12 Foods you should never eat
The foods listed therein will help you make up your mind about the worst foods you should avoid. But, it is no way exhaustive. By keeping this list in the back of your mind, you will experience more freedom in your food choices rather than limitation. So concentrate on foods that are good for you, rather the negative. Understanding the food to avoid, and why, you will naturally start to avoid such foods without even realising.
1. Table Salt:
Commercial salt is a highly-refined, chemically synthesised version of a great food enhancer, and mineral, with added anti-caking agents (talc), which also often contain aluminium and fluoride. It is no longer related to the naturally occurring salts, which are a combination of many different essential trace minerals.
Table salt goes through several drying processes (manufacturers use additives and very extreme heat), stripping it from all that is good within, including the minerals and the naturally occurring iodine. To replace the lost iodine manufacturers add potassium iodide (potentially to toxic levels). Salt is then stabilise with dextrose, which turns the salt purple. To make it white again, the salt is bleached to a pure snow white powder. It is now pure sodium chloride.1
Table salt is known to increase the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.2
Alternatives: use salt flower (often collected manually, these little crystals form at the surface fo the bed and are the best form of salts), grey sea salt, also known as Celtic salt, or Himalayan pink salt, although make sure it is not from dynamite-extracted mines, which are known to carelessly destroy the environment.
There are many health benefits from using a little sea salt in cooking processes.
Just what it is needed to enhance the flavours and do not place a salt shaker on the table. This creates bad habits.
2. Artificial Sweeteners and sugar alcohols:
Despite being labelled as safe by food agencies, many people who use artificial sweeteners regularly may exceed an intake to toxic levels.3, 4, 5
Sugar alcohols are no better. They include erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Often marketed as natural, these sweeteners are the result of intense processing, and in countries such as the US and other (consumer unprotected) countries, they may also be derived from GMO corn.
Evidence suggests that they are linked to allergies, SIBO-related symptoms, neurotoxic, and much more.6
Alternatives: Cut sugar as much as possible from your diet. Add dates or chopped soft-dried figs, or blitzed into a paste, to sweeten cakes and biscuits if you are looking for a special treat.
You can also use a touch of raw Organic honey or 100% maple syrup.
Many health advisers also recommend monk fruit, a cousin of the squash and cucumber, which is naturally up to x400 times sweeter than cane sugar and presents many health benefits, exhibiting anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiallergic effects.7
Unprocessed stevia is also a good alternative. Buy the leaves, whole, rather than highly-processed powders.
3. Vegetable/Seed Oils:
Vegetable oils, also called seed oils, are another example of highly-refined foods.
Often, these oils are partly-hydrogenated so that they are less likely to spoil and, therefore, can be stored for longer. “Some meat and dairy products contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat. But most trans fat is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature.” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017)8
Trans fat not only extend the shelf life of seed oils but also stabilise the flavour of food to which seed oils are added. For this reason, most ready-made meals, snack bars and processed food contain trans fat.9
Not only they are pro-inflammatory because of the high content of Omega-6s (Arachidonic Acid), and contribute to pain and inflammatory conditions, but they dangerously increase the risk of heart disease (raise LDL and lower HDL, which leads to plaque buildup in arteries).
Alternatives: First cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil in small quantities, used pure in salad or homemade dressings. Extra-virgin (raw) coconut oil for cooking. Avoid pasteurised, flavourless versions for they have loss their unique therapeutic properties.
4. Margarines and Spreads:
Made using trans fat, margarine/spreads, like artificial sweeteners, are the most deceptive products to hit store shelves in history. Marketed as a better alternative to butter for the heart because they do not contain saturated fat or cholesterol, but they are as pro-inflammatory than the highly-refined seed oils they are made from.
Alternative: ghee and grass-fed butter, coconut butter.
5. Soy Protein and other non-fermented Soy products:
Soy has been a very disputable topic for several decades, following many studies conducted in the Far East. Such studies revealed soy has many benefits; however, researchers also concluded that the benefit of soy depend from how early in life we are exposed to it.
Sadly the soy products used in these studies are not those found on our supermarket shelves. What we buy in the Western parts of the world is a long-life substitute to fermented soy, which has no benefit whatsoever.
