These days we can be very easily fooled by catchy advertising or claims by many fake health foods pretending to be nutritious. Often this is based on misleading information and outdated nutritional guidelines.
Here are 5 recently well-known “healthy alternatives” that are often worse than what they’re replacing.
Agave came out as the healthier alternative to sugar or artificial sweeteners. Many “all-natural” health foods used agave as the sweetener thinking it was much better than sugar. Unfortunately this is false. Agave is actually worse for your body because it contains higher amounts of fructose that is processed in the liver, which leads to more visceral fat storage. So basically you’re eating a cooler form of high fructose corn syrup with the same blood sugar spiking effects!
Alternatives: Stevia, Monk Fruit Extract, or Coconut Palm Sugar
Gatorade, Powerade, and many more have led us to believe that we NEED to drink them to rehydrate during workouts or sporting events. The belief that they replenish electrolytes lost through sweat is a big stretch! What they actually provide is a lot of artificial food coloring from petroleum products, sugar or fake sweeteners, chemical preservatives such as paint solvent (to keep the color dye suspended in the liquid) and some salt.
Truth is, unless you’re doing an intense ironman through the desert, you can probably get by with drinking plain water.
Alternatives: Water, Coconut water or make your own drink: 16-24oz water with lemon squeezed and ½ tsp Himalayan sea salt. For ultra intense workouts or sweetness add 1 tsp maple syrup
Many of us have come to love making our own concoctions at the trendy fro-yo shops thinking that we are eating something much healthier than ice cream! The sad news is that frozen yogurt once started out as actual yogurt, full of probiotics, before it became industrialized. Nowadays your swirly yogurt starts as a powder of low grade ingredients like: hydrogenated soybean oil, corn syrup solids, degerminated yellow corn flour, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, sodium aluminosilicate, FD&C red #40, blue #1, soy lecithin, propylene glycol monoesters, and so many more!
Alternatives: Enjoy the occasional indulgence in real organic ice cream! Make your own frozen yogurt at home by blending up frozen bananas with a little stevia and vanilla extract to make a delicious treat!
Real Almond Milk is actually a great alternative for those who cannot drink dairy milk. However, one additive in many store bought brands make this problematic for many people. This preservative called Carrageenan is used in the processing of many products. Studies have shown that it can disrupt the GI tract, causing symptoms like IBS, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. So if you’re avoiding dairy for digestive issues, this may be worse!
Alternatives: Make your own at home. Soak about ½ cup almonds in water overnight. Then blend with 2-4 cups of water until well mixed.
Choosing Wheat Bread Over White
When having your lunchtime sandwich maybe you opt for the whole wheat bread or multigrain bread instead of white; thinking you’re making the better choice here. The truth is, many forms of wheat bread are actually just colored white flour with a pinch of whole grains on top. Some manufacturers use caramel color to dye bleached white flour and give the appearance of brown whole wheat. Many large manufacturers also use more than 50 artificial ingredients in their bread products. Subway, among other companies, was recently busted for using azodicarbonamide, (a chemical used in the production of foamed plastics like yoga mats and rubber-soled shoes) for their bread conditioner.
Alternatives: Skip the bread altogether and go for a salad with extra protein on top or choose a sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel.
Laura Conley is a nutritionist at Heritage LifeFit Fitness. During her twelve years as a private fitness and wellness coach, she specialized in functional fitness, sports performance and holistic nutrition. Laura strongly believes that by incorporating the body, mind, and spirit we can all truly transform and thrive.