6 “Health” foods that aren’t healthy

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No matter where I go, if people find out that I’m in the nutrition field, they suddenly flock to me to tell me about their dietary challenges or ask me food questions.

A Jet Blue employee at my local airport still remembers a conversation we had over 2 years ago as she was checking me in.  She asked me about bottled salad dressings and I blurted out a quick recipe for a delicious homemade version…and every time she sees me to this day she tells me she’s still loving that dressing!

Now, one of the most common responses I get when I ask people about their diet is, “Oh, I eat healthy.”

Sorry to say, but I brace myself when I ask specifically what does that mean…because what many people think is “healthy” is anything BUT.

Now, it’s not that these people don’t have good intentions—the problem is many foods are marketed to appear healthy simply to drive up sales.

And they’re about as good for you as eating shredded cardboard.

Let’s take a look at some of the common offenders—here are 6 “health” foods (and drinks) that are far from healthy:

(Un)healthy food #1: Sports drinks

Most sports drinks are loaded with unhealthy ingredients like sugar, highly processed sodium and artificial colors and flavors.

The first three ingredients (meaning they are the most abundant ones) on a bottle of orange-flavored Gatorade are water, sugar and dextrose (more sugar).

The average 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade contains a whopping 34 grams of sugar—that’s 10 grams MORE than a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar!

The biggest question here is whether you even need sports drinks at all!

Typically if your workouts are one hour or less, water is all you need to stay hydrated.

If you engage in longer workouts and/or want to refuel after your workout, good choices include fresh fruit (especially bananas), dried fruit or a handful of nuts.

(Un)healthy food #2: Breakfast cereals

Most breakfast cereals (especially those that are heavily marketed to children) are loaded with sugar (including high fructose corn syrup), preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings and now most recently, genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

Remember, food companies are not required to list GMOs on food labels—so unless the product is 100% organic, there is a high likelihood it contains GMOs.

Even the so-called nutrients that they’re fortified with are synthetically derived from by-products of the wood and petroleum processing industries.

And trust me, your body knows the difference.

Putting it bluntly, I’d rather feed my son a bowl of ice cream for breakfast than 99.9% of the cereals out there.

Better breakfast options include oatmeal (real oats—not the sugary instant varieties), yogurt, fresh fruit and eggs (cooked in real butter).

(Un)healthy food #3: Vegetable oils

Your body needs a balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of between 2:1 and 5:1 to effectively control inflammation.  Omega-6 EFAs stir up inflammation (such as when you have an injury) which initiates the healing process, then Omega-3 EFAs come in and calm the inflammation down.

Unfortunately, our typical diets today are loaded with inflammation stirring Omega-6 fatty acids and severely lacking the anti-inflammatory Omega-3s.

This is a major contributing factor to our high rates of inflammatory conditions today—including arthritis, chronic back pain and heart disease!

And a BIG source of our Omega-6 overload is vegetable oils.  (Isn’t it ironic that they’re marketed as “heart healthy when they in fact can contribute to the inflammation in your arteries that leads to atherosclerosis?)

Plus vegetable oils are polyunsaturated fats which, when heated at high temperatures, can have their molecular structure altered and turn to trans-fats.

So when you use vegetable oils for cooking, chances are excellent you are consuming health-wrecking, age-accelerating trans-fats.

Better oil and fat choices for cooking are extra virgin olive oil, real butter and even lard.  If you’re concerned about the salt content of butter, buy salt-free butter.

(Un)healthy food #4: Farm raised fish

Fish farms produce fish with high concentrations of antibiotics and pesticides and lower levels of healthy nutrients.

First of all, farm-raised fish are given antibiotics to stave off diseases that result from horribly crowded conditions and are also treated with pesticides to combat sea lice.

And whatever is in the fish becomes a part of YOU when you eat them.

Plus research has found that farmed fish has fewer usable Omega-3 EFAs than wild-caught fish and a high concentration of Omega-6 EFAs.  So it contributes to the inflammation-causing imbalance of Omega-6: Omega-3 EFAs that I described in #3 above.

But there’s more—farmed fish has also been found to have a 20% lower protein content than wild-caught fish.

In addition, studies by the Environmental Working Group have found that cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exist in farm-raised salmon at 16 times the rate of wild salmon.

There’s no room for interpretation on this one: If you want fish, buy only fresh wild-caught varieties.

(Un)healthy food #5: Orange juice and juice drinks

Most all commercially prepared orange juices are actually highly processed concoctions that are a far cry from juice as Nature intended it to be.

First of all, the pasteurization process can reduce some of the nutrients found in juice including Vitamin C and certain phytonutrients (especially phenols).

Commercial juices are stored in giant tanks and in order to preserve them, all of the oxygen is removed.  Therefore, the natural compounds that give oranges their flavor are destroyed.

And let’s not forget the obvious—by consuming juice (instead of eating fresh fruit) not only are you lacking the benefit of the whole fruit—including fiber, enzymes and other nutrients—but you are also getting a high dose of sugar.

