January 24, 2017

Superfoods: Hype or Health?

By Amanda Box, N.D.

The word “Superfood” is constantly popping up in the world of health and nutrition.  Although the word itself implies health, many companies are using this good-for-you description to hype up their products and increase sales.  The truth is not all superfoods are created equal.

It truly boils down to defining what a superfood really is and exposing the exaggerated claims.

Do superfoods exist?  Absolutely.

However, my personal definition of superfood may differ from what many are claiming. These days there is such a vast amount of confusing, and at times conflicting, information on superfoods. There’s nothing wrong with many superfoods; what’s wrong is the claim of superpower status. While some superfoods do have some great health benefits, buyers beware – you also get what you pay for. That’s why it’s so important to arm yourself with the facts.

It is my hope that I can clearly communicate to you which superfoods boast an abundance of certain nutrients that are deemed healthy and are worth incorporating into your life and daily diet, and which foods deserve no special consideration which being overpriced or overrated.(2)

What is a Superfood?

There’s no official definition of what makes a superfood. My definition of a superfood is really quite simple.

  • Flickr hippophaes image

    flickr hippophaes superfood image

    It is a food in it’s natural state that is very nutritionally dense.

  • It is also as free as possible from chemicals like pesticides and herbicides.
  • They are typically high in one or more of the following:
    • Vitamins
    • Mineral
    • Amino acids
    • Fiber
    • Protein
    • Phytochemicals
    • Antioxidants

Basically, superfoods fill you up with most of the nutrients and minerals we are all missing from our average American diet, even those of us who are healthy. A superfood can do some wonderful things in the body that typical foods cannot.  They may:

  • Naturally boost energy
  • Slow the aging process
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Enhance mental clarity and focus
  • Or balance hormones

These characteristics, in my opinion, are what makes a food super, making them an excellent choice for those wishing to pursue a healthier lifestyle.  Remember, superfoods are pure, created by the force of nature, without any added enhancements or modifications.

Superfood Lies

A superfood canFood and supplement companies can easily manipulate you to purchase a specific product because of its superfood label:

  • Manufacturers can make a sugar filled cereal look healthy by putting “Whole Grains” on the label.
  • They enhance unhealthy beverages by adding vitamins and minerals to fool you into believing that they are now good for you.

If you aren’t trained to actually look at the ingredients and nutritional information, then it is easy to become prey to purchase junk foods disguised as health foods.  Sugar, corn syrups, and other empty-calorie additions often top the ingredient list on candy, fruit snacks, or sugary drinks disguised as superfoods. That, in my view, is superlame.

Companies will put whatever they can on their product to hook you into a purchase. They’ll use colorful designs and pictures that are appealing to the eye to “label me delicious.” Companies have taken note of the new superfood craze and have made no hesitation in adding the word “superfood” to their labels, despite clinical evidence of nutritious content.  Marketing products is a multi-billion dollar industry and they are excellent at what they do.  Don’t buy into their schemes!  After all, does a label make the product?

The first step in identifying whether a food is really healthy is reading the nutritional labels. There is definitely a learning curve to distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy foods. And there is even a greater curve in distinguishing between regular health foods and superfoods! However, with a bit of practice, it will become second nature for you.

Let me give you an idea of how to read between the lines when looking at the labels. Making sense of labels is a 3-step process:

1. Read the ingredients.  Any product that has several ingredients followed by a list of vitamins is not a true superfood.  Superfoods have naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In fact, natural foods are unlikely to have any label, at all!  Adding synthetic vitamins, which are not easily absorbed by the body, to these foods does not count as available nutrition.

2. Read the nutritional content.  After you determine whether or not there are added vitamins or minerals, you need to evaluate the nutritional content per serving.  Check for the levels of:

    • Vitamins
    • Minerals
    • Protein

I find that the levels of fat and calories typically aren’t worrisome, as long as they come from pure and natural sources.  Amino acids and antioxidants, often naturally high in superfoods, aren’t typically on the nutrition label unless the company felt compelled to put them there.  This brings me to step 3.

