Learn what your Health Food Stores Hidden secrets are.

10 Things That Your Health Food Store Won't Tell You

By Peter Ballantine

Health food stores have been a driving force in advancing the healthier food choices agenda for more than a decade now. Thanks to them we now have whole-wheat breads, mutli grain crackers, healthier pasta products and brown rice on the menu – just to name a few. They also introduced herbal teas, yogurt, muesli, unpasteurized whole milk and soy milks to consumers. The many benefits of these products are well recognized now and most of them have gone mainstream, so you can purchase them at your local corner store or grocery retailer.

Despite all the great things that health food stores have done for consumers, the comsumer still needs to be diligent about the choices you make when shopping there. This is because much of what health food stores sell is both high priced and based on unproven benefit claims that are promoted by misleading marketing and staff that has no formal education in nutrition.

So in an effort to highlight the “Buyer Beware” aspect of health food stores, we have detailed just a few things that your health food store probably won’t tell you but that you should be aware of as an informed consumer.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#1) "Organic" doesn’t necessarily mean "Better for you"

While the majority of consumers equate the two terms – the fact is that an organic designation only refers to fact that the food product was grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or feeds.

Some studies have shown higher nutrient levels in organic fruit and vegetables compared with those that are conventionally grown. However, due to the challenges with designing such studies and the ever evolving definition of the term “Organic”, it’s scientifically impossible to broadly quantify what the benefits of “Organic” foods are.

The point here is that Organic Food manufacturers and Health Food stores make significant profits from the sales of foods that are “Organic” simply because people are willing to pay more for them - quite often based only on a perception, rather than the reality.

Be aware that organic foods will typically cost you in the range of 15 percent to 100 percent more than conventional foods, says Ronnie Cummins, president of the Organic Consumers Association.

We do believe that there are benefits to organic foods; but, you need to make smart choices based on real facts and information that can justify why you are paying more for one product versus another.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#2) Just because you want to be able to make healthier food choices doesn't mean that you need to shop at a health food store.

If you're willing to do some investigative work, you can find healthy food choices that deliver the freshness and organic goodness that you’re looking for without paying through the nose for your groceries.

Step one is to understand exactly hat food products you’re looking for and why. Once you define the need you can better source the product by widening your marketplace.

These days there are tons of places to purchase your healthy food choice. Because eating healthy has gone mainstream, health food stores are no longer the exclusive purveyor of healthy foods. You can readily find the same or competitive products in supermarkets, specialty stores, co-ops, gourmet delis, farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture programs, convenience stores and the list goes on.

The key to getting the best bang for your buck is not to shop exclusively at health food stores, but rather to be an informed consumer that is always on the lookout for better product choices at the best prices - anywhere and everywhere that healthy food products are sold.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#3) Listen to us at your peril.

The vast majority of people who work at health-food stores have no formal training in nutrition or health care and are not qualified to give advice about health matters. As a matter of fact; health-food store clerks (and the like) who diagnose ailments or recommend products from their stores are practicing medicine without a license -- which is prohibited by state law.

Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist who runs the Web site www.quackwatch.org says… "Every study we've seen has found the same thing" — that the health advice dispensed by clerks is "usually in a range of 50 to 100 percent wrong."

Be aware that advice from health-food retailers is a major factor in the sale of their health food and supplement products. So you need to be cognisant of the motivation and value of the recommendation.

If you have health related question or concerns, you should do your own research and see a qualified health professional such as a physician, registered dietician or nutritionist as appropropriate.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#4) Potential drug-herb interactions exist. As such; there is a justified concern in the medical community about the flourishing use of herbal supplements and the possible occurrence of interaction between these supplements and other prescribed, or non-prescribed drugs.

Below you will find a partial list of some of the known interactions between herbal supplements and prescribed drugs.

