Whether you’re training tirelessly in the gym for a marathon or just cranking out some ab-burning exercises in the middle of your living room floor, staying active keeps your body healthy and helps you live longer. What you put into your body when it comes to food is the other side of the wellness equation.
Science has helped humans understand which foods nourish and replenish the body, and which ones only serve as guilty calorie-riddled pleasures. However, although you may think you know the good from the bad, there are plenty of unhealthy products masquerading as just the opposite. Appetites beware, your diet’s in for a scare.
1. Veggie chips: People tend to grab these bags instead of potato chips because of the word “veggie.” But, they’re still deep-fried in saturated and trans fats, and that spells problems.
2. Flavored yogurt: People turn to yogurt for a quick snack when they’re hungry. Many brands advertise themselves as low fat, but they pack those containers with sugar and other artificial additives.
3. Trail mix: If you’ve ever checked out the serving sizes of most trail mixes, they’re alarmingly small. Most people eat far more than they should, and it doesn’t help that many of them are full of salt, fat, and sugar.
4. Canned soup: If you have the option to make soup with organic ingredients from scratch, always do it. The canned stuff is often loaded with salt and far less nutritious. Don’t get into the habit of eating them.
5. Flavored instant oatmeal: In an ideal world, a bowl of oatmeal contains less than six grams of sugar per serving. However, that flavored oatmeal you find at supermarkets comes loaded with sugar and salt.
6. Frozen diet meals: It doesn’t matter what the box claims, frozen meals are never as nutritious as making the real thing. Salt and preservatives run rampant so that the meal stays intact while sitting in your freezer.
7. Packaged smoothies: The word “healthy” is synonymous with “smoothie.” The drinks are full of fruits and veggies, right? If you make one fresh, yes. But, those store-bought smoothies are full of fat and sugars.
8. Pretzels: These savory snacks are frequently advertised as a healthy way to satisfy hunger, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Pretzels are refined carbohydrates, which basically means sugar, sugar, and more sugar.
9. Protein bars: Many brands claim they act as meal replacements, which is very misleading to consumers. They hardly keep people full for very long, and there are many artificial additives and hidden sugars.
10. Diet soda: Even though chugging a can of your favorite diet soft drink may save you from consuming a lot of sugar, the artificial sweeteners companies use to replace sugar can actually be even worse for you!
11. Reduced-fat peanut butter: Smearing crackers with peanut butter is a common snack, but those who use low-fat peanut butter aren’t eating healthier. Sugar is added to make up for the fat, and that’s a huge no-no.
12. Vegetarian meat: Those who don’t eat meat but still want that carnivorous flavor settle on “meat” made out of veggies. Sure, the meat’s absent, but other ingredients like canola oil and xantham gum tend to creep in.
13. Beef jerky: This dried out meaty snack likes to parade around as a healthy source of protein. While they may offer protein, the preservation process includes a lot of salt which can lead to bloating and water retention.
14. Fat-free salad dressing: Many of the vitamins found in salads actually need a bit of fat to fully absorb into the body. Fat-free dressings strip us of the opportunity to break down many of the nutrients in the vegetables.
15. Fat-free frozen yogurt: Another classic example of people buying into the notion of “fat-free” it doesn’t contain fat, the stuff is chock-full of (you guessed it) sugar to make up for it. Just ask a dentist.
16. Gluten-free snacks: A lot of people have taken up a gluten-free lifestyle because they assume it’s much healthier. However, gluten-free doesn’t mean free of sugar, salts, and saturated fats.
17. Granola: What most people don’t take into consideration about this super popular food item is that the serving sizes are way smaller than they think. Each handful is teeming with fat and sugar.
18. Juice: Packaged fruit juice is in no way as healthy as actually eating the fruits. They’re loaded with sugar for flavor (sensing a trend?), and they’re missing the fiber content actual fruits contain.
19. Coconut oil: People trying to avoid olive oil usually turn to this popular alternative, but the truth is it’s really not any better. The oil is full of saturated fat. Many nutritionists recommend sticking to olive or avocado oil.
20. Acai bowls: At first glance, acai bowls look like they’re teeming with healthy stuff. While the foundation might be nutritious, many people load them up with high-calorie and high-sugar foods like granola and fruit.
