11 "Healthy" Foods That Are Bad For You

We have a lot of foods in this day and age that are junk food pretending to be healthy. Many of the companies behind these foods will try to convince you how healthy the food is on the container, but the ingredient list tells the real story.

These unhealthy foods that parade as health foods are part of the reason so many folks feel like they eat well, yet their health does not improve.

The undercover junk foods are part of the reason our society is sicker and fatter than ever with no signs of improvement.

Sadly many of these undercover junk foods are considered healthy by many, in this blog I am going to expose these “healthy junk foods” and explain the damage they do.

Store Bought Salad Dressing

There is no argument that salads are a great way to get more vegetables in your diet, especially the leafy green variety.

The problem is that many vegetables don’t taste great on their own, so salad dressings are a great way to add some flavor to salads.

The biggest problems with most store bought salad dressings is the number of ingredients that are damaging to our health. Some of the main ingredient culprits include sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oils, trans fats, preservatives and chemicals.

Eating vegetables in a salad is a great step to improving health, drenching the salad in rancid vegetables oils and sugar is not healthy. Make sure to read the ingredient list on store bought salad dressings or just play it safe and make your own.

Margarine or Butter Substitutes

With the low fat craze many people opted to throw out traditional healthy butter because  of the saturated fat and cholesterol content.

Since then we have come to realize that saturated fat and cholesterol are not health damaging, and that butter is a legitimate health food.

When butter was demonized due to the  saturated fat content, experts started recommending margarine as a substitute.

Trans fats in margarine have slowly been removed over time due to the overwhelming evidence that trans fats are bad for us. However margarine and butter substitutes are packed full of rancid vegetable oils.

Margarine is sold as a healthy food, but it is really chemicals and vegetable oils designed to look and taste like butter. Skip the man made chemicals and vegetables oils. Eat real butter from grass fed cows instead.

Fruit Juices

Fruit is a healthy food choice so it would make sense that the juice that comes from a healthy food would also be healthy.

The problem is that most fruit juices are misleading and many contain little to no fruit juice. The majority of them are sugar water and chemicals that have been flavored to taste like a fruit concoction.

Even if you are consuming one hundred percent high quality fruit juice there are still some problems. Many of the benefits that we gain from fruit comes from the high fiber content and living enzymes and minerals that present in the flesh of the fruit.

Fruit juice is what remains after we have removed all the health promoting aspects of fruit, what we are left with is mainly sugar water.

As we look further at the sugar content of fruit juice you quickly realize that it is resembles soda or other sugar sweetened beverages more than whole fruit.

Agave Nectar

We all know that sugar damages our health and we should do our best to avoid it. The problem is that once sugar’s health damaging effects were exposed we were left clamoring for substitute.

Enter the “natural” sweetener that quickly rose to popularity, agave nectar.

Agave nectar instantly became the natural alternative to sugar in many “health foods”. When we take a closer look at agave and how it compares to sugar, it is actually much worse for our health.

Agave nectar is even higher in fructose than  high fructose corn syrup!  One of the many reasons that fructose is bad for us is because it is a toxin that can not be used by our cells for energy.

Fructose has no use in the body, and must be shuttled to the liver where it is primarily transformed and stored as fat cells.

Even though agave nectar is a “natural sweetener” gram for gram it is far worse than sugar, and  the high fructose content which damages the liver and  metabolism make it extremely unhealthy and should be staunchly avoided.

“Heart Healthy” Whole Grains

The over consumption of grains has thrown our diet completely out of balance. It is not that carbohydrates are bad for us,but our current diet relies so heavily on carbohydrates that we are creating metabolic and blood sugar problems with how we eat.

The carb centric diet our society has adopted came at expense of vegetables and healthy fats. By relying so heavily on processed carbohydrates we continually throw our blood sugar out of normal ranges and stress the body.

If you haven’t already read my blog post “Are Carbohydrates Bad For You ?” to learn more about carbohydrates and how they fit into your health picture.

By over consuming grains and rejecting healthy traditional fats we have created the perfect health damaging storm.

