I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this

Junk Food - The Good Life Letter

7th August  2009

  • Junk food disguised as health food
  • A confession we should all listen to...
  • 3 ways to prevent bad skin...

Well well well...

At last a story about natural remedies and healthy foods has made the front page of the papers.

Well, it made yesterday's Evening Standard at least.

But rather than being something we can all cheer about, this highlights a problem that's been infesting the health food industry for years.

I've banged on about it (that seems to be my default mode when trying to get my point across) in past issues of The Good Life Letter, it's and something we should always bear in mind when we're reaching for that foodstuff that's been branded 'healthy'...

Junk food disguised as health food

Some of my favourite films revolve around a neat twist at the end.

You know the kind.

"So Auntie Mable, first you killed the milkman, then the gas inspector, then the entire staff at Asda, just so you could avoid paying the bills."

The room gasps.

"Oh Inspector Collins, you may be the brightest and most handsome detective in the South West who could easily have played for the British Lions if you hadn't decided upon a career in policing, but even you have made a mistake this time. Auntie Mable wouldn't harm a fly."

"No, maybe Auntie Mable wouldn't..." I'd agree, approaching the dear old lady whilst twizzling my moustache and eating my trademark kitkat, "but this is NOT Auntie Mable. This is...."

The audience would hold their breath as I whipped of Auntie Mable's rubber mask...

".... Adolf Hitler!"

Okay. Maybe I won't make it in Hollywood as a script writer (that's ANOTHER dream dashed), but the point I'm making is that things are not always as they seem. What appears to be a kind old lady is in fact, errrrrrrm.... Adolf Hitler.

And what appears to be healthy - in fact things that positively scream about how healthy they are, are sometimes the exact opposite.

Now, this is something you and I have known for some time. It's also something I'm sure many doctors know, and many alternative health experts know.

So yesterday's article in the standard wasn't exactly breaking new ground by saying that certain organic health food is in fact rubbish.

What made this article in the Standard extraordinary is that this admission came from a health food industry insider...

A confession we should all listen to...

According to the Standard's report, John Mackey, the head of London's leading organic supermarket  admitted "We sell a bunch of junk."

John confessed that his stores contained foods that were packed with fatty treats that were branded healthy just because they included the wonder-word 'organic'.

That, coupled with the fact that his stores are called Whole Foods Market, gives the impression that you simply have to step inside the door and you're already in a healthier world - that you can buy anything from a shop that sells organic foods and you'll be safe.

But as one of the leading retailers in the field has just admitted, that isn't the case.

When Whole Foods opened, its mantra was to champion a healthy, organic food revolution. It displayed its goods like a market, packed things in brown paper bags, and did its best to reflect its healthy eating idea in its marketing.

Trouble was, they didn't reflect this idea on the shelves. Instead, they stocked giant meringues, white chocolate, white bread, and a whole host of other unhealthy foods, and banged on about 'organic' being healthier, no matter what ingredients were used.

Healthier than what I wonder? I mean, do you think an organic doner kebab would be healthier for you than a non-organically farmed piece of salmon?

Of course not.  'Organic' isn't a magic word that suddenly makes EVERYTHING good for you. Yet the health food industry has traded on the power of this word for years.

And big business has started slapping organic labels on food left, right and centre - because a lot of people think it's a magical word that somehow makes fat or alcohol or carbs good for you no matter how much you take.

Arsenic sir?

Don't be ridiculous, that would kill me.

But this is organic arsenic sir.

Ah, in that case I'll have 6 bottles. Don't bother wrapping them, I'll drink them now.

Well I'm glad someone's had the cojones to admit that organic doesn't automatically mean 'good for you no matter how much you eat'. And I'm particularly pleased that someone from inside the industry has made the point.

So good on you Mr Mackey.

My advice...?

Focus on buying local produce rather than organic produce. Organic loses a lot of its allure if you realise it's been flown 1000 miles before it lands on your plate.

Now then, here's something that's been bothering a friend of ours...

3 ways to prevent bad skin...

There's no mystery to this...

If you're not eating the right things, your skin will let you know about it. As with so many ailments, your diet can have an amazing outcome on how healthy you are and how healthy you look.

And bad skin is usually down to one thing...

A bad digestive system.

Here are three ways to get your digestive system ticking over nicely...

- Drink lemon! Boil some water, let it cool down a bit, and pour it over the juice of a lemon. Add some honey to taste. Drink this half an hour before breakfast every morning. It’s a fantastic metabolism-booster, a common remedy for constipation, and it also eases your digestive system into the day. If you stew very slices of thin ginger root in the boiling water it can also help with nausea.

- Eat more fibre. The recommended fibre intake for men is 38g between the ages of 19-50, and 31 g if you're over 50. For women it's 25 g and 21g respectively. But most people are woefully short of these measures. The easy way to up your intake is to eat an apple a day, and replace refined foods with whole grain foods.

- Get moving! Exercise is one of the best ways to get your skin healthy, so make sure you go for a brisk stroll during the day. Get the heart pounding and your skin glowing. Even if you work, there's no excuse NOT to exercise no matter how busy you are. Pick a sandwich bar that's further away than normal, walk to the nearest park to have your lunch....there are a hundred ways you can incorporate a bit of exercise into your day, so do it.

Okay that's it from me for today. I'll be back on Sunday with more tips, views and news to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.






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