6 Things You Think Are Healthy
Written by Marissa Parry, Edited by: Hani Khaursar
With all the conflicting information on what is good for you out there these days, it’s easy to get confused. Most brands often promote their products as 'healthy', slapping on either the ‘organic’ label with very loose guidelines or intentionally packaging and marketing their products as 'healthy' even if it is filled with products that are distinctly unhealthy.
We have worked especially hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in order to always provide you with an up-to-date list of things that one might think is healthy but really isn’t.
In our opinion, toothpaste has all sorts of nasty things in it that you don’t need to put in your mouth. Your toothpaste may just be scraping off the enamel and dentin in your teeth (especially your gum line) in order to remove the plaque and stains. While it might be getting your teeth slightly whiter, but to what extent? Weaker teeth? In order to create the foam we get while brushing our teeth (and makes us believe our toothpaste is doing its job) toothpaste has a detergent-type ingredient (most commonly used is sodium lauryl sulphate) not unlike soap - that causes it to foam. Also you may have heard that some toothpastes contain little plastic bits (which you may accidentally swallow), which are supposed to help clean the teeth! Really toothpaste is a cosmetic and you can pretty much do without it or rather much less of it. The only thing in toothpaste that is beneficial is Fluoride, which helps strengthen teeth.
Instead: Try oil pulling with coconut oil, use baking soda or even just plain water to brush with. Perhaps if you’re so inclined, once or twice a week use a pea-sized amount of low abrasive toothpaste to brush your teeth in order to get the benefits of the Fluoride. The important thing here is good brushing technique (don’t brush too hard) and brush when you get up, after meals and before bed.
FOOD WITH HYDROGENATED OILS
Perhaps you’ve heard of Hydrogenated oil by its other name - Trans Fat! Trans fat is just vegetable oils whose chemical structure has been altered to prevent rancidity in foods. This not only increases the shelf life of certain foods, it also saves food manufacturers money. We’ve heard by now of all the bad things trans fat can do to the body such as increase bad cholesterol - low-density lipoprotein, or LDL - and decrease good cholesterol - high density lipoprotein, or HDL - remember not all cholesterol is bad for you. Trans fat also blocks the production of certain chemicals that fight inflammation and benefit the hormonal and nervous system. Which basically boils down to: Trans fat promotes inflammation and negatively affects cholesterol levels.
Instead: Avoid eating foods like chips/crisps (their long shelf lives are due to trans fat) or junk food with long shelf lives such as doughnuts, cookies, muffins or anything with hydrogenated vegetable oils in them.
CULTURED MILK DRINKS
Cultured milk drinks are advertised to be full of good bacteria for a healthy gut. These were drinks that we consumed when we were kids because our parents thought they were good for us, and today parents are still feeding their children these drinks. Take a quick look at the ingredients of a popular milk cultured drink: water, skimmed milk (reconstituted), glucose-fructose syrup, maltodextrin, flavouring, contains Lactobacillus casei Shirota. Basically you are getting a dose of sugar, flavoured milk, which is not even milk as it has been reconstituted. And the amount of bacteria that you get in a bottle is half the recommended amount.
Instead: Invest in a good probiotic supplement that will give you the recommended amount of probiotics and none of the sugar.
LOW FAT DAIRY
Oh yoghurt! So yummy and good for you, right? Well, natural full-fat yoghurt is. Don’t be afraid of fat, the fat in our diet also helps us absorb certain vitamins - the fat-soluble ones, which include A, D, E and K. Following a very low-fat diet makes you more likely to be low in these vitamins and that can impact your immunity, limit the body's ability to heal itself and have an influence on bone health.
Low fat products are often full of sugar to compensate the low fat and make up taste. In a somewhat recent review published in the European Journal of Nutrition of the existing research on dairy fat, the conclusion was: People who eat full-fat dairy are no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than people who stick to low-fat dairy. In fact, when it comes to weight gain, full-fat dairy may actually be better for you, the review found.
Instead: This isn’t a green light to gorge on full fat dairy, but when you’re at the supermarket and you think the low fat, skimmed stuff is better for you, think again. You’re better off getting full fat dairy!
MILK WITH A LONG SHELF-LIFE
We’re not talking about the nutritional content of milk - though whether or not to drink milk at all is a topic for another article! If you are someone who does drink milk, and you buy long lasting milk that lasts for weeks (if unopened it can last unrefrigerated even longer) then I’m sure at some point you’ve wondered why a supposed ‘fresh’ produce like this can last so long. Well, it all boils down to shelf-life longevity really. In order for milk to be exported/imported and then stored on the shelf, waiting to be bought, it has to be able to last beyond the week. You might just be buying 'reconstituted milk' which is basically adding hot water to powdered milk. Even products labelled as 'fresh milk' might not be actual fresh milk as some dairies add “stuff” to cut costs, enhance taste or change the protein content.
Instead: Malaysia’s answer to fresh milk is a local company called Bright Cow. Their milk is locally produced and has a shelf-life of a few days, ensuring that your milk is actually fresh!
BREAD WITH LONG SHELF-LIFE
You have to wonder what ingredients are in bread that allows it to stay ‘fresh’ for 2-3 weeks on your kitchen counter. Again, shelf-life longevity is one of the big reasons. Before bread can even hit the shelves it has already been on the road for more or less a week.
In order for bread to keep fresh, producers need to add a lot of extra ingredients such as chemical dough conditioners, sugars, artificial flavourings or colouring and GMOs. Flour can be treated with an array of different chemicals approved by the FDA before it ends up on store shelves – including chemical bleach. Also, the industrial processing destroys nutrients, such as Vitamin E and fibre.
Instead: These days most supermarkets come attached with bakeries so it’s really convenient to get real fresh bread, without all the added additives and preservatives. Bread is supposed to be eaten fresh. It only takes four ingredients to make bread – flour, yeast, water and salt. There’s no need for all that other nasty stuff.
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