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9 food not to eat and why

Many foods have been heavily promoted as being healthy when they are nothing more than pernicious junk foods. In the featured article, Clean Plates1 founder Jared Koch shared his list of nine staple foods that are far less “good for you” than you’ve been led to believe.

Here, I expand on the selections that are mentioned in the featured article.

1. Canned Tomatoes

Many leading brands of canned foods contain BPA — a toxic chemical linked to reproductive abnormalities, neurological effects, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, heart disease and other serious health problems. According to Consumer Reports’ testing, just a couple of servings of canned food can exceed the safety limits for daily BPA exposure for children.

2. Processed Meats

As Koch warns, processed deli meats like salami, ham, and roast beef are typically made with meats from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

This means they’re given growth hormones, antibiotics and other veterinary drugs, and raised in deplorable conditions that promote disease, these meats are also filled with sodium nitrite (a commonly used preservative and antimicrobial agent that also adds color and flavor) and other chemical flavorings and dyes.

3. Margarine

The unfortunate result of the low-fat diet craze has been the shunning of healthful fats such as butter or coconut oil and public health has declined as a result of this folly. There are a myriad of unhealthy components to margarine and other butter impostors, including:

Trans fats: These unnatural fats in margarine, shortenings and spreads are formed during the process of hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oils into a solid fat. Trans fats contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormonal imbalance and skin disease; infertility, difficulties in pregnancy and problems with lactation; and low birth weight, growth problems and learning disabilities in children. A US government panel of scientists determined that man-made trans fats are unsafe at any level.
Free radicals: Free radicals and other toxic breakdown products are the result of high temperature industrial processing of vegetable oils. They contribute to numerous health problems, including cancer and heart disease.

4. Vegetable Oils

Of all the destructive foods available to us, those made with heated vegetable oils are some of the worst. Make no mistake about it–vegetable oils are not the health food that you were lead to believe they were. This is largely due to the fact that they are highly processed, and when consumed in massive amounts, as they are by most Americans, they seriously distort the important omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Ideally, this ratio is 1:1.  Our ratio is more like 6:1!  Way out of balance.

Anytime you cook a food, you run the risk of creating heat-induced damage. The oils you choose to cook with must be stable enough to resist chemical changes when heated to high temperatures, or you run the risk of damaging your health. One of the ways vegetable oils can inflict damage is by converting your good cholesterol into bad cholesterol—by oxidizing it. When you cook with polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as canola, corn, and soy oils), oxidized cholesterol is introduced into your system.

So what’s the best oil to cook with?

Of all the available oils, coconut oil is the oil of choice for cooking because it is nearly a completely saturated fat, which means it is much less susceptible to heat damage. And coconut oil is one of the most unique and beneficial fats for your body. For more in-depth information about the many benefits of coconut oil, please see this special report. Olive oil, while certainly a healthful oil, is easily damaged by heat and is best reserved for drizzling cold over salad.

5. Microwave Popcorn

Perfluoroalkyls, which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), are chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers, are being ingested by people through their food and showing up as contaminants in blood. Microwave popcorn bags are lined with PFOA, and when they are heated the compound leaches onto the popcorn.

These chemicals are part of an expanding group of chemicals commonly referred to as “gender-bending” chemicals, because they can disrupt your endocrine system and affect your sex hormones. The EPA has ruled PFCs as “likely carcinogens,” and has stated that PFOA “poses developmental and reproductive risks to humans.” Researchers have also linked various PFCs to a range of other health dangers, such as: Infertility, Thyroid disease, Cancer,  Immune system problems and Increased LDL cholesterol levels.

I strongly recommend avoiding any product you know containing these toxic compounds, particularly non-stick cookware, but also foods sold in grease-proof food packaging, such as fast food and microwave popcorn. Clearly, if you’re eating fast food or junk food, PFCs from the wrapper may be the least of your problems, but I think it’s still important to realize that not only are you not getting proper nutrition from the food itself, the wrappers may also add to your toxic burden.