• Echinacea can cause hepatotoxicity and therefore should not be used with other known hepatotoxic drugs, such as anabolic steroids, amiodarone, methotrexate, and ketoconazole.
• Evening primrose oil and borage should not be used with anticonvulsants because they may lower the seizure threshold.
• Feverfew, garlic, Ginkgo, ginger, and ginseng may alter bleeding time and should not be used concomitantly with warfarin sodium.
• Ginseng may cause headache, tremulousness, and manic episodes in patients treated with phenelzine sulfate. Ginseng should also not be used with estrogens or corticosteroids because of possible additive effects.
• Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba oppose each other and should not be used together
• Karela and ginseng (as well as many other herbs) may affect blood glucose levels and should not be used in patients with diabetes mellitus.
• Kava when used with alprazolam has resulted in coma.
• Immunostimulants (eg, Echinacea and zinc) should not be given with immunosuppressants (eg, corticosteroids and cyclosporine). Tannic acids present in some herbs (eg, St John's wort and saw palmetto) may inhibit the absorption of iron.
• Kelp as a source of iodine may interfere with thyroid replacement therapies.
• Kyushin, licorice, plantain, uzara root, hawthorn, and ginseng may interfere with digoxin pharmacodynamically and with digoxin monitoring.
• Licorice can offset the pharmacological effect of spironolactone.
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may negate the usefulness of feverfew in the treatment of migraine headaches.
• St John wort should not be used with MAO inhibitors and serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
• Valerian should not be used with barbiturates because of excessive sedation.

The herbal supplement industry and the retailers of their products should be responsible for educating their customers about possible drug interactions but that education is not taking place. What this means is that users need to keep good records of what they are taking and be sure to inform their doctor to ensure that any possible interactions are highlighted.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#5) Many natural herbs teas can be a potential source of harm.

Some of the more common herb teas and their possible side effects are: • Babchi causes photosensitivity, a condition where going out into sunlight can be painful.
• Kavakava produces difficulty with hearing and vision.
• Khat (Catha) can cause dependence and psychotic reactions, mania, insomnia, hypertension and 'running amok'.
• Thorn Apple (Jimson Weed) produces thought disturbances and hallucinations. • Valerian , like comfrey, causes liver damage.
• Alfalfa is responsible for enlargement of the spleen and can reduce the numbers of blood cells.
• Coffee enemas can result in death.
• Honey (from rhododendron pollen) causes nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, hypotension (low blood pressure) and impairment of consciousness.
• Karela produces hypoglycaemia (a deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream, causing muscular weakness, incoordination, mental confusion and sweating.).
• Liquorice is responsible for hypertension, water and sodium retention.
• Margosa Oil can cause constipation and promote respiratory infections.
• Mistletoe and Senna both cause hepatitis - yet more liver damage.

Do your research beforehand and keep tabs on any new foods that you’re eating and drinking. Take note if you should exhibit any new symptoms; skin rash, increased heart rate, excessive sweating, etc. By keeping track of what you’re ingesting, you can better determine where the problem may be.

#6) All vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements are not created equal.

A very lucrative component of the health food industries business is the sale of vitamin and mineral supplements. Sales clerks recommend them, radio & T.V. commercials extol their virtues and print advertising bombards us. The result was sales in excess of $19 Billion dollars last year.

Our recommendation is that you take promotional information with a grain of salt, as it’s only in rare instances that these claims or inferred benefits have been scientifically proven.

Now; a daily vitamin-mineral supplement can be beneficial for many people and there are a handful of other supplements where scientific studies have demonstrated positive benefits. For example, Chondroitin and Glucosamine are proven helpful in combating arthritis, and St. John's Wort can against less severe cases of depression.

But... there are many challenges with vitamin and herbal supplements.

Aside from the fact that many supplements have no scientifically proven beneficial attributes, the industry is rife with poor manufacturing practices. This is due to the less restrictive regulatory environment that supplement manufacturers operate in. For example, the FDA has identified several problems where some manufacturers were buying herbs, plants and other ingredients without first adequately testing them to determine whether the product they ordered was actually what they received or whether the ingredients were free from contaminants. As a result, the product quality is called into question.

Additionally; the bio-availability of many supplements sold in tablet form is questionable due to the digetsive system not being able to effectively break them down. For example, a recent paper outlined a study in which scientists at King's College, London, tested 10 brands of calcium tablet in a solution similar to that found in the stomach, to see how effective they were. The criterion used was that at least 50% of the tablet should have dissolved within 45 minutes. Of the ten products tested, only two passed. Of the other tablets, most had hardly started to dissolve at all within the 45 minutes.

Professor Chris Marriott calls tablets 'Bedpan Bullets' as they go in one end and out the other, and end up in the bedpan. He added 'if this is the quality of things that are sold in health food shops, I hope this isn't the tip of an iceberg, and the others are just as bad.' This test was very simple and should be commonplace in the industry but manufacturers don’t do it, preferring to spend the money on advertising – and health food stores don’t question it because ultimately they are concerned with profits.

