I love trying healthy foods so I am becoming familiar with superfood terminology. However, I don’t quite understand it all completely. I know that probiotics are great for your gut and collagen has something to do with having beautiful skin, but what do these words really mean? They say if you can’t explain it to a five-year-old then you don’t actually understand it. Before you dive into the world of superfoods, make sure you understand the following terminology!
I guess we should start with the most important superfoods terminology – superfood. Sticking the word “super” in front of the word “good” is a great marketing technique. But what does it really mean?
“A superfood as “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.”Harvard – Superfoods or Superhype?
If you love kombucha and/or yogurt, you’ve heard of probiotics. I picture them as tiny little creatures that clean up my stomach and intestines. In my mind they also have the power to make me skinnier. But what is the definition of this superfood terminology?
“Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. They can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods, dietary supplements, and beauty products.”National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
While most of us have heard about probiotics, prebiotics are a bit of a mystery. Or at least they were for me! Obviously “pre” means “before,” so they don’t sound as fancy or important as probiotics that are clearly the “pros” of biotics. Right?
“Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. The most common example is in the gastrointestinal tract, where prebiotics can alter the composition of organisms in the gut microbiome.”Wikipedia
Probiotics vs. Prebiotics: Superfood Terminology
I first discovered Adaptogens on MUD\WTR‘s website. The company actually has a great blog that explains what they are and even tell you to be skeptical. However, I don’t like to read about the health benfits of something written by the company that is trying to sell it. I may not have known what adaptogens are until today but I’m not a complete dummy either.
“Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals. They work to counteract the effects of stress in the body. Stress causes very real physical changes in the body, including harming the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Adaptogens have stimulant properties that help counteract those harmful effects.”Healthline
Collagen: Superfood Terminology
The other day I received an email from Vimco Wellness, one of the superfood companies that I subscribe to. It said “After the age of 25, collagen production slows down.” While collagen is probably one of the more commonly-known words, but I still wanted to provide a definition for those who want to understand it better.
“Collagen is the most plentiful protein in your body. It has various important roles, including providing structure to your skin and helping your blood clot.”Healthline
I have a theory that it is impossible to discuss health supplements without mentioning detox. But what does detoxing truly mean?
“Detoxification is a type of alternative-medicine treatment which aims to rid the body of unspecified “toxins” – substances that proponents claim have accumulated in the body and have undesirable short-term or long-term effects on individual health.”Wikipedia
What makes detoxing confusing, at least to me, is that is it a broad term that can describe different things. There are ‘typical detox diets’ that may or may not work according to science. Our body is designed to detox itself. However giving up alcohol, sugar or another substance can also be referred to as a detox. Some people detox for specific purposes like lung health and even weight loss.
“A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Sometimes a detox also includes herbs, teas, supplements, and colon cleanses or enemas. This is claimed to: Rest your organs by fasting. Stimulate your liver to get rid of toxins.”Healthline
Antioxidants: Superfood Terminology
We have been told that antioxidants are good for us, but how many of you have looked into it? I just asked my husband what he thinks they are. He said well, they have something to do with oxidation. Exactly what I thought! But I have questions. What is oxidation and why is it bad for us? I know that I’ve lost two cellphones to oxidation but my body is not a piece of technology…
“Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food or when you’re exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.”Mayo Clinic
Okay Mayo Clinic, but what exactly are free radicals? I’m picturing crazy tiny particles on a rampage. And I am kind of right…
“Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation.”Healthline
Macronutrients & Micronutrients
Wait, not so fast… what exactly are nutrients? Why are some foods described as nutritious? And most importnatly, why is this not common knowledge?
Nutrients are substances used by an organism to survive, grow, and reproduce. Nutritious literally means efficient as food. So yes, that fancy protein powder is nutritious, but so is a banana or a piece of pizza or even other humans *cue Willie Wonka:
“Micronutrients are essential elements required by organisms in varying quantities throughout life to orchestrate a range of physiological functions to maintain health.”Wikipedia
“Macros are macronutrients. Your body needs these nutrients in larger amounts in order to function properly as macro means large. In addition, all of these nutrients provide your body with energy measured in the form of calories or kcals. There are three types of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.”Avita Health
Summary: Superfood Terminology
I did not help you understand every superfood term under the sun. But I hope this list helped you understand a little more about the foods and supplements out there. Companies assume that we don’t know what they are talking about and it allows them dazzle us with fancy words. Empower yourself by learning more about the products that you use. You don’t have to be a scientist to do a quick Google search to stay informed and avoid health industry scams.
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