Many of the problems our society is suffering from can be traced directly to metabolic problems and inflammation from blood sugar imbalances.

Gluten is a dirty word these days, and it is a hotly debated subject but for many folks this little word creates big problems. I have myself helped many clients transition to whole foods excluding grains have seen great improvements in digestion and blood sugar markers.

There is no nutrient present in grains that can not be found in vegetables, fruits  and starchy tubers.

Vegan Meat Substitutes

Nobody can argue that avoiding processed foods and eating more fruits,vegetables, nuts and seeds as a vegan is a much healthier option than the standard american diet.

A problem arises when the adoption of a vegan diet includes the processed meat substitutes that are very soy and grain heavy.

The vegan friendly meat substitutes are highly processed and factory made foods that serve no health benefits

I also believe when your body is sending a clear signal that it is craving a certain natural food, it should be followed.

If you're craving meat, but you try to trick your body by giving it a vegan or soy meat substitute you are going against your biology and actually choosing a far less healthy option.

 Organic Junk Foods

Organic has quickly become a marketing buzzword that grabs the attention of the health conscious. Food giants have taken advantage of this marketing buzzword by producing the same old junk food as before, but instead using organic ingredients.

These organic ingredients that make up the junk food are no healthier than the non organic options. Don’t buy a packaged food just because it is organic, always make sure to read the ingredients. Organic sugar is still sugar.

Gluten Free Products

Gluten allergies or intolerances can be very problematic for a lot of people, and the transition  to avoiding gluten can be difficult for some.

Many of these folks find the transition to be a little easier in the beginning by using gluten free products to make swaps.This should be a phase though and the goal transitioning whole foods is recommended.  

The problem is that many of these gluten free foods are just as unhealthy as the gluten containing foods. They are highly processed and contain many additives, chemicals and other refined starch flours that create similar blood sugar problems.

Gluten free foods junk foods are still going to be junk food that contains sugar and other nasty ingredients. Plants, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and starchy vegetables are all gluten free and far better for your health.

Low Fat/ Fat Free Foods

Excluding saturated fat from the diet was one of the largest nutrition mistakes ever made. The theory that saturated fat contributes to heart disease was based on handpicked data, that evidence never really supported. This theory has since been completely dissected and proven incorrect.

When this low fat propaganda became popular food manufacturers took advantage of this trend and began removing fats from foods and flooding the market with low fat, and fat free foods.

The problem with removing fats from foods is that it makes them taste horrible.In an attempt to make the foods more palatable and allow them to stay shelf stable for longer sugar was added to these foods in high amounts.

Saturated fats are not harmful and in fact many people see benefits from including more healthy fats in their diet. It is well proven that sugar consumed in excess has disastrous effects on our health. When you see a “food” that is low or fat free it regularly means it is riddled with added sugar and very processed.

Smoothies

Many folks will replace a meal with a smoothie from a juice bar or grocery  store in the expectation that it will be lower in calories and contain healthy vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables.

The problem is that many of these smoothies are loaded with added sugars, fruit juices from concentrate, soy products and many lack adequate protein and fat which help to regulate blood sugar. 

While smoothies can be a great way to get some healthy nutrition in your body I encourage people to be mindful of how much they are consuming.

You are able to consume a greater volume of foods when they are blended than if you were to chew every ingredient in your smoothie. Make sure your smoothie is balanced,  and doesn't contain too much sugar from fruit juices and seven servings of fruit and added honey.  

Opt to make your own green smoothie with lots of veggies, a few pieces of fruit and some healthy protein from nuts and seeds or protein powder  and fats from coconut or some nut butters.

Granola

Granola has long been accepted as a “health food”  because it regularly boasts the words” whole grain” or “low fat”. Granola is very high in added sugars and regularly contains hydrogenated vegetable oils and other  chemicals/ flavors.

Granola is not nearly as natural as it boasts, and is very high in calories while being devoid of any nutrient that benefits our health.

Make sure if you are going to eat granola that you read the ingredients with a skeptical eye for unhealthy ingredients. Keep in mind that any food label that says it is a healthy food is probably not  a healthy food.

