In the last few years, many new superfoods (called so as they are healthy) have become part of our daily dietary necessities.
Green tea, Quinoa, oats, smoothies, kale, and several different varieties of seeds like chia, flax, sesame, hemp, and pumpkin have made it to our kitchen and dinner tables and cluttered it.
These foods have slowly replaced our traditional home-cooked meals. “These foods were highly regarded as healthy.”
Then came the Covid19 Pandemic in the year 2020, when “Healthy” alone could be marketable. Immunity became a new commodity for a sales pitch. All kinds of products, from ladoos to milkshakes, everything started good immunity.
Are We Being Fooled in the Name of Health and Wellness?
People all around the world are currently obsessed with health, especially after the pandemic.
Social media platforms contain more than 100 million posts on the keyword “Health” alone, and some social media platforms even carry separate categories like protein or healthy living.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to remain healthy; however, most individuals may possess a flawed idea of health, ideas which are usually circulated on social media.
“Slim is healthy, and healthy is slim!”. Individuals have never been more insecure about their bodies than today, and this phenomenon is helping nobody. These insecurities are, in turn, feeding and helping the market.
Currently, the global health and wellness industry is worth $4.2 trillion, representing 5.3 per cent of the global economic output.
The primary concern is that the industry reached these heights by selling ‘shortcuts’ to individuals promising weight loss, slimming, muscular body, which are the so-called markers of being ‘Healthy.’
Products that are significantly fooling the consumers
Green tea is the highest-selling wellness product. The global Green tea market as of 2019 was worth $18.4 billion. Green tea is considered as the elixir to health nowadays.
Advertisements have been circulated claiming three cups of Green tea in a day can make you a superhuman, burn fat, prevent diabetes, improve one’s brain functions, and prevent cancer. These claims and guarantees of a product are inaccurate and false.
Green tea cannot make one lose weight it can, however, improve one’s metabolism. And metabolism can be enhanced by any tea, black, oolong, matcha, earl grey, and not just green tea.
Green tea also has antioxidants; however, science says that the theaflavins in black tea and the catechins in green tea are equally effective.
Thus, one can drink green tea but not hoping that it can miraculously lead to weight loss.
Another set of products that fitness bloggers and influencers widely promote are “Gluten-free,” which promises to be the secret to being healthy.
However, going by scientific research, gluten is a mixture of proteins like gliadin and glutenin and is found in carbohydrates like wheat, rice, barley.
Carbohydrates are not bad for our health, and there is no need for us to buy gluten-free products unless one has celiac disease or is gluten sensitive.
A study shows that less than 5% of the people in the UK have problems with gluten, but more than 12% of the people have become gluten-free.
Celiac disease affects less than 1% of the US population, but 20% of America is trying to eat gluten-free.
Individuals are of the mindset that going gluten-free may help in Weight loss. However, it is crucial to understand that losing weight is a game of calories, where one has to lose more than one consumes.
Gluten-free has no contribution to weight loss and takes away the much-needed carbohydrates from the human body.
The idea of gluten-free is essentially helping the market. An average gluten-free product costs 242% more than the variant which contains gluten. In the next three years, the global gluten-free market is expected to touch $6.47 billion.
One of the most trending products that have created another flawed idea of health is lactose-free milk or cow’s milk substitutes. In India, almost all individuals have grown up with the idea that cow’s milk is a vital part of one’s daily diet.
However, currently one can find cartons of almond and soy milk in their fridge rather than a packet of cow’s milk. From Instagram influencers to celebrities, people are being sold a new idea about cow’s milk claiming that it “ can make one fat.”
The global almond milk market is expected to reach $13.3 billion by 2025, and the soy milk market will be $23.3 billion by 2025.
These substitutes are so-called “healthier” than cow milk. Going by composition, there is no proof that soy milk or almond milk is healthier than cow milk.
As per protein content and nutrition density, cow milk is much more packed than its substitutes. Thus cow milk is a much healthier option.
There is no reason to pick up a carton of soy or almond milk unless someone is lactose intolerant or vegan. Several other products may appear healthier but are simply a marketing strategy to convince consumers to buy the products.
Brown rice, brown bread, and brown sugar are no different from the white variants except for the big difference in their prices.
Healthy snacks, low-cal, baked, not fried, fat-free, air-fried, cholesterol-free are all claims that do not matter. This is because underneath these products hide controversial ingredients like added sugar.
Yoghurt packs that claim to be healthy mostly contain the same amount of sugar as a chocolate bar.
Advertisement, packaging, and advice can all be bought. In some cases, studies have also been acknowledged for marketing benefits. The sugar industry in the 1960s paid for research that downplayed the risk of sugar and painted fat as the main evil.
Coca-cola also paid scientists to show that exercise is more important than cutting out food and drinks. Social media and target marketing have become a danger to public health. It can cause an obsession with healthy foods, which are not fit at all.
After all, what is clear is that home food is healthy, and only a balanced diet is the key to being healthy. False advertising is the enemy, not food.