Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert
Just like fashion, food and diet trends come and go with the seasons. Some are extreme, some are outdated and some are just completely mis-directed. Here are five health trends we should all hope to see the end of sooner rather than later.
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1. The end of the Food Pyramid
The food pyramid, introduced by the US Department of Agriculture in 1992, advocated 6-11 servings of rice, bread, pasta and cereal as the main staple for our diet. What it didn’t consider was the source and processing or preparation of food which affects the health of food: plants and animals, environment and ultimately earth, which in turn creates food rich in nutrients or empty calorie foods. And it affects what is on offer… an abundance of food full of industrialised ingredients such as sugar, wheat, and corn or what we have evolved to eat. Real food doesn’t come out of a box! Eat fresh and whole, healthy plants such as organic and clean fruit and vegetables, cold pressed oils and well prepared nuts and seeds and healthy animals including fish and seafood.
2. The end of the Nutritional Panel
Introduced over 20 years ago, the panel is displayed on food packets to provide information on how much energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates and sodium is in that food. Instead of reading nutritional labels, start looking at the ingredients of foods. Food is only as good as the source and processing or preparation of ingredients. A simple exercise I recommend to my clients is a pantry and fridge – food audit. Look out for additives. They appear as numbers or long complicated words. These include emulsifiers, preservatives, colours and flavours. Also look out for processed foods such as vegetable oils, refined salt, yeast, milk solids, soy and sugar.
3. The glorification of Kale
Over the years we have seen many vegetables take centre stage. We have seen grapefruits in the form of the Grapefruit Diet and cabbage in the form of The Cabbage Soup Diet. In the last couple of years it has all been about Kale, a vegetable that has been cultivated for over 2000 years. We have seen it turn up in green smoothies, juices, supplements, protein powders, health treats, and chips! I think all vegetables are equally nutritious but it depends on the source and processing or preparation (I know I sound like a broken record).
4. The end of the Health Shake
Marketed as a weight loss and bodybuilding aid or meal replacement, this all in one began with the invention of the blender in the 1930s. We have seen almost everything go into one. From fresh fruit and vegetables, oils, nuts, milks, fibre, yoghurt, eggs to more processed ingredients such as protein powders and appetite suppressing, stomach filling agents. Our digestive system is the best food processor, mixer and ultimate blender. Chewing food is fundamental for digestion as this secretes the digestive juices needed to break down food so it can be ready for absorption. This step is missed when we use an external blender. However, there is a place for juices and smoothies. Begin with whole foods, avoid the powders and use them when your digestive health is compromised such as during chemotherapy, chronic illness or gut dysbiosis or as a recovery drink after exercise.
5. The end of the Super Foods
A few years ago I was asked to speak at The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, one of Australia’s leading biomedical research institutes, pioneering study into the most widespread diseases affecting our community today, including cancer. My topic – Is Cancer a Super food Deficiency? Super foods, in the form of powders and supplements are the ‘go to products’ for chronic illness such as cancer. They are touted as the elixirs of life, panaceas or cure all’s. But are they? The underlying cause of disease is multifactorial. Genetics, environment such as chemical exposure and not enough or too much sunlight, nutritional deficiencies, lack of hydration and oxygen and stress all play a role. So addressing the underlying causes is fundamental. The other point I made at the talk was that all foods are super! They all have extraordinary health and nutritional benefits but it all depends on, you got it, there goes that broken record again, the source and processing or preparation of food.
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