When it comes to health and wellness, a lot of folks won’t hesitate to try the latest trends. Unfortunately, misinformation is everywhere and it doesn’t just end with food. You won’t believe the lies some people are willing to tell all in the name of commerce.
1. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS): Sufferers of EHS believe radio signals and WiFi traveling by air are making them intensely ill. However, there is no medical data to support this claim.
2. Gluten: The truth is that most of these people are cutting bread out of their diets for no reason. Doctors suggest that, without a Celiac’s disease diagnosis, those who feel ill are more than likely being triggered by something else they ate.
3. The “five-second” rule: You’ve probably heard that if you pick food up off the ground within five seconds of it landing, it’s still okay to eat. Well, it’s not! It only takes milliseconds for harmful bacteria to infect food.
4. Balancing your energies: No matter how many fanciful terms a Reiki practitioner uses, he or she cannot crush your negative energy with a few theatrical hand waves.
5. Tryptophan: Everyone thinks the reason we get so tired after Thanksgiving dinner is that turkey is loaded with the sleep-inducing chemical tryptophan. Sure, there is tryptophan, but not enough to actually put us to sleep. In fact, cheddar cheese has more of the chemical than turkey does!
6. Water consumption: Sure, staying hydrated is important, but doctors say to simply drink water when you’re thirsty; don’t force yourself to drink eight glasses if you don’t feel like you need it.
7. Halitosis: Listerine actually created the term “halitosis” to make people buy more mouthwash. They branded a biological regularity as an embarrassing disease to make sure people never left the house without rinsing first!
8. Sugar addiction: A doctor named Robert Lustig wrote in a 2009 book called “Fat Chance” that sugar stimulated the brain the same way that tobacco, cocaine, and even heroin did. Therefore, it must be as addictive, right? Not at all.
9. Gum digestion: You’ve probably heard if you swallow gum it will stay in your digestive tract for seven whole years, which is frightening to think about. However, although most of the ingredients in gum are indigestible, it will pass through your body as quickly as anything else you consume.
10. Alcohol cures hangovers: Have you ever woken up with a hangover after a wild night and someone told you to drink more alcohol because it will cure it? Nope, drinking more booze will just keep you drunk and delay that hangover.
11. Carrots: Vitamin A is found in high amounts in carrots, and it greatly helps eye health. However, eating tons of carrots won’t give you better vision as some people believe. Keep eating them because they’re healthy, not because they’ll lead to perfect vision.
12. Detox from detox: If you’ve ever spent a week drinking nothing but cabbage soup, then sorry, you deprived yourself of solids for no reason. You can’t detox your body. Your body flushes out “the bad stuff” on its own regularly.
13. Don’t douche: Cleaning out the ol’ lady bits with a spray of water started out as a birth control method, but eventually, it evolved into a part of the hygienic process. It shouldn’t have. Vaginas clean themselves, and using a douche can actually increase the risk of infection.
14. Dangerous fluoride: The government isn’t dumping dangerous amounts of fluoride in the water to poison your body. Truly, you don’t need to listen to pushy water-filter merchants who claim you’ve just got to eliminate the stuff from your drinking water.
15. Myths about depression: A study from John Hopkins reported that a number of people diagnosed with the debilitating disease don’t actually have it. There has been a rise in antidepressant use in America for those who don’t truly need it.
Lacey Lynn / Flickr
16. Trypophobia: Does this image terrify you? No? Then you don’t have trypophobia, otherwise known as the irrational fear of random hole clusters. Studies on the alleged phobia have been small and mostly inconclusive.
Broomwicks / Flickr
17. Showering: Research suggests that showering can do more harm than good. You could be killing off healthy skin and those oh-so-important microbes, so if you’re itching to get clean, give your pits a whiff and make sure it’s actually necessary.
18. Drinking milk: The wildly successful “Got Milk?” campaign convinced people their bones would be stronger if they worked milk into their daily diet. However, multiple studies have shown there’s no correlation between drinking the calcium in milk and fewer bone fractures.
19. Buying organic: Many people firmly believe when they consume organic products they’re avoiding all of the pesticides associated with processed food. However, that’s not always the case, as farmers are allowed to use chemicals that are naturally derived.
20. Natural sugar: Is a granola bar that’s made with honey better than one filled with high-fructose corn syrup? It actually isn’t. The word “natural” sounds way better than “processed,” but in fact, sugar in natural products is the same as it’s synthesized counterpart.