For the past several years we have been subjected to advertising campaigns touting specific food stuffs that may or may not be useful or at least not harmful. Most are at least valuable in terms of adding variety to our diets and yes they all bring useful biologicals to the table that are welcome.
What is also pretty obvious is that actual science will matter little to an ad exec. A rumor will do. So it is high time to exercise caveat emptor.
Thus we have this item to share. At least our general skepticism was well founded and maybe we can go back to using common sense. Check my underlinings at least. It has been my nature to resist all marketing claims about food as a natural venue for bunkum and eat as close to whole foods as possible.
Superfoods are bullshit
- Smoothies are a beverage, not food.
Digestion begins in the mouth with chewing, a process that activates a neuro-endocrinal response that results in the up-regulation of digestive function. Lingering over your palette, slowly chewed food provides a stimulus to the brain, helping it figure out how it’s going to digest the food, giving it time to mix with digestive enzymes, including amylase for carbohydrate digestion, as well as the enzyme lingual lipase released from your tongue, which promotes proper fat digestion.
- Smoothies are usually consumed cold (and raw).
They are, after all, modeled on the concept of a milkshake. According to every traditional system of medicine on earth, cold food and liquid impairs digestion, and impaired digestion leads to improper nutrition, and improper nutrition leads to illness and disease. In particular, as fatty foods are the hardest of all foods to digest, eating cold fatty foods compounds the problem, and weakens digestion further. To be sure, some people can tolerate a certain degree of cold food and beverages, like someone that displays a predominance of pitta in their constitution, but even still, cold (and raw) foods will eventually weaken even the strongest digestive fire. This is reflected in the science which demonstrates that raw or uncooked food takes much more energy to digest, and in many cases, without heat or the enzymatic activity of bacterial fermentation, many raw/cold foods aren’t properly digestible.
- Smoothies aren’t a proper meal.
Part of the reason smoothies have become so popular, is that many people have been told that they should eat 4-6 small meals through out the day. The problem with this recommendation is that it is derived in large-part from Sports Medicine, which modulates diet to optimize athletic performance. But very few of us burn the same number of calories as Olympic athletes in training, and so regular schmoes like us should not need to eat so often. According to Ayurveda, we should only need to eat twice daily, a practice echoed in every other ancient dietary tradition, from practices the practices of hunter-gatherer ancestors, to the Hebrews of the Talmud. Another reason the concept of eating 4-6 small meals through out the day is that many therapists recommend it as a way to control labile blood sugar, i.e. what is called reactive hypoglycemia. But as I demonstrate in an earlier blog on eating a proper breakfast, eating 4-6 small meals through out the day, most of which are usually rich in carbohydrates, creates the very problem it is supposed to prevent. But the biggest reason why smoothies aren’t a proper meal is because in most cases they are lacking in the full complement of nutrients required by your body. Unless you are an actual health expert, that has analyzed in detail the nutrients you require and what may be lacking, a haphazard approach of adding in a bunch of “superfoods” is likely to miss the mark in providing you with a baseline of proper nutrition.
THE CLAIMS. Maca is stated to be an adaptogen (supports biological response to stressors), a libido-enhancer), and a nutrient-dense “super-food”.
MY COMMENT: Maca is a turnip-like vegetable related to garden cress (Lepidium sativum), traditionally grown in the highlands of Peru. Ever thought about adding turnip to your smoothie? No? What if I charged lots of money for it, would it make more sense? While the price for Maca has come down in recent years (mostly because much of it is now grown in China), it is still a lot of money for a bag of powdered turnip. While there is some weak scientific support suggesting that Maca has libido-enhancing effects in men(1, 2 ) and could be beneficial in managing the symptoms of menopause(3, 4), I have to point out that Maca is traditionally consumed as a food, not a medicine. As a practicing herbalist, I have learned to not place my confidence in a few random studies to guide my use of a herb or food: the proper context is its traditional use. Note as well that Maca contains compounds called glucosinolates, which provide for Maca’s bitter taste, and has a goitrogenic activity that could possibly interferewith iodine uptake by the thyroid. One way to break glucosinolates down, however, is to cook them, but of course, unlike the traditional people in Peru that consume it as a staple, nobody that buys Maca as a superfood actually cooks it before using it as a supplement.
ALKALINE WATERWHAT IS IT? Alkaline water is water that, supposedly, has been rendered more alkaline, by artificially increasing its pH through electrolysis. And I say “supposedly” for good reason.
BLUE-GREEN ALGAE (BGA)WHAT IS IT? BGA refers to a number of different fresh-water species of algae (cyanobacteria), including Spirulina and Aphanizomenon flos aquae (AFA).
GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT (GSE)WHAT IS IT? GSE is a proprietary extract derived from the seed of the grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi). As a proprietary product, the exact ingredients and details of the manufacturing process have not been publicly disclosed.
MIRACLE MINERAL SUPPLEMENT (MMS)WHAT IS IT? MMS is a solution of 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water, described by Jim Humble in his 2006 self-published book, The Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century. Humble and others suggest that MMS is to be mixed with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, before therapeutic application.
COLLOIDAL SILVERWhat is it? Colloidal silver is a solution of silver nanoparticles less than 0.1 micron in size, suspended in a liquid (forming a colloid).
CORAL CALCIUMWHAT IS IT? Coral calcium is a health supplement derived from fossilized coral reefs, composed calcium carbonate, and small amounts of magnesium and trace minerals. Mined from fossilized coral beds, coral calcium is ground to a fine powder, heat treated or ozonated for sterilization, and mixed with additives including silicon dioxide, rice flour, and magnesium stearate before being encapsulated and bottled.
CILANTROWHAT IS IT? Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is an exceptionally common garden herb used in a variety of cuisines, consumed as both the fresh herb (cilantro, Chinese parsley), and as the seed (coriander, dhaniya).
CHIA SEEDWHAT IS IT? Chia seed refers to the seed of (Salvia hispanica), a member of the mint family, native to central America.
Feb 15, 2016