Let’s talk about controversial foods! Welcome to my weekly blog post. Today I wanted to talk about some controversial foods as I often hear different opinions on different foods, like probably all of us. Hope you enjoy reading & leave me your experience in the comments below:
Every person has a different idea of what constitutes “healthy food.” Of course, we are bio-individuals and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. However, there are many nutritional controversies related to personal preferences, values, beliefs, and ongoing research.
Animal products include all products which are made of an animal or comes from an animal. Obviously meat or chicken, fish, eggs and substitutes like sausages or burger patties. It can also come in the form of milk, cheese, yogurt, and other substances. It contains carbohydrates, protein, and fat, though most of the carbs are filtered out when making foods like milk and yogurt.
Why the controversy?
Animal products are a staple of many diets, but some people don’t digest it well. Lactose for example requires the lactase enzyme to be able to digest it. The fact that the food comes from animals may also influence whether people choose to eat it. Some minerals might help build strong bones, combat certain cancers, provide relief from premenstrual symptoms, and support weight loss. However, for some, it can induce dietary distress, increase the risk of acne, raise the risk of certain cancers, and influence asthma and mucous levels. Some people are also concerned about additives, such as growth hormones.
Composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, sugar is a type of carbohydrate that usually gives a sweetness to food. Sugars are found in many types of foods. Natural sugars may occur in foods such as fruits, while sugar may be added to baked goods and other processed foods. Sugars usually end in -ose, so look for words like sucrose, fructose, or glucose when reviewing labels.
Why the controversy?
Because sugar has been added to many foods and the human body is programmed to seek out sweetness, people may eat more sugar than the body needs. Some people blame sugar for the obesity crisis, as well as the rise in diabetes. Some believe that added sugars have a greater effect on the body than natural sugars, while others believe all sugars are harmful. However, sugar does provide energy from a biochemical standpoint. Not to mention, it can make food taste good.
Soy is a popular ingredient derived from the soybean legume. It is a complete protein and is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber, and potassium.
Why the controversy?
Many people, especially vegans and vegetarians, use soy products to replace meat and/or dairy. While some soy products, like miso or tempeh, have very little processing, others are highly processed, like imitation meats and soy cheeses. The level of processing of certain soy products is one of the reasons that this is a controversial food. Another consideration is that the soy crop (much like corn and grains) is often genetically modified, which can cause concern for some.
In addition to the processing, soy contains a high level of isoflavones, a plant estrogen that works like a weaker human estrogen. While this may help reduce hot flashes and ward off breast and prostate cancers, there are also worries that it could actually cause cancer or thyroid problems. Studies are mixed on whether these benefits and issues occur.
However, besides the isoflavones, soy has B vitamins, fiber, potassium, and magnesium and is one of two types of complete plant proteins. This is the appeal for vegans and vegetarians who are looking to replace animal proteins in their diets.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that helps bind breads, pastas, and desserts to create a denser product.
Why the controversy?
There are three conditions for which a gluten-free lifestyle is necessary for people to maintain their health: celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy. However, people who don’t experience these conditions may also feel the need to eliminate gluten. In fact, for some people, eliminating gluten actually addresses other health problems they may have, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
For those who cut gluten due to intolerances or sensitivities, there may be significant gains in health. Since gluten sensitivity can present as diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain, eliminating gluten helps eliminate these effects, increasing quality of life.
There may be health drawbacks for people hoping to benefit from cutting gluten without being gluten intolerant. These include a lower intake of fiber, iron, zinc, and potassium, therefore increasing the risk for nutritional deficiencies. Since gluten-free products also tend to be more expensive, those who eat reduced gluten may spend more for less.
In addition, a gluten-free diet may actually cause weight gain rather than weight loss, since gluten-free products tend to replace carbohydrates (which are four calories per gram) with fats (which are nine calories per gram).
Your ways of eating may change over your lifetime. It’s okay to introduce foods you’ve previously eliminated or eliminate foods you don’t feel are contributing to your health! Bio-individuality is key when deciding which ‘controversial’ foods to maintain and which to avoid in your diet!
I hope you enjoyed reading this weeks blog post and found it helpful. Leave me a comment with your experience below. I am excited to hear from you!
As a Health Coach, I am mentoring my clients to create and maintain long-term lifestyle changes to enhance their overall quality of life. In addition to supporting clients with specific goals, I empower my clients to choose health-promoting behaviors that work for them. I raise awareness and offer support as clients move in their own bio-individual ways toward the greater health they want for themselves. My coaching hopefully leads to long-term behavior change, but only because I help my clients do the meaningful work that forms a strong foundation.
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