For the most part, the majority of people I meet think they eat a healthy diet. But when I probe a little further, I easily discover that most of the unhealthy health foods people consume are some of the most popular.
I don’t blame you. There is so much confusion regarding advertising labels with buzz words like “organic,” “all natural,” and “no sugar added.” FYI, none of these words mean the product is good for you. So what are some “healthy” foods to avoid?
Table of Contents
1. Soy Protein
Despite what you may have heard, soy is not healthy. Public enemy #1 on my list of unhealthy health foods. Unfermented soy, that is. Consuming soy milk, edamame, or soy protein is quite different from Miso, Natto, tempeh and tamari.
For starters, nearly 100 percent of soy produced in the U.S. contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and have been chemically processed to repel insects “naturally.”
Secondly, the enzymes needed to digest unfermented soy are missing in most people, similar to the enzymes needed to digest lactose, leading to lactose intolerance, which will lead to gas, bloating and other gastro-intestinal issues.
Finally, it is commonly acknowledged that long-term use of soy dietary supplements like soy protein is dangerous because it has been connected to the following: (1)
- Urinary bladder cancer
- Kidney disease
- Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid)
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Breast cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- And many more…
2. Conventional Meat
This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it is not, so I will spell it out for you: Non-organic, genetically modified meat products are absolute death foods. It does not matter if it is lean or if you have trimmed off excess fat, genetically modified meat products should never be consumed. In effect, YOU are what THEY eat and if the cattle that you are cooking up for dinner is force-fed pesticide-ridden and hormone-stuffed food, then that’s what enters into your gastro-intestinal tract and what gets stored in your fat cells. This is no joke.
Like everything you buy, you need to read and reread the labels. This will help ensure you are buying safe meat. Even if it says “grass-fed,” still do your homework. The grass-fed vs. grain-fed debate still rages on and is not as clear-cut as once assumed. (2)
You should only buy meat from a reliable local source. Try to get to know the workers who grow and farm the foods you consume. It is useful to know how your food is harvested and prepared.
3. Fruit Juice
I know, this one may come as a shocker, but fruit juice (in abundance) is actually harmful. Probably the most shocking of unhealthy health foods for people to learn about. For starters, many of the varieties you will find at the grocery store have been pasteurized. This means these products are void of nutrition and have been rendered useless. The pasteurization process, which heats the juice to kill bacteria, kills the beneficial vitamins and minerals. The final product is just flavored fructose
When made fresh at home, the occasional glass of juice will do no harm. However, if consumed on a regular basis, juice can cause major spikes in your blood sugar.
Look at it like this: An 8-oz. glass of orange juice contains the juice of four full-size orange. You are consuming that juice in seconds – a few minutes at most. Contrast this with how quickly you can eat four full oranges and you will understand why God’s design for eating fruit in its whole form is best. I mean, let’s be real, how many people can eat four oranges in one sitting? Also, think about the additional calories you burn peeling, chewing and digesting the orange.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before making fruit juice a staple of your diet:
- Eating fruit versus drinking fruit juice is easier on your blood sugar levels, allowing them to climb and descend at a slower pace.
- When your blood sugar spikes, it drops off just as quickly. This causes your blood glucose levels to “crash,” which can lead to chronic fatigue and the need for another boost.
- When your blood sugar spikes and crashes, this is called hyperglycemia. Because your body is not designed to handle this level of sugar in one sitting, your insulin gets out of whack, putting undue stress on your body.
Drinking juice is a cause of obesity. When the body cannot process the extra sugar in your blood, it turns that sugar into fat.
- Even if you decide to drink your juice slower – stretching it out 30 minutes or more – you are still missing all that valuable fiber.
God designed fruit to encompass a significant quantity of soluble and insoluble fiber to help aid digestion, help us feel “full,” and to feed the probiotics in our gut. Repeatedly drinking juice deprives the body of this vital nutrient and is linked with diarrhea and other gastro intestinal concerns.
4. Farmed Fish
Farmed fish should be avoided at all costs, and it’s one of the worst unhealthy health foods out there. I have written on this subject comprehensively and tilapia is the worst. Even salmon, which many people tout as the healthy fish of choice, is poison when farmed. Farmed fish is one of the “healthy” foods to avoid.
“Why?” you ask.
Because most eat genetically modified feed and according to the non-profit watch dog organization Environmental Working Group (EWG):
“Seven of ten farmed salmon purchased at grocery stores in Washington DC, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at levels that raise health concerns, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group.” (3)
So, in essence, the farmed fish in our stores:
- Probably contain the uppermost PCB-contaminated protein source in the U.S. food supply.
- Contain up to 40 times more PCBs than other foods.
- Are 16 times more likely to contain the dioxin-like PCBs than wild-caught varieties, four times more than in beef, and 3.4 times more than in other seafood.
