Is Anything Actually Healthy?


Nutrition is a divisive topic. For every one person who says cold-press juicing will improve every single aspect of your life, there's another person, equally passionate, equally internet-savvy, maintaining that the juicing process rids fruits and vegetables of most, if not all, of their inherent nutrients and fiber, rendering the slurry you're left with virtually meaningless to your health. In the process of conducting ITG interviews, we've heard that drinking a non-organic green juice was the equivalent of "mainlining heroin." We've been told a shot of chlorophyll a day will make you glow like you just had sex; that Fiji water is basically poison (so not alkaline); that fruits, when eaten with other foods, just ferment in your stomach; that tomatoes make your body acidic and should be avoided. (Also to be avoided, according to someone we've spoken to: gluten, corn, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fruit, whey protein, and the list goes on.)

At the office we joke that no food is safe. You think kale is good for you? Think again. Considering a banana cleanse? (Note: A recent Instagram rabbit hole lead me to a cluster of accounts, such as @BrusselsVegan, whose proprietors offer recipes for "nana ice cream"—just frozen bananas with a beet or something thrown in, blended to look like a frozen dessert—and log their experiences with a 20-to-30-bananas-a-day 'cleanse' known as "Banana Island." Intense.) "Bananas are basically just sugar and starch," someone will pipe in. "Not good." And that answers that.

Which means I'm left with the distinct feeling that there are basically no foods that are totally, 100% great for you. "Superfoods" are a myth! Açaí? Aça-don't even think about ingesting all that sugar. Except organic blueberries. High in antioxidants, high in fiber, low in sugar, they seem to be the only food everyone can agree is fantastic for you. But in the interest of keeping my breakfast/lunch/dinner options varied, and my diet balanced, I wanted to throw the question out to you guys: Besides blueberries, what are the best foods to eat? And, bonus points to anyone who can offer options (and examples) for people who don't go grocery shopping and eat most of their meals at work or in restaurants...i.e., me.

—Nick Axelrod

Photo by Deja Turner and Sailor Brinkley Cook.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Talia

    Probiotics! I get liquid dairy-free probiotics from Dynamic Health and have a shotglass or so of it every morning. It helps me avoid stress related digestion problems like heartburn and bloating.

    • ITGNick

      How long does it take for you to feel the effects of the probiotics?

      • Talia

        Almost immediately, but it takes a day or so to really notice how probiotics balance things out :)

    • Monkey

      Probiotics actually make me more bloated/pained than normal so I avoid them :)
      All of the human gut flora population sequencing that's been going on in recent microbial science has shown that eating whole/fresh produce acts as a "prebiotic" and does everything you need to keep your natural gut flora populations healthy. Lactobacillus (in probiotic capsules) is only one of many "healthy" microbes in your gut- why only bolster that one?

      • Talia

        I don't take lactobacillus capsules I take liquid probiotic suppliments but it just works really well for me :)

      • Alison Wilson

        I agree - it depends on your system and probiotics CAN CREATE problems - especially if you have too much bacteria in your gut already (even the good kind). There are arguments the probiotics are not good also.. and I cannot use them, they make me sick bc I have the above issue..

        • Ronnie

          Uh no that's actually a misconception on your part; they'll usually only create problems if you happen to have a diet too high in sugars and carbs or too much BAD bacteria in you which is why you'll get symptoms of "die off." Though its definitely true that not all probiotics are created equal! I've taken some that made me feel bloated and I believe its because they weren't strong enough to overwhelm the bad bacteria in my gut. I prefer Udo's brand at this point but I also like kefir.

          Trust me, go out and buy yourself some plain milk kefir from the store (Lifeway or wallabys brand offers decent ones) and drink some before every meal (around 1cup a day). Don't worry about the calories (I instantly lost weight from this). You will be shocked by how good you look and feel!

    • Willa

      I second probiotics! Nothing has ever been as effective for me at curbing breakouts and I've tried everything. I take a tablespoon of coconut water kefir every morning and eat a lot of kimchee and miso soup. The few spots I do get go away very quickly. If I had discovered it sooner, I would not be so scarred (physically & emotionally) by past acne.

      • Ronnie

        Agreed! Probiotics are the answer to acne for most people.

  • dc

    It's all about Chia Seeds!

    • magicmollys

      Chia seeds always taste oddly fishy to me. Am I weird or is this a thing?

      • Monkey

        It's the omega-3s that give it that taste :)

      • ITGNick


        • Dane Cohen

          HI ITGNick!!!!!!!!

  • ITGLacey

    I'm so, so obsessed with Flora Flax Seed Oil. Makes a huge difference in my skin, hair, & mood!

    • ITGNick

      Is flax seed oil giving you the same benefits as whole or ground flax seeds?

      • mamavalveeta03

        My doc recommended it for my eczema. Can't say it helped. Can't say I liked it, either.

        • magicmollys

          Flaxseed oil is so, so gross. It tastes like rancid butter to me.

      • kathS

        Nick, flaxseed oil and ground flaxseeds offers the same benefits. I started using flaxseed oil b/c flaxseeds have to be ground freshly to obtain the benefits. So, more work with ground flaxseeds, less work with flaxseed oil that you can squirt in a blender/ over oatmeal/ etc.

  • Lila

    Hmmmm.... Water?? Plus a bit of fruit and veg in a moderate proportion???

  • Lila

    Obviously a balances diet is always good

  • Mady

    Thanks for posting this piece. The vast, VAST majority of people dispensing health and nutrition advice on the internet are completely out of their depth. Not only do they not have any legitimate qualifications in the area, they likely obtain much of their info from other, similarly unqualified sources (probably other bloggers?). And sadly, most readers won't pick up on the lack of evidence-based information when they read these sources. It takes a solid educational background to critically analyze what you're processing when you're perusing the internet for health advice. That's why the writer's credentials are so important (what certification does she/he have? many years of schooling was required? what educational institution is it from? has this person ever even been required to take a basic undergraduate science course???). Does he/she cite peer-review sources? The list goes on. Most likely, you're better off just seeing a professional.
    I'm really into the whole healthy eating thing, but I make a conscious effort to keep things moderate. I try to eat about 6-7 servings of fruits and veggies daily, but I switch it up with the kinds I'm eating. There are pros and cons to everything, really. Focusing on a any so-called "superfood" and consuming it round-the-clock may do more harm than good, as you're pointing out in this post.

