Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Which Health Fads Are Not Worth the Hype

Juicing promises to deliver concentrated vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants which might be “locked away” in the fiber of whole fruits and vegetables. While a tall glass of juice might taste great, this fad is busted. Juice is concentrated in sugar and calories. It does not fill you up because the fiber is left behind. People who drink juice regularly have a 21% increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared to people eating whole fruits. Instead drink a protein smoothie with a small amount of whole fruit blended in. This retains the fiber and the protein slows down digestion.

Gluten-free diets truly help people allergic to gluten, and while  gluten sensitivities are pretty rare they do exist. A gluten-free diet is restrictive which helps people cut out lots of calories and junk food, but packaged gluten-free foods are not all they are cracked up to be. Most are refined grains, stripped of their nutrients. Gluten-free products are often higher in calories, sodium, fat, and sugar to make up for flavor differences compared to conventional products. Increased exposure to arsenic from rice-based products is also a concern. There is nothing wrong with eating fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and dairy which are all naturally gluten-free; use caution with processed foods though.

Coconut oil claims to increase metabolism, boost weight loss, and improve cholesterol. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but due to its medium-chain triglyceride structure it does not appear to have a significant effect on cholesterol like other high saturated fat foods such as butter and red meat. Instead coconut oil is rapidly delivered to the liver. Over-consumption can lead to stress on your liver and may contribute to fatty liver disease. Stick with olive oil which has well documented heart health benefits.

Paleo diet also known as the caveman diet bases nutrition on the foods available during the Paleolithic Era. You get to eat meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. You must avoid grains, sugar, dairy, beans, alcohol, salt, and all processed foods. While eating clean and giving up junk food is a great way to live a healthy lifestyle, Paleo ranked one of the worst diets by U.S. News and World Report. Experts found the diet was too high in saturated fat, which triggers inflammation as well as increases cardiovascular risk, insufficient in essential nutrients such as calcium, and long term adherence is low due to it being very restrictive.

Fads come and go but solid research can help guide us in the right direction. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Enjoy the benefits of minimally processed foods and remember to enjoy all things in moderation.

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