Organic, all natural, soy products, kosher, vegan – just what in the heck does all that really mean? Today we’re going to explore some of these terms by discussing their benefits (or negative effects) and dispelling some of the common myths surrounding them.
Why you should avoid GMO foods and go organic
An easy way to determine which foods can be considered organic is this quick little rule of thumb: the food has been created with “no extras”. So what does this mean? For fruits and vegetables, it means that they’ve been grown all by themselves – not with the “help” of potentially unhealthy additives like pesticides or the inorganic compounds found in synthetic fertilizers (which are incredibly common and – get this – use by-products from the petroleum industry). And of course, for a food to be truly organic, it can’t be a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).
Despite their wide proliferation, mostly because of affordability, GMOs are clearly having a very negative impact on public health:
- GMOs were introduced in the mid-90s. Since then, reports of chronic illnesses among Americans spiked from 7 % to 13 %.
- Digestive problems, reproductive issues, allergies, and disorders like autism are similarly skyrocketing.
- Got milk? The growth hormone used in GMO cows (IGF-1) has been shown to cause cancer.
- Many respected organizations have come out against GMOs, such as the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association. We’d like to think that these people know what they’re talking about.
Is a vegan diet the answer?
It might be. While it’s possible to live an active, healthy lifestyle and not eat a strictly vegan diet, committing to vegan foods only can make it significantly easier to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure while reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
There’s a lot of unfortunate misinformation about going vegan. Myths such as the following are totally untrue:
- FALSE – vegans have to take supplements
- FALSE – vegans have a protein deficiency
- FALSE – eating vegan is unhealthy for children
- FALSE – vegans are tired, weak, and bad at sports (proponents of this myth have clearly never heard of Scott Jurek, the famous vegan “ultrarunner”)
- FALSE – organic, vegan foods are expensive
While it’s not for everyone – speak to your nutritionist or general practitioner before making the switch – eating completely organic, vegan foods can make a significant impact on your overall health, energy, mood, and well-being.
The surprising benefits of kosher and soy free foods
While kosher foods are generally associated with religion, one does not have to be Jewish to appreciate the guidelines by which these foods are prepared. It’s a common misconception that the only thing that makes a product “kosher” is that it’s been blessed by a rabbi – this is unnecessary for a food to be considered kosher. In fact, what makes something kosher is the adherence to a strict set of guidelines in the preparation of the food, with a focus on cleanliness and not allowing certain food types to mix (for example, dairy and meats). Vegans in particular can benefit from kosher preparation due to these “non-mixing” rules – you can be sure that what you’re consuming has had no contact with meat whatsoever.
Soy has been in the spotlight for years as a “healthy” alternative – remember when soy milk and tofu were all the rage? Unfortunately, soy is just about as misunderstood as kosher foods. Whereas kosher foods are generally going to be cleaner and safer to consume, soy has a number of negative side effects – it’s packed full of lectins, and those little guys can seriously mess with your hunger levels. This happens because the components present in soy increase leptin sensitivity, which is how your brain tells your body it’s hungry. Soy is also very high in phytates, which make it almost impossible for your body to process important minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Gluten: The enemy? Meet 100 % natural gluten-free granola
The term “100 % Natural” gets bandied about pretty often, but what exactly does it mean? Pretty much the same as how we described “organic” above – no extras, no GMOs, nothing but the contents of food in their “natural” state. Gluten has become the target of some ire lately in the health community, and for good reason: We now know that it’s responsible for 80 % of stomach inflammation, is associated with some forms of cancer, and is chock full of opioid peptides. This means that gluten can actually become addicting – if you’ve ever eaten wheat products regularly (like bread), have you ever noticed how difficult it is to stop? That’s because you’re quite literally experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Healthy alternatives like 100 % Natural Gluten Free granola can offer tons of benefits while still satisfying that “gluten craving” you might still be having. Gluten free granola can provide your body with the “good” fats like omega-3 and others that promote good heart health. The fiber present will help you feel fuller and make bathroom trips easier. You’ll also enjoy a lower cholesterol reading.
Eating healthy is a choice
We live in a world where all different kinds of foods are more or less at our fingertips at any time of day – eating the right ones is just a choice. Why not choose to eat the ones that will make you feel and look better? If you’re having trouble giving up some of the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating, challenge yourself to eat only smart food choices for the next 30 days – and each day, keep a record of your mood and energy levels. If you’re experiencing some withdrawals (from gluten and other harmful substances), it might be tough for the first week. However, slowly but surely, you’ll notice a marked increase in your overall well-being. Give it a try, your body will thank you.