    • eastvillagesiren

      Excellent points. Thank you!

    • beeswaxnoneofyour

      Read a blurb in an article about healthy food in Bazaar where a Dr said he's treated people during Fashion Week for bad diarrhea because they were living on raw kale - all because they were convinced eating cartloads of it would keep them from getting flu.

  • Willow

    Variety! And choose real/whole foods over processed. Otherwise, focus on the how/why of eating in addition to the what...those things are just as important in the overall health/impact of your diet. If you're not cooking at home, here's what I'd start with (and I say start because every journey starts with a step...or two)
    1. Ideally aim for 4-5 different colors of fruits/veggies every day so you're getting an assortment of antioxidants.
    2. Balance each meal with a high fiber carb (starchy veggies like potatoes/sweet potato/corn/peas/butternut squash/etc; beans/lentils; fruit; cooked whole grains like quinoa/barley/farro/wild rice/brown rice/etc.), high quality protein (grass fed beef, organic chicken, tofu, eggs, edamame, salmon, etc.); veggies; and healthy fat (avocado, olive oil, nuts/seeds, nut butters, pesto, etc.). Think of fats as the accessory to your meal, not the main star of it.
    3. Make sure you're breathing during eating (might sound funny, but it's easy to hold your breath if you're eating in a rush).
    4. Try to step away from your computer/phone even for just a few minutes while eating at work.
    5. Eat when you're just starting to get the stomach hunger rumble (don't wait until you're ravenous) and stop eating when you're satisfied but before you're stuffed/full.
    6. Eat snacks that contain fruit and/or veggies in between meals so you're packing in more nutrition and not going more than 4 hours without eating.

    A few examples of meals that pack in nutrition and keep your blood sugar steady:
    Salad with quinoa, salmon, avocado
    Sandwich on whole grain bread with turkey, roasted eggplant, pesto
    Stir-fried tofu/veggies over brown rice
    Corn and black bean salad with tomato, avocado, and lime dressing
    Organic yogurt with oats, chopped apple, cinnamon, walnuts
    Chipotle burrito bowl with black beans, chicken, and lots of veggies and salsa

    There are more meal ideas on our website (media page = more take-out ideas, recipe page = more at-home ideas)

  • Mady

    Just wanted to add that more and more research is showing that, in general, consuming whole foods, rather than extractions, is a better option for all-around good nutrition. I prefer smoothies to juices because the fiber stays (fiber is soooo important!). I'd also rather eat a fish that pop one of those omega oil pills.

    • ITGNick

      Interesting. The Jill Pettijohn cleanse I did last year ( is all blended drinks, not juices, for exactly that reason. But some say this type of cleanse isn't really 'cleansing' because you're still having to digest pulp (i.e., fiber), so you're not giving your gut a rest, which is the 'point' of most cleanses.

      • Mady

        "Cleansing" is largely a crap concept that's sadly become more palatable to many people than actually eating a balanced, whole foods diet. I'm not trying to sound patronizing though - I can see why otherwise intelligent people would get sucked into the craze. The link below contains some great info!:

    • beeswaxnoneofyour

      Yep, same here. I try to get all my vits and nutrients from the foods themselves, and I do not believe in cleansing AT ALL. I only do smoothies as I have the idea of all the fibre going to waste, and I only minimally sweeten them with fruit, nothing else.

  • Lindsay Sue

    Cheetos. They're good for the soul.

    ...I jest.

    • mamavalveeta03

      I concur, wholeheartedly!

    • Peter

      I feel most alive when my tongue and fingers are the color of the red powder on flamin' hot cheetos.

    • beeswaxnoneofyour

      Cheetos are totally good for the soul sometimes. Some days still require cake and Cheetos. I will not die a total abstainer!

  • ania

    Oatmeal with chia seeds! This is my workday breakfast everyday. It holds me over until lunch, has greatly improved my skin and nails and my hair is just amazing- thicker, shinier and much more healthier. Alongside my oatmeal & chia seed breakfast, I take a fish oil and biotin vitamin.

    • ITGNick

      This sounds delicious. What's your recipe?

    • Lera

      Oatmeal makes me feel hungry in about an hour, which is contrary to what many say.

      • Sylvie

        Me too! It makes me feel super tired and hungry, unless I add lots of fat, like coconut oil. Still, I just tend to avoid oatmeal at this point...

  • Brittany Seel

    So many articles on the internet are misleading and confusing. Eating plenty of fruit and veg as part of a balanced diet and exercising 3 times a week seems to be the overall winner out of all the socalled 'diet secrets'

    Bea x

    Bea's Beauty Blog

  • Lenea

    Flax seeds, chia seeds and goji berries are great for throwing on oatmeal or cereal. Flax and chia are both high in omega-3s and fiber, while goji berries have tons of antioxidants as well as a bunch of other health benefits. I also really love Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). You can just squeeze 6-7 drops in a cup of hot lemon water every morning (another easy superfood habit to pick up as it aids with digestion) and it gives a great immune boost. I totally swear by GSE and I haven't gotten so much as a cold in the two years that I've been using it.

    Other than that, avocados. On everything. Always and forever.

    • CCYY

      I picked up a bottle of GSE about half a year ago and did my research only after the purchase. Unfortunately, it's a very contradictory product and even their wiki page says there's no scientific evidence to prove it has any beneficial effects on health.

    • Nicole

      One word of advice that I just found out from my doctor: If you're on medication, check with your doctor about possible interactions with drinking GSE or grapefruit juice, especially daily use. Apparently grapefruit interacts with a lot of medications by some of its properties blocking an important intestinal enzyme that helps break down drugs. I had no idea about this until I specifically asked about possible drug interactions (after 6 months of being on my current medication). The effect can last for up to 24 hours, meaning daily use could increase the chances of this being pretty harmful to some.

