How Can "Health Foods Be Unhealthy For You?"

There are many of us who are dieting and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. We exercise and go out of our way to eat the best foods we can. Most of us already know that trans-fats, white sugar and white flour are not the best health choices, especially if we want to keep our weight down. Unfortunately some of the very foods that we think are healthy are ones that can cause a lot of trouble for our bodies, and even make us ill. Below is a list of some surprisingly unhealthy “health foods.”

Soy Products
This is one of the most surprising ones of all, after all soy has been used for countless generations in Asia. But the way we now use soy is very different than the way the Asians have traditionally used it. The ancient Asians knew that the soybean was hard to digest, so they had extensive fermenting processes that broke down most of the indigestible components, making it much healthier to eat. Examples of this would be products like soy sauce, tempeh, and miso. These were used in small amounts as condiments and flavorings, not as a meat replacement.

But the way we use soy as a meat alternative (textured vegetable protein or TVP) can be very unhealthy, since soy contains large amounts of toxins or anti-nutrients. Some of the problems the anti-nutrients in soybeans cause are conditions of the pancreas, cancer and thyroid problems. Soybeans also can block the body’s absorption of essential minerals.

It’s important to do your research on what kind of soy products is good and safe for your health. If you must have soy, have it in moderation. But be more savvy about the amount (eat less of it) and the kind of soy you consume. A two-ounce serving of fermented and non-genetically modified soy two to three times a week is OK. It’s easier for your system to digest and won’t kill you. Miso, soy yogurt, sprouted tofu, and tempeh are good examples.

Artificial Sweeteners

Many people who are dieting, whether it is low calorie or low carb diets, will opt for beverages with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Admittedly sugar is certainly a troublemaker and should be avoided, but artificial sweeteners are sometimes not healthy for you either.

In the 70’s there were many negative reports associated with artificial sweeteners such as causing brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy/seizures. While these reports of adverse effects have caused quite a bit of negative press research has ultimately been inconclusive. The FDA still approves many artificial sweeteners. It is ultimately up to you to make informed decisions on what works best for you.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sugar substitutes are loosely considered any sweetener that you use instead of regular table sugar (sucrose). Artificial sweeteners are just one type of sugar substitute. Some sugar substitutes, such as aspartame, are promoted because they add virtually no calories to your diet. Newer sugar substitutes, including stevia and agave nectar, claim to be lower calorie, tastier and healthier options”

That being said it is important to know what your options are and what is best for your health. These days you have to be your own health advocate and make choices based upon what’s best for your health .
Many physicians and scientist believe that stevia, which comes from a plant is one of the best alternative sweeteners to use. It has been used for centuries with no know side effects. It can be purchased in most health food stores in the United States.

Sports Drinks
Although marketers would have us believe that sports drinks are what the body needs when exercising heavily, the truth is that sports drinks are filled with sugar (sucrose, glucose, and fructose) and salt (potassium and sodium) as well as artificial flavorings and colorings. Add a little salt to Cool-Aid and you have about the same thing. You would be much better off drinking spring water or diluted freshly squeezed juices while exercising.

Most Energy and Sports Bars

Most sports and bars are also filled with things that are not the best for our bodies, and are little better than candy bars. Many of them contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives, and synthetic nutrients. Check the ingredients before you buy an energy bar. Try to find one that is made with whole foods, such as oats and flax seeds, fruits, and natural sweeteners.

Granola (and Other Unprepared Grains
Granola looks and sounds like it's healthy, but some types contain a lot of fat and sugar, which results in a higher calorie count. However, granola has the potential to be very healthy, and it offers several nutritional benefits. There is a great deal of variation between store-bought and homemade versions of granola, so it's important to analyze the ingredients before choosing one that fits within your healthy eating goals.

Commerical Versions

Commercially-prepared granola products often contain more calories than other types of dry cereal. A 2/3-cup serving has up to 220 calories and 17 grams of sugar. Read the labels carefully when choosing a box or bag of granola and choose one that is low in sugar, which will cut your calorie intake.

If you are trying to lose weight and/or eat healthier, remember that just because a company markets a “healthy” product well or a health food store sells it, it doesn’t mean that it is really healthy for you. Do some research before you grab that sports bar, or better yet, reach for an organic apple, cherries, or some other
natural (not processed) food. Your body will thank you and reward you for it.


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