If we could just have one less unhealthy food per month, by the end of the year we would increase our energy, decrease our risk for many diseases and improve our over all quality of life. What we put into our body has a direct correlation over time with how we feel both physically and emotionally.
We all know about the “sleepiness” that comes after having a meal loaded with carbs, or the indigestion that may come with having a large meal too close to time for bed, or even how having too much dairy or red meat and not enough water may make us constipated. There are many foods that cause inflammation, and disease and while we don’t have to eliminate everything that we love to feel healthy, there are a few that we should consciously avoid whenever possible. Here are 5 foods to consider removing from your diet this year!
Refined sugars are not only inflammatory in nature, but are linked to metabolic diseases as well. Sugar has been shown to cause tooth decay, diabetes, weight gain, and even acne. The most inflammatory sugars are those of a refined nature (white sugar and brown sugar), but over indulgence in even the so called “healthy sugars” can lead to any of the inflammatory diseases mentioned above. Bottom line: if you are going to have sugar, have it in moderation. Avoid refined sugars, and products containing high fructose corn syrup. These types of sugars have an addictive property and contribute to weight gain leading to obesity.
“White” Refined Grains & Carbohydrates
Besides having little nutritional value, refined grains are pro-inflammatory and are high glycemic index. They have very little vitamins or minerals and are low in fiber content. Many of these processed grains also have additives such as hydrogenated oils, sugars, and artificial flavors and preservatives which make them “tastier and last longer”, but at the cost of having being addictive in nature.
Sugar Substitutes & MSG
These food additives are not only inflammatory in nature but have been linked to disease in the body. Aspartame is linked to headache, nausea, dizziness, and is thought to precipitate and/or worsen conditions like multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions. Saccharin (otherwise known as sweet n low) has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Finally MSG has also been linked to migraines and has shown to worsen autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Bottom line: Stay away from any additives but especially the ones listed above. Read your labels and observe this rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Alternatively, look for sweeteners such as stevia, xylitol, or even raw sugar or sucanat. Again, use them in moderation, as anything in excess can be bad for you. Utilize herbs and spices in your cooking, or Braggs Liquid Aminos to add flavoring.
Red Meat & Other Non-organic Meats
Commercially grown meats are not only raised in an inhumane manner, but are also fed a diet of corn and high omega 6 grains which can cause more inflammation within the animal. In addition, their close quarters living environment , makes their saturated fat content higher. The hormones given (to fatten them up), and antibiotics (to treat the various bacterias they are exposed to due to their living conditions) are maintained in their tissues when processed and we consume them when eating these meats. In addition, red meat is tougher and harder to digest. It is proven that a diet high in red meat increases the risk for colon cancer. Bottom line: More towards a more plant based diet. Make meat a once weekly (if that) occurrence and if possible eliminate red meat and port altogether. The meat that you DO purchase should be organic and grass fed to avoid all of the “Extras” that come with commercially grown cows, pigs, hogs, and chicken. Try more fish as a substitute: Salmon, mackeral, snapper, and tilapia are all great choices.
Dairy is also known to be an inflammatory agent. It promotes mucous production and is also linked to acne in studies. The protein in milk can act as a common allergen, exacerbating respiratory conditions like asthma and seasonal allergies. In addition, dairy can be a cause of constipation and other GI disturbances. In addition, the hormones contained in non-organic forms of dairy can lead to hormonal imbalance in teens and women. Bottom line: Minimize the dairy in your daily life. If you must have it, choose organic milk and cheese. In addition, explore things like kefir as it does not contain the allergens that milk have and are easier to digest. Goat and sheep milk & cheese have a makeup that’s closest to human breast milk and are therefore easier to digest.
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