      • Ona_in_Barcelona

        Yep - the same goes for eating kiwifruit. Apparently they can really interfere with the contraceptive pill! :/

  • aurore

    salmon and brown rice...

  • ITGNick

    Here's a question. You're at the smoothie bar, and the guy behind the counter asks what kind of protein you want: hemp, rice, soy, or whey. What's the right answer? Which is the most absorbable/most effective type of protein? I've heard raw's the only way to go, but all the muscle dudes drink whey. Anyone?

    • L12

      I am NO expert but personally I'd pick hemp. Whey is protein from dairy and soy tends to be GMO. I've heard hemp has great beauty benefits too. I prefer to add almonds, almond milk, or spirulina to my smoothies when I want a protein boost rather than a powder. And I'm totally with you on smoothies vs. juice. While smoothies technically require more digestion, I feel a lot better consuming fruits and veg in their natural state, plus it actually fills me up which is the whole point of fiber! I really have to thank you for this post as I'm struggling with similar confusion. With all the advice out there I sometimes just have no idea what to eat at all. If I feel bloated after a salad it makes me so frustrated... I know i'm making healthy choices but then what if this vegetable isn't combining properly with this one and all that nonsense. I've recently decided to consult a professional, but it's hard when traditional nutritionists don't accept my personal view on health. I'm hoping I can get insurance to cover a doctor with a natruopathy degree. Good luck with your journey and thank again for this honest and humble post.

    • Ranna

      I am not an expert on this topic either, but I am a pharmacy student and my professor, of a "non-prescripton" drugs class, mentioned that all protein powder is poorly absorbed in the body and that the best way to get lean protein is through diet, specifically tuna fish. While the focus of getting protein primarily through food is important, I don't completely agree with him because I don't think there is enough research out there done on different types of protein powders and their compared effectiveness. Whey is commonly used among body builders because it is relatively inexpensive and supposedly absorbs very quickly. There have been some great studies done on whey protein and it's ability to help build lean muscle mass, but many of the studies were done in older people. I personally do not use whey protein because I am lactose-intolerant and have always preferred Jay's egg-white protein powder. I like it because it has more protein than the raw or vegan alternative, not super expensive, and contains a great amount of branched-chain amino acids, which can help improve muscle recovery after a workout. It's also important to look at the ingredients lists in protein powders. Whey proteins often contain many artificial ingredients that aren't healthy, which is why a raw or alternative protein powder would be more favorable. I do like to use the Vega One powder occasionally (in natural flavor) to add to my smoothies because of the added goodies, like omega-3 and probiotics. I think the best way to eat healthy is to eat a well balanced diet and to not overdue the healthy stuff. I try my best not to eat processed foods and buy organic and non-GMO products when possible. Overall, the food you eat should fuel your body efficiently, improve your well-being (i.e. no upset stomach or ill-like symptoms), and, most importantly, taste good.

    • jg

      Not a fan of protein powders. It's all processed and your body is meant to digest protein with fat. Perhaps a smoothie with almond milk, berries, a banana and skip the protein powder. All real food. (Making homemade almond milk tonight for the first time after reading ingredient list in store bought almond milk).
      On another note, I think one of the more misleading diet trends is the "clean" obsession. Dairy doesn't have to be bad and cooking food isn't bad either. Have you read any of the Michael Pollan books? I think it's the best advice.

    • Willow

      The one that doesn't have any sweeteners/artificial stuff added. :)

    • kathS

      Hemp! Not soy. Never soy. There are differing opins on whey... (You will have to ask the muscle dudes.) And the rice goes through more processing. You could always switch it up between hemp and whey and see what feels best. I use hemp :)

  • Jenn

    These aren't healthy foods, but I think eating a cookie or some Cool Ranch Doritos every now and again is actually a pretty healthy way to live. So many diets or "lifestyle changes" focus on deprivation which lead to feelings of guilt and can negatively impact our mental health. They won't make my skin glow, but they will leave a lasting smile on my face....and potentially Dorito flakes on my hands.

    • Aly

      A personal trainer once told me that occasional indulgences, say a burger and fries on the weekend, will actually help boost your metabolism as long as you go back to your normal routine during the week.

      • ITGNick

        I like the sound of that advice.

      • beeswaxnoneofyour

        I've heard that as well - breaks up a possible plateau effect. When you go back to your normal healthy routine it sort of gets kickstarted.

    • bijoux

      I eat Oreos or a cupcake every day when I get home. It's a holdover from my "after school snack" days, and I love it. I will always eat this stuff. Knowing it's there keeps me from eating other garbage I encounter. The rest of my food is non-junk.
      p.s. I knew a 90 year old man who had a full size Snickers everyday since he could remember.

      • magicmollys

        My grandmother ate the same breakfast every day: two prunes, two Oreo cookies, and a small bottle of Coca-Cola. She lived til 97. #baller

        • ITGNick

          That she could stop at two Oreos is nothing short of a miracle.

        • Hrhwindsor

          The coke and the Oreos were made with cane sugar and lard for year until they switched the fornulas to include hugh fructose corn syrup in lieu of the cane sugar and partially hydrogenized oil for lard.

  • Victorious_me

    Food, food is good for you. Not eating food, not good for you. It's pretty simple.

  • alliemh29

    I just became obsessed with chia seeds. Late to the party, I know, but I live abroad and a bag is basically $20usd over here.

    Anyway, take 3 tbsp chia seeds and combine with 1 cup almond milk. Add some maple syrup (about 1 tbsp? less if you use sweetened almond milk) and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. I do overnight, so I can eat it for breakfast the next day. I toss some berries on top and its super delicious. I actually got this recipe from Deliciously Ella after the post ITG did on her, and I am in love with it.

    Also sweet potatoes = my favorite thing in the world. Usually roasted with herbs and garlic.

    • ITGNick

      Is maple syrup the healthiest sweetener (compared to honey, agave, turbinado, etc)?

      • Shelby

        Maple syrup is the best (I'm Canadian...I know my syrup). Raw, organic honey is really great as well. Just make sure it's real honey that still contains the good enzymes and bacteria, etc.

