8 Foods People Think Are Healthy (But May Not Be)…

Well, this article is originally called 8 Foods People Think Are Healthy (But Aren’t). However, I have a couple of notes on it so I changed the ().

Firstly, it’s a great article with lots of helpful points. Overall, I agree with how limiting or avoiding these 8 food suggestions can help improve our health, however there are a few caveats. Being an Ayurvedic practitioner, all foods can be healthful and harmful to every individual depending on their Doshic constitution, Doshic imbalance, season and environmental history. Also, everyone should definitely try to avoid processed, GMO and alkaline foods, but how fast some people get there depends on their current state of toxicity.

Agave – processed and has a high fructose level. It’s a good one to avoid or limit.

Soy– Eat Organic, non-GMO soy in moderation. Studies have shown Positive and Negative effects of soy so it’s not necessary to eliminate it completely. Organic whole bean edamame, for example has fiber, protein, high Vitamin K and folate. In moderation, a Kapha individual who is overweight would benefit from eating a lighter source of protein rather than red meat.

Fish– Eat Wild if possible and follow the NCDI mercury chart 

Fruit Juice or Fruit Veggie Fiber Smoothie – Juicing is a large topic. The short version is that a significant consumption pure fruit juice lacking fiber can raise blood sugar and possibly contribute to diabetes. Fruit and veggie juices provide a more balanced source of easily digested vitamins and nutrients. Vitamix fruit and juice smoothies with fiber work the best for delivering nutrients while maintaining steady blood sugar. *One point about fresh juices. They have been Incredibly useful in helping overweight individuals loose weight and balance their blood sugar if done correctly and under the care of a health coach or physician. Ayurvedically, Kaphas can juice fast 1x/ week with ease, Pittas can do it 1x/day and Vatas can use it as a snack in between meals.

Subway – Some food may be an intrim solution for people on a Step wise plan to reach a holistic living goal. For example, someone who frequents fast food chains and eats large amounts of Fried foods, could benefit from visiting Subway and eating a veggie hoagie as a stepping stone to eating healthier foods.

Olive Oil-  Yes, it’s true that it is best fresh and unheated, but olive oil has a smoke point between 220F-437F and can fare ok at low temperatures, typically under 300F. The goal is to avoid oxidation of the oil. Always use unrefined, cold-pressed virgin and extra virgin olive oils. Coconut oil is great to bake with and if you like its taste, use it in savory cooking. *Ayurvedically, the Best oil to use isn’t oil at all – it’s GHEE. Clarified butter with saturated fat that directly nourishes the cell membranes. See Alex Duncan’s video on what Ghee is and how to make it here.

Braggs Amino Acids- This is a tricky one because it’s a staple for Vegans. The fact that it is non-GMO soy works in its favor. Use in moderation. Himalayan Rock Salt – Ayurveda recommends this for 2 main reasons. First, it is an Earthy salt – mined from land, not sea – and has more minerals and earth element in it. This salt works in moderation for ALL 3 Doshas. Second, Salt is one of the Shad Rasas, or 6 Essential Tastes to incorporate in each food meal. It helps balance the body, satiates, assists bile in digesting fats and complements the other rasas to eliminate food cravings. It is also a natural electrolyte that our body needs. Use it in moderation and seasonally to balance your constitution.

Dairy – Another tough one. Dairy is regularly detrimental to Kapha as it creates mucous, sinus buildup and Ama (toxins) in the intestines. Most dairy is considered cold, heavy and sour to the body and will negatively affect the doshas. This “sourness” is related to its acidic nature, aged bacteria and pittagenic properties, and it is not part of an Alkaline diet. Seasonally, dairy is to be avoided in Spring, a wet, Kapha time. Dairy however, can be helpful to vata vitiated individuals and youth who need its nourishment to grow and increase Kapha within them. In some cases, Ayurveda supports fresh, organic cheeses such as paneer or fresh yogurt and it uses some dairy to cure digestive ailments like diarrhea.

Ok, so just a few key points to consider. Looking forward to your comments.

Thanks for such an inspiring article!




PHOTO BY cathou_cathare

By Jess Ainscough, MindBodyGreen

Between the mainstream media, the Food Pyramid, the gazillions of health blogs out there, and the premise that you can just walk into an organic store and anything you pull off the shelves will be healthy, it’s not hard to see why so many of us are confused as to what is actually healthy and what isn’t.

Being a wellness warrior is tricky business, and I don’t think anyone is exempt from falling into the trap of thinking something is healthy, only to find out later that it totally isn’t. Here are just some of the food items commonly confused thanks to clever marketing.

