Are Superfoods Really that Super? Or can they actually just be useless or even harmful? 2/3
What is the truth about antioxidants? Oxidative stress is a normal process in the human body. Pro-oxidants are substances that induce oxidative stress and antioxidants are natural or man made substances that may prevent some type of cell damages caused by oxidation. Anti-oxidants are promoted as miraculous healers to prevent and treat almost all disease.
But actually, the cancer-fighting and anti-aging properties of the exalted antioxidants have been questioned in many studies (1) (2) (3) (4) and it has been shown that taking anti-oxidant supplements is not only not beneficial but can be harmful. The problem is that the body needs free radicals to control inflammation and stopping this process is not necessarily always beneficial. Adding a huge amount of anti-oxidants can stop the natural anti-inflammatory process and make things worse causing an adverse reaction. Regarding people who do sports, anti-oxidant supplements like vitamin C and E can reduce one of the most beneficial effects of exercise, which is improving insulin sensitivity and preventing or improving type 2 diabetes (5).
What is the truth about fibre? All we hear is that we need to increase fibre intake, the more the better. Where does this advice really come from? Do these indigestible carbohydrates improve our health in any way? Fibre is not an essential nutriment, which means that the human body does not need it. However, can it still be healthy? (6) The one and only randomised controlled study could show no statistically significant benefits of dietary fibre (7). High fibre diets are harmful for people with inflammatory bowel disease or other chronic digestive problems (8).
Many “superfoods” are attached to the claim of lower cholesterol - but is it really a good idea to decrease your cholesterol level? The debate about this subject has been going on for a long time. Cholesterol is a very important substance synthesised by the liver, without it we cannot function properly. It is found in every cell and is needed for hormone production, digestion, and it makes up the building blocks of our cell membranes. There is no evidence that high cholesterol levels have a negative impact on our health. On the contrary, people with high cholesterol tend live longer, have a lower risk of CV disease, cancer, and overall mortality than people with low cholesterol (9) (10) (11).
How about vitamins and minerals? How well do vitamins and minerals actually get absorbed from plant foods?
Very often not that well, because plants contain a large amount of anti-nutrients as well, which block the absorption of vital substances.
The bioavailability of different micro-and macro-nutrients from animal foods is significantly higher than from plant foods (12).
Why do we hear all over the place that eating meat is destroying our planet? There is plenty of evidence that raising animals in the proper way is good for the globe (13).
Why do people think that vegans or vegetarians eating soya, coconut, avocado, quinoa and high amounts of grains would do better for the environment (14)? Eating local and seasonal food is always the best choice we can make for Mother Nature (15).
1. http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2016/10/11/another-bad-effect-of-antioxidant-supplements 2. https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(14)00442-4/fulltext 3. https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f10.abstract 4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/
7. http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2018/10/fiber-an-umbrella-review/ 8. https://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/low-residue-diet-foods#1 9. https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/924.cfm?fbclid=IwAR11PH4VWabHCkpCXGfsyKpEDuJSW1HJQObUL3mm4sw88yxlgA_xOUL6zGY
10. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-diseases/the-benefits-of-high-cholesterol/ 11. https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/study-says-theres-no-link-between-cholesterol-and-heart-disease/ 12. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/133/11/3932S/4818051