      • Lilly

        A good quality honey (local, un-filtered, un-pasteurized from bees that have not been fed corn syrup, sugar or other pollen substitute) and organic coconut sugar are the healthiest sweeteners.

        Xylitol and agave syrup are highly processed. Stevia tastes awful (but is healthy option).

        Maple Syrup has a pretty high GI (glycemic index), so it's not among the healthiest options.

      • alliemh29

        I use maple syrup because I like the taste best. I've heard honey can cause allergies for some people (I guess it's the pollen?) but I just don't really like the taste. There's a lot of reports out there about how agave isn't the best for you, but I am not sure how valid those are. I just never got into it.

      • alliemh29

        Honestly, I have no idea. It's mostly a taste preference for me. I've heard honey can be bad for allergies- something about the pollen?- and I don't like the taste. When I was researching agave nectar, I found conflicting reports of how good it is for you, so I just never tried it. I like that with maple syrup, I know exactly where it is coming from and how it is made. Plus it's got a nice, ambery flavor that I love

  • alicynzall

    try the banana ice cream... i swear it's so good. i don't know about putting a beet in it though...i like to put a big spoonful of peanut butter in mine

  • Camille

    Fruit sugars are natural, so they're definitely healthier than candy bars. Our bodies process them in different ways.

    I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation. It's unhealthy to completely exclude any food groups from your diet (like most fad diets), unless you're allergic. I know a lot of my friends who are on a gluten-free diet and they're not even celiacs. Gluten isn't bad for you - it has essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin B & D, and minerals. I don't like to deprive myself so I eat whatever I want, but try my best to have it in small amounts. It does get tough sometimes because I have the biggest sweet tooth :B But hey, live a little!

  • Androbel

    haha my boyfriend is always telling me that food is all a lie and that organic is never actually organic. I don;t know, maybe we all live in a lie. a food lie. Blueberries are good. Apples too. Spinach. oranges. I think those are the ones I believe the most.

    Xo, Belen

    Androbel Insider

    • ITGNick

      oranges are good for you? i thought all sugar?

      • Androbel

        I think it's natural sugar so i'ts all good for you. I don't believe bananas are bad for you either. maybe organic oranges and bananas are a good idea that way they don't have any preservatives injected but natural sugar is good sugar.

  • Tanita Razaghi

    Noni Juice is pretty amazing. I feel like I'm drinking fermented human remains though.. Miranda Kerr never mentioned that ; ) x.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for this, I have been so frustrated lately with food. Every time I hear something is good for someone else says its bad. I don't know what to eat anymore. People who follow the paleo diet say that all grains are bad because of phytic acid, then people who follow the vegan say that meat is bad for you. Then every time they say to eat something for health, the next day they say don't eat it. It seems like every food causes allergies or inflammation or cancer etc.

  • coconut

    chia seeds and kefir!

    • Mady

      Kefir may be my favourite food! I'm not super into regular cow's milk or yogurt, but kefir is delicious, and may possibly be healthier. It's a bit of an acquired taste though. I grew up drinking it but some friends I've recently introduced it to were kind of grossed out.

      • ITGNick

        I thought that dairy should be avoided because 1) humans weren't made to process it, 2) it can thicken mucus in your body, and 3) unless it's raw/organic, could be filled with hormones? In other words, it's not "clean."

        • Mady

          I've cut down my dairy intake because I'm trying to go more vegan in general. I drink kefir mainly because it's delicious. Also why I still eat gelato and cheese here and there! But I limit them. Because of the way it's fermented, kefir seems to contain more probiotics, but whether that amounts to better health has yet to be determined. I do worry about ingesting hormones from the milk. Even organic milk will contain estrogens and what not. I don't think there's a ton of super-quality research into the effects of these hormones on human health that supports any one position vs the other, though, so while we wait for more evidence, I've just decided to eat everything in moderation, while increasing my fruit & veggie intake, minimizing processed foods and cutting down on free sugar.

        • MashaM

          Kefir has almost no lactose, so it's much easier to digest than milk. It also contains tons of probiotics. I drink some in the morning most days and feel it helps keep my stomach happy.

        • Layla Corcoran

          Most people of European descent have genes for processing dairy. All people can process dairy as children.

        • marie

          I rarely make comments on nutrition as everyone seems to have strong opinions about it but this article is worth a read:
          I used to have ulcerative colitis (digestive issues) so had to learn a lot about food and after getting the illness on remission by changing my diet and adding supplements I have a strong love for probiotic/fermented foods... they truly are amazing for your gut!

  • carole

    Everything in moderation .... love chia seeds, also love my 3 w's -water, wheatgrass and wine :-)

  • elthomp

    Everything in moderation. Mostly less processed organic foods, but remember, chocolate + coffee can make you pretty darn happy. And isn't happy healthy? I think we all have to do what works for us as individuals + decide for ourselves what works for our own body.

  • Claire

    Its about listening to your body and what your body needs. Not cravings, like chocolate, salt or alcohol, but really what you need. Lean proteins are important, chicken and fish, greens, spinach and a variety of veggies have amazing properities, like carrots, beets, avocados. It is about variety and moderation. Everything in moderation. Avoid processed foods, eat organically and locally sourced when you can and remember the more colors the better!

  • Meredith

    It's important to enjoy your food. If you work yourself up into a neurotic mess about what's healthy, healthier, healthiest, that's not healthy! Stressing about food ruins the entire experience. Be thankful for food, enjoy it, then move on to the next thing.

  • Arizona Kay

    Over many years, big brands//farms/food manufacturers have bred ALL OF THE NUTRITION OUT OF BLUEBERRIES specifically. Even organically GROWN blueberries are nutrition-less and have been for years. They are grown for the amount of nutrition-less juice they can hold, even organically grown blueberries you eat from your farmer's market taste nothing like a real blueberry which, if wild, should be so tart, only a few would stain your teeth, lips, and insight an acidic tummy pang.

  • ab

    Anything in variety and in moderation is always healthy.

    • ITGNick

      Not anything. Like, I'd say you don't need French fries or chips ever. But they're so good.

