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Health Claims Debunked: The Fad Way and the Healthy Way

Sustainable health is made up of balance. You cannot drink green tea detoxes, take raspberry ketones, and cook everything in coconut oil and expect your health to be in tip top shape. Your body and your health are investments. You make one now with nutritious food and exercise, or you make one later in the form of prescriptions and doctors’ visits. It takes effort to take care of your body, however the reward you get from being fit, centered and ailment-free will provide happiness, longevity, and much less maintenance than you expect…if you make it a lifestyle. Here are some very common misconceptions about "quick fixes" that will cure all your health concerns. Be weary of claims to fast-track your health. If there truly was a "secret," don't you think more people would know about it by now? Myth #1: Drinking water with fruit and herbs in it will "detox your body." First of all, place your right hand on your abdomen above and to the right of your stomach. That is your liver and it is more than capable of "detoxing" any undesirable compound that enters your body through food. Second, the water itself is what is essential for maintaining a healthy body and weight- the fruit is just a delicious way to encourage you to drink more. According to various health sources, you should be drinking 1/2 oz. - 1 oz. of water for every pound you weigh to maintain a healthy body. Water helps clarify your skin, keeps your digestion moving, assists your organs to function properly and carries fat cells out of your body when you are in caloric deficit. Women should be drinking around 88 oz. per day while men should aim for around 128 oz. If you weigh more, drink more! Try it with raspberries, lemon, cucumber, mint or oranges. Just make sure you’re flavoring you’re water, not borderline replacing it with a large amount of juice. Buy a reusable bottle and try to drink an entire bottle before each meal or take a sip every time you look at your cell phone. It seems overwhelming at first, but if you break up your quantities into intervals, it is totally manageable.

Myth #2: You can eat whatever you want, as long you stay active and work out regularly. You cannot out-exercise bad eating habits. We’ve all said it: “Oh I worked out today so I can eat this double bacon cheeseburger with fries and split a brownie for dessert.” Eating 1,000+ calories in one sitting (extremely easy to do, especially when eating out) would require you to immediately leave your table and run a half marathon to burn it off if you did not want to gain any weight or water retention. The average person does not work out nearly as strenuously as is needed to burn off multiple excessive meals per week without gaining incremental weight. The truth is, the key to staying fit and healthy is to train your body not to crave processed and less-nutritious foods in the first place, not just trying to cancel out the slip-ups. The reason dieting or eating healthy is so hard when you’re not used to it, is because your body is comfortable with its physiological response to sugar, salt and fats. It takes a period of time to re-train your mind and body to not expect these nutrients. Once your body realizes you are not going to give it the sugar, fats and salt that it’s used to, it will stop craving them. In the meantime- keep up a regular exercise schedule. Your metabolism and energy levels will respond to regular water intake and exercise so those little slip-ups on special occasions may not be such a travesty! Myth #3: If you could only get skinny, you'd be healthy. Even if you are not overweight you can still be “fat” on the inside. An article written by Alexandra Sifferlin in Time magazine explains that eating “bad fats” such as hydrogenated oils, saturated and trans fat can cause visceral fat deposits in your liver and other organs, which later contribute to metabolic disorders, diabetes, and heart problems. Even if you are burning off the layer of fat under your skin at the gym, your liver is not able to hop on a treadmill and get healthy with exercise. If you are naturally skinny and thankful for your genetics, you might want to be even more careful with your diet despite your lack of surface body fat. Ruth Loos from the U.K.’s Medical Research Council explains that an increasingly common genetic variation causes carriers to have higher levels of blood cholesterol and experience difficulty storing fat under their skin. The fat these people consume needs to be stored somewhere, so it is deposited around vital organs, skewing their BMI and body fat composition. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to get regular check-ups even if you are not showing common signs of diabetes or health concerns. You can also read the entire article here. Myth #4: I can just look in the Health Food Aisle to establish a healthy diet. Good food does not need to be advertised. Think about it. When was the last time you saw a commercial for carrots or a radio ad for romaine lettuce? Real, good foods don't have ingredients. They are ingredients. Stick to the perimeter of the store when you’re shopping where all the fresh produce, proteins and dairy are. Next time you see a commercial for health products that are fortified, for weight-loss and provide all the nutrients you need, stop and think- why do you actually need it? What is on the ingredients list that they need to boost sales of to make a profit? Stick to a whole-food diet. This doesn't mean giving up pasta or sauces or delicious meals. This doesn't mean eating “rabbit food” and starving yourself. It just means controlling your diet and taking the time to cook, plan ahead, and eat quality foods rather than processed foods that make "quick fix" health claims. Need recipes? Email us, we’re happy to help! Myth #5: “Superfoods” will skyocket my health and fitness goals. Green tea, green coffee beans, raspberries, coconut oil … sound familiar? Probably because these things have been drilled into your head as the newest, most potent superfoods you can buy. And apparently we’ve just discovered that they’re amazing. They definitely have health benefits, but don’t rely on them to keep you feeling great! Here’s the truth:

  • Green Tea: Studies have proven that it’s actually the compound EGCG in green tea that can block fat absorption and boost the immune system, not the tea itself. However the effects of this are incredibly incremental. According to 2018 research by Consumer Reports, you would have to drink over 15 cups of tea per day to even come close to the metabolic stimulation advertised by producers of “green tea” supplements. Green tea also contains dehydrating caffeine and in large doses can cause prolonged liver damage and liver enzymes, similar to the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Green tea is also extremely high in tannic acid, which reacts with the structures of iron and protein. Drinking tea immediately after a meal can actually complicate and even slow down the digestion of food. The verdict: enjoy the occasional cup to relax and enjoy the high antioxidant benefits, but lose weight the old fashioned way with a whole-food diet and exercise.