6. Non-Organic Potatoes and Other Fresh Produce Known for High Pesticide Contamination

Your best bet is to buy only organic fruits and vegetables, as synthetic agricultural chemicals are not permissible under the USDA organic rules. That said, not all conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are subjected to the same amount of pesticide load. While Koch focuses on potatoes, as they tend to take up a lot of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals present in the soil, I would recommend reviewing the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce”6 by the Environmental Working Group.

Of the 48 different fruit and vegetable categories tested by the EWG for the 2013 guide, the following 15 fruits and vegetables had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grow organically:

Apples    Celery    Cherry tomatoes
Cucumbers    Grapes    Hot peppers
Nectarines (imported)    Peaches    Potatoes
Spinach    Strawberries    Sweet bell peppers
Kale    Collard greens    Summer squash

In contrast, the following foods were found to have the lowest residual pesticide load:

Asparagus    Avocado    Cabbage
Cantaloupe    Sweet corn (non-GMO)    Eggplant
Grapefruit    Kiwi    Mango
Mushrooms    Onions    Papayas (non-GMO. Most Hawaiian papaya is GMO)
Pineapple    Sweet peas (frozen)    Sweet potatoes

7. Table Salt

Salt is essential for life—you cannot live without it. However, regular ‘table salt’ and the salt found in processed foods are NOT identical to the salt your body really needs. In fact, table salt has practically nothing in common with natural salt. One is health damaging, and the other is healing.

Processed salt is 98 percent sodium chloride, and the remaining two percent comprises man-made chemicals, such as moisture absorbents, and a little added iodine. These are dangerous chemicals like ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate. Some European countries, where water fluoridation is not practiced, also add fluoride to table salt.
Natural salt is about 84 percent sodium chloride. The remaining 16 percent of natural salt consists of other naturally occurring minerals, including trace minerals like silicon, phosphorous and vanadium
Given that salt is absolutely essential to good health, I recommend switching to a pure, unrefined salt. My favorite is an ancient, all-natural sea salt from the Himalayas. Himalayan salt is completely pure, having spent many thousands of years maturing under extreme tectonic pressure, far away from impurities, so it isn’t polluted with the heavy metals and industrial toxins of today. And it’s hand-mined, hand-washed, and minimally processed.

8. Soy Protein Isolate and Other Unfermented Soy Products

Sadly, most of what you have been led to believe by the media about soy is simply untrue. One of the worst problems with soy comes from the fact that 90 to 95 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered (GE), and these are used to create soy protein isolate. Genetically engineered soybeans are designed to be “Roundup ready,” which means they’re engineered to withstand otherwise lethal doses of herbicide.

The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle.

Glyphosate’s mechanism of harm was only recently identified, and demonstrates how this chemical disrupts cellular function and induce many of our modern diseases, including autism. Soy protein isolate can be found in protein bars, meal replacement shakes, bottled fruit drinks, soups and sauces, meat analogs, baked goods, breakfast cereals and some dietary supplements.

The only soy with health benefits is organic soy that has been properly fermented, and these are the only soy products I ever recommend consuming. After a long fermentation process, the phytate and “anti-nutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system. To learn more, please see this previous article detailing the dangers of unfermented soy.

9. Artificial Sweeteners

Contrary to popular belief, studies have found that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain. In one of the most recent of such studies, saccharin and aspartame were found to cause greater weight gain than eating the sugar in first place due to chemical signals triggering hunger and fat storage.

Aspartame is perhaps one of the most problematic. It is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol which is toxic to humans.

Guidelines for Healthy Food

Whatever food you’re looking to eat, whether organic or locally grown, from either your local supermarket or a farmer’s market, the following are signs of a high-quality, healthy food. Most often, the best place to find these foods is from a sustainable agricultural group in your area.

It’s grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
It’s not genetically engineered
It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
It does not contain artificial anything, nor any preservatives
It is fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh conventional produce, the latter may still be the better option as freshness is important for optimal nutrient content)
It was not grown in a factory farm
It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)

Yours in Health,

Dr. Philip A. Mahan, D.C.

South Main Chiropractic of Lexington