3. Do your research.  If you really want to know if a food is “super” or not, it may take some research on your part.  Hop on the internet and begin your research for foods that have natural health-promoting properties such as reducing one’s risk of disease or improving any aspect of physical or emotional health.  Stay clear of sites with dizzying array of information, claims and produced products to boost your chance of purchasing. Find as much objective research as possible. Look for what makes that particular food so special. Many times the claims don’t match up with what is really in the food itself.  The term superfood is a loose label put on certain foods by all sorts of people.

For those of you with little time to do your own research, fear not!  I’m going to expose some of the most popular “not so super” foods on the market that are touted as though they are super.

Exposing Not So Super Foods

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What Do Your Teeth Say About Your Health?

Do your teeth reflect your health?  Dr. Weston A. Price believed so.  This world famous dentist pioneered the belief that nutrition directly affects our teeth.  Even in the early 1900’s, he believed that our modern day diet of processed and refined food directly affected the health and longevity of our teeth.  Dr. Price made it his mission to find out what our teeth really needed holistically to stay healthy and cavity free.

After examining the teeth of many native tribes around the world (all of which had remarkable teeth even without brushing), Weston Price put together a diet he felt would prevent and treat dental decay.

Using his nutritional approach, Dr. Price was able to prevent over 95% of cavities!  He was also able to see cavities heal themselves, once the diet was followed correctly and for an adequate amount of time.  This may seem crazy, but if bones can heal themselves after a fracture or break, why would a tooth not be able to heal?  We can literally remineralize our teeth and holes from cavities can fill in!

Dr. Price’s dietary recommendations to prevent and treat dental decay include:

  • Eliminating processed foods like white flour and sugar.  He also suggests eating soaked or sprouted grains.  Soaking and sprouting breaks down the phytic acid, which can damage your enamel.
  • Eliminating hydrogenated and other toxic oils and replacing them with healthy ones like extra virgin coconut oil. This means tossing your vegetable and canola oils into the garbage!  They are not good for you, are toxic and processed. Olive and sesame are okay to use, in addition to extra virgin coconut oil.
  • Taking cod liver oil.  I recommend Carlson’s brand, although many of those who follow Weston Price’s teachings prefer the fermented Blue Ice brand cod liver oil.
  • Making your own bone broth stocks that are packed full of minerals and gelatin. This is very easy and inexpensive.  Get soup bones from your local butcher and use your crock-pot to cook the broth.  Drink a mug or two a day or make a delicious soup.
  • Eating fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut and drinking kombucha.  These are packed with good bacteria, which help keep bad bacteria in your mouth and digestive system under control.
  • Using raw pastured dairy for your milk, butter, and cheese. Dr. Price believed butter oil was extremely important in healing the teeth.  You can get it naturally through eating a lot of pastured butter, or you can buy it in pill form from Blue Ice.
  • Increasing your foods high in K2 like cheese, bone marrow, butter oil and liver.

For more information on what to eat, I would recommend the book “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.  You can also read Dr. Price’s book called “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” for more on his research.

The Tooth – Organ Connection 

Many of you may be familiar with acupuncture or even reflexology. In acupuncture, special needles are applied along different meridians or pathways, which connect to different parts of the body. The needles are used to help align imbalances along those meridians.  In reflexology, it is believed that the foot is essentially a map of the body.  Applying pressure to different parts of the foot can balance its corresponding body part.

Chinese Medicine believes that our teeth also have meridians that correspond with body parts.  Every tooth contains nerves, which are connected to our brain. These nerves send messages to specific places throughout your body.  If you have a decaying tooth, the energy flow to the body part it is connected to may suffer.  For example, if your upper right 3 has a cavity, the energy flow to your gallbladder may be compromised. This may not cause any noticeable symptoms, but in many cases it does.  A sluggish gallbladder could result causing digestive discomfort.

A diseased tooth can cause disease in an organ, or vise versa.  Many other things can also disrupt the meridians that are connected to your teeth.

