By Aileen Liang
Some time in 2016, healthy eating became mainstream overnight. With all the health-focused restaurants sprouting up around town and news of obscure diets endorsed by your favourite celebrities, it’s hard to get a handle on what’s really good for you. As it turns out, most healthy food fads do have merits, but few are the miracle diets that they are hyped up to be.
Long long ago, chia seeds were the food of Aztec warriors. These tiny seeds contain impressive amounts of antioxidants and zinc, as well as an adequate supply of omega-3s, calcium, iron, and fiber. Including chia regularly in your diet will definitely play a role in boosting your immune system and improving heart health. The fact that they are packed with proteins might help with slowing digestion and suppressing appetites, but those counting on significant weight loss might be disappointed.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the fermentation craze, kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk to create a yogurt-type consistency. Kefir seems to be a good alternative for those who are lactose-intolerant, and has some antitumoral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. You can definitely get some nutritional benefits from consuming kefir, as it contains good doses of phosphorus, calcium and vitamin B12. However, that doesn’t mean that kefir is something you should be drinking five times a day, as its high tyramine contents can lead to blood pressure spikes.
Juicing refers to the extraction of juices from fresh fruits and vegetables, which is considered to be a detoxing procedure. Juicing can be a convenient way to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals; avoiding the consumption of solid matter can come at a cost. Most studies demonstrate that health benefits are much more pronounced following consumption of whole fruits as opposed to only juice, which is because of the beneficial fiber and antioxidants removed by juicing. The so-called all-out juicing cleanse to detoxify your body also proves to be a terrible idea. Not only is it unnecessary, it proves harmful for people with kidney problems and can affect the effectiveness of certain medications.
Since some time ago, the general public has started seeing gluten as the enemy. However, nutritionists tell us time and again that a gluten-free diet it is not the solution for anyone other than those with celiac disease and other wheat allergies. Cutting out gluten can lead to nutritional deficiencies and is not all that efficient for weight loss. As an alternative, people should focus on eating whole, intact grains.
Coconut oil is becoming a popular butter substitute in baking. However, because virgin coconut oil has only recently become popular, there is no adequate research to show that it is really all that superior. We do know that it is 90% saturated fat, but it is a type of saturated fat—a medium chain trglyceride called lauric acid—that actually has some health benefits because it is more digestible.
It probably does not come as a surprise that all health fads come with pros and cons. The biggest problem with these new emerging trends is simply that they are too new to have any relevant scientific conclusions drawn about their long-term benefits. Perhaps in a decade we’ll find out whether or not kefir is really the ideal yogurt substitute—but only if it can manage to stay in the limelight for that long.