Wherever you research on the term “functional foods” you will not only find that everyone speaks highly of them but also that the increase in their consumption is a byproduct of the increase of health awareness among people around the world.
There is, however, another interpretation on the available information which is different from the mainstream, but I will get there after I provide you with the mainstream information, which you can find everywhere you look.
Functional foods as a term, has been introduced to our lives in the last 20 to 30 years. They can be categorized under four categories; whole foods, fortified foods, enhanced foods and enriched foods.
The difference between them usually lies in the description that follows their potential benefits towards our health.
Since claims of helping specific diseases or medical conditions are regulated by the Food and Drag Administration, what we will encounter often are the kind of claims that do not need approval from the FDA, such as “….helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system” or others similar to this one.
I strongly believe that all foods are functional in their whole – natural form and do not need to be enhanced – enriched or fortified to become better.
There is a great amount of information available on the whole foods category, which is by far the best choice anyone can make on eating, in order to improve his/her overall health as well as treat specific diseases, considering they are food related.
However, our way of life has been built in such a way that finding, shopping and cooking whole foods require the gift of patience. Since patience is a virtue not many people possess, we start to look for easy fixes; something that is presented as healthy due to its fortification, so we do not need to take other, more appropriate actions towards our well being.
Therefore the reason, I believe, for those multibillion dollar food companies to create functional foods is not due to increased public health awareness but because they had to make sure to satisfy that specific need for easy fixes.
Foods under the categories “fortified” – “enriched” – “enhanced” are processed foods that claim to assist you overcome diseases or unpleasant conditions (not pretty sure though).
I strongly believe that the above three categories constitute a heavily processed source of food and whatever is processed cannot bring health to you.
Since it is a common observation that people, through diets filled with processed foods, have actually managed to change their body fat composition towards a better number, I find it pointless to provide any scientific study which concludes to a result that we have already seen it with our own very eyes. The same goes for functional foods too, as they are considered processed foods.
However do not be fooled!!
No one has ever studied the effects of such diets, on the long run.
I believe the results would point to a direction that the food industry would not want us to look. If we open our eyes and look around we will see a tremendous increase in cancer and autoimmune diseases. Surely, psychological factors as well as environmental ones play a key role in the increased numbers of such diseases, however as diet constitutes a cornerstone in health matters and it has been proven to affect our overall health in multiple ways, it is safe to assume that consumption of processed foods affects our health in a way more bad than good.
Based on what I have said so far you have probably guessed that I stand against the consumption of the 3 out of 4 functional foods categories.
So what is my suggestion?
Should we eat them or not?
I think that if you do not make appropriate lifestyle changes you are bound to consume them as they are an easy fix and they are everywhere.
Speed of life is so fast that we tend to forget that the proclaimed functionality in these foods is a mask to cover the processed nature of them.
However, lifestyle changes do not need to occur overnight. No one requires to let go every bad habit, including consuming such foods, immediately.
It is a process that may take you some time but the key factor to successful turnaround is to be conscientious on your eating choices and habits.
Change one meal at a time, starting with breakfast. Switch from sugared cereal to 2 or 3 fruits with honey. Start there and then progress to the rest of the meals.
The way I interpret all the mainstream information regarding the subject at hand is that there is an effort to convince us, or better yet to cover up, the possible dangers of consuming such foods by taking advantage the general public desire for optimum health without making a single change to our daily nutritional habits.
It is my belief that the public has undergone massive brainwash, in order to believe that eating such foods is the best choice to make, as there is no other easier way to get all needed micronutrients and macronutrients at once.
Regardless of my beliefs, I can understand that there are people that do not wish to make any lifestyle changes at all and functional foods provide the next best solution for their health.
My purpose is not to prove them wrong but to increase awareness of the possible hazardous effects of such food choices to our overall health.
A diet comprised of foods that are high in the nutritional scale - maintain all enzymes / vitamins in tact - have not been processed, is a diet that actually manages to succeed in eliminating the need to consume processed functional foods, as well as it provides everything we need in order to be active and healthy.
Moreover our fat loss efforts could still have a successful end result as long as we try our best to reject foods that have undergone even minimum processing alterations.
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