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Health supplements- Are they really supplementing you?


During our childhood, we were told home food is healthy food, then sometime around the 90s came a breakfast revolution. Corn flakes made their way to our tables. This was a ‘new healthy’. Then came green tea. It was followed by quinoa, oat smoothies, kale and seeds. So many of them entered our table like chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame and hemp. They planted themselves on our dinner tables and cluttered it and slowly replaced traditional home cooked meals.

All of that is acceptable. We were told it is healthy and in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic showed that healthy alone was marketable enough. Immunity became the new sales pitch. So those milkshakes, ice creams, everything started guaranteeing immunity. You don’t need to be a doctor to identify healthy, you only need to be logical. My logic and experience tell me that we are being tricked in the name of health and wellness. Why don't you open your social media profile and search for health and wellness? You'll find 4.2 million posts. On search- ‘What’s health?’ leads to 122 million posts. ‘Healthy one’- 61 million posts. ‘Healthy living’ - 13.5 million posts. Did you know that Pinterest now has a category called protein? That's the level of obsession with the idea of health. I'm all for being healthy. What I'm against is the faulty idea of health, the one that Instagram teaches us. We want to become tall, slim, healthy and wealthy.

‘Slim’ - You see, we humans have never been more insecure about our bodies than we are today. And this mindset is not helping us. The only thing it's helping is the market. The global health and wellness industry are currently worth 4.2 trillion dollars. It represents 5.3 percent of the global economic output. How did it get here? By selling us shortcuts to becoming thin. Let me give you an example. Green tea, the highest selling wellness product as of 2019. The global green tea market is worth eighteen point four billion dollars. This is considered the elixir to health. Three cups of green tea a day and you're superhuman. You can burn fat, prevent diabetes, improve your brain functions and prevent cancer. Really? If green tea could prevent cancer, our cancer researchers would be vacationing in Hawaii with a glass of fine red wine. Green tea cannot make you lose weight. Trust me, many people have tried it. What it can do is improve your metabolism, which, by the way, almost any tea can. Black, blue, long, mocha, English breakfast, Earl Grey, Duke of Northampton. Coming to green teas, it has antioxidant properties as well. Well, Science says that the thioflavin in Black tea and the catkins in Green tea are equally effective. So, should you drink green tea? Sure, but don't count on it for losing weight.

Here's what else you should not count on- ‘Gluten free’. These products are such a fad. Well, as bloggers tell us that gluten free is the secret to becoming healthy. What does science say? Gluten is a mixture of proteins like ‘Gliadin’ and ‘Glutenin’. It is found in carbohydrates- wheat, barley, rye, etc. Are any of these bad for our health? No, they aren't. There is no need for us to buy gluten free products unless we have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. Less than five percent of the UK's population has problem with gluten, but twelve percent of the population has gone gluten free. Celiac disease affects roughly one percent of the American population, but 20 percent of America is trying to eat gluten free.

Is it helping in weight loss? The answer is simple. Losing weight is a game of calories. You need to burn more than you consume. You need to reach a state of ‘calorie deficit’, which you can achieve even by eating junk fried food- McDonald's pizzas, cookies, Peking duck. As for health, gluten free is not helping us. It is taking away the much-needed carbs. Who is it helping? An average gluten free product is two hundred and forty two percent more expensive than their variant that contains gluten. In three years, the global gluten free market is expected to take six point forty-seven billion dollars by 2027. It is projected to cross forty-three point sixty-five billion dollars.

Here's what else is fueling us? Milk cartons. Most of us have had cow milk all our lives, but now we are being told that cow milk makes us fat. Social media influencers too, are selling this idea. Why? So that these alternatives can find a place in your fridge and money can find a way out of your pocket.

The global almond milk market is expected to reach thirteen point three billion dollars by 2025. Soy milk market is worth twenty-three point two billion dollars. Apparently, they're healthier than Cow milk. But what is the science behind it? Composition wise, there is no proof that soy or almond milk is healthier than cow milk. When it comes to nutrition density and protein content, Cow milk wins the game. Clearly, this is the healthier option. There is no need to pick up that soy or almond milk carton unless you are vegan or lactose intolerant.

Here's another product, Protein powder. These tubs are as heavy as dumbles and they cost as much as gold. Gym trainers say, go for it because it's worth the investment. While in the back they are getting paid to say so. But why are we drinking these? What you need to understand is protein powder is a supplement. It comes into play, if you fail to reach your daily protein goal. For a woman, it's 46 grams per day, for a man, it's 56. You can meet this target by eating eggs, nuts, milk, chicken, soy chunks. And even if you do not hit that 46 or 56 gram mark every day of the week, you will not be summoned by court of nutrition. There is no need to spend a fortune on these protein powders. That is, unless you want to contribute to its five point eight-billion-dollar market. Those selling protein powders will not tell you about the risk associated with it. What are its long-term effects? No one knows. These products are too new.

Here's what else is not necessarily healthy. Brown alternatives of rice, bread, sugar. We tend to prefer them to the white variants. That did sound racist, but It was unintended. Nutrition wise, the difference between brown rice and white rice is negligible, but MRP wise, the difference is massive.

You know what else is not good for your health? Fat free, baked, not fried, air fried, cholesterol free. None of these claims matter. Ingredients to many low-fat snacks have added sugar. They hide controversial ingredients on the technical names. Let’s take examples. In Europe, it will be hard to find MSG on ingredient list. It will be masked under ‘e621’. Carrageenan will be called ‘E4’ or ‘E7’. If you read these ingredients carefully, you will also find that many ready-Made yogurts have as much sugar as a candy bar. The so-called protein bars of all kinds of healthy ingredients, are full of sugar. Vegetable chips- they can be as bad as your potato chips, which technically is also a vegetable.

Did you know a product can label itself trans-fat free if it adheres to the point 5 percent? welcome to false advertising. Here's another one- Vitamin water. It claims to be healthier than soda. Vitamin plus water equals to all you need. What most of us need is a reality check. Each bottle of vitamin water contains eight teaspoons of sugar as per advertisement and packaging label.

They can all be bought. Turns out researchers are up for grabs. Did you know that the sugar industry funded a research that downplayed the risk of sugar and painted fat as the devil? This was in the 1960s. We found out about it only recently. Beverage company 'Pom Wonderful' paid 35 million dollars for studies that claimed pom-products could prevent the risk of heart diseases and prostate cancer. Coca-Cola paid scientists too, for what? To push the message that exercise was a more effective weight loss tool than cutting down on food and drinks.

So, the next time a product claims it is healthy and backs its claims with studies, take it with a pinch of doubt. When wellness bloggers, lifestyle influence and fitness gurus tell you to buy a certain magic, to go gluten free or blend your spinach raw into the smoothie. Remember, they make anything between 200 to 650 dollars per post for endorsing a product. What do you get by buying them except maybe developing ‘Orthorexia’? That's the term for obsession with eating healthy food.

You see social media and its target marketing is a danger to public health. A lot of us have fallen for it. Many of us have gone through years of healthy food, obsession and spending a fortune later. Here's what I have concluded. Home food is health food. Home food is the only tried and tested superfood. If you want to lose weight, aim for a calorie deficit. If you want to be healthy, eat a balanced diet. Remember, food is not your enemy, self-doubt and false advertising are.



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