Make better choices when it comes to what you eat, find out what foods to avoid when it comes to preparing healthy snacks and meals.
Did you know that many of the ‘healthy’ choices we make each day are far from healthy? Good news, then, that Matt Plowman, nutrition advisor at Cardiff Sports Nutrition, is here to help us avoid four of the biggest culprits.
Honey is the super healthy substitute to refined table sugar, right? Well, not quite. Sugar is sugar, and the honey you bought for under £5 is also refined.
There is some truth to the ‘honey is healthier’ message. When organic honey is consumed in its raw form, from a farm shop or health food business, for example, it will have nutritional benefits. Raw organic honey contains antioxidants and is free from the antibiotics commercial bees are fed. In contrast, the cheap honey sold in supermarkets is chemically refined and excessively heated, meaning that the natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals are destroyed – rendering it nutritionally void.
Honey consists of mainly fructose, which the body is unable to use as fuel. It’s taken straight to the liver and is stored in the cells as fat and produces waste products such as uric acid that can lead to gout. When you also factor in the insulin resistance that fructose can lead to (a precursor for diabetes) – it seems honey has got a lot to answer for.
If you do need a sweet fix before cheat day, opt for fruit. Despite containing fructose, its far less concentrated, plus you get the added benefit of fibre! The same goes for Agave Nectar, one of the most recent health foods to appear on the market; basically super high fructose corn syrup – it has the highest fructose content of any other commercial sweetener out there.
The white stuff contains calcium, but also a lot of other nonsense. In fact, there have been studies that showed participants who consumed a high quantity of dairy actually sustained more fractures than those who drank a small amount.
To be super blunt – cow’s milk is designed for calves. Not humans. Once we form the ability to eat solid food, the body no longer produces lactase – the enzyme that is responsible for the digestion of milk sugar, lactose. You know – the one of which many people – 75% of the population – are intolerant. That’s why milk and dairy products can have such an adverse effect on the human digestive system.
Commercial cows are pumped full of antibiotics, which is passed through to milk, and which may also contain preservatives, pesticides and fungicides. Cow’s milk is high in saturated fat and is best avoided – or a conscious effort is made to buy organic, locally-sourced product at least.
Broccoli, kale, edamame beans, almonds and even oranges are all incredibly rich in calcium, as well as containing phytochemicals and all important fibre; meaning they are good for your gut health.
When we decide to go dairy free, or just ditch milk, we often reach for soy milk, which is readily available and much healthier than cow’s milk. Or is it?
Unfermented soy is not a traditional food product. Unlike tofu, miso and soy sauce, it has not been used for hundreds of years. This should speak volumes.
Soy milk is incredibly high in phytoestrogens, plant compounds that the body treats as oestrogen. Studies have shown that soy milk can cause hormonal disruption within women’s bodies, wreaking havoc on oestrogen levels leading to weight gain and problematic skin.
Soy milk is made from GM ingredients grown artificially using pesticides and herbicides – nasty chemicals that have no place in our bodies. It also contains high levels of phytic acid, a composite that reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium, zinc and magnesium.
So, what’s the alternative? Head to YouTube to see how you can make almond and coconut milk at home. You can buy these other non-dairy milks in stores, of course, but of course, they too will contain undesirable ingredients such as emulsifiers.
Sugar-Free, Fat-Free, Light and Low Fat Foods
The 80’s were full of bad decisions: perms, leg warmers, The Culture Club…and Diet Coke. Diet Coke is still ranked as the second most popular carbonated drink in the world, second only to regular Coke. Yep, its 2016 and people are still willing to compromise their health by drinking something containing aspartame, which is made from genetically modified E-Coli – the faecal bacteria!
Other diet foods are popular with those of us consciously trying to lose weight, or looking to choose healthy options. However, we now know that fat is not the enemy, and that artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar.
Our body needs fats for energy, for hormone synthesis, to protect our vital organs. Not all fats are made equal and they of course should be consumed in moderation. The same approach should be taken with sugar; if you consume vast amounts of sugar and sugary foods, you are going to encounter numerous health conditions and pile on body fat; but low fat and fat and sugar-free foods are NOT the answer.
These foods are full of synthetic chemical additives sweeteners, MSG and salt to accommodate for the lack of taste.
Numerous studies have reported that artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar at inducing insulin sensitivity and the metabolic confusion that they cause promotes weight gain. Our bodies aren’t fooled by ‘empty calories’ and when the food comes without any substance, the cravings for energy continues; and ultimately, we consume more.
As a rule of thumb, aim to purchase as much locally sourced organic food products as you can. Avoid anything pre-packed and processed.