1. Agave Syrup

This is one I myself fell for. So many vegans and raw foodists rave about agave that I didn’t really stop and think it could be too good to be true. Agave is a super sweet liquid that is often touted as the “healthy” or “low GI” alternative to sugar. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, it’s hardly any better than high fructose corn syrup. It’s highly processed, and super high in fructose.

What should we eat instead?

Anything from this list of natural sweeteners.

Related Product: Body Ecology – Stevia Liquid Concentrate

2. Soy

Soy milk and tofu are often considered healthy alternatives to meat and dairy. I’m not advocating meat or dairy, but in my opinion, soy is just as bad, if not worse. Organic fermented soy products are OK in small amounts, but the majority of the Western world is under the idea that processed products like soy milk and tofu (which are also generally genetically modified) are good for us. Hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility, birth defects, immune system breakdown, heart disease and cancer. Don’t believe me? Read The Whole Soy Story by Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel.

What should we eat instead?

If you’re after vegan protein, I recommend lentils, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, spirulina, and leafy greens.

3. Fish

Fish falls into two main categories: farmed and wild. Farmed fish are raised in much the same environment as factory farmed animals. They are crammed into confined spaces and forced to survive in atrocious conditions. The enormous amount of feces in their enclosures leads to rampant outbreaks of parasites and disease. In order to keep the fish alive in such unhealthy conditions, large quantities of antibiotics and other chemicals are poured into the water. Farmed fish are fed a tasty diet of junk grains, soy meal, corn gluten meal, chemicals, and neurotoxins. Everything the fish endures is consumed by you when you eat it!

Wild-caught fish is a little better, but still not great. Most of it is full of mercury (with the exception of the odd sardine), which is the second most toxic element on Earth next to radiation.

What should we eat instead?

If you don’t want to give up fish, here is an Australian list of the most and least contaminated fish, and here is one for the United States.

4. Fruit Juice

I have one word for you: sugar. That’s all fruit juice is to your body. Because the fruit has been stripped of its fiber, it’s converted straight into sugar as soon as it hits your mouth and sends your blood sugar levels all woo-hoo. Of course the bottles of fruit juice you buy at the store are rubbish. Most people know that. But fruit juice you make yourself is also not that great because of the whole sugar thing.

What should we drink instead?

Vegetable juice! You can juice an apple with veggies to make the juice sweeter. Or, if you want more fruit, try a smoothie. With all of the fiber still intact, smoothies are better than fruit juices.

5. Subway

It’s criminal that Subway is allowed to be marketed as a healthy option when it comes to food choices. The meat is processed, the sauces are full of sugar and other preservatives, and they sell junk food cookies and soft drinks as add-ons. There’s nothing healthy about Subway. Don’t believe me? Click here to see a list of what is actually in Subway’s food.

What should we eat instead?

How about a fresh sandwich?

6. Cooking With Olive Oil

When used at room temperature, olive oil is healthy. As soon as you introduce high heat, it becomes rancid and turns into a carcinogen (a.k.a. cancer promoter). It pains me to see top TV chefs splashing their pans with olive oil. Coconut oil is the best oil to cook with as it’s extremely stable against heat.

What should we use instead?

Coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and safflower oil all have a high smoke point.

Related Product: Nutiva Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil

7. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Another favorite in the health community, Bragg’s is splashed through many dishes and loved for its salty flavor. However, Bragg’s is an unfermented soy product. Soy, as we covered above, is not a health food.

What should we use instead?

Either coconut aminos, or I would suggest leaving it out. If you want a slightly salty flavor, use a small amount of Himalayan salt. But once you start leaving salt out of your dishes, your taste buds will adjust to no longer needing it.

8. Dairy

The argument in favor of dairy is usually around the idea that it is a good source of calcium. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. Because dairy is an animal protein, it has an acidic affect on your body. To balance out the pH, your body turns to its own alkaline mineral reserves and leeches calcium from your bones. So therefore, dairy actually takes calcium from your body rather than introduces it. Shocking, I know. Then there’s the fact that pasteurized dairy is full of antibiotics, comes from a cow that is usually less than healthy, and is full of pus cells. Yep, pus. According to research by the USDA, the average content of pus in milk is 316 million pus cells! If you want to learn more about the detriments of dairy, click here or pick up a copy of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.

What should we have instead?

Try cheese made from nuts (like cashew or Brazil nut cheese) and milk made from either almonds, coconut, oats, hemp, or rice.

This article was written by Jess Ainscough and published in MindBodyGreen on May 8, 2013. Photo by cathou_cathare/Flickr.

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