  • Poor dental work
  • Toxic tooth materials like amalgam
  • Non-vital teeth
  • Granulomas
  • Root Canals
  • Gum Disease

Look at the chart and compare your cavities or tooth problems.  It may just amaze you how accurate it is. 

Holistic Dentistry is Key

To fix your tooth imbalances, it is best to find a holistic dentist.  They can fix your problem both safely and naturally. You can also check the Holistic Dental Association, but many natural dentists aren’t registered.  I’ve found this to be the most comprehensive list:[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’ ] http://www.greenpeople.org/HolisticDentistry.html

If you have a cavity filled at a regular dentist, ask for composite.  DO NOT GET AMALGAM!  Amalgam is toxic and contains 50% mercury.  Also, never have your old amalgams removed by a dentist who is not trained in holistic dentistry.  If amalgams are not removed properly, the vapors from the mercury in the filling can outgas during drilling, causing mercury toxicity in the bodyHolistic dentists have special equipment that keep you safe.  Even if you have to drive several hours,  your health is worth amalgam removal.

Cavity Healing Toothpaste 

Your toothpaste also plays a very important part in tooth repair and remineralization.

There are a few very important things you want to avoid in your toothpaste.

  • Fluoride: Fluoride is toxic and we already get way too much of it our water supply.  Adding it to toothpaste is not beneficial and only leads to higher toxic levels in the body.
  • Glycerin: Although glycerin is natural, it coats the teeth impairing remineralization.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: This is a really harsh soap that should not be swallowed.  Avoid it in your body wash and shampoos, as well.
  • Artificial Sweeteners and other “Chemical” ingredients: These things are toxic to the body and should never be used in a toothpaste.

I have found that even “natural” toothpastes contain one or more of these ingredients.  Glycerin seems to be the hardest to avoid.  I believe the solution is to just make your own!  It will also save you money!

Make Your Own Remineralizing Toothpaste!

I have come across what I’ve found to be one of the best toothpastes for tooth remineralization.  This is not toothpaste that you buy, but one you make yourself.  This toothpaste is free of chemicals and packed full of minerals and bacteria fighting ingredients.

Here is how you make your own remineralizing toothpaste.

Remineralizing Toothpaste Recipe

What you’ll need:

  • 5 tbsp calcium powder or dolomite powder: This contains the mineral calcium our teeth need for optimal health.
  • 1 tbsp diatomaceous earth: Contains many minerals including silica and is a mild abrasive 
  • 3 tbsp xylitol: This natural sweetener actually inhibits the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
  • 3-5 parts coconut oil (to desired consistency): Coconut oil is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
  • 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract (optional): This is a natural preservative that is also anti-viral, antifungal and anti-bacterial.
  • 10 drops of essential oils: This is for flavor.  Peppermint oil is most common, but kids enjoy orange. You could also add germ-fighting oils like myrrh, clove and tea tree oil.
  • 10+ drops of stevia (optional): This helps to naturally sweeten your toothpaste.  Some don’t mind toothpaste without, but my kids and I prefer it added.


Mix the dry ingredients one at a time, in your bowl.  Slowly add the coconut oil and grapefruit seed extract while stirring.  Add your essential oils and taste for your preferred flavor.

You can apply the toothpaste with a popsicle stick or dip your toothbrush into the paste.  Brush as usual!

You can watch me make my very own remineralizing toothpaste in this video I created for Home Cures That Work members!  So easy to follow and worth every tooth you want to keep.  Watch the How-To video here.

If you don’t want to make your toothpaste from scratch, OraWellness and Eco-dent both make great toothpaste powders with remineralizing ingredients.

With the proper diet and the proper remineralizing toothpaste, you can have the kind of teeth dentists praise.  Give natural dental health a shot and watch those cavities disappear!

Did you compare your teeth to the chart above?  I would LOVE to know if you had corresponding tooth and body issues.  Let’s talk below!



Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.




