalances in your body’s sugar and gut flora. If there are any health benefits, they are largely outweighed by the nasty additives.
If you’re going to eat yogurt, choose one with low sugar and high amounts of living probiotics as measured by the number of Colony Forming Units (CFUs) (present on the label). If your concern is constipation, eat more fiber. If you want live cultures in your diet, try kefir, which contains more live probiotics than yogurt and is lactose-free.
You ask: Are diet & low calorie drinks like Crystal Light a healthy option?
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose are designed to impart a sweet taste without the calories of sugar. However, mounting evidence suggests that their consumption results in weight gain, as it increases sweet cravings, as opposed to satisfying them. Because you’re not getting real calories, your body gets confused and keeps searching for them.
In addition to weight problems, artificial sweeteners may increase the risk of serious neurological disorders such as depression, insomnia, migraines, joint pain, memory loss, seizures, and brain tumors. This could be in part because, over time, aspartame converts to formaldehyde, a powerful neurotoxin. For more information, watch the documentary Sweet Misery.
Artificial flavours and colours are also added to diet drinks, increasing the dose of neurotoxins. Synthetic colourings are often petroleum-based, and are added because the chemical cocktail would otherwise look too disgusting to drink. These chemicals also increase the risk of ADHD, asthma, allergies, and eczema.
Add truly natural flavours to your pure drinking water. Actual lemon, real lime, fresh mint leaves, cucumber slices, chlorophyll, etc.
You ask: Should you avoid gluten?
Gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale and spelt, is a hot topic these days. Increasing rates of food allergy and sensitivity are focusing attention on controlling our intake of the most common sources of food allergens, including gluten- containing grains.
One problem with many of today’s gluten-free (GF) products is an overall lack of fiber. Common GF flours, such as processed tapioca and rice flours, are essentially simple starches. This is problematic for people dealing with digestive issues. A lack of fiber means the food spends less time in the digestive tract, which also means there’s less time for nutrients to be absorbed
The excess amount of sugar found in GF prepackaged baked goods is also a huge concern. Gluten-free diets (GFDs) tend to be heavy on starches and lighter on vegetable intake, if they are not properly planned. A study of healthy people who followed a gluten-free diet for 1 month, revealed a reduction of healthy species in fecal bacteria, and an increase in disease causing ones.
Be cautious of blanket statements about entire food groups being harmful. Following a GF diet is appropriate for someone who has been shown to be truly allergic or sensitive to gluten. Before you decide to start living a gluten-free life, get tested and seek out proper nutritional counselling. Whether you eat gluten or not, avoid refined carbohydrates and processed foods with a long list of ingredients. Eat whole foods straight from the earth!
What other current health trends need demystifying? Let me know in the comments!