The key word here is ‘could’.

You know how when we were kids, we expected everything in life to be like a fairy tale? Where everything made perfect sense? There’s always a bad guy, and there’s always a good guy. We hated the bad guy relentlessly, and thought that the good guy could do no wrong.

Part of becoming an adult was realizing that this black and white world did not exist.

This morning I was reading an article touting fish as terrible for consumption for us, based on how the mercury in fish is toxic to our bodies. Not that this information is new, but it just occurred to me on how powerful, yet sometimes misleading scientific data can be.

Science is needed, except when it portrays food as one-dimensional.

Unfortunately, most studies conducted today are one-dimensional, likely funded by a certain industry with its own agenda. PETA will say fish is poison for you, while the fishing industry will spend millions of dollars on proving the amazing health benefits of fish. So who is right? Well…both of them are, as rightly put by Joshua Rosenthal.

“Nutrition is a funny science. It’s the only field where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right. In science, we stick to facts. The earth rotates on an axis around the sun. The freezing point of water is 32 degrees. But we are yet to discover the same definitive truths about nutrition.”
-Joshua Rosenthal, Founder of Institute of Integrative Nutrition

Circling back to the title of my post, a case can be made that kale, or brown rice for that matter, is bad for you. For example, raw kale can cause hypothyroidism, if the body does not have the appropriate iodine levels. This issue can occur in anyone who may consume a lot of raw cruciferous vegetables and not enough iodine. Iodine is generally not a deficient nutrient for most people, as they get enough from table salt, however if someone is actively avoiding salt, or exclusively uses sea salt, this could be a potential issue.

Brown rice, if had in every meal, can end up depleting your body’s zinc reserves because of the phytic acid in the brown rice that binds to the zinc and removes it from the body during elimination.

The point I’m trying to make is not that you shouldn’t eat kale or brown rice. It is that one mustn’t fall into the trap of demonizing particular foods, while putting others on a pedestal. Variety is key! The Japanese (the rural areas now, as fast food has infiltrated the metropolitan cities, unfortunately) have one of the highest life expactancies in the world. They consume around a hundred different types of foods a week, most of them plant-based.

The bottom line is that we should consume a variety of food, and all in moderation. Where moderation fails, is where food is not actually real food (a good test for that is if it isn’t something our great-grand parents ate, chances are it isn’t real food.)

To summarize, remember not to be so influenced by studies, that you start compartmentalizing food into ‘bad’ and ‘good’ buckets.

I say this time and time again; health is more an art than it is science.

When you over indulge on a particular food, understand that you may be giving up essential nutrients other foods have to offer. Yes, even if what you love to over-indulge on is kale. Experiment and don’t be afraid to try real, whole foods from the bounty that nature has to offer.

After all, variety is the spice of life!

Further Reading

1. http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hypothyroidism/news-update-can-kale-cause-hypothyroidism
2. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-brown-rice-deplete-zinc-11860.html

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