The health food store is great! You can find everything 'healthy' there from homemade cleaning ingredients, supplements, fresh produce, gluten-free whatever and organic everything!
But just because a shop has 'health' in its name doesn't mean everything for sale is totally safe and good for you, even if all the packages are labeled "natural" and "organic."
Don't get me wrong, your local health food shop is a great resource for organic produce, grass-fed meats, a variety of nut butters and make-your-own trail mix or granola stations, but there are some items that could present a hazard to your health if you're not careful.
AVOID THESE HEALTH FOOD STORE DANGERS
Aside from being strong skin irritants and organ toxicants if used incorrectly, essential oils can also be poisonous to children and pets if ingested. ALWAYS dilute oils according to directions and keep them well out of reach of curious kids.
Raw milkEar candles may sound like an intriguing option, but don't be fooled. Here's how ear candling is supposed to work: A tapered candle is placed in your ear and lit from the top end. As the candle burns, it theoretically creates a suction that removes wax and other gunk trapped deep within the ear.
The real deal on ear candles is that experts say they don't actually remove any wax—but can cause serious injury. Aside from burning yourself severely, you might also end up pushing earwax deeper into your ear, melting candle wax into your ear, or even puncturing your eardrum, according to the Mayo Clinic.
As with essential oils, herbal supplements have the potential for harm if misused. According to the Mayo Clinic, botanicals can have druglike effects and they can interact with other supplements or prescription drugs in ways that can be dangerous, even life-threatening.
The FDA also doesn't regulate them as drugs—they actually fall into the category of dietary supplements, which means manufacturers can market them without approval from the agency. A study from the University of Adelaide in Australia even found that herbal supplements may contain elevated concentrations of lead, mercury, and arsenic.
The bottom line: Always consult with your physician or licensed herbalist before taking any botanical supplements and do your research on reputable brands before making a purchase.
Agave nectar—the natural sugar substitute you've been waiting for? Not so much, say food scientists. The truth about agave nectar is that it's not really any better or worse for you than table sugar. In fact, it has even more fructose than corn syrup. Just because you buy your natural sweeteners from the health food store doesn't mean you can get away with pretending they're better for you.
Raw milk is all the rage right now. Some people like it for its rich, creamy texture, but others believe that raw milk's health benefits trump those of its pasteurized cousin.
Pasteurization uses heat to kill off bacteria found in milk—most notably E. coli—but the process may also result in an overall decrease in the milk's nutritional content. Still, the trade-off is worth it, the CDC says, especially for kids, pregnant women, the elderly and other people with weakened immune systems, who are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses.
They even note that raw milk is one of the riskiest foods when it comes to bacteria contamination. (In some states, raw milk can't even be sold in stores.) If you still want to drink raw milk, drink at your own risk.
Are you familiar with the popular tea company, Celestial Seasonings? You may be startled to know that a third-party study by Glaucus Research found that a whopping 91% of Celestial Seasonings tea contained pesticide residues that were over U.S. limits!
Worse yet, an independent lab tested Teavana, another popular teashop in many American malls, and 100% of their teas contained pesticides. YIKES!
62 percent of the store-bought teas tested contained traces of endosulfan, a pesticide that has been banned by the U.S., China, the E.U., and 144 other countries because it has been linked to impaired fertility and could harm unborn babies.
Just take a look at this chart:
I don't know about you, but that is a scary thing to find out. If you have been drinking any of these store-bought teas, I urge you to make a switch to a pure tea that contains none of these pesticides or other fillers.
ATLANTIC SALMON + OTHER FARMED FISH LIKE TILAPIA
Another health food you should never eat: Farmed fish.
An October 2016 study found omega-3 levels in farmed salmon are rapidly dropping and are half of what they were five years ago. Part of the reason for the nutrient loss is salmon farm feed contains less ground anchovy content.
Also, University of New York at Albany researchers found dioxin levels in farm-raised salmon to be 11 times higher than those in wild salmon. The environmental pollutants are linked to cancer, organ damage and immune system dysfunction.
So, be sure to avoid farmed salmon at all costs. It’s often called ‘Atlantic’ salmon or just salmon in the stores.
Farm-raised tilapia has always been a popular source for fish, not only because it’s widely available in the U.S., but it’s also very inexpensive. However, before you stock up on tilapia, you may want to know about its correlation to inflammation. Recent studies have concluded that eating tilapia may worsen inflammation that can lead to heart disease, arthritis, asthma and a world of other serious health problems. Yikes!
People who resort to eating more fish as a way to get their dose of omega-3 fatty-acids and lessen their risk of heart attacks may want to hold off on the tilapia. In fact, a scientist from Wake Forest University has found that the inflammatory potential of tilapia is far greater than that of a hamburger or pork bacon!
So, when it comes to fish, make sure it's wild caught and as a quick rule of thumb for salmon, if it’s Pacific or Alaskan, it’s most likely wild-caught; if it’s Atlantic salmon, it’s almost always farm-raised.
Often called “wheat protein,” “wheat meat” or “wheat gluten,” seitan (pronounced say-tahn) has a look and texture shockingly similar to meat when it’s cooked, and its alternative namesakes are quite fitting since it’s made from gluten, the main protein found in wheat.
Seitan seems like a health food and an amazing meat replacement — until you realize it’s basically a loaf of vital wheat gluten. Because it’s such a gluten-heavy food with potential to increase gluten allergies and gluten intolerance symptoms, I simply can’t recommend it. Add to that the fact that it’s not a complete protein and it’s very high in sodium - it’s clear it’s a health food to avoid. Just a half cup of one pre-made seitan contains 576 milligrams of sodium.
Contrary to popular belief, soy products are NOT healthy for you; at least, that is, unfermented soy. Fermented soy is one thing, but eating edamame, soy milk and soy protein is quite another.
Most soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified to withstand applications of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup. A recent Norwegian study found “extreme” levels of glyphosate in U.S. soy, meaning we’re eating weedkiller when we eat nonorganic soy. That’s a problem, given that glyphosate is linked to many health problems, including human cell death.
I don't want to be ingesting Roundup - do you?
These main items found at many health food stores are just some of the things to avoid. I didn't even go into detail about the baked goods found there or the pre-packaged, 'gluten-free' junk disguised to be healthy.
Bottom line: Do your research and ask questions while at the health food store. If you're unsure, look it up on your phone while out and about.
Also, if an item you're looking to buy has a long ingredients list, it's probably best to put it back on the shelves. Some of the ingredients in those boxed mixes, cereals, or snacks are no better than the regular junk you can find at your grocery store.
In fact, so many of the 'gluten-free' options are loaded with added sugars which can really do a number on your waistline!
Don't overlook the ingredients lists when in a health food store. Sometimes you may be surprised to learn that what you once thought was healthy (because it came from a 'health' food shop) is actually junk food disguised as a health food.
A better option is to just skip the boxed stuff altogether and adopt a clean eating lifestyle! It's definitely a life-changer and a commitment, but it's oh so much better!
Is there anything you have found at your local health food shop that you were shocked to find there? Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,
P.S. Okuma Nutritionals is definitely a company you can trust when it comes to teas and supplements. Since 1998, we've been selling the purest Oolong tea products grown with NO pesticides, NO GMOs, NO corn or soy, NO artificial colors/flavors and NO harmful fillers. Each fresh batch of tea is tested by a third party lab to ensure the highest quality for our customers. Want to discover what over 700,0000 other people have found in Oolong tea? Try it today! (Trust me, it's delicious!)