      • cat

        Yeah, but if you ban them from your diet forever, you might go a little crazy. So for the sake of your mental health, I'd argue that even fries are okay in moderation. Physical/mental/emotional/spiritual health - everything's gotta be in balance.

  • Bella

    This post speaks to me, homie. I think it's also important to add that every body has different nutrient deficiencies, and therefore different dietary needs. If the kid to my left wants to eat like a caveman and the kid to my right wants to eat like a "banana girl" (literally slays me), cool, but neither of those may work for me.

  • Averill B

    I'm interested in Swedish culture. Generally speaking they are obsessed with working out and eating super healthy. Try Instagram rabbit hole-ing Swedes. In food pics you'll find a lot of salads usually with some kind of protein like seafood or chicken. A lot of salmon (however in American much of our salmon is being farm raised which is no good). There is a lot of variety, a lot a vegetables, and small portions or protein. Usually a berry smoothie in the morning, but mix it up.

    • birdienumnums

      Norwegian salmon farming is actually destroying the wild salmon population (google it), which is such a bummer. Also, swedes are obsessed with tanning beds. Just a fun fact. (I used to work in Sweden).

      • Averill B

        Yes salmon farming and tanning beds are very bad things. Thanks Nick for asking these questions because this topic is so stimulating.

  • gemma

    What's the deal with raw cacao powder? I keeping hearing people waxing poetic about it as the best alternative to chocolate, but I've seen articles about how harmful it is to the body...

  • birdienumnums

    I agree. Although there are some things that are really bad for everyone-- high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, pretty much all "vegetable oils" (corn, canola, etc.) which are all made from GMOs, and all forms of artifical sweetners except stevia and the other natural one. Cane sugar has no redeeming qualities other than it's better than high fructose corn syrup or chemical sweetners. Dr. Mercola says high fructose corn syrup is the main reason this country is obese. the body processes fructose differntly than glucose. Artificial colors are illegal in Europe and even the FDA admits they exacorbate behavioral problems in children. Personally, I think gluten is not fit for human consumption, but i know many have no problem with it. Cheap processed foods will kill you and make you hurt. If it's "food" that a company is payinf to advertise, don't eat it -- it's processed. Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (I forget who said this, but very good motto). Eat grass fed organic meats and dairy as much as possible to keep your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in proper proportion.

    • Jolien

      If it needs to be advertised, it's not healthy indeed! That's a very good guideline.

    • fibee

      Michael Pollan said that!

  • mirabelle

    e3 live is literally life changing. other than that i would suggest that if you are genuinely concerned, you go to your local market and pick up a grocery basket, with keen plans to purchase whole, non-gmo foods to support the way the body functions at it's best. grocery shopping and food preparation should be considered as an important part if not more important as your fitness regimen, if you ask me! good luck with your health quest, mister axelrod.

    • ITGNick

      What's the deal with e3 live?

      • Kelly

        It's essentially frozen algae. A good source of Omega 3s without the free radicals you get with fish oil. You just defrost a bit every morning and add it to your smoothie - good hit of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals (plus non-GMO, vegan).
        A lot of people claim the 'Brain On' E3 live helps with brain clarity and even joyfulness. I can't say for certain if mine did, maybe placebo effect, but you should definitely give it a try!

  • BeNourishd

    I'd go with the boring 'A balance of different foods to get a broad range of nutrients'. But I do think it's important - there is no superfood - just eat loads of veg, some fruit, wholegrains and add in some treats from time to time so you don't get bored. Surely that's the best way to get all your goodness?

  • Sophi

    salmon, avocado..and not caring to much about what everybody says, just eating a normal balanced fresh diet with the occasional dessert thrown in..we only live once! whats all this crazy food hype about all of a sudden?

    • Averill B

      Cancer n shiz

  • eastvillagesiren

    Well, Nick, did you know that methylparaben is naturally present in blueberries, built in by Mother Nature herself as an antimicrobial ; ) Some folks might freak out at that, but blueberries still rock. Here's a basic link:

    Anyway, just goes to show that food in general is so diverse, with its chemical components offering numerous good and some not so good attributes, that perhaps eating for variety, color, your taste and food allergies or health problems is the prudent course. For me the emphasis is on a variety of whole, fresh, seasonal veg and fruit, local grass-fed meat and dairy - and homemade Nachos whenever I get the craving!

    • ITGNick

      Interesting! Parabens, they're everywhere!

  • Marilyn Huttunen

    Grass-fed beef, full-fat dairy, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, eggs, whole fruits and vegetables. And I avoid soy at all costs.

    • eastvillagesiren

      All good stuff! Thanks.

  • Izabel

    Everything in moderation! But if we have to pick something...grab an avocado and a spoon.

  • Vanessa Santos Almeida

    Everyone is different and sometimes some food is good for some people and not for others. I actually took a food intolerance test and I'm intolerant to berries so no matter how good they are for your they don't work for me.
    I'm also intolerant to most whole grains, they make so bloated and make me breakout like crazy so I have to eat refined grains. I eat refined pasta almost everyday and I feel perfectly fine, it doesn't make me fat or anything.
    I also took an Ayurveda test to determine my type of body, I'm Pitta Dosha and actually the things that "Pitta" people shouldn't eat are the same foods I was intolerant to, pretty amazing right? I have been vegetarian for a few years now and felt completely amazing when I stopped eating animal derived food, it was a very pleasant surprise when 4 years later I discovered that Vegetarianism is the best food regime for Pitta people.
    Yes tomatoes are very acidic but if your body is too alkaline you need to eat acidic food to balance your pH. It's all about balance and find what works for you.

    • TKB

      This is interesting! Where/how do you take a food intolerance test? Nutritionist? Doctor?

      • Vanessa Santos Almeida

        I went to the doctor but I think you can go to a nutritionist as well. It's really amazing :)

  • adamalpha


    Literally, just make your diet as varied as possible.

  • Libby

    Are carrots healthy or do they have too much sugar? Confusing!!!