A fresh orange contains about 9 grams of sugar.

But a 12 oz. bottle of orange juice has a whopping 33 grams!

And “fruit drinks” that are marketed as healthy choices for kids are even worse, consisting mostly of high fructose corn syrup and a boatload of artificial ingredients.

Closest to Nature is always best, and that includes fruits.  And if you occasionally want orange juice, squeeze your own from fresh oranges.

(Un)healthy food #6: Low-fat foods

Sadly, many people still subscribe to the “all fats are evil” way of thinking…and nothing could be more harmful to your health!

First of all, when fats are removed from foods, it leaves them tasteless and gross. So food manufacturers load them up with sugar, sodium and chemicals to make them more palatable.

That doesn’t sound like a health food to me.

Now, what most fat-avoiding people don’t realize is that a moderate amount (2-3 tablespoons) of good fat each day is vital to your health (especially your brain and nervous system)…and it can help you lose pounds!

That’s right.  These fats help you lose flab by turning off your body’s hormone messengers that direct fat storage, especially around your midsection.  Plus they also help you feel full faster, so you eat less.

Good fats include extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, butter, flaxseed oil, fish oil, nuts and even lean meats and dairy products (preferably organic from grass fed animals).

Healthy fats also help lower LDL cholesterol levels WITHOUT lowering HDL levels, which can help bring your HDL/LDL ratio into a more optimal range.  Plus regular consumption of them can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancers.

The bottom line: Close to Nature is always best

If your mind is boggled right now by seeing how unhealthy (and downright harmful) many foods you thought were healthy are, I understand.

And I have good news for you.

Because it’s easier than you think to avoid getting misled by marketing claims of food companies, and help your body bounce back from any harmful effects from them in the past.

The key is to stay as close to nature as possible.

Here are 4 ways that can be easy, affordable and taste really good too:

1) Avoid processed foods

There’s no chance of getting misled about how unhealthy packaged foods really are if you don’t buy boxed or packaged stuff to begin with.

2) Buy organic whenever you can

If you must get packaged foods, at least stick to the 100% organic varieties.  By their very nature they do not contain hidden GMO ingredients.

Organic meats, poultry, eggs and dairy are good choices too, since the animals are not treated with hormones and antibiotics.

And organic produce is the only way to guarantee you’re not getting a dose of herbicides and/or pesticides in your food.

I realize it can be more expensive, but there are ways to help control the cost like shopping local farmer’s markets or participating in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs.  I’ve been doing CSA shares for years and I love it–believe me, there IS a taste difference!

To locate a CSA farm near you, go here and enter your US zip code in the “Find CSA Farms” section:

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to go 100% organic, here are the items which have the largest amounts of pesticide residue and are most important to buy organic:

  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Bell Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Cherries
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes (Imported)

3)  Eat real foods and educate yourself

Follow a reliable program that will educate you on the dangers of processed foods, show you how to structure healthy, easier to digest meals and guide you on making REAL foods that are positively scrumptious.

And that, my friend, is what Great Taste No Pain will do for you.

http://www.greattastenopain.com/great.asp

The Great Taste No Pain manuals will teach you the ins and out of why processed foods are so harmful to your health.

They’ll also show you what foods you should eat together to help encourage more efficient digestion.  When your digestion can be accomplished more thoroughly, that can mean fewer GI problems like gas, bloating and constipation, as well as more energy!

And the recipe book is loaded with delicious dishes featuring REAL foods that will nourish your body and make your taste buds dance.

Now, if you’ve got gluten issues, Great Taste No Gluten is for you instead.

http://www.greattastenogluten.com/great.asp

4) Help your intestinal flora recover from “healthy food abuse”

The sugar, chemicals, pesticides and herbicides from so-called “healthy foods” are not only harmful to you, but also to your little gut inhabitants, otherwise known as your intestinal flora.

And since this is where 70% of your immune system is located, having imbalanced gut flora is putting out the welcome mat for a whole slew of bugs, viruses, infections and even diseases.

Having a diet of real foods like I mentioned above can help a LOT, but for many people (especially those who have eaten lots of processed so-called healthy food and/or been exposed to environmental chemicals) it may not be enough.

That’s why probiotic supplementation is such a great idea for so many people.

Super Shield multi-strain probiotic formula is up to this important task.

http://www.bluerockholistics.com/product/pross.asp

Super Shield has been formulated with a variety of probiotic strains to help keep your population of friendly bacteria strong and ready for whatever dangerous viruses, infections or toxins come your way.

Plus it helps your beneficial bacteria compete with the harmful bacteria for “parking spaces” along your intestinal wall, crowding the bad guys out so they can be swept away with your bowel movements.

Remember this, my friend.

“Truly healthy” means as close to Nature as possible.

Experience the power of nourishing your body with truly healthy real foods and maintaining a sound intestinal flora balance and I’m certain you’ll see a dramatic difference in how you feel VERY soon.

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