The other main issue in countries where GMOs find their way in the stores is most soy and soy products are made using GMO soy — grown to survive glyphosphate (round-up) — and are known to contain very high levels of this deadly herbicide.10
Another reason why some people should avoid soy and soy products are for the very high level of phytates and lectins, which can damage the gut lining and prevent the assimilation of many key nutrients; hence why they are also called anti-nutrients.
Lastly, soy has mild oestrogenic effect and this can exacerbate the symptoms of the oestrogen dominance syndrome (greater risk for breast cancer, endometrial cancer, cystic fibrosis), and also deeply affect the thyroid of people with hormone imbalance.11, 12
The side effects of soy can be greatly intensified when added to processed food, usually labelled as “soy protein isolate”, a very concentrated powder of highly processed soy.
Alternatives: Choose fermented soy products from trusted sources such as tempeh, natto12 and also miso soup. The advantage of the fermentation process is to deactivate the phytic acid and lectins. (If you are in regions known to sell GMO products, select Organic versions only)
Coconut aminos (or sweet teriyaki coconut aminos) or organic liquid aminos are great and tasty alternatives to soy sauce. If you are looking to replace your soy protein powder, why not opting for grass-fed organic bone broth powder instead.
6. Non-Organic products:
Many produce are best consumed local, in season and Organic: to increase your chance to eat fresh and sun-ripped fruits and vegetables and to reduce the risk of toxicity from pesticides, some of which have been banned for decades but are still present (bio-accumulable) in the soil and water system. Synthetic fertilisers are also known to pollute our drinking water.
* spinach contain more pesticide residues than any other other crops, including DDT (banned neurotoxic insecticides)
✢often GMO in some countries, better chose Organic
✪ may contain up to 20 different pesticide residues, banked #1 on the list
Better choice: chose organic whenever possible, especially in countries known to sell GMOs. If you cannot afford or not able to to buy all of your food Organic, then, exclusively buy each produce listed in the “Dirty Dozen” from Organic sources.
If possible grown your own.
7. Refined ”white“ foods:
Most grains, salt, sugar, and vegetable oils, fall into this "alien" category. Starting with a raw naturally-occurring ingredient, manufacturers use several processes to strip all that is good in nature, anything, in fact, to make a produce appear white: white rice, white flour, white pasta, white bread, white salt, are some examples. Refined vegetable oils are also the result of extreme heat extraction and/or the use of solvents.
Lacking fibre, micronutrients, antioxidants and other compounds known for their positive effects on our health, refined foods offer nothing the body needs and can use, just pure “empty” calories, known to have a multitude of side-effects and to contribute to the obesity and chronic diseases pandemic.
Alternatives: Always chose brown foods (brown rice, brown flour, brown/grain-free pasta, brown sourdough bread).
8. Highly-processed foods:
While highly-refined foods are stripped from all that is good in nature, highly-processed foods are usually the result of many manufacturing processing, which may include chopping, mixing, blending, high temperature, trans fat, and may also include highly-refined ingredients such as sugar, salt, vegetable oils (often altogether). To promote a longer shelf-life, and consistency in colour/texture/etc., highly-processed foods also contain additives, preservatives, colouring, and taste enhancers, which are known for their pronounced side-effects in sensitive people.
Alternative: Cook your meals from scratch and avoid ready-made meals. It is never too late to learn to cook. Many books and bloggers offer recipes requiring 20 minutes or less to prepare (www.exquisiteprivatechef.co.uk).
9. Canned foods:
Often referred as tin food, we would expect these to be, in fact, made of tin or metal. Indeed they are; however, they are lined with plastic, often BPA, and some acidic foods may break down the plastic and expose the metal. Subsequently, excessive levels of BPA and metal residues can be found in the food.
Acidic foods include tomato (in juice, chopped), tomato sauce (or food cooked in tomato sauce, e.g. baked beans), tomato paste/purée.
Any canned food will contain BPA residue in various levels. BPA interacts with oestrogen receptors. Bio-accumulable, its toxic effect include increased risk of endocrine disorders, infertility, PCOS, breast/prostate cancer…14
Alternative: Avoid canned food and, if really necessary, buy from glass jars instead.
10. Microwaved popcorn:
Why microwaved popcorn would be such an issue? Isn’t corn popped in pan using a little butter or oil in a matter of minutes? Well, apparently, this is so passé. Manufacturers are here to sell us stuff that are supposed to make our life easier, or make us lazier, whichever you think is more applicable. But popcorn can now be made in a microwave in seconds. Isn’t it wonderful?