    • Mady

      I'm no carrot expert but my *guess* is that the good in carrots (antioxidants!) outweighs the bad, as long as you're not overdoing it. I take that approach with any fruit or veggie. The sugar we should actively limit is the "free" sugar found in a lot of processed food and drinks that otherwise carry no real nutritional value. The WHO recently came out with some draft guidelines on sugar. Keeping within their recommended daily limit of "free" sugar is not terribly difficult if you prep food yourself and eat less sugary sweets in smallish amounts, but the drinks and snacks we buy are just loaded with sugar.

    • ITGNick

      Great question! I've heard it argued both ways.

  • T_uhwerp

    Raw nuts (specifically walnuts and brazil nuts in moderation), hemp (hulled/whole/oil unless your Engine 2), and sea vegetables when palatable. By then I've been marinating eggplant in a miso-ponzu-black bean Taiwanese chili paste sauce long enough to not really care anymore...and spriulina soba noodles do exist.

  • Fernanda

    Nick! Full-fat-organic everything. Especially don't do the low fats. And if eating dairy, always always organic. It's more important that you do organic dairy than organic veggies even. both is best. besos !

  • Laurie

    Slightly off topic, but Nick how is your skin? I read last year that you were impressed with the Somme Institute 5 step regimen. Do you still swear by that regimen or have you moved on? Do you also see a connection between skin clarity and the foods you ingest?

    • ITGNick

      Hey Laurie! My skin is OK, thank you for asking! Actually, a few months ago I developed a sensitivity to the Somme products--the Transport pads and the moisturizer are powerful, but also pretty intense (2x/day exfoliating, etc). So, I decided to take a break. My skin hasn't been as awesome as it was on that program, but I just started Biologique Recherche and I'm pretty happy so far. (I think it's all about the P-50 lotion.) I've never noticed a connection between the foods I eat and my skin clarity, but definitely washing my face at night (religiously) has helped. Now, how are you?

      • Laurie

        My skin was excellent when I was on Accutane, now 3 years post Accutane my cheeks have acne once again. My latest acquisition is the Revive Renewal cream. The verdict is still out. A few months ago I bought May Lindstorm Clean dirt and the Honey cleanser. My skin didn't get worse it basically stayed the same. I am going to try the Revive until the end of summer and see if it helps.

        • ITGNick

          Let me know what you think of the Revive!

  • Ruth

    The thing with most studies is they are not lengthy enough, do not have enough participants, cannot adequately "follow" the participants habits, and do not double blind (if possible or reasonable for the study). The fact of the matter is that we just don't know (so many things), and with the preponderance of genetically modified organisms (among many other factors in our culture), it is VERY difficult to point directly to causal effects--unless, as with cancer, there is a grouping effect, that is, you HAVE to start looking at possible causes.
    I agree with Archana and think that Michael Pollan (among others), is on the right track, which is to eat a simpler diet (and for goodness sake: MOVE!). Although, I would watch out for "organics" because, again, how much that is labelled "organic" is (Get to know your purveyor!).
    Finally, if a person wants to juice and feels better doing so, then by all means JUICE! The "experts" will change their opinions or a new study will find new/different results. To succeed in academia you must publish or perish.
    Always question, and eat your blueberries.

  • Charmystique

    I think balance is always key to everything, nutrition included. I don't believe in taking supplements, because if you've got a balanced diet you should have all bases covered. Also I think people forget that everyone has different bodies, one man's meat can literally be one man's poison! Find out which foods work for you and which don't. Listen to what your body tells you. For example, I often feel really phlegmy after taking dairy products, so I've tried to cut that from my diet as much as I can. And of course, stay away from processed foods as much as possible, all those chemicals and preservatives can't be good for anyone.


  • Sarah

    I want to try all the fads or exotic celebrity food groups. The more outlandish the purported health benefits, the better. But at the end of the day I can't! Not physically, or financially either. It's so hard to keep track of what everyone's eating, or NOT eating. Gluten free, paleo, "eat clean", forks over knives, everyone has a diet that suits them best. I just try to listen to my body. I feel better (and less insane) when I avoid dairy and sugar. I've been dying to try a juice cleanse but any juice with lots of fruit (beets and carrots as well) has a ton of sugar, too! Even though it's not refined sugar. No wonder these people report "feeling amazing", haha. Basically, genetically modified produce scares the crap out of me, because we aren't even sure yet the affect it's having on our bodies. I try to eat whole foods as often as possible but I'm a "flexitarian". I try to live but the 80/20 principle, which I've also heard from ITG!

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    You just have to use balance. Too much sugar of any type can be bad. Avoid chemicals and processed food as much as you can. Eat whole foods. Get a wide variety of fruits, fats, protein, and veggies. Just make sure it's the best you can afford. Move for 30 minutes a day and get about 10 to 15 minutes of unfiltered sun (no sunscreen) to make your vitamin D. Also get an allergy test. If you are allergic or sensitive to anything, cut it out. Here in the USA there are abundant and delicious alternatives!

  • Shawna

    I'm joining the "everything in moderation" and "mostly whole foods" bandwagons. Where I live "alternative" diets are really popular, but they don't really appeal to me personally. Although I get lectured by my raw/vegan/801010 friends about how the moderate amounts of chocolate, cheese, coffee, bread, meat and wine I enjoy could affect my health, my doctor says I'm one of the healthiest people she sees. I also look years younger than my age (for now…), so I don't think those foods are affecting me negatively, especially since I eat mostly plants.

    I really think it depends on the person, and how the food they eat makes them feel.

  • Nicole

    A whole foods plant based diet free of oil, gluten, and processed sugar! I will say, though I don't cook with it, I use coconut oil to cleanse my face/moisturize my skin. Truthfully I've never felt better? I'm training for a marathon and I box 5 days a week. I never feel depleted because once you live on this type of diet you become in sync with your body and you know what exactly your body needs. I don't crave the things I used to eat anymore and now I find myself craving grapes, tomatoes, carrots, kale, etc. I have learned the best way to get healthy is to listen to your body because it knows what it needs.

  • EA

    Edx has a course called "The Chemistry of food" or something similar. i took recently, I really recommend it.

