Dismantling Health Buzz Words

Understanding health and nutrition is so important, but it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of information that’s out there. A lot of it is marketing. Companies wanting to boost sales of a particular product will create a ‘health buzz’ around that product which then influences people to consider it a necessity to their health and wellbeing. This is true of so many products out there at the moment, it can be confusing with so many conflicting claims. For me, I like to be well informed and the best way for me to do that is to simplify. There are a few misleading things out there at the moment that I would like to break down and share what I have learned.

Food is energy. Literally. We take food and transform it into energy. So that is where the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ comes in. What you decide to consume will determine what quality of new cells will be produced by your body. There is information in the food we eat which our body absorbs, you are consuming this information.

There’s a huge focus on protein at the moment among fitness enthusiasts and to be honest it’s turned somewhat into scare tactics. I even got sucked in in the beginning, forking out a ridiculous amount of money for protein powder which to be blunt, I did not need. The RDA for protein for an adult is just under 1g per kg of overall weight (0.8g to be exact). So for example, if a woman weighs 57kg, she will need approx 47g of protein a day. Believe it or not, there is protein in everything. Anything that grows naturally out of the earth has a composition including amino acids. So with a balanced diet of greens, fruit, veg, nuts and pulses - it would be difficult not to hit your RDA. Protein is of course essential for growth and repair. However, certain companies in the food industry have made a buck off marketing protein as something we are all deficient in all of a sudden (who ever heard of a protein bar before 2015?) Protein deficiency is extremely rare, something usually suffered by very ill or malnourished people. When we consume way over our RDA, the effects can be serious. Too much protein can but strain on the kidneys by the production of nitrogen from protein. This means the kidneys have to work overtime to get rid of this by-product and in turn leads to dehydration and sometimes kidney issues. Overconsumption of protein can ve carcinogenic in the body as well as depleting calcium in the body which can lead to Osteoporosis. So it’s actually better for your overall health to consume the right amount and not to overdo it. Especially not by consuming protein powders/ bars which are bulked out with all kinds of crap. Try to source your nutrients from actual food.

Have you ever bought something because it was labelled as having ‘added antioxidants’? Do you know what their role is in the body and how they chemically work? I certainly hadn’t a clue until I did some research. Antioxidants are present in our bodies. They have been marketed by cosmetics and food brands as a draw to buy their products. First of all, let me explain how they work in the body. We also house free radicals in our body. Free radicals have been known to damage DNA, which can increase the ageing process. Free radicals also are necessary for our immune system’s ability to fight infection - so they’re not all bad. Antioxidants react with free radicals in the body to get rid of them. There was also the belief that certain antioxidants can prevent against heart disease or lung cancer for example. There is a lot of meta- analysis which now shows there is absolutely no evidence that antioxidants from food have positive results, there is no correlation between lower cases of such diseases in the body and high level of certain antioxidants. On the contrary, much of these studies’ results show the opposite, that high levels of certain antioxidants can be detrimental. Again, just another buzz word which companies are using to market their products.

I don’t know who coined the term, but it’s utterly ridiculous and a very clear example of a marketing ploy. It's not all bad however, as I’m sure it has influenced people to consume more ‘superfoods’ ie. natural whole foods. Certain produce has been labelled so (eg. blueberries, spinach, quinoa) to give these particular foodstuffs an increase in market sales. Next month, it will be something else, so the cycle continues, people continue to make profit.

Coconut Oil
A huge increase in the availability of coconut oils in local supermarkets along with a powerful marketing campaign has proved successful in boosting sales of this health conscious oil alternative. I’m not here to bash coconut oil, I use it from time to time myself. I’m just outlining the fact that coconut oil is the fat extracted from the coconut. Coconuts are nutrient dense foods when consumed in their entirety. However, the fat alone is just that. Fat. A good fat nonetheless, however all fats should be consumed in moderation. Just because this oil is derived from a trendy commodity doesn’t make it any more nutritious than any other pure fat product. Saturated fats in high doses can lead to many health issues. A great alternative to include the nutrient rich profile of coconuts is a product called Coconut Bliss. It’s sold in a jar just like the oil, however its composed of the whole flesh of the coconut, not just the extracted fat. Delicious on toast!

Detoxing is a necessity to live and it happens without you even thinking about it, everyday. Our bodies are consistently ridding themselves of toxins through our breath, sweating and through excretion. The health industry have taken the word Detox to mean something else entirely. Something which suggests that you are full of toxins - you are, but your body will continuously eliminate them. As it has been doing since the day you were born. There’s no precious elixir which will do the process for you. The idea of juice detoxing is however, a good idea, it gives the digestive system a break and saves your energy stores rather than spending them on digestion. See my article on Intermittent Fasting for more info on the benefits.

There are so many more of these types of marketing going on at the moment. This barely tips the iceberg. But we should really research what we are buying instead of being sucked in by a load of jargon. If you’re feeling confused by all the information (or misinformation) out there, simplify. Eat a balanced diet full of varied colours and limit your processed food intake. It’s really as easy as that. If something does not occur naturally in nature, it is processed. These are the foods you can eat less of (don’t deny yourself completely though!) Yes, educate yourself, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to know everything and don’t for a second believe everything you read.

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