There are six foods which you really should avoid as much as you can in order to have a body and mind that works optimally. Minimising these foods will give you more energy and also help you to keep off excess fat.
- 1. Sugars
I have to put this as number one as it is the most toxic of all and is the most important thing to eliminate from your life. Sugars have very little nutritional value and mess with your body’s hormonal system causing many negative side effects.
In talking about sugars, I should identify the four different types- glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose. The worst of these is fructose, which is not naturally produced by our body and can only be digested in small amounts, such as what you might find in fruit.
The fructose which isn’t digested by our body gets stored as fat, and can lead to all sorts of diseases. Not to mention that fructose is a highly addictive substance! This makes it all the more difficult to cut sugars out of our lives, compounded by the fact that sugars can be found in practically everything!
Obviously things like biscuits, cakes, ice cream, candies and pastries are loaded with sugar. However, did you know that sugars can be disguised on labels as agave nectar, brown sugar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrates and many other terms? Sugars can also be found in many pre-made sauces, cereals, juices and snacks (especially anything that has ‘low-fat’ written on it). Scary, right?
And before you ask about fresh fruit, you don’t need to avoid what I call nature’s candy. But, you will want to cut out dried fruits, and eat the following fresh fruits in smaller quantities: apples, pears, cherries, and grapes. When eating fruit, I recommend eating fruit along with protein as this helps with healthy absorption and limit fruit to twice a day (I usually eat fruit as part of my smoothie for breakfast and in the late afternoon before I work out).
- 2. Gluten
Awareness about gluten has grown in recent years, but you don’t have to be a celiac disease sufferer to be wary about this food. When I read the book Wheat Belly I was amazed to learn how gluten has contributed to so many modern illnesses and conditions.
Just to clarify exactly what gluten is; it is the protein that plants build into their seeds (grains) to support the next generation of plants. While all grains contain gluten, our bodies cannot break down the gluten contained in wheat, rye and barley because their composition is too tight. Over time, because our digestive system cannot break down the bacteria from gluten, it builds up in our system, causes inflammation of the intestines and eventually erodes the lining of the stomach. This can lead to issues with our immunity and can trigger autoimmune diseases.
Gluten intolerance or sensitivity doesn’t just affect the stomach or intestines- it can also affect your skin, gallbladder, liver, or any other living tissue on the body.
One of the reasons that gluten is affecting us more now in modern society is because the wheat we are eating is hybridised to the point where all vitamins, minerals and fibre is taken out of it (especially in white flour and white bread). Because the wheat is so refined through processing, the gluten in it is stickier, thicker, stretchier and more elastic and the human digestive system simply cannot break it down.
Effectively ‘gluten’ means ‘glue’ and unless you would eat glue, then I urge you to cut out gluten from your diet. Like any intolerance to food, pay special attention to your fatigue levels after eating bread, pasta or anything with wheat in it. You need to start reading your labels very carefully as gluten is another product like sugar that can be hidden in many things you might not expect, such as condiments and sauces.
If you feel consistently tired, that’s probably a sign that gluten is doing damage to your body. If you continue eating it, eventually you will start to cause permanent damage. It might not be in your stomach, it might be chronic fatigue or headaches or arthritis.
I avoid eating gluten as much as I can and I have noticed considerable changes to the way I feel. When I do accidentally (or sometimes I just decide I want to eat something with gluten and choose to knowing the consequences!) I end up with a bloated belly and brain fog- urgh. Try cutting it out and see if there is a change to how you feel.
- 3. Dairy
Do you realize that you have been brainwashed all these years into thinking that dairy is a vital food to have every day? I am here to tell you that dairy is not something you need to be healthy, and in fact, in might be causing you more harm than good.
I could write a whole blog post about why drinking milk is bad for us (hey, maybe I will!) so I will try to abbreviate my rant in this article.
Firstly, dairy contains lactose, a substance that many people are intolerant to, and which causes intestinal pain and gas. In The China Study, Colin Campbell links casein, the protein found in dairy, to creating and promoting cancer growth.
Milk is actually a substance that is designed for baby cows to drink- did you know that humans are the only species on Earth that consume the mother’s milk of anther animal? Not to mention that these days, on dairy farms, cattle are pumped with hormones and antibiotics in order to produce large quantities of milk, and these go straight into the milk that people drink! Do you still want to drink that stuff?
It is a myth that we need to drink milk to meet our calcium needs- we can find higher levels of calcium in leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli than we do in dairy milk, and these days, there are so many healthy milk alternatives such as soy and milk made from nuts and seeds, that there really is no need to drink the moo juice.
- 4. Salt
Don’t get me wrong, our body does need salt. It has all sorts of functions, including having important roles in regulating blood pressure, proper functioning of the nervous system and brain cells, metabolism, and digestion. However, with the increased use of refined salts (table salt), our bodies are becoming depleted of the essential nutrients found in natural salt.
This is because refined salts are dried at over 1,200 degrees, bleached and chemically cleaned leaving them void of any minerals and essential nutrients such as magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium. As our body cannot use this salt, it builds up as deposits in our organs and tissues causing severe health issues, the most devastating being high blood pressure, the number one cause of heart disease and stroke; even greater than smoking!
So take my advice and limit the use of salt considerably. This means you need to be wary when eating out because restaurants use a lot of refined salt to make food taste great. This is why I say try to cook at home as often as possible. When cooking at home, I recommend using herbs and spices in addition to a little healthy salt, to get flavour. When I use salt I use unrefined Himalayan salt or pink rock salt as these are the healthiest salts which still contain all the useful minerals and haven’t been overly processed.
- 5. Vegetable Oils
These oils are highly refined and heated (hydrogenated) at very high temperatures which kills the minerals and nutrients that were once present in the oils. Vegetable oils cause inflammation in your body, which raises risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and arthritis.
When using oil, I prefer to use coconut oil, as it has a high smoke point for cooking, and it also tastes great. If using olive oil or grape seed oil, also great for salad dressings (don’t cook with these oils!), make sure you are using Extra Virgin First Cold Pressed oils. ‘Virgin’ or ‘Extra Virgin’ means that the olive or grape seed was squeezed only once to derive the oil extract. Cold pressed means that the oil wasn’t heated and so its natural essential minerals and nutrients are still alive. But remember that oils are still oils and high in fat, so use them sparingly.
- 6. Processed Foods
Eating a clean, whole foods diet is really the way to go for optimal health. It kind of goes without saying that most processed foods are junk! Processed foods count as anything in a box, packet, can or carton that contains more than 1 ingredient. Some ingredients lists are so long and incomprehensible that I consider some foods a “non-food” as there is nothing real about them.
Processed foods are the biggest culprits when it come to containing the 5 foods listed above. They also often contain other nasty preservative and additives. The additives that enhance flavor and extend shelf life actually alter your taste buds so you develop an addiction to fat, sugar and salt. Also, when food is processed, important nutrients in the food are lost (including fibre). There may also be hidden ingredients that are not labeled, especially when coming from other countries where labeling is not required. Lastly, processed foods are often over packaged which puts extra strain on our environment, so choose your grocery items consciously for you and for the world we live in. Choose fresh whenever you can for tastier and healthier food.
Remember that food is meant to be nourishing to our bodies and provide us with adequate calories as well as vitamins, minerals and nutrients that keep us healthy. It might seem difficult to avoid these foods all the time, but just try your best and remember that when you treat your body well, it treats you well back!
- What do you think? Are these easy or difficult for you to avoid every day?