Ever since I started becoming aware of the correlation between what you eat and how you feel (I know, duh, right?) I have seen so many health trends come and go. Nearly ten years ago when I started experimenting with my diet I tried it all. Low carb, low fat, South Beach, Weight Watchers, the list goes on and on. Over time I learned about how the body works, what it needs for optimal digestion and energy, and so on. Learning more about the inner workings of the human system and being able to tap into what felt best in my body, really helped me come to a lifestyle change and drop the yo-yo dieting and latest health fads.
The thing with health fads is that they continue to resurface but use different words to describe them. For example, today’s Paleo diet is a lot like yesterday’s Atkin’s diet. I don’t believe the best diet is going to have a buzz word. Everyone knows “fruits and vegetables should be eaten in abundance.” That is a statement that has stood the test of time with little to no argument. Everything else though, seems to be debatable.
In today’s trending health world there are some things that have really caught popularity. These days I try to base what I eat off the knowledge I have gained about health and what makes the most sense in terms of efficiency (because I don’t think eating is supposed to be complicated) and what my intuition tells me. These are four health trends that I do not follow:
1. Bone Broth.
I mentioned efficiency above, and this is a perfect example of that. It is hard for me to believe that we need to kill an animal, process an animal and boil down its bones to get something essential. The trend of bone broth also caters to our propagated ideas about protein. We are obsessed with protein…and it is killing us. Yes, protein is essential to the human body, but Americans take in up to five times the amount the human body can take. High animal protein diets are linked to things like cancer, kidney failure and heart disease to name a few. Cultures who have significantly lower rates of cancer than the U.S. eat minuscule amounts of meat, as opposed to hearty portions for every or every other meal. The idea with bone broth is that is has collagen, but our bodies naturally make the collagen in the bones (just like it does for the animals) and cannot take in excess of what we already have. One last point is that boiled bones is acidic to the human body. Acid forming foods promote disease. Eating should consist of mostly alkaline foods. When we eat overly acidic foods our bodies get depleted because they have to pull minerals to neutralize the acid.
2. Coconut oil in and on everything.
Let’s get something out of the way: Extracted oil of any kind is NOT A HEALTH FOOD. Extracted oil is pure fat (not the good kind) and is void of fiber, nutrients and minerals. According to Harvard Department of Nutrition, coconut oil in particular is 90% saturated fat which is the type of fat that clogs arteries and raises “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Somewhere along the way we bought into a myth that oils are healthy fats, but this isn’t true. Medical Doctor and founder of Nutritionfacts.org, Michael Greger states:
“Those selling coconut oil say one needn’t worry because coconut oil contains a type of saturated fat that doesn’t raise cholesterol. That’s a page straight out of the beef industry playbook:
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is always going on about how beef contains a saturated fat called stearic acid. Unlike the cholesterol-elevating saturated fats (palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids), stearic acid has been shown to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. That’s true, and beef does have stearic acid, but it has twice as much of the palmitic and myristic, which they admit does raise cholesterol. That’s like coca cola saying they know for a fact that soda doesn’t make you gain weight because it contains water and water has a neutral effect on weight gain.”
I am afraid the industry of coconut oil is not much more than a really good marketing scheme. One I bought into for a really long time. I still like to rub oil on my body, on squeaky wheels, and on my baby’s tooshie from time to time…but I don’t put it in my body.
3) No/low carb diets.
This is the one that makes me cringe the most. When I see people avoiding carbs I want to scream. We have become so carb phobic that we are avoiding foods that are essential to our health (like fruit). The human body runs on carbohydrate. Our cells and brains run on glucose, by nature. Now, I am not saying we need to be eating ding dongs, Little Debbie’s cakes and bagels for days. No, I am not promoting processed carbs here. I am promoting whole foods, plant based carbohydrates. Carbs alone do not make you fat. Carbs in combination with more fat than the human body requires and overeating makes you fat. I believe other things affect weight, too, such as stress and your emotional state, but I digress.
Everything we eat, our body has to use energy to convert it to glucose because that is what our bodies run on. The further away the food is from this state, the harder our systems have to work to convert. It takes a lot of energy to convert a steak to glucose. It takes nearly nothing for the body to assimilate a banana. This is a perfect food for humans with the simple carbohydrate (sugars), fiber, vitamins and minerals. In starving yourself of healthy carbs you are starving your brain (hence why you will eventually have cravings and feel hungry). Healthy carbs are also low in bad fat and are the best foods for a healthy heart. Think fruit, sweet potatoes, squashes, rice, oats, beans, etc. If you are on a no/low carb diet you are going to have to make up in calories by eating a ton of fat and that is not healthy. While the body does need fat, there is such thing as too much.
4) Raw Milk.
There are several reasons I don’t drink raw milk but the main reason is simple: I am not a baby calf.
Maybe raw milk is “better” than pasteurized milk, but it is still cow milk. It was designed perfectly and exactly for the system of a calf. It has no more business in the human body than pig or giraffe milk. Sure, raw, grass fed, organic milk doesn’t have added hormones but it still has the natural cow hormones in the milk that are needed to make a baby calf into a big fat cow in a short period of time. The only milk humans need is human milk (surprise, surprise), but humans are the only species who go on to keep drinking milk from another species once they no longer need their own milk. There are some claims that raw, non-homogenized milk has benefits, but dairy in general is acid and mucous forming. The protein in milk called casein has also been linked to many health issues including tumor growth.
When choosing which foods are best, I try to stay away from what is trendy. That isn’t to say that something that is currently trending will automatically be unhealthy, but I like to look deeper than the surface. With that said, I do not have all the answers about diet and nutrition. There is so much conflicting information out there on this topic that it takes so much time and energy to sift through what is true and what might not be. While I have been researching for nearly a decade, and I would say I have a vast understanding, I am no expert. When doing your own research and experimenting, question everything, including what I have to say 😉