5 Sneaky Foods to Avoid When You’re Cleaning Up Your Diet

5 Sneaky Foods to Avoid When You're Cleaning Up Your Diet

There are many foods out there these days which could go onto a list of those to avoid, but the five I am listing here are the top foods which I think are the most important to eliminate from your diet.

1. Sugar

It is now common knowledge that sugar is a toxic substance to the human body which has absolutely no nutritional value. Just so you don’t get confused about the term sugar, it is important to note that there are four types of sugars: glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose.

It is fructose that is the worst, because it isn’t produced by our body and can only be digested in small amounts, like the amounts found in fruits. Any fructose that is not digested gets stored as fat, and it then blocks many bodily functions and causes diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The things with fructose is that it is also highly addictive, because our bodies don’t have an “off switch” for it, meaning we always crave more and more.

Unfortunately, fructose is found in many processed foods and is often disguised under other names such agave nectar, brown sugar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrates and many other. Sugars generally are also found in packaged goods such as cereals, juices and low-fat products where the fat is replaced with sugar to make them taste good.

In order to avoid this form of sugar it is recommended to eat a primarily whole foods and plant based diet. It is ok to eat a small quantity of fresh (not dried!) fruits twice a day because these are naturally occurring sugars and not found in the same quantities that would be found in processed foods.

2. Gluten

Gluten is the protein that plants build into their seeds (grains) to support the next generation of plants. While all grains contain gluten, our bodies cannot break down the gluten contained in wheat, rye and barley because their composition is too tight. Over time, because our digestive system cannot break down the bacteria from gluten, it builds up in our system, causes inflammation of the intestines and eventually erodes the lining of the stomach. This can lead to a loss of immune tolerance and trigger autoimmune diseases like celiac disease.

The reason gluten is affecting us more than it did in the past is because the wheat we are eating is hybridised to the point where all vitamins, minerals and fibre are taken out of it (especially in white flour and white bread). Because the wheat is so refined through the processing, the gluten in it is stickier, thicker, and more elastic and the human digestive system simply cannot break it down

Even if you don’t have a diagnosed intolerance to gluten, I recommend you cut it out for a while and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. You might find you have more energy and clearer thinking when you cut out the gluten from your diet.

These days it is easier to not eat gluten with so many gluten free products on the market, but again, aim to eat a whole foods and plant based diet for optimal health.

3. Salt

Salt is actually a vital nutrient for our body and plays an important role in regulating blood pressure, proper functioning of the nervous system and brain cells, metabolism, digestion, and many other important functions. However, refined table salt is the problem here. Refined table salt is bleached and chemically cleaned leaving it void of any minerals and essential nutrients such as magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium. Not only does it have no nutritional value, but it also causes our bodies to become depleted of the essential nutrients that are found in natural salt.

Because our body isn’t able to use this kind of salt, it builds up as deposits in our organs and tissues causing severe health issues, the most devastating being high blood pressure.

It is important to be wary when you eat out, as restaurants will usually use refined salts and in higher quantities than you might use at home. It might make the food taste good but the health consequences are not worth it. When cooking at home, use herbs and spices in addition to a little healthy Celtic or Himalayan salt for more flavor.

4. Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils cause inflammation in your body, which raises risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and arthritis. It is much better to use Extra Virgin Cold Pressed oils such as olive, grape seed and coconut because this oil will still have its natural essential minerals and nutrients.

5. Dairy

This is a controversial one, that some people will disagree with. However, the facts really do speak for themselves and I do believe this a substance that does more harm than it does good. While many people have been lead to believe that dairy is needed as a source of calcium, it isn’t the best or only source of calcium – collards, boy choy, fortified soy milk, baked beans, and supplements with both calcium and vitamin D are good alternatives.

Reducing dairy and other conventional animal products has also been linked to a reduction in and reversal of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Not only that, but a huge percentage of humans are intolerant to lactose which is found in milk. Consumption of lactose can produce symptoms such as diarrhea and can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies or other long term health implications.

Another concern with conventional, non-organic milk is that it may contain harmful, synthetic contaminants like antibiotics and growth hormones which are given to the cow’s to help them produce more milk, as well as pesticides and other GMO exposure from the cow’s feed.

With so many good dairy alternatives such as nut milks, it doesn’t seem necessary to expose the body to the various risks associated with dairy milk and other products.

Simone Samuels