Navigating Your Local Health Food Store
By Michael Sharp | September 5th, 2017
Health food stores; a great way to shop for an array of healthy options ranging from foods, to beauty/cosmetic products, and supplements. Although health food stores are a great outlet to purchase many different health focused products, many of us most likely go to a health food store without a clue of what to look for and may end up spending a lot of money on items that may not be as good as we think for our health. Trust me, as a Holistic Nutritionist who has spent a great deal of time working in a health food store environment, I see many individuals partake in this daily.
In order to help people understand these stores a little better, this blog will be focused on giving you some easy to follow tips on how to best navigate the three main sections of most health food stores; the supplement section, the food section, and the beauty/cosmetic section.
1. The Supplement Section:
The backbone of a health food store is usually the supplement section. Supplements are natural products that could help support the functioning of the body in many different aspects. There are hundreds of different categories of supplements, all supporting a different part or function of the body, making it very difficult without the professional guidance of a qualified Holistic Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor to know exactly which one of these plentiful number of products we may need. It is very common for an individual to go into the supplement section of their local health food store and walk away with an armful of products simply because they think these are good for them, and this is where the issue lies. Although these are ‘natural’ products and are considered to be good for you, certain supplements may not be necessary for your unique needs and therefor may be a waste of time and money to supplement with.
How to solve this issue: If you are not seeking the guidance of a qualified Holistic Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor, I would suggest approaching your stores supplement section with a few “essentials” in mind. Essential supplements are products that could support the general health and wellness of the body regardless of unique nutritional needs. These supplements could include a probiotic, an omega 3 fish oil, a multivitamin and mineral, and a digestive enzyme. If you are looking to support specific health symptoms you are experiencing, it would be good to consult one of the health food stores staff as most stores have a nutritionist who can provide you with informed suggestions.
2. The Food Section:
The food section of the health food store is where you will find a great deal of food options that are usually healthier than what you would typically find in a grocery store. But do not be fooled, just because the food sold in a health food store is considered to be ‘healthy’ does not mean that every kind of food sold there is exactly good for you. It is not uncommon to find a ‘health food’ that has a few nasty ingredients hiding in the ingredients label such as refined sugar, low quality oils like canola, or a few additives or preservatives.
How to solve this issue: Always pay attention to the ingredients list of a food product regardless if it is being sold in a health food store or not. Try your best to steer clear of the products containing regular refined sugar, products listing the blanket term of ‘vegetable oil’ or that contain low quality oil like canola, synthetic food coloring, and common preservatives like nitrates and nitrites, sulfites, BHT, BHA, or sodium benzoate.
3. The Beauty/Cosmetic Section:
There are two distinct issues with the beauty/cosmetic section of most health food stores; the first is that a large quantity of these more ‘natural’ options are still laden with unbeneficial chemical ingredients and fillers that make up 90% of the product making it fairly ineffective, and the second is that because companies are using unique ingredients to make their products, a consumer may not be used to the qualities of them such as their thickness, effectiveness, ability to foam, how they feel on the skin, and their duration of effectiveness.
How to solve this issue: Pay close attention to the ingredients list of your beauty/cosmetic product of interest. Make sure that the first and or second ingredient of your product is not aqua/water or aloe juice. This may mean that your product is around 90% water or aloe juice, and who really wants to pay a pretty penny for that. Also, ensure that your product is not filled with hidden chemicals and other unbeneficial ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, PEG, BHA, BHT, synthetic colors/dyes, aluminum, sodium lauryl sulphate, and propylene glycol to name some. In addition to this, be an informed natural consumer by reading reviews from real people testing a natural product your interested in so that you are not completely disappointed or surprised by its qualities or ineffectiveness.
Although a health food store can be hard to navigate, these stores are supporting healthy living and it is important that we in turn support them by continuing to give them business. Following these simple tips can make you a pro health food store shopper in no time and have you transforming your own health as well!
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Keep on living holistic,
Michael Sharp, CNP.
DISCLAIMER: The information listed above is for educational purposes and discussion of general health information only. The information, opinions, ideas, and suggestions listed above are in no way intended to diagnose disease/health issues or act as a treatment for disease/health issues and is not to act as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Before taking part in any natural or alternative approach to health, these approaches should be reviewed by your doctor for approval especially if there are existing health conditions and if prescribed and or pharmaceutical medication is being taken due to the potential for interactions between medications and any natural approaches to health.