Health is the modern day is of prime concern. This article tells you what a health food advertisement doesn’t tell you! Read on and take a step towards a healthy you!
1. FRUIT FLAVOURED DRINKS
Fruity powder added to water to make a “vitamin C” rich drink that children love. Sounds familiar? Read to mix powders come in citrus flavours like orange, lemon and mint – are loved & preferred by children & adults as an easy drink during summers. These powders contain NO REAL fruit, are loaded with bad sugar, synthetic colours, flavours, fortification & preservatives that cause more harm than good. They raise blood sugar levels, cause water retention, result in long term micronutrient deficiencies, affect the vocal cord and cause weight gain.
- FRUIT JUICES
Packaged juices fortified & enriched with 10 nutrients?? News flash – natural fruit juices are naturally loaded with micronutrients that are balanced well enough to benefit health & wellbeing. Packaged juices on the other hand are stripped off their nutrition during its processing – hence, the addition of synthetic nutrients is mandatory (enrichment & fortification). Little do we know that synthetic nutrition is not as effective & not as healthy as natural nutrition. Each glass of packed fruit juice contains only 3% of real fruit pulp & about 5 teaspoons of sugar! Not to forget the added colours, flavours & preservatives. Do you still wish to grab a pack of juice?
- BAKED / DIET SNACKS
With more and more people being health conscious, the diet food sector is a booming market. So before you flinch, let me tell you that most diet snacks are in fact unhealthier than a dal pakora! Hydrogenated oils & margarine are added to diet chips that make them crispy & crunchy. This (hidden) fat addition is almost equivalent to the fat in a fried chip, not to mention the trans fat load they possess. These snacks also contain a very high amount of baking chemicals that cause calcium loss, joint pain and weight gain.
A genuine baked diet snack Crispy Coriander Potato wedges
- WHOLE WHEAT/ MULTIGRAIN BISCUITS
The most misunderstood product of the lot is definitely a “healthy” biscuit. For starters, no biscuit is healthy for me, as it comes with its set of leavening agents, baking chemicals, hydrogenated fat and harmful sugars. Biscuits that claim to contain whole wheat, oats, ragi and a hoard of other grains contain a higher load of chemical additives that the regular biscuits to make them crispier. Moreover the amount of these grains in the biscuit is about (3-15%) with the remainder being refined wheat flour. So ultimately you still are eating refined flour with extra chemicals.
- BROWN/ WHOLE WHEAT/ MULTIGRAIN BREAD
These breads fall in the same category as the multigrain biscuits. No marked health benefit, more refined flour – and more chemicals. What I would like to add here is the misconception that multigrain bread is a rich source of “fibre”. Yes – these breads have added fibre benefits, but the type of fibre added is of concern. Most breads contain insoluble harsh fibre that is not tolerated by the gut beyond a certain limit. Excessive intake of this fibre causes irritable bowels, flatulence, constipation or piles in the long run. Moreover, fruits, vegetables, pulses and sprouts are a natural source of fibre for the Indian diet – and not bread! It is safer to eat white bread loaded with fresh vegetables than eat a piece of brown bread with tea.
*Did you know – caramalised sugar is added to bread dough to give it a brown colour (added empty calories)!
Try this no bread moong sandwich
- LOW CAL / LOW FAT SPREAD
Packets that read low cal/ low fat bread spread spell danger. These products claim to have lower saturated fat that regular butter, hence fewer calories/ greater health benefits. If you intend to buy this product – get rid of your thought immediately! These spreads are made by hydrogenating low quality vegetable oils to get a creamy, buttery texture. Since these spreads are oil derived, they do not have cholesterol, but they do have a heavy load of oxidation (toxin) causing fats that are the major cause for blockages.
all natural vegan cheese spread
- SKIMMED MILK/ YOGHURT/ CHEESE & TETRA PACKS
Milk is one of the best complete meal options available to man. Sadly, fad diets & myths have turned this wholesome white nectar into a deficiency causing drink. Milk is a combination of proteins, good carbs, good fats and a host of micronutrients that make it digestible & absorbable for the body. Removing one component (fat) affects the delicate natural balance of milk that makes it less digestible. Milk fat is also the primary source for calcium & vitamin D absorption – in short, strong bones. And yes milk fat keep the gut & the liver healthy – helping you lose fat.
Another note of caution is the use of tetra packs. Milk packed in these containers is homogenized causing breakdown of fat & some protein molecules – affecting their natural integrity. These packets are also treated with nitrogen sprays that are toxic to human health.
- LOW CAL SALAD DRESSINGS
Salads are considered as the ultimate weight loss food (as opposed to a balanced diet). And low calorie dressings are the most sought after. These dressings have a very high sodium content that damages the intestinal lining & nerves – causing water retention, high blood pressure and weight gain. These products also make use of fat substitutes, flavours & artificial taste makers that do more harm than good.
