Dr. Dae shares the top ten healthy food myths.
All right, let’s talk about the top ten myths about health foods, okay? The first one I am going to talk about is whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread or whole wheat bread. One of the things that’s really important is we want to have whole foods in our diet. We want to have whole grains in our diet, but pastas and breads are processed foods. So they have left their original state, and now they have been processed down. Sometimes we enrich them with synthesized vitamins or nutrients or minerals to kind of put something back into them.
So that can be a part of our diet, but it should really be limited to maybe one serving instead of trying to make that a really big part of what we are eating every day.
Number two are the healthy frozen foods. One of my internists, he is a friend of mine, we had a big debate about this because people think that they are eating really healthy, but actually there’s a lot of sodium in those foods, and they have cooked them. They usually have, again, pastas in them, lots of rice.
They don’t have a really big amount of our proteins, our fruits, our vegetables, and so people think that they are eating really healthy. But really they may actually be tipping their scale for some other types of problems to happen in the future like high blood pressure, being overweight from eating too much sugar, insulin-resistance, which could be linked to someone getting pre-diabetes or diabetes. So watch the frozen healthy foods and eating those too much during the day.
Number three is juice. I think juice is wonderful, but are you reading the label to see if it’s 100 percent juice? There are a lot of fruit drinks and a lot of fruit beverages that have additives, preservatives, colorings. They are only 20 percent juice, and they have high fructose corn syrup which actually has been linked to people getting, gaining weight over time because that high fructose corn syrup actually turns into fat instead of being utilized as glucose and energy.
And if you are going to have juice 100 percent, only four ounces at one sitting. I know that when I was little, we used to have small cups, not 32 ounce glasses, and I really don’t consider those serving sizes. And I know on some commercials they say it’s a serving size of fruit or vegetable. I don’t count that, and watch those waters too, the fancy waters that have synthesized tastes and fragrances in them. Those are not as healthy as drinking water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Number four, I know we are all working really fast and hard and furious, but power bars and breakfast bars usually, again, are highly processed foods. They have a lot of sugar in them. They will have jams in them. They don’t have real fruit in them, and so we really have to watch that when we are thinking about our blood sugar levels, when we are thinking about our nutrients.
Nutrients are found in whole foods, not in things that are processed. Bars that are this big, that should not be a staple of what you eat. It should be you are on the run, you have it in your bag, you don’t have time to eat something, and you are doing that every once in a while.
Number five are soy products. There’s a lot of controversy as to whether soy is healthy or is unhealthy for you. I am not going to go into all the details, but I will say this–everything in moderation is what is important. So if you are having soy once or twice a week, it’s probably going to be fine and it’s not going to cause some of the issues that some people are concerned about around mimicking your female hormones.
Soy can actually interfere with thyroid function, and soy is one of the most common allergens that people have. So you have to be careful about that, and make sure that you are not having soy burgers for breakfast and tofu for lunch and protein, mineralized, vegetabilized protein for dinner. So if you are going to have soy, don’t have it with every meal, thinking that it’s much more healthy than a lean piece of meat or fish.
Number six – milk, cheese, and yogurt. These foods, all these dairy products, again, in moderation could be really very helpful and supportive, but you can really get more servings for calcium through green, leafy vegetables than you get from a serving of milk, dairy, or cheese.
The major issue with dairy products is most people, up to 80 percent of African-Americans for example, are lactose intolerant, which means that when you put that in your body, your body does not know how to process it, and it causes other symptoms, usually digestive, that make you not feel good. So moderation is very important, again, when you are dealing with dairy products.
Number seven is reduced fat and no-fat foods or snack packs or whatever you want to call them. It’s really important that we have good fats in our diet, so this idea that no fat or reduced fat is going to be better for you is not true. The other thing, if you did not know this, that when something is reduced fat or it’s no fat, fat gives things flavor, so they usually tend to put more sugar in those types of foods in order to give it some kind of taste so that you would want to have it. So watch those things. They are not healthy for you. I prefer that you have an apple than get a reduced fat snack from the grocery store.
Number eight are salads. I know that that may seem shocking to you, and salads are extremely healthy for you. However, when you start adding croutons and fried wantons in the Asian salads, and you start adding cheese on top of everything, and you start adding salad dressing, which can have wheat in it, for people that have wheat or gluten allergies that’s really going to be difficult.
Salad dressings, if you are not making them yourself, can be very, very high in sugar and can affect people’s blood sugars, particularly if they are in their diabetic or pre-diabetic stage.
Then all of a sudden this really healthy meal has become unhealthy because you have added lots of calories, lots of empty calories, fat from cheese, for example, and if you have never noticed this before, if you go to the grocery store and you look at croutons, they actually have high fructose corn syrup in them. Now why? I have no idea.
So if you are going to have a salad, make sure that it has fruits and vegetables, and you can have protein on top of it, but make sure that you don’t put a lot of high-calorie foods on top just for your taste.
Number nine is high fiber cereals. High fiber cereals, it’s important for you to have fiber, but remember you can get fiber from nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, fruits and vegetables. So when you have these high fiber cereals, usually what they are doing is, again, adding a lot of sugar to it to make, to give it some taste.
So instead of having a super high fiber cereal and say, I am done with my fiber for the day, make sure that you are doing things in moderation, and you have that every couple of days and that you include fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds as part of your daily intake for fiber as well.
Now remember, I am just giving you the facts. These are not in any particular order, but number ten may surprise you. If you go to places that are fast food or healthy Mexican style places and you get a super huge burrito, that’s not as healthy as you think it would be. Most oftentimes the size of what you are eating, the portion size of what you are eating is almost equivalent to what you would get in one day’s allowance of food.
For example, the grilled chicken, Chipotle burrito is actually 1700 calories if you ate that in one sitting. Now most people eat between 2000 and 2500, so eating that at one time is not going to be healthy for you. So if you think that you are going somewhere to get something healthy and it looks two or three times the size of normal portion size, it probably is.
So cut that in half or cut it in a third, add some salad to that, and it will become much more healthy than if you just eat that by itself and you think that you are eating healthy. So watch the fast foods because they may report to be healthy, but they really may not be. So make sure that you ask for nutritional information when you get something to eat.
About Dr. Dae, N.D.:
Dr. Daemon Jones completed her undergraduate education in economics at Northwestern University (graduated 1992). She completed her naturopathic medical training at University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (2002). Dr. Jones founded Healthydaes Naturopathic Medical Center in Silver Spring, MD (2003. As a naturopathic physician, Dr. Jones is turning her life’s passion – the pursuit of vibrant health – into her life’s mission for others. She uses private consultations, cooking demonstrations, lectures and workshops as a hands-on way to help people enjoy learning about improving their health. She is a faculty member of Smith Farms Center for Healing and the Arts and Food As Medicine Professional Training program.