Perhaps some of you want to take your health more seriously. So, you decide to head out to your local health food store and support them and your health by purchasing some of their products. You pick up a few items that you would normally get in your regular grocery store, you naturally paid more for them, but you are happy because you got healthy food, right? WRONG!
This is perhaps one of the biggest myths out there today that many people fall into, and that is, that “health food” is automatically “healthy food”.
Well if you are amongst those who think or believe that, have I got a bubble to burst for you.
Hence, in today’s article we will examine what does it actually mean to qualify as a true health food and why health food does not automatically mean healthy food.
What Does Health Food Mean?
When I searched for definitions of what “health food” actually encompasses or what it means, I was very surprised to find little concrete information.
The most common definition from online dictionaries was the following:
A food believed to be highly beneficial to health, especially a food grown organically and free of chemical additives.
Any natural or prepared food popularly believed to promote good health.
Now I don’t know about you, but to me this leaves a lot to the imagination and I find both those definitions inadequate where food that promotes optimal health is concerned.
If it is going to go under a label such as “health food” then in my opinion it should really be worthy of the name.
Secondly, people think that “health food” is anything from supplements, to processed organic products to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Hence, be aware that when people refer to “health food“, you and them may be talking about 2 very different things, so it is very important to clarify what health food really means.
What Should Health Food Mean?
According to the Evolving Wellness philosophy, health food means food that is natural, organic, not refined or processed in any way that compromises its nutritional integrity and without any chemical or other unnecessary additives that are or may be detrimental to one’s health.
Now when you look at food from that perspective, I am sure you can see a few problems with several popular health food items. If not, stay tuned to the next section below.
Within the last decade, as more and more people became more health conscious, “health food stores” started popping up like mushrooms. The basis of most was to provide alternative food products that were healthier than the mainstream items, or offered some exceptional benefits that regular food was not.
However, as with many things, where there is money to be made, sometimes people lose their better judgment or abandon the initial guiding principles that steered them in a certain direction in the first place.
Hence today, there are health food stores with supplements from A to Z, for any condition you can possibly fathom! There are foods that promise to enhance or cure this or that. There are drinks that offer benefits that have never been offered naturally before and the list goes on and on.
While some of these items have a credible stance, others do not. And with the premium price that most of these items come with, you would hope one would do their research before investing their money and health in them. But is research always enough, can we even trust it or does it exist for every item out there? Well the quick and obvious answer is a big NO.
Therefore, we as consumers and citizens have a hard task of what to pick and consume, from where, in what quantities and when. That is why, I personally have made this very simple for myself and know that when it comes to any processed food, organic or not, that is not the way to go.
Health Food is NOT necessarily Healthy Food
Okay, so to finish off and really understand this idea clearly, let us go through a few examples of foods that people may think are healthy because they are designated in one way or another as “health food“, but really aren’t.
There are so and I mean so many supplements out there today. Some are tested, most aren’t. Some are controlled according to specific guidelines, most aren’t. Some work and work very well, many do not.
Worst of all, many supplements are synonymous with the label “health food“. While I do not doubt that there are some legitimate supplements that can truly enhance one’s diet or improve one’s health, I do not agree with any supplement being called a health food. Let us call them “health supplements” but not “health food”.
This in my opinion just gives people the wrong idea, and that being that I can substitute perhaps almost anything in my diet or where my health is lacking with a pill. No matter how good it is, a pill is still a pill and our bodies do not have the same experience with it, that they do with food that comes straight from the Earth.
2. Processed Organic Foods
I remember the first time I walked into my first health food store. I was so excited, I was so empowered as I thought that everything (in terms of food) in them was automatically healthy. Boy was I in for a surprise!
I started reading labels, just as I would in any other store and was shocked to find that “health food” and especially stuff with “organic” labels was not necessarily healthy.
For example, if you look at organic tomato pasta sauce. Yes it is made with organic tomatoes, but yes it is still packed with double or triple the sodium levels that one should get. The same goes for organic canned beans, cereals, crackers, etc. This can even include organic candy with artificial flavors or colors, or even fortified soy or rice milk that may have come from GMO crops.
So the lesson learned is that processed food is still processed food and just because it has some organic ingredients does not automatically make it “health food”.
3. Over Fortified Food
Another huge area today when it comes to foods that come disguised as “health food” are foods and drinks that are way over-fortified with nutrients, or so-called nutrients.
Today we have drinks that promise to boost energy or ward off colds, bars that promise to build muscle and the list goes on.
I will not disagree with the fact that yes, there are some very potent foods, also known as “super-foods” out there. However, believing in the fact that they can be your magical cure or substitute for whatever ails you is not in my opinion very sound advice.
So from one aspect you may enjoy a drink fortified with many vitamins, minerals and perhaps some herbs like ginko or ginseng. But from another perspective you also have to understand that synthetic vitamins and minerals are not absorbed or used by our body as well as those that come from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. Secondly, vitamins and minerals are very inter-dependant and you can actually do more harm than good by taking or having too many of these or in the wrong amounts in your system.
Thus in conclusion, when it comes to “health food” understand that yes there are many foods out there that can enhance, improve and promote optimal health, but they are not necessarily what you may think.
Today labels get used and misused all the time and ultimately we do not want to fall for this one too, in the wrong way.
So although I always encourage you to read, research and review things for yourself, if in doubt choose natural, wholesome and organic – for it is very difficult to go wrong with those foods when it comes down to having the best health possible!