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Why "superfoods" are not super

14 Mar 2014 4:12 PM - Real food for a healthy diet and life


I get so frustrated with all the hype around “superfoods”.  One fad after another…quinoa, kale, goji berries, maca, chia, hemp, spirulina, acai and the list goes on…

There are even cook books dedicated to them...(have you read 50 Shades of Kale?)

To be fair, my frustration isn’t with the foods themselves but the labelling of them as “super” and the implication that they therefore carry some magical benefit not found in “ordinary” food. 

The term superfood came about to highlight the fact that these foods are particularly rich in certain nutrients, which is true.  However, in my opinion, it seems they are promoted in a way that would lead you to believe they are some kind of miracle food.

Could it be that marketers are preying on an increasingly “unwell” society and leading you to believe that (insert name of favourite superfood here) is the answer?  And then next year the emphasis will switch to a different superfood.

What worries me about putting the emphasis on “super” foods is that we are at risk of neglecting all the ingredients for a healthy and happy life.

“One superfood does not a healthy person make!”

Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to see these foods incorporated into my clients’ diets PROVIDED they don’t fall into the trap of thinking a green juice for breakfast makes it ok to go out and drink alcohol and eat junk food til the cows come home.  One quinoa salad will not make up for a string of late nights or an otherwise unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

Superfoods aren’t cheap.  At my local health foods store a green juice will set you back the equivalent of $20/litre and organic maca is $80/kilo…..that buys a lot of fruit and vegetables!

If you can afford them, great! Please feel free to add them to your dietary repertoire...they are an addition not a replacement.

But don’t spend your hard-earned cash on superfoods if it means you can’t afford to eat real food for the rest of the week.  And don’t think that just because you can’t afford to jump on the latest superfood bandwagon that you’re destined to a life of fatigue, depression, poor skin, bad digestion, repeated infections or some other health problem.

If you are looking to improve your health, get the basics right first:

  • water (filtered if possible)

  • a variety of fruit and vegetables at every meal/snack…as many different colours as possible (and organic if you can)

  • lean protein (grass fed beef if you are an omnivore)

  • exercise/movement on a daily basis

  • daily relaxation

  • daily laughter

  • a good night’s sleep

  • intellectual nourishment

  • soul nourishment

  • connection with others

  • cut out the processed foods, junk food and soft drinks

  • quit smoking

(Update Jan 2016) I've written an updated blog all about what you need to do to stay happy and healthy (without the superfoods)

 

Once you have those things happening, then you can get excited about the additional benefits of superfoods.



And if you are stuck and need a helping hand to get your health on the track you desire, call the clinic for an appointment on  03 9620 9503.  Helping people find their health again is what we do best.

 

In good health,

 

Kaye Wright
Naturopath
Melbourne CBD

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