  • lemonpie

    Local, seasonal, organic whole foods is definitely healthy. I think a great variety of food is also important! Food that is minimally processed. "Clean" eating if you will. But equally important is the way you eat - gathered with friends or family enjoying each other's company? Lonely in front of the TV? It makes a huge difference.

  • Martina

    I vote for quinoa - we all know the benefits, especially for vegetarians/vegans. Cooking it can be a bitch, though. "Fluffy" is a dream yet to come true.

    And good ol' olive oil - that's why Greek/Italian women have such amazing skin...

  • Eve-Edith

    I absolutely hate Chia seeds :)

  • Zeno

    Hey Nick!
    So true, it's all so confusing and contradicting. It's all about developing your own healthy diet, based on personal discovering.

    All berries are great, raspberries are actually the best for the high content of fiber. The fancy Goji Berries included.
    Banana is a fantastic fruit before bed, stop the sugar craving and easy to digest and has natural probiotics; just eat half and you will be OK, the fibers help to process the sugar.
    Nuts! All of them. Walnuts and Almonds are fantastic to snack and very filling.
    Eggs, Fish and Avocado for healthy fats, omega 3.
    Yogurt it's great too, a source of probiotics. I particularly like the one made from sheep milk. Add a spoon of cacao powder, chia seeds and a tiny bit of raw honey and you get the best snack ever, full of super foods, low in sugar and high in protein and fiber!



  • Cat

    What really, really helped me was quitting Coke and all kind of sodas, prepackaged juices, and sweet drinksl ast August. As for health... I focus on eating at least a serving of green veggies and fruit every day. Plenty of water. Occasional fruit and veggies juices -but not for cleansing.

  • Stephanie

    I thought of a food that I haven't heard anything bad about yet.
    Its sauerkraut. The natural organic type. It is full of pro-biotics, and its just cabbage and sea salt used to ferment it.

  • Aspyn

    This is actually an interesting article. No one specific diet is lets say, the messiah of food. In MY opinion, im not a professional or anything, i think a healthy diet is a balance diet. Dont eat too much crap like junk food or processed candies and desserts. Dont eat too much of anything. Diets to me are fads and so are vegetarianism or paleonism or somethin of the sort, unless ofcourse you have a health problem. You need meat, you need veggies, just live a healthy life and feel good and dont worry about superfoods.

  • Jane T.

    I stay away from high glycemic foods mostly, and add in some fat if I'm going to be eating something that's higher in carbs. But really echoing everything here, I think drastic diets are ridiculous and unrealistic. The more over processed food you can avoid the better, but hitting up mcdonalds every once in a while won't kill you!

    Also, I love to use chia seeds to make my own jam -- cook some berries on the stove with whatever sweetener you choose (I like erythritol or a little honey), add in spices (like cinnamon, cardamom, lemon peel, etc.), and then throw in a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to let gel! It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks and is great to add to yogurt, oatmeal, and baked goods.

    • f

      omg. could you elaborate on the jam making?! like a basic recipe? sounds delicious!

  • Catherine_Smith

    But what do chia seeds actually do for us?

    • ITGNick

      Great question. Anyone?

      • Officetramp

        Among other benefits such as omega 3 fatty acids they are very high in fibre, 11gms per 28gms of seeds....sure beats downing a glass of metamucil!

  • lena

    i don't know, man. i used to get really hung up on these things -- cutting out dairy, white flour, sugar, whatever -- but this year i'm living in italy and gave it all up. now i eat pizza, pasta, and cheese multiple times a week, alongside lots of fresh fruit and veggies. my weight is the same, my skin looks better, and i'm in a better mood most of the time, so i'm sticking with this!

  • ITGNick

    But what about cyanide in rice! My mom dropped that one on me.

    • NH

      The cyanide is mostly present in rice from the Midwest. Buy an organic brand farmed in California and rinse before cooking.

  • Cat

    I don't agree with everything Mercola says but the FDA is bullshit. I'd follow advice given by Mercola over them any day, regardless of how much his house costs.

    • Mady

      His income is irrelevant to me. The lack of legitimacy to many of his claims is not.

  • Sylvie

    Flax, and chia, and avocados! But I totally agree with you- one day this food is all the rage, the next it messes up your hormones or something. I say, eat a diverse, nutritionally-balanced (preferably animal-friendly) diet and call it good.

    • beeswaxnoneofyour

      Yeah, I really tune out all the daily 'this is good, this is bad' hype for the most part - I try out what I see at the supermarket, if I like it and I like what I research about it, then I add it to the food rotation. I don't really believe in going and sourcing something by any extraordinary means possible just because it got dubbed a superfood. I also don't really buy the 'if it ain't organic, it's crap' theory. How many people can realistically/financially do that every day unless they live in an area where organic is widely available as well as just as cheap as the supermarket? I buy from a local farm shop that's down the road for some seasonal stuff, otherwise the supermarket. It's not as if you aren't going to get vits and nutrients from non organic stuff, or die a slow horrible death from eating only non-organic broccoli.

  • District Style

    Everything in moderation – including moderation.

  • Caroline Mt

    Last time i "listened to my body" i ate crap all day long and gained 7 kilos. i looked like a little piggy until my sisters told me that it was enough. i lost all of those extra-kilos by going to a dietitician, but my body tells me very often 'mmh that burger at midnight looks so much like a good idea!!'

  • Nessie

    I am amazed by this article and how it puts the superfood phenomenon in prospective. I would say the most important thing is keeping a varied and balanced diet consisting mostly of organic, local and seasonal foods; it just seem most logical. I also think it's not too healthy overthinking your diet as - like pointed out in this article - all foods have their pros and cons, therefore quality and variety should be the keys, as well as listening to your own body and giving it the foods that do you good, as we are all different and have different metabolisms.

  • Chel

    Quinoa? Have they found anything bad about it yet??

    • Teresa

      Look up "quinoa sustainability".

