I’m beginning to seriously tire of the term “Wellness”. It’s become a catch-all for every new, and often ridiculously unsubstantiated nutritional trend. I hear these myths everywhere. And I also hear well-meaning (but totally misinformed) “wellness experts” doling out bizrre advice like nobody’s business. In some cases the advice is relatively harmless, albeit useless. But in other cases, it can be downright dangerous. Here are the 5 myths that I’m going to go ahead and bust right now. You’re welcome!
- Charcoal will detox your body, skin, armpits and everything else you care to detox. I only heard this morning (at a Spa in England) someone saying that a charcoal-infused lemonade will help to re-energize you after a workout. Utter nonsense. Activated charcoal is typically used in a hospital setting as an antidote to a medicine overdose. But to say we should ingest it to “detox” our body when we are perfectly healthy is quite ridiculous. Actually the whole “detox” concept has gone way too far. I understand that in theory it sounds wonderful – that you can cleanse or detox your body of anything that shouldn’t be in there. But, my friends, charcoal is not going to assist your main organ of detoxification, the liver, in anyway. Moreover, I’m not sure what the “toxins” are that everyone wants to get rid of? Again the term “toxin” is overused to the point of silliness in the Wellness world. Bottom line, I wouldn’t advice ingesting charcoal as part of your daily health regimen. Even if it did manage to “soak up” pathogens or “toxins”, it would soak up all the beneficial nutrients too. Oh, and it can have an adverse side-effect in the form of constipation and black stools – ugh! Face mask maybe, overdose of aspirin for sure, but as an everyday or even once-a-week health drink – and even the latest trend of a charcoal latte… FORGET IT!
- Coconut Oil is miraculous! It basically isn’t because it’s a saturated fat, which will raise your cholesterol levels just as much as any other saturated fat. Is it better than animal saturated fat? Yes it is because it will not cause the blood inflammation spike, which occurs after eating animal products. If your cholesterol is extremely low (around 70 or 80), then you are okay with eating a little coconut oil. I have very low cholesterol so I use it to saute onions for curry, to fry pancakes, and in place of butter when baking. But if your cholesterol is on the higher side, I recommend avoiding all together, and use what you’ve got left to make a fantastic hair mask!
- Olive Oil is good for you! Yes, I know – we’ve all heard that healthy Mediterranean diets include copious amounts of olive oil, but that isn’t strictly true. When we look at two of the Blue Zones (in Italy and Greece), a modest amount of cold pressed olive oil is used. But whole olives are eaten more than olive oil. Remember olive oil is the processed form of an olive! But like anything that we’re told is good for us, we (in modern day affluent cultures), take it to the extreme. We fry, saute, bake, and cook everything with it. We drown our salads in it, we dip our Ciabatta bread in it (my favorite) – we take it to an unhealthy extreme. Let’s get back to moderation my friends: A little good quality cold-pressed (and make sure it’s the real thing), drizzled over a salad or veggies isn’t going to harm most people. And I do Loooooove to dip my bread in it. But think of other ways to fry and saute because every time you heat any kind of oil to a very high temp, it releases free-radicals, and these little guys aren’t too healthy. Are they gonna kill you? Noooooo, of course not. But let’s stay on the preventative side of the road, right? And finally, if you are diabetic or suffer from any kind of cardiovascular disease, I recommend trying to go oil-free. Dr. Joel Furhman is a huge fan of going oil-free for his patients. Click here to see what he has to say about olive oil.
- Grains are bad for you! Not true. Not true at all. This is one of the many issues I have with the modern-day Paleo diet. The no-grain diet just cuts out what could be a massively healthy part of a really great diet. Observational studies strongly suggest that those who consume three servings of whole grains a day tend to have a lower body mass index, less belly fat, less tendency to gain weight. Moreover, other studies have shown that whole grains such as brown rice and barley can significantly increase good gut bacteria. Obviously if you are Celiac or gluten-intolerant you will want to choose your grains wisely, but for the rest of us – go and enjoy a variety of healthy, whole grains.
- Blue Green Algae is good for you! Not so much. Studies have found that the much-touted health food contains a worrying level of the neurotoxin BMAA, and Spirulina has been found to contain liver toxins. If you want the benefits that you get from eating GREEN food, stick to regular everyday greens such as spinach, kale, Romanine, Bok Choy and Chard. In a pinch, you could use Chlorella, which has been found to be safe.