  • Green Coffee Beans: Thanks to Dr. Oz falsely claiming it a “miracle pill for everybody” for weight loss in 2012, researchers have been scrambling to warn brainwashed consumers about the harmful effects of green coffee bean supplements. After several studies conducted with lab mice, it was determined that green coffee bean supplements (CGA) can actually cause insulin resistance and fatty deposits around the liver. The study that Dr. Oz based his claims off of was published by paid researchers and has absolutely no proof to its validity. The talk show host has since retracted his confidence in the supplement brand he was backing, but somehow there are still companies out there that continue to push these bogus supplements.

  • Raspberry Ketones: After raspberry ketones popped up across daytime TV as another bogus weight-loss “miracle”, these babies were quickly debunked. Researchers clarified that raspberry ketones are produced so sparsely by the plant, the supplement industry must chemically synthesize the product to manufacture it as a weight-loss pill. Raspberry ketone supplements sold in stores often contain synthetic appetite suppressants and caffeine which give your body some kind of "energy" as advertised, but does not actually have anything to do with burning body fat. We love our berries as a healthy breakfast and great summertime snack, but relying on them to keep your weight in check is not the best idea.

  • Coconut Oil: It seems like just as we were positive coconut oil was the most horrible source of fat we could use in the 1980’s, we have since manipulated the quality of the oil and are now positive it is the absolute best. A Huffington Post article supports our viewpoint fully- why on earth is coconut oil the new thing? Unlike olive oil, which has been proven to be a heart-healthy mostly-unsaturated fat when used in its highest quality form, coconut oil is mostly saturated fat and its effects on heart disease have not been thoroughly studied. Coconut oil holds about 30% more saturated fat than butter and its craze as the new healthy super food is in danger of encouraging consumers to over-use this natural oil. While for athletes and active consumers, coconut oil provides lauric acid and is a good source of easily expendable energy, for the average low-activity American it is just another saturated fat source that is being added to smoothies, vegan baked goods, and used for cooking by the unhealthy spoonful. There are many short-term studies floating around that contribute weight loss, shiny hair, and satiation to coconut oil- so don’t rule out this puppy just yet! However it is a fat after all, so moderation is key.

Myth #6: It is important to be productive and active as much as possible to maintain good health. Although the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults, many people find their norm in getting 4-6 hours per night. Even if this is something you can pull off, you may want to rethink your nighttime recharge for other reasons. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, frequent and continuous sleep deficiency has been proven to lead to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep deficiency can cause higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, which if frequented over time can increase your risk for diabetes. Decreased sleep patterns have also been linked to obesity. This is because “sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested.” While getting a full 8 hours per night can help balance these hormones that allow losing weight to be a little easier, it can also boost the hormone-release that is needed to build muscle mass. Trying to put the finishing touches on that summer body? Hit the sack a little earlier tonight and give your muscles time to do their thing.

Myth #7: Soy and plant-based products are much better for you than animal products. American soy consumption has sky-rocketed in recent decades as consumers replace controversial dairy and animal products with soy-based alternatives. Soybeans are a great source of protein (29g per cup!) and of vitamin K which can counteract signs of aging. However if you’re looking for sustainable soybeans, you have your work cut out for you. Soy is heavily subsidized in this country and consequently, 93% of our country’s crop is genetically modified and conventionally produced with pesticides and chemical production techniques. While it is fairly easy to find certified organic tofu and alternative meat products in your grocery store, it is the GMO soy additives in processed foods that will sneak up on you. Excessive consumption of non-fermented soy in many studies has been linked to depressed thyroid function, phytates (which block the body’s mineral absorption) and estrogen blockage. When researching side effects of soy consumption relevant to your own consumption rate, it is important to look at the source of the study and who funded it. Some studies conducted by the dairy and other industries may contain biased information to steer consumers back towards their product alternatives. When making the decision whether or not to consume soy, do your research but make sure it is credible research. Are we saying soy is bad for you? Absolutely not. However, we do advise to quit the two-a-day soy lattes and look out for additives in your snack foods. Go easy on the soy products and make sure to be reading your labels to find sources that are produced sustainably.

Myth #8: If a treat or processed food is gluten-free, it is healthy. The media has hyped up gluten allergies and gluten sensitivities so much, that many people now associate the absence of gluten with weight-loss, health foods, and a sustainable lifestyle. Gluten-free simply means the absence of the protein in many grains that makes people with gluten-sensitivity or Celiac Disease sick. That’s it. When you remove this protein from products, especially products such as baked goods that are intended to be made with wheat and other grains, it makes them dry, flavorless, and brittle. Processed food brands over-compensate this by adding saturated fats, preservatives, salt, sugar and flavorings. This is no way contributes to weight loss or a whole-food diet. While we do love a long list of companies that avoid this, many consumers who are following this label claim as a trend, don’t take this into consideration. The media is constantly giving us new things to think about in terms of our health, our food system and well-

being. It’s hard to know what’s real, what’s sponsored, and what’s really in the best interest of the consumer. Everyone has an agenda to make money, increase their product sales, or just talk about the newest weight-loss craze! Our agenda is to provide you with as much factual proof as we can for you to understand the issues and make informed decisions. We love doing the research for you so keep your questions coming!

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