Top 10 Toxic Foods
We live in a toxic world…the toxic food that we eat, the water that we drink, the air that we breathe, and the negative thoughts that we commonly think all add to the toxic burden that our bodies have to deal with on a daily basis. A great quote I recently ran across says it nicely… “Our bodies do not need help healing, they just don’t need interference.”
The following list of Top 10 Toxic Foods provides dietary guidelines to integrate into your lifestyle for overall improved health, brain function, detoxification, hormone regulation, and weight-loss. I do not believe that there is one specific diet that is right for every person; however, making these shifts in eating habits decreases inflammation in the body, which is at the root of most modern disease. Avoiding these toxic foods will jumpstart the healing of any health condition at the cellular level.
1: Grains (Even Whole Grains!)
Did you know that eating two slices of whole grain bread raises blood sugar just as much as drinking a 12 ounce can of soda? Grain products such as bread, pasta, and crackers quickly turn into sugar in the body and promote inflammation at the cellular level. When cellular function is compromised due to chronic systemic inflammation, cells cannot communicate well with each other and vital hormones become unbalanced causing weight gain and a host of other ailments.
Grains also contain anti-nutrients, the plant’s innate self-defense mechanisms, which make grains very difficult for humans to digest and assimilate. Eating exclusively “whole” grains does not solve the problem either. Although whole grains contain some fiber, vitamins and minerals, they are very high in a sugar called amylose. Amylose drives cellular inflammation by spiking blood sugar, which is the same reaction that occurs after consuming non-whole processed grains. Perhaps most importantly, the majority of grains today are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The genetic modification of grains causes the denaturing of proteins and carbohydrates to the point that the body no longer recognizes them as foods. The immune system then creates an inflammatory reaction in response to these denatured foods, which creates an ideal environment in the body for illness to arise. Grains are not the healthy food that people think they are, and should be avoided for optimal health
2: Vegetable Oils
Scary fact: the half-life of trans fats (a partially hydrogenated vegetable oil), found in foods like french fries, is 51 days. This means that after 51 days, only half of the negative effects of this man-made fat have been processed by the body. An additional 51 days (totaling 102 days) are needed to remove the majority of this toxic fat. Makes you think twice before downing that plate of fries, eh? Man-made fats like hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, and trans fats are often used to extend the shelf life of foods. These bad fats have replaced natural, good fats, and are found in many foods today due to their low cost. These oils denature very easily, since they are sensitive to heat and light, and are likely rancid before they make their way into your kitchen or restaurant meal. Vegetable oils cause cellular congestion, and are a huge health concern due to their wide-spread and excessive consumption. These oils are linked to chronic inflammation, and may even lead to cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neurotoxic syndrome, chronic fatigue, and other serious diseases. But the solution is simple: remove the bad fats and replace them with good fats such as organic butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, and hemp oil. Good fats are the number one most lacking nutrient in the modern American diet, and are essential to hormone production, decreasing inflammation, and yes, even weight loss.
3: Refined Sugar
If you want to age faster than anyone in your neighborhood, simply raise your blood sugar by eating plenty of refined sugar. Refined sugar unnaturally spikes and elevates levels of glucose and the hormones insulin and leptin. Prolonged spiking and elevation of insulin and leptin lead to insulin and leptin resistance, which means that the cells cannot hear what the hormones are telling them to do in order to function normally. This hormone resistance not only leads to premature aging, but to diabetes, heart disease, ADD, ADHD, high cholesterol, cancers, and the inability to lose weight. Consumption of refined sugar also lowers function of the immune system, and promotes systemic yeast overgrowth (called Candida), which has nasty side effects like thrush, vaginitis, fatigue, digestive issues, skin outbreaks, and more.Sugar is also an anti-nutrient, comparable to grains, and interferes with the absorption of other important nutrients. Sugar robs the body of its precious nutrient stores, and offers insignificant amounts of vitamins and minerals. Refined sugar is very toxic, and consuming it regularly will no doubt put you on the fast track to looking older than your age, and what’s worse, getting sick. To add sweetness to your diet, use stevia, which is an incredibly sweet herb native to Paraguay. The sweeteners steviosid and rebaudiosid A, extracted from the stevia plants, are 300 times sweeter than regular sugar, so you don’t need to use very much, and are not metabolized and contain no calories. Stevia is a great alternative to nasty, harmful refined white sugar.
4: Genetically Modified Foods (GMO)
GMOs are bad news. Herbicides, like glyphosate, which are sprayed on GMOs, disrupt hormone balance, kill beneficial gut bacteria, create psychological issues, impede natural detoxification, and promote obesity. Jeffrey Smith, the leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices, has shared exhaustive research documents showing how biotech companies are putting the health of society and the planet in danger by continuing to promote and produce GMO crops. The following interview shares why genetically engineered foods are destroying the health of our nation by causing numerous diseases, and the pressing need for consumers to reject GMO ingredients from their diet. To watch the interview and learn the shocking facts click here. Common genetically modified foods include corn, soy, milk, canola oil, sugar beets and wheat. To avoid GMOs when shopping, look for the Non-GMO Project’s label on food items. Also, start asking questions and stay informed! If we quit buying GMOs, they will stop being produced. Support labeling of GMO foods and vote with the almighty dollar by refusing to buy GMO foods.