My hope is that after reading this blog you can look at food a little differently, realizing that many supposed “health foods” contain health damaging ingredients. Make sure to always read labels so you are aware of what you are putting in your body. Everything you eat either adds or subtracts from you health.

Don’t take the food industries word for it when it comes to health claims. Realize that  food manufacturers are interested in taking advantage of health buzzwords and trends, not creating truly  healthy foods . Many of the foods created by these food giants are designed to make money, not make you healthier.

The healthiest foods on planet earth come from nature, and rarely do they have labels or ingredient list. Make sure you are eating foods in their whole form and from nature. If you do this most of the time you are on the right track!

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

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Are Carbohydrates Bad For You ?

We are reductionists, things need to be good or bad and it is easier that way. This isn’t always the case, especially in nutrition. When it comes to nutrition context is king.

Everybody has different goals, genetic predispositions, sleep habits, familial medical history, metabolic flexibility, ancestry, stress levels and many more  factors that make the one size fits all nutrition approach a disaster. Are carbohydrates bad for you ?

Just like your ex that you still “hang out” with, Its complicated.

Because people differ so greatly, their ability to handle carbohydrates will also be different. A highly active athlete is going to require more carbs to fuel their activity and recover compared to a sedentary desk jockey who will need less.

Those who are obese or suffering from metabolic problems are going to do much better or fewer carbs because they do not metabolize carbohydrates very well. Your individual circumstances really dictate how your body is going to respond to carbohydrates.

For the average person who is noticing their waist growing each year and their belly getting larger and larger, dialing their amount and quality of carbs in the diet is going to be an important part of moving towards getting healthier and maybe losing some body fat.

If the weight gain stays steady year after year chances are there is some metabolic damage that could be addressed by lowering carbs as well.

Our standard american diet is very very heavy on the processed carbs and sugar, compared to how we have evolved to eat. This new carb dominant diet lacks the balance and nutrients  we have historically gotten from our diet.

There are absolutely cultures that eat a carbohydrate dominant diet and are in peak health. The carbohydrates in these cultures diets are natural sources though, not from cereal grains and sugar.

We have never before in mankind had the emergency need to lower blood sugar due to diet, until recently. It is not that carbs are evil, but a lot of times the poison is in the dose, and out standard american diet is causing us to overdose on carbohydrates.

This overdose of processed carbohydrates and sugar is reflected in the overall health of our society.  We are experiencing skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease as a society due to the way we are eating and living.


Abbreviated Blood Sugar Explanation

You consume a carbohydrate rich food which turns into glucose when broken down. The pancreas releases the main storage hormone insulin in response to the glucose in the system.

The body converts and stores that sugar in the liver, muscles and a little bit in the skeleton. When the basic needs for sugar are met the body gets the signal that all the necessary areas are topped off.

When the cells no longer accept any more sugar the body pumps out more insulin in the hope that more insulin will convince the body to respond. The body is smart and realizes that we are topped off, but have unlimited energy storage all round the body in the form of body fat.

This body fat can be utilized in times of food scarcity, the only problem is that the scarcity never comes and the body continues to get an influx of carbohydrates and sugar daily continually storing more body fat.

This daily blood sugar roller coaster keeps insulin elevated meaning that accessing that body for energy is impossible. Eventually our cells stop responding to the storage hormone insulin because it is constantly circulating.

You combine that insulin resistance with poor sleep and a basic sedentary lifestyle and you have a one way ticket to a wrecked metabolism and a host of health problems.

The Trinity

Carbohydrates comes in three basic forms glucose, fructose and fiber. The body uses glucose and fructose to produce energy. The body prefers to use glucose as its fuel over glucose.

Glucose in large amounts from non foods such as high fructose corn syrup is treated like a poison and shunted to the liver where it is processed. Fiber can’t be used as energy for the brain or cells, but does feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut.

An interesting fact is that carbohydrates are the only non essential macronutrient. macronutrients are protein, fats, carbohydrates and water.

The body is able to makes its own glucose using amino and fatty acids through a process called gluconeogenesis, however this process can fall short in providing what some will need.

