Information about food and its nutritional value is not always accurate. Health food fads and trends can burst into popularity without accompanying facts about the pros and cons of eating that food. It’s important that we know the facts, because what’s labeled as a health food by pop culture isn’t always good for us. Developing the habit of reading labels can assist you in making wise food choices.
A good example of this is kombucha. This beverage, made by fermenting tea, became a health food fad in Western Culture two decades ago. It is touted as an abundant source of probiotics, given the live bacteria it contains. However, it is the fermentation process and resulting bacteria that also make it potentially unsafe to consume.
Home-brewed Kombucha must be made and fermented in a carefully sterilized environment to assure the drink doesn’t contain bacteria harmful to the human digestive system. Kombucha brewed both at home and commercially can also contain high amounts of sugar, alcohol, heavy metals and candida yeast. For these reasons Kombucha might be the health food fad, you decide to skip. I love the taste and way I feel after drinking kombucha, so this information is disappointing to me!
Another fermented product often made at home is yogurt. It also requires a sterile environment in order to protect it from the growth of harmful bacteria. Commercially prepared yogurt, while typically safe from contamination, is often full of sugar, thickeners and preservatives. I was first introduced to REAL homemade yogurt, made from sheep’s milk, in Greece back in 1972 and have never found an equivalent quality since.
Many of us may know that tuna fish contains levels of mercury so high that pregnant women are cautioned to avoid it. But did you know that brown rice often contains arsenic? For this reason, you should limit servings of this grain. Also, watch out for brown rice syrup that is often used to sweeten “health foods” like granola and protein bars. An exception is Lundberg Rice – a sustainable, eco-friendly, organic farmer of high quality, safe rice products.
Other foods, commonly touted as healthy, have naturally occurring nutrients that can become toxic if consumed at even moderate levels. For example, swiss chard and beets contain oxaylates, a healthy prebiotic. However, consuming a high level of oxaylates can cause kidney stones. Brazil nuts contain a powerful amount of selenium, a nutrient that fights infection in our bodies. But a single ounce of brazil nuts contains 777% of our body’s daily need for selenium. Such an “overdose” of this nutrient can cause gastrointestinal and neurological problems, even heart attacks.
While we want to feed our bodies food that nourishes us and promotes health, it is important that we choose that food based upon accurate, research backed information. Before jumping on the bandwagon with the latest health food trend do some reading, including the labels on your food, or ask your medical professional. That extra step could save you from becoming ill due to a food that you thought would make you well.
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