5: Conventional Meat
There is an important distinction to understand between conventional meat and organic, grass-fed meat: the difference lies in the meat’s fatty acid ratio. Scientists now believe that a meat’s ratio of fatty acids, like omega 3 and omega 6, is more important than the measure of the singular fatty acids themselves. For example, cows were designed to eat grass. When fed an unnatural diet of grain, instead of grass, changes occur in the cow’s fatty acid ratio and denature the good fats into bad fats. Conventionally raised meat has fatty acid ratios which are greatly disproportionate to those of organic, grass-fed meat. When conventional meat is consumed by humans, the unbalanced fatty acid ratio contributes to a myriad of health problems, such as hormonal issues, skin conditions, Type 2 diabetes, and slower brain development and ADHD in children. Plus, hundreds of current studies link conventionally produced meats to cancer and heart disease. The bio-accumulation of commercial pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones in meats is alarming, and far higher than those found in commercial vegetables. And those feed lot operations are just plain sad. When shopping, try to stick to 100% grass-fed, organic meats, and support local farmers when possible. The meat tastes much better than conventional meat, and when purchasing quality meat you’re voting against the inhumane animal feeding operations that are wrecking the health of America.
6: Conventional Dairy
7: Chemically Produced Coffee
Stop and take note of how you feel after finishing your morning cup of joe. Do you feel energized? Is your brain super-charged? Are you ready to take on the world? If you’re feeling less than stellar, reconsidering your coffee bean choice could make all the difference in how you jump-start each day. Coffee beans are typically grown in countries that do not regulate the use of chemicals and pesticides, which coat the beans that we grind and drink daily. And most coffee sold in stores is at least eight weeks old and already stale, which greatly decreases the coffee’s beneficial free-radical fighting anti-oxidants. What’s worse, coffee beans are often covered in toxic mold, called mycotoxins, which may cause a variety of serious issues like kidney disease, brain damage and hypertension. If you must drink coffee, please make sure the coffee you are buying is USDA certified organic, mold free, and high in anti-oxidants.
8: Commercial Soy Products
So-called “health foods” such as tofu, soy milk, soy cheese, soy burgers and soy protein are not health promoting foods at all. According to the USDA, 93% of soy is genetically modified. And due to the serious dangers of consuming GMOs (see number 4 on the list) you want to avoid processed soy products as much as possible. GMO soy lurks in many processed foods under other guises such as lecithins, emulsifiers and protein powders, so always check ingredient labels to make sure to avoid this toxic ingredient.Processed soy also contains compounds called phytoestrogens, which are similar to the hormone estrogen that our bodies naturally produce. Phytoestrogens can cause hormonal, thyroid, and reproductive concerns in sensitive individuals. Soy may also drive bad estrogen metabolites, which may increase the risk of cancer development in some people. On the other hand, organic, non-GMO, fermented, soy products such as tempeh, miso, tamari, and natto can be consumed in small amounts, depending on individual tolerance. These products boast loads of beneficial cultured bacteria, which help to promote and maintain a healthy gut. Fermented foods are a vital, but hugely absent, component of the modern American diet. Try to consume fermented foods often to reap the numerous health advantages, and approach soy with caution.
9: Mercury-Filled Fish
Due to the massive contamination of our oceans, many fish are filled with toxic levels of the heavy metal mercury. And pregnant women are not the only ones who should be concerned about eating toxic fish. Mercury poisoning is no joke, and has been attributed to causing a myriad of health concerns such as neurologic conditions, anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, weight loss resistance, fatigue, etc. Avoiding certain fish can help to greatly lessen your mercury exposure. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the fish with the highest levels of mercury are Mackerel (King), Marlin, Orange Roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish, and Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi). Steer clear of these most mercury-toxic fish whenever possible. Also, beware of levels of the radioactive chemical cesium that have been detected in Pacific Ocean caught fish due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Smaller fish, like sardines and anchovies, tend to be less toxic. Know where your seafood is coming from, and stay educated.
10: “Diet” and Gluten-Free Processed Junk Foods
If you want to get fat or stay fat, keep eating and drinking the plethora of modern diet junk foods on the market today. Low-fat, low-calorie, processed “food” items are filled to the brim with chemicals, preservatives, and tons of sugar. These products are devoid of the health-promoting nutrients found in whole foods, are highly addictive, and keep you on a blood sugar roller coaster that leaves you sick, tired, and, ironically, still fat. In addition, the current gluten-free craze is adding fuel to the fire. The market is now flooded with gluten-free products, with many folks endorsing their health benefits. The problem is that these products are filled with starches from potato, rice, corn and tapioca which spike your blood sugar just as badly, if not worse, than other glutinous grains or even refined sugar. Overconsumption of these “super sugar” ingredients can end up leaving you fatter than ever. For those with a true gluten allergy, it’s wise to eat only naturally gluten-free foods like, organic, grass-fed meat and dairy, vegetables, nuts, seeds and some low-glycemic fruits. Bottom line: if you’re looking to lose weight and improve every area of your health, quit eating packaged and processed diet and gluten-free junk foods. And don’t fear fat! Fat does not make you fat! Your body’s inability to burn fat is what is making (or keeping) you fat! The body simply needs to shift from a sugar-burning mode to a fat-burning mode to lose weight and keep it off long-term. To become an efficient fat-burner you should eat plenty of healthy, good-quality fats (see number 2 on the list) and cut out grains and sugars. You will gain amazing energy, and even improve brain function by adding the right fats to your diet. Just say NO to processed “health foods” and begin changing your diet by adding in the good fats.
Now you may be wondering, “If I need to avoid these toxic foods, what should I eat?” My next article will reveal the Top 10 Healing Foods, for improved brain function, weight loss, energy, and overall enhanced health and well being. Stay tuned!
(article originally based on information from Dr. Dan Pompa)