  • olivia

    O M G I totally get where you're coming from. I've been obsessed with reading about nutrition for years and have gone on an obsessive journey trying through the vegan/no carb/paleo/PUFAS are the devil diet to the point where I've given up. Eat fresh food mostly, avoid processed food and stick to foods eaten in traditional diets. Oh, and moderation, the all-or-nothing approach left me with an eating disorder so I'm more relaxed now :D ... there is no such thing as the perfect diet.

  • anonymous

    I eat most of my meals out at restaurants (smile, select, gitane, etc etc etc those kinds of places) My method is to keep the majority of my plate green, if not all. If I have a meat I like to keep it on the light side, mostly seafood. a lot of the time i end up putting a bunch of sides together. and that works well for me.

    Thinking about my orders... i eat a ton of:

    work day: yogurt, granola (sometimes), fruit.
    weekend: eggs, arugula salad
    Always a strong coffee

    sushi, summer rolls, watercress or field greens salad, lentil or split pea soup

    nuts or citrus fruit

    avocado, asparagus, beets, zucchini, carrots, salmon, octopus, branzino, kale, baby greens, bib lettuce, tomatoes, hummus, crucifers

    if i want dessert ill get it. I drink a lot of water. I drink a lot of coffee. alcohol: i just make sure I don't go overboard.

    not opposed to juicing, but not a worshiper either. sometimes Ill do an impromptu day cleanse with OA. if I feel like it would help. if I'm in a mindset where that would feel like a deprivation, I don't do it.

    I've been trying to pay attention to how I feel after i eat certain foods and altering what/how much I eat based on that. my philosophy is stay balanced and pay attention to how my body responds to food. It feels like the most simple, straight forward approach for me. I've gotten really stressed out trying to follow extreme takes on dieting and in the end have never been able to sustain cutting out food groups etc/ that kind of lifestyle.

  • Gabrielle RoseBonniee

    Mmmm, yummy ♥ Lovely photos. Nice post :)

    ℓα ℒιcσrηe - ℒa vie est ℓa petite ℓicorne.

  • Ollie

    I think that everybody is different in terms of their nutritional needs. However, I believe that there are a few constants. I have come to the conclusion, for myself, that by reducing animal products to a miniscule amount and cutting out dairy, I have created a sustainable way of eating. My cravings have greatly diminished and I truly have more energy. Day to day, I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, and for dinner I have a cooked meal of corn, potatoes, or other grains. I eat high carb and as of yet (9 months) I have had no blood sugar problems or triglyceride complications because I keep it low fat. I do supplement with B12, even meat eaters can have B12 deficiencies, you know. I don't feel restricted because I eat as much as I want. I love it.

  • Sarah Esler

    Moderation is the key to a healthy life. People are looking for quick-fixes with their 'cleanses' and 'detoxes' but they are also desperately trying to be in control of their lives, of their mortality. I'm currently doing my medical internship and I meet a lot of people who, because of their diets, get ill (high protein, low fat, cleanses, junk food addicts). The truth is, your body needs a mixture of nutriments to function efficiently - if you lack something like iron, HDL or even sodium, you will get sick.
    There is a simple rule of thumb to be healthier: stop worrying, stop stressing and fussing. Eat varied, fresh produce, avoid (heavily) processed foods. Exercise is also an important part of being healthy, no need to take up some extravagant gym membership, you can walk, jog or cycle. Culture and entertainment are also an important part of a healthy lifestyle; depression can often lead to binge eating and a weakened immune system.
    It's not about wether broccolis are healthier than bananas, it's about finding that balance your body needs to function at its best. It might mean you need to cut gluten because you suffer from celiac disease, but to cut a whole food group simply because anecdotal evidence suggest that it might help boost your energy, enable you to loose weight or even treat autism is not only unhealthy, it's dangerous.

  • Tajna

    I make my own kombucha which is like a miracle pill for digestion.Also dandelion greens are great.Due to so much processed food and lack of exercise,Americans have bad digestion.Add fiber and try to walk at lead 30 minutes a day.My standby breakfast for travel (when digestion really gets messed up) :oatmeal with flax seeds,goji and blueberries,hemp seeds (for protein) and cinnamon.All ingredients come dried and therefore are easily packable.Also bringing individual packets of protein and green drinks are great because they never give you enough vegetables in airport food.
    Wild caught salmon is such a superfood as well,I love to season it with miso,lemon juice and ginger.Lemon water first thing in the morning is a fantastic alkalizer.Ginger is great for digestion and inflammation.Raw cacao is full of magnesium which helps your muscles to relax.I make my own raw cacao treats by melting raw cacao butter,adding a bit of coconut palm sugar and coconut oil and freezing it in silicone molds.
    Once in a while I have a little bread but don't buy it because it's too easy to overeat.I have a sample piece of whole grain fig walnut rye at the farmer's market and that's enough for me.I used to make my own rye bread but it's time consuming and too delectable to have around.

  • Desirée Pais

    I nearly have a psychotic breakdown every time I go into Whole Foods, something that seems like a fantastic idea on my walk there but then turns into a horror movie as I begin to fear everything I lay my eyes on. I try to stick with five tips to get through quickly to the checkout line, with my groceries and sanity in tact : EAT SEASONAL (don't drink cold juices in the winter and wonder why 7 layers of clothing and a space heater between your crotch isn't warming you up), EAT LOCAL (even though pineapples can be shipped to NY in a day, that's not quite local...), EAT ORGANIC (adios, pesticides), EAT SLOWLY ( - our stomachs don't have teeth as we like to think), EAT MODERATELY (thanksgiving comes once a year, not once a day). And by god, have that cookie it's an emergency. (For seasonal tips, check out my short post here:

  • kath

    In my honest opinion, I don't think that most foods are good for EVERYONE, because each person's body, has a different PH, and different health issues.

    What I've been doing with my diet, is, I've been doing a lot of research on my particular health issue: recurring sinusitis, and ive found, its best to eat foods high in antioxidants, that lower inflammation, and to stay away from dairy and nightshades. Thats been working for me, bit someone may thrive on a completely different diet. I think the important thing is to eat foods that wont make you feel icky, headachy, or overly tired. Sometimes its hard to isolate trigger foods. Keeping a journal often helps.