Ron Buchheim, deputy health editor at Consumer Reports, which has tested numerous supplements since 1995 says… "Assume that nothing is guaranteed [about content] or the appropriate dosage advice,". Although products are more consistent these days, "we still sometimes find significant variation in the concentration of the active ingredient”, he says, "sometimes more than 20 percent outside the amount on the label."

The bottom line is that supplements can be very expensive so it’s important to do your research and only use products that can demonstrate effectiveness through scientific study and public report.

Without question the most readily absorbable form of supplements are those delivered to the body in a liquid form and preferably in an organic (living) state.

If you are open to suggestions; we strongly recommend the following 2 liquid supplement products which we have researched and can vouch for as top rate:

√ Vitamin supplements from Drucker Labs … www.Organic-Liquid-Vitamins.com because of the exhaustive scientific study they’ve undertaken to make the best products possible, the high level of quality control and the availability of scientific literature and collateral information to validate their claims. … www.Organic-Liquid-Vitamins.com

√ Liquid Glucosamine and Chondroitin… from Syn-Flex which has many years of serving satisfied customers, with ton’s of customers testimonials and which contains scientifically proven ingredients which help fight pain and stiffness from Arthritis. Syn-Flex

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#7) Not everything we sell is healthy for you

Despite the name, there are plenty of unhealthy food choices in most health food stores. Examples of food choices to avoid are banana chips fried in coconut oil; vegetable chips that are fried and which often contain more potato than vegetable, enhanced and Nutraceutical type waters which contain sugars and very little in the way of added nutritional value. Also avoid prepared vegetarian foods that are high in saturated fat (more than 4 grams per serving) from added butter, cream, palm kernel or coconut oil.

Take it from Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest… "The problem is that these foods have an aura of healthfulness, in part because they are sold in a health food store,” she says.

What you need to do when buying packaged goods is to examine product labels in the same way that you would examine them in any other retail outlet.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#8) The food may have started out organic – but we can't guarantee it's still organic

This is especially the case in grocery chains and corner stores. You need to be on the lookout for cross-contamination and co-mingling of non-organic and organic food items. What has been know to happen is that in the case of fruits and vegetables, they are handled by a person that transfers contaminants from one to the other, or when being cleaned – contaminated water somehow gets onto the organic foods, or counters and work surfaces in the food preparation area cross contaminate the foods, and the list goes on.

While it would be nice if the "Organic" label was held to the same standard as the "Kosher" label - we’re not there yet. So it falls to the consumer to make a informed assessment of the retailing environment as it relates to the risk of contamination.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#9) There may be such a thing as... "Too much of a good thing"

While many supplements and foods have benefits when taken in their recommended doses… you need to exercise caution when consuming large amounts of any food product.

This can sneak up on you through the consumption of so-called "enhanced and enriched foods” (containing beneficial additives) that are sold in health food stores.

An example of where this can go wrong is with Soy. Soy has been proven to lower LDL - or "bad" cholesterol and reduce symptoms of menopause and as a result soy is being added to more and more products such as bread, juice and sports bars.

The downside however is that soy most often includes isoflavones, Some researchers worry that consuming high quantities of soy isoflavones may have adverse health effects such as contributing to thyroid problems.

Before adding a large amount of any particular nutrient to your diet, please consult with your health professional to understand all of the implications and ramifications.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods
#10) Don't bother buying any of our personal care and beauty products as they're probably not much different than those at your local grocery store and will cost you much more.

Most consumers believe that personal care and beauty products (soaps, shampoo's, etc.) labelled as "organic", "allergy tested", "eco-safe", or "environmentally preferable" are a validation of a products superior health benefits and ingredients; however this is not the case. According to the Consumers Union, such marketing claims are not meaningful due to the following:

(1) There is no industry or governmental body that regulates and sets labelling standards; manufacturers and marketers basically get away with saying whatever they want. You may be surprised to learn that there are many cases of products such as Shampoo's which have labels which advertise them as organic when there are no organic (meaning no ingredients that contain chemical fertilizers or pesticides) components in them,

(2) The lack of common nomenclature means that the marketing definitions for these “healthful” words varies from one product to the next. Organic on one label can have a completely different meaning that it does on another label.

(3) Many of the manufacturers serving this space are smaller companies that do not provide good information that will allow you to do your research on them and their products beforehand.

(4) The aim of the product label is to sell the consumer rather than to accurately inform. So how do we determine the safety of a product?

Your best bet is to check the labels of the products you're considering, see if you can find any 3rd party reviews or literature on the item and then make an informed decision.

health food store, healthy food, natural foods, organic foods

Bookmark This Page...
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Privacy | Terms

About Us