In addition, to PCBs and GMOs, farm-raised fish have been exposed to contain known neurotoxins and carcinogens:
- Dieldrin – Another prohibited pesticide.
- Dioxins – Industrial byproducts from waste treatment plants.
- Toxaphene – Banned pesticide since 1982.
I can’t believe we’re still talking about margarine. I was sure the “margarine myth” was laid to rest a decade ago, but alas, here we are today and margarine is still be touted as an unhealthy health foods. (4)
I want to make this as simple as possible: Margarine is not healthy. Period. Even the Mayo clinic says the margarine vs. butter race is all about fats and cholesterol:
Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains no cholesterol. Margarine is also higher in “good” fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated — than butter is. These types of fats help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol when substituted for saturated fat.
Butter, on the other hand, is made from animal fat, so it contains cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as the Mayo Clinic makes it out to be. Since its inception, margarine has been sourced from trans fats, which have a reputation for causing cardiovascular disease. In addition, trans fats have been linked to increases in type II diabetes and other severe health problems. (5)
6. Microwaved Popcorn
I cannot warn against microwave popcorn enough. Microwave popcorn is packed with carcinogens and it is not worth the added “convenience.” Even if you are eating a certified organic brand that does not contain GMOs, STOP! Why? Because microwavable bags are coated with PFOAs, a chemical that is linked to cancer. (6) Also, fake butter flavoring contains a compound called diacetyl, which causes a serious lung disease when inhaled in large quantities. (7)
So now, when you get a craving for popcorn, pop your own. It is easy. Buy plain, organic popcorn at the grocery story. Using coconut oil or organic butter, pour three tablespoons into a heavy stainless steel pan. Put two kernels in the pan and wait until one pops, then pour 1/3 cup of popcorn in the pan and cover it. Shake the pan occasionally to let the steam out. This way the popcorn does not burn. Remove from the pan when the popping stops and season as desired. Some great toppings include nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
7. Vegetable Oils
While on the topic of unhealthy health foods to avoid, I have to point out the dangers of vegetable oil, a staple in many kitchens. Just like margarine and canola oil, vegetable oil is not healthy, in any sense of the word. They are usually genetically modified, are partially hydrogenated and have been linked to: (8, 9)
- Digestive disorders
- Skin reactions
- Vision reduction
- Birth defects
- Low birth weights
- Learning disabilities
- Bone and tendon problems
- Heart disease
- Immune system impairment
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Liver problems
- Reduced growth
- Sexual dysfunction
Instead, I would recommend using cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil. But make sure it smells like coconut when you buy it, otherwise that’s a sign it has been pasteurized.
8. Artificial Sweeteners
You would think the term “artificial” would turn any one off. But when it comes to sweeteners, artificial seems to be a selling point. One of the worst unhealthy health foods, doctors recommend them because they are allegedly “safer” for diabetics. (10) Ironically, new research has shown that artificial sweeteners causes a disturbance in gut flora and can actually cause diabetes! (10)
Even worse, sugar substitutes have been clinically linked to: (11)
- Weight gain/obesity
- Brain tumors
- Breast cancer
- Bladder cancer
9. Table Salt
We all love our salt. But we’ve all also heard that white table salt causes hypertension. So why hasn’t that stopped 90 percent of the restaurants in this country from placing it on every table? (12) While table salt is originally produced from sea salt, most harvesting methods will strip away all of salt’s naturally occurring minerals and add in a number of additives, including aluminum. This takes salt from a “real” food to a fake food in no time.
During this process, the naturally occurring iodine is destroyed and replaced with potentially toxic levels of potassium iodide. Dextrose, a form of sugar, is then added, turning the salt purple. Finally, a bleaching agent is used to return the salt to its white color.
If you’re looking for a replacement, try the actual product. Celtic sea salt and pink Himalayan salt are great alternatives and I recommend you start using either one ASAP.
10. Conventional Milk
Finally, the last of our unhealthy health foods you should never eat, or drink in this case, is milk. In line with most of the items on this list, the dangers of milk are hiding in the production process and the nutritional elements for the cows. Genetically modified feed and hormones used to increase milk production are common.
These toxins are easily transferred to people when they drink milk or eat conventional dairy products, which have been linked to many of the issues discussed in this article.
Similar to fruit juice, when raw milk is pasteurized, it also loses its dietary content and rendered useless. Because the enzyme lactase is destroyed in the heating process, people cannot correctly digest the milk protein lactose. This issue has become so common that the National Institute of Health reports that, “Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.” (13)
By far, raw milk is healthier and can usually be found in cheese or yogurt forms in local health food stores.
So what is the main take away from all this? Don’t believe all that you read and stay tuned for more helpful dietary tips from naturallivingfamily.com.
What about you? Have you learned of any additional Unhealthy Health Foods that we should avoid?