8 Foods To Avoid to Stay Healthy (Part 1)
One of the quickest ways to reach optimal health is to know which foods to avoid. By having this information, you’ll automatically begin to choose foods that will provide benefits rather than negative consequences for your health and vitality. Some of these foods may surprise you based on the contradictory information provided by companies who have a vested interest in you buying them. However, I’ve outlined specific reasons why it’s important to do your best to avoid them.
1. White Bread and Pasta
White bread and pasta are simple carbohydrates, which means that they have been stripped of all their nutrients and therefore act like a sugar in the body. In order for the body to properly digest these foods, it must rob existing vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium from its storage banks, depleting nutrients rather than providing them. Additionally, the body only needs a limited supply of glucose to fuel its cells. Therefore, once you’ve reached your storage capacity, the excess sugar gets converted into fat and is stored throughout the body. And, to make matters worse, with continued consumption your body’s ability to burn fat as well as release fat begins to break down, perpetuating long-term weight problems.
2. Genetically Modified Foods - Soy, Corn and Canola Oil
GM foods are those in which the genetic code has been modified by injecting foreign genes from other plants and animals in an attempt to improve food production and/or food quality. This not only has an impact on the future of our food supply, it also may be increasing our exposure to allergies, toxins, new diseases, nutritional problems and a growing number of potential health risks. Some reports indicate that GM foods may lead to infertility, a weakened immune system, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, organ and gastrointestinal system changes. The biggest GM foods include soy, corn and canola oil. If you can’t avoid these foods altogether, make sure that you only purchase those that are 100% organic and/or indicate on the packaging that they are non-GMO.
Many people think that margarine is no different than butter, however this is a very false belief. The main difference to understand here is that while butter provides health benefits related to those associated with saturated fats, margarine is made up of trans fatty acids, which contribute to a long list of health problems. Trans fats are formed through a process called hydrogenation (adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to harden them and make them last longer). They are not only found in margarine, but also shortening, fried foods and many commercially processed foods. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). This not only increases your risk of heart disease, clogged arteries and heart attack/stroke, but also contributes to weight gain when consumed in excess. Alternatively, good saturated fats are needed for the proper functioning of your heart, liver, lungs and cell membranes. Although you don’t want to consume good saturated fats in excess either, butter (especially raw, organic, grass-fed butter) protects against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid problems, digestive issues, asthma, fertility, weight gain and more.
4. Foods Containing High Fructose Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is found in almost all processed foods and beverages. Contrary to advertised claims that HFCS (which is 55% fructose and 45% glucose) is no different than table sugar. Its extra fructose content and high consumption has been linked to diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and liver problems. Unfortunately, fructose, which is metabolized differently than glucose, is absorbed immediately and goes directly to the liver. Also remember that the corn in HFCS is more than likely genetically modified, another strike against it.
Please look for Part 2, which will outline the remaining 4 foods to avoid.
 (n.d.) Retrieved from
 Mann, D. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/trans-fats-science-and-risks
 Mercola, J. (2010, December 10). This vilified daily food slashes heart attack risk in half. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/12/07/why-is-butter-better.aspx
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://diabetes.webmd.com/guide/insulin-resistance-syndrome
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.