Diet is Key in Kicking the Smoking Habit

Quitting smoking for good can be really tricky business.  Reason being it is very easy to switch from the smoking habit right into another bad habit.  The most common switch is from smoking to over-eating, and more specifically, to sugar addiction.

The average person who quits smoking gains anywhere from 4 lbs, all the way up to 30 lbs! This is why many experts are suggesting that smokers stop eating sugar and most carbs before they quit smoking.  This will make quitting smoking much easier and save you from obesity, which happens to be even more deadly than smoking!

Proper Nutrition = Smoke Free Success 

Getting vital nutrients into your body before you begin your journey to stop smoking is of the utmost importance.  Proper nutrition can help you quit smoking in several ways:

  1. If your body is “satisfied” with the proper vitamins, minerals and nutrients, then your craving for nicotine will be much less intense.
  2. Adequate nutrition minimizes depression and anxiety, which can easily occur when you smoking.
  3. When you eat healthy, it helps to strengthen your detoxification pathways, clearing the years of toxins that have accumulated from smoking.
  4. A healthy diet is going to make you feel stronger and more alert, enabling you to have more willpower to quit.

The Best Diet for Smoking Cessation 

A low carb diet is one of the best choices for smoking cessation.  I recommend

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Fit OR Food? Does It Have To Be A Choice?


Dear Grandma,

I hear the same things over and over again for weight loss: watch what you eat and exercise. But, for some reason, some people seem to have more success than others. I am frustrated with my weight loss efforts because I love food. I walk my dog daily, work at home and can cook most of my own food – to my delight. I have even been switching to organic foods, when possible. Yes, the doctor’s office says I am obese. Can you really be a food lover and still be fit?

Thanks, Paula C.

Dear Paula,

I think what you are talking about is having a HEALTHY love of food. Food can taste good and food can look great on you, too! My guess is if you gave yourself time to evaluate the foods you love and how they make you feel, sacrificing for a few pounds could be easier. The trick is learning to eat the foods that taste great, but also speed up your metabolism and drop off fat. Not every food fits into this category.

Here is a secret I’ve learned: coconut oil. They say, “don’t put on your skin what you wouldn’t put in your mouth.” Coconut oil is the perfect example of what to use.

Especially since you have the comfort of cooking your own food at home, let me tell you why coconut oil is good for even the idea of weight loss. Coconut oil:

  • Has less calories than other oils
  • Converts directly into energy, rather than fat
  • Revs up metabolism more than protein
  • Does not suppress thyroid function (like vegetable oil), which controls metabolism
  • Good for digestion, leaving you feeling full (and eating less!)
  • Assists in detoxification, too

Let the experts tell you exactly why coconut oils proves so many benefits over vegetable or soybean oil, but I believe it has something to do with the molecular structure and make-up of coconut oil. As a result, you can eat much more coconut oil than you can other oils before the excess is converted into fat. This is good news if you like to eat!

Try replacing margarine, shortening, and other hydrogenated oils in your diet and recipes with coconut oil. Olive oil and butter are okay, but use coconut oil whenever possible. Coconut oil’s properties aren’t destroyed with high heat, like olive oil, so it is perfect for over the stove. Personally, I love the smell of the coconut oil as it permeates the kitchen when I saut my vegetables or use it for baking. If you love food, you are going to love the flavor of coconut oil!

The best kind of coconut oil to use is organic, raw, extra virgin coconut oil. Believe it or not, but I’ve actually read that feeding it to your pets can improve their skin and coat! It’s not cheap, but you can always use it for a skin cream!

If you like being in the kitchen, Paula, try this recipe I found for Coconut Mayo! Fabulously Fantastic!

Coconut Mayo

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Celtic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (melt if solid)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Put the eggs, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender. On low speed, start adding your oils very slowly, first with drops and then a little stream. It should take about two minutes to add the oil.

2. Continue blending until there is no free standing oil.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of some extraordinarily delicious coconut mayo! It is the perfect time to add to a potato salad for spring and summer picnics! This should satisfy your love of food by making it a healthy appreciation! Might encourage some weight loss, too. 🙂

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