Hyped health terms like "juice cleanse", "detox tea" or "slimming coffee" are known too well. But now "superfood" is the buzzword of the year. It's all over social media and the Internet. "Fitness gurus", "wellness blogger" and even media reporters claim all kinds of benefits from those superfoods.
But is there a thing like superfoods? And if so, what are superfoods? Let me bring some clarity to an enormous industry, which has grown out of the hype, dedicated to persuading us to buy these overpriced foods.
The definition of a superfood
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a superfood is a "nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being".
I personally struggle with the term "superfood". Guess why? The term "superfood" basically doesn't mean anything, because it's not a regulated food claim. This means that it can be applied to any food without consequence.
Furthermore, the evidence that gives rise to the superfood-status is most often not representative of the way and quantitative we consume the food.
Here's one example for you:
It is said that garlic reduces cholesterol and blood pressure. Which is true. However, this theory is based on laboratory evidence where doses are equivalent to up to 28 cloves per day. Unrealistic, right?
See, the term "superfood" is created only for marketing purposes, often based on unrealistic or unproven benefits or studies.
The ultimate truth about superfoods
Healthy eating is big business. That's why nearly everything is labeled as "high protein", "organic", "low fat", "natural" etc..
The idea that a single ingredient outperforms other foods and can somehow heal or prevent cancer, heart disease, aging and other illnesses is utter nonsense. A wholesome, nutrient-dense and healthy diet can do this up to a certain point, but not a single ingredient. Don't believe that these foods have medicinal qualities.
Successful trends get noticed by businesses - same with superfoods. And that's where the commercial bandwagon comes into play. Next thing you know, the cake in the grocery store is labeled as "clean" and chocolate spreads as "gluten-free". I mean, come on!
When it comes to health, you shouldn't rely on one food believing it will work wonders.
Extremes are never healthy, remember that! Even if you eat a truckload of superfoods, if you do not eat a healthy diet the rest of the time, you will be doing your body damage that even superfoods do not have the power to reverse.
What to do instead?
Don't do any specific diet unless you really know you feel good about it! Always do, what feels and works best for you! Personally, I love balance. In my opinion, health is just as much about mental wellbeing. And why not eat a very wholesome and nutritious diet and enjoy my beloved Snickers bar every now and then? You don't have to feel guilty if you crave something chocolatey.
Health isn't a size or a specific food. Healthy living should enable you to live a happy, fun and amazing life. That's the fuel your body and your soul needs. If you feel restricted on your diet, you restrict yourself from enjoying and embracing. Plus, a too restricted diet will most likely lead to binge eating. Balance is the key.
It's so important to remember that no hyped food trend should eliminate certain food groups from our diet. Nothing ever is black and white. If you love it, build it into your diet. After all, no single food can be seen as "clean" or "unclean", "healthy" or "unhealthy" (except for trans-fats and alcohol). Too much of anything is unhealthy for you! Heck, you can die from overconsumption of water!
The bottom line
Look, nobody says that kale, acai, chia seeds or spirulina are unhealthy or don't have any health benefits. They are not bad for you, but they certainly don't have any superpowers.
However, just because a food is claimed to be a superfood doesn't mean it's good for you! Again, it's not a regulated term - you can put the superfood-label on everything.
Everybody is different and reacts in different ways to different foods. Of course, it is useful and gratifying to have some knowledge of the nutrients in foods. But the key advice remains the same: eat a varied diet including colourful veggies, fruits, and whole grains. You can call them super if it helps you.
Instead of looking for individual foods as a way to avoid certain health conditions, it's a much better way to look closer at your overall diet as a way to live a long and healthy life.
There is no single ingredient that can guarantee you a long healthy life. Please, open your eyes and don't blindly follow certain lifestyle-trends.
Life is, instead, about balance, consistency and the right choices. Listen to your body and trust your gut.
What's your take on this trend? Let me know in the comment section below!