This glucose is then used by the brain and the rest of the body. While this is an interesting fact I do not believe that going low carbohydrate is the best choice for everybody, but for some it can be very therapeutic.

Context is king, and your individual context matters in this equation.

Anti Nutrients: Phytic Acid & Lectins

Phytic acid is an anti nutrient found in large amounts in  commercial grains and legumes. Phytic acid is found in the bran of a grain and along with the protein layer in legumes.

Phytic acid binds to minerals in the body rendering them unavailable for absorption and turning into phytate.

Phytates prevent minerals from absorbed in the small intestine and negatively impacts the digestion of protein, fats and carbs causing digestive issues.

Lectins are a protein that can bind to cell membranes, and are found in high concentrations in commercial grains and legumes.

Lectins found in grains and legumes are resistant to digestion allowing them to pass through the digestive tract undigested. Lectins resistance to digestion causes gut inflammation by damaging the gut lining quicker than it can repair.

With the constant damage and inflammation, the gut starts to become leaky. Leaky gut allows undigested foods into the bloodstream causing inflammatory responses. When leaky gut happens it also allows essential nutrients to pass through the gut lining instead of being digested and used.

Gluten and Leaky Gut

Gluten, you knew it was coming and that I was going to to talk about it. Before we can talk about the negative impacts of gluten we should define it clearly.

Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley and is the protein combination of gliadin and glutenin. While there are people who have zero “reaction” to gluten on the outside, every client I have worked with has seen improvements in blood sugar and digestion after removing gluten containing foods.

The protein gluten is very difficult to digest and break down causing aggravation in the gut.The lining of the gut eventually gets worn down by the constant irritation of undigested foods.

Because the gut lining is worn down and beat up it allows improperly digested foods into the bloodstream.

The body only recognizes properly digested foods in the blood stream, and our immune system views these undigested foods as a foreign invader that needs to be attacked.

This also allows essential nutrients to pass through the gut lining instead of being digested and used. This chronic use of the immune system to attack foods leads to chronic inflammation and over time food allergies can develop.

The Good: Carbohydrates That Come From Nature

On to the good stuff already, enough doom and gloom already When you consume carbohydrates that come from nature, and are not man made many of these problems are avoided.

These sources of carbohydrates that come from nature are rich in vitamins and minerals and are packaged with enzymes that are beneficial to health.

Some great sources of carbohydrates to consume are: Spaghetti squash, Sweet potatoes, White potatoes ( if tolerated), Plantains , Acorn, squash, Beets , Parsnips, Winter squash, Cassava, Taro root, Butternut Squash, Yams.

The carbohydrates that are available from nature do not cause the same kind of blood sugar surges and insulin secretion that we experience from processed carbs for most people.

Have you ever eaten a bowl of pasta and felt tired/bloated afterwards ? You would be hard pressed to get the same feeling from eating blueberries or a sweet potato.

While they can be vilified carbohydrates do play some important roles in the body. Carbs provide a quick source of energy for muscles and help to shuttle protein into muscles for recovery after exercise.

Glucose is a source of fuel for the brain, but the brain and heart can also be fueled by fat in the form of ketones. Carbs do help with the lubrication of joints and contribute to the protective mucus produced in the highly acidic stomach, and can be helpful to some people who struggle with constipation.

Where to go from here ?

I hope that given the insights from above you have a general idea of where you fit from highly active athlete to sedentary with constant growing waistline or metabolically damaged.

I highly encourage you to experiment and find out where your specific sweet spot is with carbohydrates. Use the Primal Carbohydrate Curve from Mark's Daily Apple to help you find that sweet spot. 

The average american or those  looking to lose weight would do better to lower their carbohydrates, and make sure they are consuming enough healthy fats and protein.

There are some folks who would even do much better going very low carb and shooting to get into ketosis where the body uses dietary fat and body fat as the main source of fuel.

Those who are serious athletes or are frequently engaged in explosive physical activity such as crossfit or mixed martial arts are going to need more carbs to fuel their athletic endeavors.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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Phone *
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