Fad foods and diets- we’ve all heard of them, we’ve all followed them and we’ve all found that many of them are, well, simply fads. With so much information and marketing out there around health and wellness, it is hard, if not nearly impossible to know what (or who) to listen to or follow. Depending on where the marketing dollars are coming from, that’s usually what we are told to eat and what society begins to follow. First it was milk mustaches, then complex carbohydrates, then low-fat foods (which can be argued to have created our current obesity epidemic) and now we hear gluten-free and bacon is all the rage. Whatever it is, it’s not working and is mostly a bunch of crap. Why do I say that? Simple. Two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese and our rate of preventable diseases is at an all time high. A shift must be made and it is not in the form of a “magic-bullet” or the newest fad.
The inspiration for this blog came from Paul, a follower of The Big Yogi Facebook page and implementer of my mini-juice fast program (Paul’s health drastically improved after attending a talk on the benefits of fasting I gave last year). Paul wanted to know the benefits and validity of one of the hottest foods on the market right now; turmeric. Here’s what I know; spices and natural herbs are powerful and can be of great benefit to your health. Cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric for example are all thermogenic, meaning they increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories (I use cinnamon in my coffee instead of sugar for this exact reason), they are also packed with antioxidants which promote health and well-being through out your whole body. Here’s what else I know; spending a lot of money and focus on getting turmeric (or other “wonder foods”) into your diet is over-rated. If your diet isn’t a top priority in your life and if you don’t have consistent exercise habits, adding turmeric to your diet is going to have minimal effects and leave you searching for the next “fad” to change your health. I’ll admit, I may be a little critical, but that’s because there is no one thing that will save your health, it’s all connected. Diet and exercise are the white elephants in the room that no one wants to talk about. The key to health and the key to changing the health climate in our society is to admit that we (as a society) eat poorly and sit far too much. It’s not a coincidence that the presence of the over-consumption of processed foods and sedentary life-styles have created the obesity epidemic. Anyone who argues otherwise is probably also trying to sell you their next “must have” product.
As someone who follows a predominately “Paleo diet” I am technically, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and avoid processed foods (for the most part) but you will never hear me claim to be any of these. Why? Because they are fads. What is not a fad is eating healthfully and naturally. No product, no matter what the health benefits are can act as the single difference maker in your health and well-being. Health is holistic and takes a holistic approach. What this means is that you need to take a look at your whole way of taking care of yourself. Eat clean, natural foods which are unprocessed. The absolute easiest way to do this is by shopping on the outer isles of the grocery stores and by staying out of the center isles- the only thing you will find in there is sodium, sugar and processed foods. This goes for organic products in those isles too. Organic sugar is still sugar and even though that cookie may technically be organic, it is by no means healthy. For more insight on eating clean, see my previous blog on nutrition HERE. Besides eating healthfully, moving daily is your most powerful step in caring for your health. Humans are meant to move and meant to move often, doing so reduces stress, burns fat, improves mood and in general just makes life more enjoyable.
The moral of the story here is that healthy products are great and can be beneficial to your health, but at the end of the day, how you eat and how often you move are far more important than any herb or product can ever be. Be sure to research what you read and know the realistic benefits and expectations of what you are putting into your body.