Not quite… if you realise how toxic it may be. In Europe, most people still feel a deep connection with food (although, fast disappearing) and might not be the best market for microwaved popcorn, but in cities where the idea of a fully-fitted kitchen is a sink, one electric ring and a microwave, it may be a certainty that popcorn will definitely come out hot from a bag, either bought popped or popped in the microwave. In the US, there may be very little chance that the corn used is not GMO (containing traces of pesticides as discussed already). Manufacturers would never waste money so alternatives have to be created, and as such butter is not an option. Instead, they use a synthesised fake-butter called diacetyl. Often found in processed foods as an additive and flavouring, its side-effects can be dramatic, since it is pneumotoxic (inflammation, obstruction and restriction in the distal respiratory tract).15
Another issue it the bag itself. The microwavable bag is coated with nonstick perfluorochemicals (PFOS/PFOA), a chemical, also used in the process of making teflon, that is linked to cancer. PFOA has the potential to be a health concern because it is bio-persistent (it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time), and, therefore, may become bio-accumulable.16, 17
The last thing to mention about corn in general is that, unbeknown to most people, corn contains gluten, a core protein identical to those found in other grains, including wheat. The gluten molecule in corn may differ from the gluten found in wheat but the action on the gut is similar in more than one way and a multitude of people are becoming more and more sensitive to it, for — like wheat — we are consuming too much of it, all of the time, without actually being aware of it, as it can be found in many processed foods (including non-dairy milks).
Best alternative: Pop your own corn. It is fun and effortless. Melt a little grass-fed butter or coconut oil, and add the kernels. Shake the pan from time to time to prevent the kernels from burning and to let the steam escape. Flavour your popcorn as you wish. Sprinkle a little salt and cayenne pepper for a delicious savoury snack, or sprinkle a touch of icing sugar for a bit of sweetness.
11. Farmed & “exotic” fish:
Another “creation” resulting from the offer and demand belief. Fish farms supplies very cheap fish, and people who could not afford wild-caught fish can now enjoy fish on their menu. The reason why such fish is sold cheaper is that it requires very little investment. No need for big boats, tons of petrol, and entire crews. All is required are a minuscule portion of the sea, big nets and feeding powder, to actually feed the fish since it cannot swim away to get its own food. The issue is that farms are now using a fraction of anchovies or other fish18, since stocks have been dramatically reduced to extinction. Instead, like any mass-farming truth, the fish are fed with grains and a protein soup to make them grow faster and become heavier. Fish is still sold by weight. It is not about producing quality fish, but quantities. The more fish a farm can produce the more lucrative the business. However, it is very important to understand that the fish are packed together, swimming in their own waste, food particles, actively helping the proliferation of bacteria, fungus, and lice. For this reason, the fish is also fed with antibiotics (and/or pesticides) to prevent the stock from being killed by disease. This is not only an issue for us at the top of the food chain, but to other fish in the open sea, which can be contaminated by the hundred of thousands of escaped fish.19
Dioxin, another bio-persistent pollutant, may be up to 11 times higher in farmed salmon than in the wild and may have disastrous side-effects in some people20, 21 and may be a cause of insulin resistance22 (higher risk of weight gain and type-2 diabetes).
