Last week we began a series of learning how to distinguish “Health” Foods from Authentic Healthy Foods. We learned that marketing of foods and processes can easily divert one’s attention and create havoc on our unsuspecting bodies. Today we will conclude the series with 7 more imposters who should never be given the name of “healthy.”
9. Gluten-Free “Health” food
Just because it doesn’t have gluten doesn’t make it healthy all of a sudden. Processed gluten-free products tend to be higher in calories than the products they are replacing, meaning people can actually gain weight when they go gluten-free.
Processed gluten-free foods are designed to approximate the taste and texture of the products they are replacing and tend to rely on substitutes such as rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch. These foods have high glycemic indexes, so when people eat them, their blood sugar spikes.
To make gluten-free products taste good most manufactures increase the amounts of sugars and fats. Manufacturers “get the worst foods to replace wheat and gluten,” said William Davis, a cardiologist and author of the book, “Wheat Belly.” He said that eating such foods over time leads to disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
The standard Gluten-Free Diet typically contains 4 specific food toxins that contribute to leaky gut, inflammation, and poor vitamin absorption:
- Cereal grains (like corn, rice and oats)
- Soy (milk, protein, flour, etc.)
- Industrial seed oils (Canola oil, Rapeseed oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil)
- Sugar (especially refined table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup)
Even though the worst offending food toxin, gluten, is removed, the Gluten-Free Diet relies heavily on the other four agents of modern disease to create a diet that “looks” very similar to the Standard American Diet. In fact, many types of gluten-free pastas and other packaged foods are loaded with higher concentrations of these 4 food toxins than their original counterparts.
12. Green Tea, brewed
Green tea contains naturally occurring, high amounts of fluoride. The plant picks it up from the soil and the brewing process extracts most of it from the leaves.
Lower quality may have significantly more fluoride than higher quality teas. That’s because lower quality teas are often made from fallen, old leaves that have more fluoride than young tea leaves. Lower quality teas may also use smaller tea leaves or ‘tea leaf dust’, and studies have shown that the smaller the leaf size the more fluoride the tea contains.
Decaffeinated tea showed higher fluoride values than caffeinated tea.
Ready to drink tea beverages probably have more fluoride than loose leaf and bagged tea, which makes sense as those are often brewed from low quality leaves. Apparently heavy long-term consumption of instant tea can cause skeletal fluorosis.
The amount in the plant depends on the concentration of fluoride in the soils as this varies between different areas of the world and industrial pollution can add to this. Organic teas would be no different in this respect.
The amount of fluoride in tea leaves increases as the leaves mature and age. This is why black tea made from the oldest leaves of the plant contain the highest levels and cause problems of fluoridosis in places such as Tibet where the tea is regularly consumed.
The longer you brew your tea, the more fluoride will come out of the tea.
11. Canned Vegetables
Bisphenol-A — better known as BPA — is an industrial chemical that’s used in many household plastics and food packages. Capable of interfering with the body’s hormones, particularly estrogen, scientists have linked BPA exposure to diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is the primary component in polycarbonate plastic and is used in the resin lining of most food and beverage cans. Exposure to BPA, a hormone-mimicking compound, is linked in animal studies to early puberty and other reproductive harms.
In animal studies, BPA has been shown to mimic the female hormone estrogen. Exposure among test animals to this chemical early in life is associated with:
- Pre-cancerous changes in the mammary and prostate glands;
- Altered development of the brain causing behavioral abnormalities and earlier onset of puberty;
- Reproductive abnormalities such as lower sperm counts, hormonal changes, enlarged prostate glands, and abnormalities in the number of chromosomes in eggs;
- Obesity and with insulin resistance, a condition that commonly precedes the development of diabetes.
There is concern that BPA may cause similar health problems in humans. More than 90 percent of the general population has BPA in their bodies, at levels close to those which have been shown to cause harm in animal studies.
Where it is Found
BPA is used in the resin lining of all food and beverage cans. It is the principal building block of polycarbonate plastic and is used in a wide range of products, including clear plastic baby bottles and Sippy cups, clear plastic water bottles, and other kitchen plastics such as measuring cups, drink ware and storage containers. BPA is also found in some dental sealants and fillings, medical devices, paints, epoxy adhesives, stamps and cash register receipts.
A number of canned foods and plastic bottle manufacturers have stopped using BPA, though because there is no labeling requirement, consumers do not know which products contain BPA and which don’t.
- Don’t use polycarbonate plastics (marked with a #7 PC) for storing food or beverages, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or the food or drink is for an infant or young child.
- Avoid canned beverages, foods and soups, especially if pregnant or feeding young children. Choose frozen vegetables and soups and broth that come in glass jars or in aseptic “brick” cartons, as these containers are BPA-free.
- Use a BPA-free reusable water bottle, such as an unlined stainless steel bottle.
- Don’t allow your dentist to apply dental sealants made from BPA (or BADGE) to either yours or your child’s teeth. Ask your dentist to provide BPA-free treatments.
12. Alternative Milks – Hemp, Rice, Coconut, Almond, Cashew – Purchased from The Store
Organic coconut milk and almond milk are common purchases at the health food store by vegans and those with dairy allergies. Usually, these people are savvy consumers who know enough nutritionally to avoid soy milk with its endocrine disrupting isoflavones and gastric inflaming phytates. Rice milk is also steadily declining in popularity as it is really not much more than a glass of sugar water nutritionally speaking and has high levels of arsenic .
