Every day, several times a day, we each have the opportunity to build the foundation of long-lasting health, energy and vitality or to head down the path of chronic illness and disease. The foundation is built or eroded based on the foods we choose to eat. The industrially processed, refined, denatured foods that line grocery store shelves are filled with toxic additives.
Not only do these foods not provide any nutrition, they can actually strip our bodies of critical nutrients and minerals. This happens because our bodies need to buffer the damaging effects of man-made chemicals, such as artificial sweeteners, preservatives, flavor enhancers, food colorings and dyes, and hydrogenated fats, not to mention the toxic residues from pesticides and herbicides used to grow the majority of our crops. Minerals are pulled out of bone and other tissues to buffer the acidifying effects of these chemicals. This is a major risk factor in the development of osteoporosis, and can't be overcome by simply taking a calcium supplement.
Learning how to read labels and identify the worst culprits will give your eating habits a major upgrade right now. (Of course, the best way to avoid dangerous additives is to make your own food! Check out my article "Nutrient dense foods you should be eating" for more on this topic.)
- Avoid any foods with more than five ingredients or ingredients that you can't easily pronounce. This is a quick and easy rule of thumb to avoid some of the most toxic additives in our food supply. Highly-refined and processed foods rely on a long list of chemicals made in a lab to make them taste anything like food.
- Avoid Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). MSG is a flavor enhancer used to stimulate appetite, enhance the taste of food and reduces costs for the food manufacturer. It is an excitotoxin, meaning that it overexcites neurons. The list of harmful effects from MSG includes obesity, headaches and migraines, eye damage, rapid heartbeat, depression, numbness and tingling and more. MSG can be found under more than 40 different names on a food label, including: any ingredient that is autolyzed or hydrolyzed (usually yeast or protein), any ingredient that has glutamate (usually monopotassium or monosodium), natural flavors, soy protein, soy sauce, soy isolate, bouillon, yeast extract, carrageenan and more. Carrageenan is used as a thickener in what many consider to be "healthy" milk alternatives, such as almond or cashew milk.
- Steer clear of too many sugars. Eating too much sugar can lead to a host of metabolic problems, including obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Sugar also feeds cancer cells. (Read the article "Sugar by any other name" to learn more about the potential damage caused by too much sugar.) Like MSG, sugar is another ingredient that hides under many different names. Sugar can be listed as: Barley Malt, Barbados sugar, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Cane juice, Cane sugar, Caramel, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Dextrose, Diastatic malt, Diastase, Ethyl maltol, Fructose, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Galactose, Glucose, High Fructose corn syrup, Honey, Lactose, Maltodextrin, Maltose, Malt syrup, Mannitol, Rice syrup, Sorbitol, Sorghum or Sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Sugar, Turbinado sugar. Anything ending in -tol (Sorbitol or mannitol, for example), is a sugar alcohol that is hard to digest and can be detrimental to your microbiome, the collection of gut bacteria that works to keep you healthy. Keep in mind that even so-called "healthy" sugars (honey or cane sugar, for example) are likely highly processed and refined and any healthy aspects have been stripped out of them during the industrialization of the food-like substance that results at the end of the process. Most other sweeteners are derived from beets or corn, both of which are crops grown mostly from Genetically Modified Organisms, engineered to withstand high amounts of glyphosate, a toxic weed-killer that does enormous damage to our microbiome.
- Avoid cancer-causing preservatives. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found that the food preservatives Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) have carcinogenic properties. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had termed them ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’, while the US Food and Drug Administration has declared BHA and BHT safe. BHA and BHT have been shown to act as an endocrine disruptors, interfering with healthy hormone production. These preservatives are commonly found in cereals, potato chips, chewing gum and cereal snack mixes.
- Soy is not a health food. Soy has been cleverly marketed as a high-protein health food for many years. The truth is that soy is high in thyroid-damaging goitrogens that interferes with a healthy metabolism and leads to fatigue, phytoestrogens that interfere with healthy estrogen and hormone balance in both men and women (including lowered fertility and increased risk of breast cancer), and anti-nutrients that cause digestive distress and lead to nutrient deficiencies. More than 90% of the soy grown in the United States is genetically modified, meaning that the plants' genes are engineered to withstand large amounts of glyphosate. (Read the article "Why you should avoid glyphosate at all costs" to learn more about this toxic input.) I recommend avoiding all soy products, but the following are particularly problematic ingredients: tofu, soy oil, soy milk, soy cheese, yogurt or ice cream, textured vegetable protein (TVP) used as a meat substitute, soy protein and edamame.
Just eat real food. And if you are ready to learn the nutritional, movement, lifestyle and mindset habits that will form the foundation of health and energy for the rest of your life, check out my e-course "Six Weeks to Abundant Energy" HERE.