To bypass many of the inconveniences of mass-farming, a new breed of genetically engineered salmon will now make it to your fish stall in countries where GMOs are allowed.23 A very controversial affair, since there is no proof the benefits outweigh the potential ecological disaster.24
“Exotic” fish include tilapia, Chilean seabass, basa, swai (and other fish labelled as catfish), and grouper, to just name a few. Tilapia has been branded as the worse fish in the planet and may be worse than eating bacon because of its long chain of pro-inflammatory omega-6.25
Chilean sea bass is a pure marketing invention.26 Most stock do not originate form the coast of Chile and the fish is not quite related to seabass but more to monkfish and cod. Its real name is Patagonian toothfish, a fish found in the depth of the sea. In the fight to collect all the fish in the sea, fishermen have to fish deeper and deeper to access the highly shrinking richness of the sea, and this is why new species find their way to our plate. And, because of its exorbitant price this fish is now heavily poached. The relatively low reproductive rate and late age at maturation cause this species to be even more vulnerable.27, 28
Basa, Swai and other fish often labelled as catfish (or very often illegally as other more noble fish29), which, in fact, are more likely to be a fish called pangasius, considered the filthiest fish in the sea. Aside from destroying important river life and wetlands, this fish factory farming method results in fish swimming in waste and sludge. They’re also treated with a broad range of antibiotics, in addition to pesticides and disinfectants30,31, 32 may also pose a risk for people with histamine intolerance.33 Most fish is also contaminated by vibriobacteria, which present a greater risk when eating raw or undercooked.33
Grouper, Shark, Swordfish, Tuna, king mackerel, and other predatory fish are not recommended for their high level of mercury. Positioned at the top of the food chain, mercury accumulates and the older the fish the higher the risk for contamination, and recommendations (for men) are to not exceed one serving a month for swordfish.34, 35, 36 Most of these fish are highly vulnerable to overfishing and their population near collapse.34, 35, 36, 37
Prawns (or shrimps) are most often than not from farms and due to their mass-production, they are quite likely to be contaminated by pesticide residues, such as fomaldehyde (formalin) or organophosphate, neurotoxic.32, 38
Plus, to spare prawns from predators, fish are all killed beforehand37, and, what’s more? Prawns are packed with a food additive: 4-hexylresorcinol, to prevent discolouration, which possesses oestrogen-like effects. This newly classified xenoestrogen could reduce sperm count in men and increase breast cancer risk in women.32, 39, 40
“On average, an intensive shrimp operation only lasts for seven years before the level of pollution and pathogens within the pond reaches a point where shrimp can no longer survive.”38
“It’s clear farmed shrimp is unhealthy and unsustainable. It takes up to 2.8 pounds of wild fish to produce just one pound of industrial shrimp!"32
Alternatives: The recommendation is perhaps to eat less fish but eat better fish such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon and shrimp, Mediterranean seabass and sea bream, sardines, and Atlantic mackerel. Albacore tuna (also sold in glass jar with spring water) and black cod are extremely rich in omega-3, even though they contain moderate amounts of mercury they should still be part of a health diet.
12. “LOW-fat” food:
For decades we’ve been told to avoid fats and to favour low-fat or non-fat products instead.41 This would have been the greatest advice in history if it wasn’t supported by biased research, absurd in the details, and yet, governmental associations have taken that study on board — the world around — and have spread misinformation since it has been established that sugar is now the number 1 enemy.
The issue as well with low-fat processed foods and low-fat dairy products is that they are often laden with sugar, trans-fats and have a similar calorie count to the original product if not exceeding it greatly,41 a potent factor for type-2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.42 Also, because of the high-sugar and low-fat content, the brain keeps sending signals it is not getting all of the required nutrients — added to the greater fluctuation in blood sugar levels —, alternatively leading to snacking and a much higher caloric intake.
A 2016 study published in The American Journal of Nutrition makes a strong case low-fat dairy products. The study used more than 18,000 women and revealed that the ones who consumed more full-fat dairy were 8 % less likely to be overweight or obese compared to the low-fat dairy group.43
Also non-organic dairy products are pro-inflammatory due to the higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, another risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome.44
Best options: Reduce bad fat intake and incorporate good fat in your diet, remove highly-refined vegetable/seed oils and saturated fats from conventionally-raised animals, and replace these with healthier-type of fats, including grass-fed Organic butter, raw coconut oil and other coconut products, first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and MCT oil. These help stabilise blood sugar, balance hormones, and keep you full between meals.45
If you are able to digest dairy products, make sure to exclusively choose Organic. Research shows organic milk has a much healthier fat profile due to an exclusive grass diet: “Averaged over 12 months, organic milk contained 25% less ω-6 fatty acids and 62% more ω-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher ω-6/ω-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk (5.77 vs. 2.28).”46
Raw (unpasteurised) milk is also more nutritious compared to pasteurised milk. The latter is exposed to extreme heat to kill bacteria and other toxins, pus from mammary infection (mastitis), the number 1 cause of disease in cows, and the number 1 cause of antibiotics in conventionally-raised cattle47; but also destroys the enzyme necessary to digest lactose.42
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Registered Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Iridologist, Lecturer, NLP practitioner and Personal Performance Coach.
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