Organic, alternative milks in cartons at the health food store seem like great alternatives at first to traditional cows’ milk, but are they really as “healthy” as people believe?
First, they are loaded with sugars. While the sugars used may be better than the typical refined white sugar, there is still danger from consuming milks loaded with these sugars. Secondly, the nutrients added to the milks.
When you see the added nutrients, you begin to understand why these aren’t your best buys anymore:
Large doses of natural vitamin A are well tolerated by the body as established by researchers decades ago. Traditional diets contain 10 times or more of the RDA of this nutrient with no ill effect. However, synthetic vitamin A (commonly added in these milks) is associated with birth defects and bone fractures. It has no benefit in the diet whatsoever.
The second really bad additive in these organic cartons of coconut milk and almond milk is Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is a form of the wonder vitamin that you should take great pains to avoid.
In all known cases of Vitamin D toxicity where the dose was intentional, Vitamin D2 was the culprit. By comparison, Vitamin D3 is much less toxic and requires an enormous dose to produce any toxic effect.
Vitamin D2 is manufactured industrially by irradiating yeast. It is dangerous for D2 to be added to any food product particularly if this product would be given to children, where toxicity symptoms would appear at much lower dosages.
It would be interesting to see if any of the store brands of cartoned milks were free of these dangerous and synthetic versions of the fat soluble vitamins!
Notice also that carrageenan can be present in these products as well! Dr. Andrew Weil has been telling people to avoid carrageenan since 2002. Carrageenan is so toxic and inflaming to the human digestive system that this food additive is formally classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) as a potential human carcinogen.
These products may be convenient, but they are in no way health promoting or beneficial, particularly for growing children!
One last thought about these milks is that they are dead. To make the milk shelf stable the living enzymes must be killed to keep the milk from breaking down. It is easy to make your own almond or cashew milk and less expensive too.
13. Nutrition Bars — Energy or Protein
Don’t judge every bar by its wrapper. In October 2001, when ConsumerLab.com announced the findings of its independent laboratory tests of 30 nutrition bars, 18 did not meet the claims of ingredient levels on the label. More than any other misrepresentation, about one-half of the nutrition bars exceeded the carbohydrate levels stated on the wrapper (one bar promoted as a low-carbohydrate diet product claimed it had just 2 grams of carbohydrates, but testing showed it actually contained 22 grams).
Whether you are buying a snack or a meal replacement, make sure you turn the package around and read the truth about the product. Here are a few areas to consider:
- Ingredients list—if there are added flavors or words that you can’t pronounce, put the bar back on the shelf.
Even if the convenience and the cost seem to be selling the bar, don’t fall for the marketing tricks of the trade. Rather, take your time and find a real whole-food bar that is not only satisfying but nutritious as well.
Whether you see it portrayed in a health food magazine or lined up on the grocery store shelves, granola has gained a healthy lead when it comes to the breakfast cereal of choice.
“Most have too much sugar and very little fiber. A healthy breakfast cereal should be the exact opposite,” says Keri Gans, RD, author of the book Small Change Diet. With all the sugar it contains, just one cup of granola can easily top out at 600 calories, a third of the average woman’s daily allowance.
A 1-cup serving of a typical homemade granola contains almost 600 calories and almost 30 grams of fat, of which 5 grams are saturated. The same amount of a store-bought granola has about 420 calories and 11 grams of fat, of which less than 1 gram is saturated. In terms of calories, granola probably isn’t the best choice for your diet, especially if you’re actually on a diet to lose excess weight. To lose 1 pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories, and eating such high-calorie granola will make that harder to accomplish.
Another major drawback to granola is the amount of sugar it can contain. One cup of granola typically contains 25 grams of sugar regardless if made at home or store-bought granola. Because granola doesn’t contain much in the way of fruit, almost all of that sugar is added sugar rather than healthier, naturally occurring sugars.
15. Bottled Water
Considering this country spends $100 on bottled water per person per year, one should be ecstatic that people are consuming this much water instead of carbonated soft drinks or fruit juices. Well, when you put it that way, bottled water is definitely a better choice. However, although it is “better” than juice or soda, can we really call it a “healthy” alternative?
- Most bottled water is packaged in containers that have flimsy, easily squishable plastic that contains BPA. We know that BPA is a chemical that can leach from the plastic into the liquid when the bottle becomes warm or hot. How many of you have left your bottled water in the car for even an hour and then you go back into the car and drink from it? That’s an unhealthy way to obtain an endocrine disruptor called estrogen.
- How do we know the water is truly “filtered”? Is there still fluoride and chlorine in it? Is that really what we want to put in our bodies?
- The re-mineralization process that gives bottled water its flavor does nothing for the assimilation of these minerals in our bodies.
The best water to drink is steam distilled water that is free of all particulates that may harm the body and the only thing left is the water that deeply hydrates the cells and maintains health.
How many of these Top 15 “Health” Foods are you still consuming? Did you read enough to motivate yourself and those you love to begin a new approach to “Healthy Food Choices?”
Baby steps may be all you need to “tweak” your lifestyle to make greater progress on your way to vibrant health.