Inside Scope on Medical Truths: Are Healthy Foods Really Healthy?


Donya Forst

Donya Forst, Print Editor

   Last issue I mentioned a few “junk” foods that are not really junk at all so now I take the food topic in the other direction: “healthy” foods that are anything but.

   Often when people try to shed pounds, they substitute things like fats and carbohydrates, which are good for us in moderation, for things much worse for the body.

   Gluten-free is the trendy diet that everyone is talking about, but unless you are actually allergic to gluten or suffer from Celiac Disease, don’t ban the wheat.

   According to Prevention Magazine, “Most alternative flours used to make gluten-free crackers, pretzels, baked goods, and other snacks have just as many carbs—or more—than wheat does, while offering little more in the way of nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.”

   There’s really no need to make life more complicated by shopping for gluten-free products or cooking with gluten-free ingredients. Regular products will be just fine and your bank account will thank you as well.

   While fat-free foods may contain less fat, they contain extra sugars, thickeners and proteins, which amounts to the same or an even higher calorie count. Fats are a necessary part of our diet as they provide long term storage of energy, and they are vital to growth and digestion.

   As long we limit saturated (animal) fats to about 20-30% of daily calorie intake, there is no need to omit them. However, trans-fats should be avoided, as these do nothing for us and are essentially garbage to our body. We absorb nothing useful from them.

   The same goes for diet drinks. I often hear people say that they are drinking diet soda because it is better for them than regular soda. This is not true at all. Although regular soda isn’t the best thing for the body either, it is better than the diet brand.

   According to Shape Magazine, diet soda is “made with artificial ingredients and flavorings, and it’s not only unnatural and high in sodium, but regular diet soda drinkers have been shown to eat more calories after consuming diet cola.” Honestly, you are better off dropping the soda and high-sugar juices and drinks for some water or tea. Your body will thank you later.

   Another interesting unhealthy option – sports drinks. While they may provide replenishment after a workout, drinking them regularly can lead to many different problems because they are high on sugars and unneeded electrolytes, which can actually dehydrate and affect the kidneys.

   According to Dr. Oz, “Any drink with various ingredients is likely to either have added calories in the form of simple sugars, and if it’s sweet but has no calories, it’s got artificial sweeteners. Recent studies are linking artificial sweeteners with vascular events and even increases in metabolic syndrome.”

   Water is still the best option after a workout – and every other time we need to quench a thirst. It increases energy, relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, flushes out toxins, improves skin complexion and boosts the immune system.

   When it comes down to it, it’s often best to stick to the foods you know. I’m not advising you to go and eat all the junk food you want, but most of what you like or consider your favorite isn’t necessarily bad for you, especially if you limit your portion size and get a decent amount of exercise in as well.

   It doesn’t hurt to throw some fruits and veggies into your diet also, but you don’t have to be afraid to eat the foods you love. Take care of your body, but  maintain happiness while doing it. There’s no point in looking good if we don’t feel good about ourselves.