- PROBIOTIC MILK / MILK DRINKS
For starters, curd is the best natural source of probiotics available in readily every Indian kitchen. Hence, the “probiotic milk” concept to keep the gut healthy is more of a fad. More over, every serving of this milk drink has about 15 gms (3 tsp) of sugar & loads of added flavour to make it palatable. Not to mention the preservatives & additives! It is much safer to just eat a bowl of homemade dahi.
Learn how to read food labels
- BREAKFAST CEREALS
Breakfast cereals that claim to give you “Iron”, “calcium” and “fibre” are a result of another fad that the Indian breakfast is nutritionally incomplete. Breakfast cereals are heavily loaded with sugar & sodium that make you hungry within 2 hours of eating them – causing mid meal hunger pangs, irritability. Not an ideal breakfast product right! Again, the “fortification” is artificial, hence not easily accepted by the body. Research shows that children eating these cereals as their breakfast low lack of concentration, poor memory and 15% lower academic performance that children eating home cooked breakfast. Traditional breakfast dishes like idli, chilla, poha, paratha, dhokla, beans-toast, omlette, etc are fresher, healthier, wholesome containing gut-friendly, digestible nutrients
What a healthy breakfast actually means
- MILK MIX POWDERS & FORMULA FEED
“Milk is incomplete, add this powder to make it a complete food” goes popular advertisements. Really? As mentioned earlier, milk is a complete food by itself (if you don’t process it). And if someone doesn’t drink milk – you needn’t force them! Just opt for other foods that give them the same benefit.
Talking about milk mix powders & supplements – what you must know that all of these powders are malt based (i.e. pure sugar). More over, this malt comes from oil cakes & cheaper cereals that are usually fed to cows. The icing on the cake is that each and every nutrient added to this mix is synthetic in nature. Add on some stabilizers and flavours – viola! You have a box of a chemical mess that cows refuse to eat! Are we pumping our children with good health or merely succumbing to fads & fears?
Baby food brands and worried mothers have led us to believe that a baby must compulsorily be weaned off on formula feeds or baby food. Formula feeds are made the same way as a milk mix powder – left over cow fodder!! The same shenanigan repeats – synthetic fortification, processing, artificial flavours and not real nutrition. Mommies, feeding your baby is as difficult as you make it. Start with simple juices, soups, purees, home made porridge & watch you baby grow into a healthy adult with a strong immune system.
- OAT MIXES / SOUP MIXES
If you are still reading this article then this might shock you! Yes oats has its share of health benefits – but definitely not processed, flavoured, preserved, sodium laden oat packets. A bowl of homemade upma, poha, idli or oat porridge has much better health benefits. And I do not need to remind you of the hazards of processing!
The same theory applies for soups mixes. dehydrated vegetables, thickening agents, corn flour, cream and plenty of flavours & preservatives is what goes into your “health soup”. You want to kill you hunger – eat a carrot instead!
Home made all natural Roman style pumpkin soup
- DIET COLA
Perhaps, one of the most carcinogenic of the lot, diet colas are something to be shoved into a thrash can and not down your throats. being low calorie does not necessarily mean that it is healthy. A can of diet cola has upto 5 times more quantity of artificial sweeteners, added chemicals, additives and sodium content than a can of regular cola. That means, you are at 5 times more risk of being overweight, damaging your brain, suffering from allergies and being susceptible to cancer.
Read about the Natural immunity boosting foods
- ZERO CHOLESTEROL OIL
This has to be the funniest health claim of all. For starters, no plant sourced food ingredient has cholesterol. Yes you heard that right – no oilseed, cashews or peanuts have cholesterol in it. What they have are fat combinations that MAY lead to cholesterol formation/ deposition. The next time you buy cooking oil, buy it for the type of seed used and not for it being “zero cholesterol”.
- INSTANT NOODLES
I saved the best for the last. Instant noodles are under scrutiny by the health board currently for a certain brand having alarmingly toxic levels of chemicals. Well, the same goes for other instant noodle brands as well. Research says that these noodle stay in the gut for upto 3 days – imagine that! Moreover, the taste makers added to these packets have an addictive substance added to it that makes people ask for more. Instant noodle (be it wheat, oats, dal, sooji or bran) are heavily processed to give it the instant cooking benefit. Processing = no natural nutrition. And do I need to add again? – Chemicals/ preservatives/ artificial flavours/ sodium.
Healthy noodle recipes in Don’t just feed… Nourish your child!
Read Food Labels with caution
All in all, to stay in good health, adopt a healthier, natural lifestyle. Eat fresh, wholesome food (even if it is fried), eat what your body loves and ditch the fad. Keep your body healthy, and it will throw away the harmful toxins that you ingest. And yes – some cheating once a while doesn’t hurt 😉
Disclaimer: The above list refers to commercially produced food products only! Home made products (breads, biscuits, juices, dressings) have a genuine health benefit attached to them. The author does not market nor intends to promote any commercial food brand through this article. This article doesn’t intend to demean any single commercial food brand.