With so many new products on the market that claim to be ‘healthy’ and an improvement over the old standbys, how do you decide which foods will truly support optimal health? The simple answer is go for real food – food that is as close to how it grew on the farm as possible. Foods that have been processed to remove natural components usually have unhealthy things added back into them and are lacking vital nutrients and enzymes. And these foods often don’t taste as good and are not as satisfying as the real thing!
Whole milk beats skim.
If you think about it, skim milk is simply sugar (lactose) and (water). In it’s original form, fat balanced out the sugar, but in removing the fat, we then are left with something that turns into glucose (causing an insulin reaction) and also causes our blood sugar to become unstable.
If you are of a certain age, you remember that low fat or skim milk used to look transparent and have a blue tinge to it. The reduced fat milk on the market now doesn;t look this way anymore because these products have had powdered milk added to them to give them back the body and creaminess that was removed when the fat was taken out. This powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol which has been implicated in heart disease.(1,2,3)
Bottom line: If you are going to eat dairy products, go with full fat varieties. Choose raw if that is available. Better yet, consider switching to coconut milk! Coconut milk has a number of health benefits!
If you have to have a sweetener, natural is best.
We eat far too much sugar than is good for us, but the side effects of artificial sweeteners are even worse. Artificial sweeteners do not promote weight loss – in fact they do the opposite. Studies have shown that people who drank diet sodas experienced a 70% increase in waist circumference, and those who drank two or more a day saw a 500% increase over the next decade! They aren’t sure why — if it’s that people are hungrier, because their body thought they were getting some calories and then didn’t, or if the artificial sweetener “tricked” the body into releasing insulin, causing weight gain.
Aspartame is made up of 40% aspartic acid, 50% pheylalanine, and 10% methanol. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what it’s made up of because it’s only ever listed as “aspartame” on ingredient labels.
And aspartic acid can pass through the blood-brain-barrier and accumulate in the brain. Aspartic acid acts as an excitotoxin. Phenylalanine competes for absorption in the brain with tryptophan, which can lead to decreased levels of serotonin, the ‘feel good hormone’. Methanol is possibly the worst ingredient of all. Methanol is a wood alcohol that is released in the small intestine. If aspartame is heated it increases the absorption of free methanol in the body. This methanol breaks down to form formic acid and formaldehyde in the body.
Sucralose – “Splenda”
The chemical sucralose, marketed as “Splenda”, has replaced aspartame as the #1 artificial sweetener in foods and beverages. Aspartame has been forced out by increasing public awareness that it is both a neurotoxin and an underlying cause of chronic illness worldwide.
Dr. James Bowen, Researcher and biochemist, reports: “Splenda/sucralose is chlorinated sugar; (a chlorocarbon). Common chlorocarbons include carbon tetrachloride, trichlorethelene and methylene chloride, all deadly. Chlorine is considered nature’s attack dog, a highly excitable, ferocious atomic element employed as a biocide in bleach, disinfectants, insecticide, WWI poison gas and hydrochloric acid.
In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies. These chemicals attack the human nervous system and many other body systems including genetics and the immune function. Thus, chlorocarbon poisoning can cause cancer, birth defects, and immune system destruction. These are well known effects of Dioxin and PCBs which are known deadly “chlorocarbons.” Aspartame created brain tumors in rats. Sucralose has been found to shrink thymus glands (the biological seat of immunity) and produce liver inflammation in rats and mice.(5, 6)
Finally, drinking even ONE artificlly sweetened beverage a day was associated with a 6% to 20% greater relative risk of being diagnosed with hypertension.(7)
Bottom line: If you must have a sweetener, choose a little bit of honey or maple syrup. If you’re watching calories, try stevia, a natural sweetener which is the only sweetener which doesn’t spike insulin.
Avoid processed fats at all costs
Commercially prepared seed oils (corn, canola, etc.) found in grocery stores are NOT safe to eat. Using high temperatures and chemical solvents to economically extract the oils, they become damaged and rancid. The offensive smells are removed prior to bottling, but the rancid oils with the free radicals are still present.
These oils are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation and various problems when consumed in excess.(8) These oils are often hydrogenated, which makes them high in trans fats. Many studies have shown that these fats and oils actually increase the risk of heart disease, even if they aren’t hydrogenated.(9)
It is a myth that saturated fats are dangerous for your health. The error in the large dietary studies of the twentieth century was that saturated fats were grouped with trans-fatty acids (artificially saturated). All of the detrimental health effects associated with saturated fats belong to trans-fatty acids.
It’s also a myth that fat makes you fat. Fats have more calories than protein or carbohydrates and this has led people to believe that this makes one fat. Fat is more satisfying than protein and carbohydrates, leading us to consume fewer calories overall. Fats reduce hunger, improve moods, sleep and energy and supply fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K, portions of B complex and essential fatty acids (EFA’s) such as Omegas -3 and -6.
Bottom line: Choose healthy, natural fats such as those found in olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, full-fat dairy eggs and the fat found in grass-fed meat.
(1) Oxidized cholesterol in the diet accelerates the development of atherosclerosis in LDL receptor- and apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Staprans I, Pan XM, Rapp JH, Grunfeld C, Feingold KR, (2000), Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2000 Mar;20(3):708-14. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10712395
(2) Oxidation of cholesterol by heating, Osada K , Kodama T, et al, J. Agric. Food Chem., 1993, 41 (8), pp 1198–1202, DOI: 10.1021/jf00032a006, Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00032a006
(3) Oxidized cholesterol in the diet is a source of oxidized lipoproteins in human serum, Staprans I, Pan XM, Journal of Lipid Research, retrieved from http://www.jlr.org/content/44/4/705.full.pdf
(4) Fowler, Sharon P., et al. “Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long‐term Weight Gain.” Obesity 16.8 (2008): 1894-1900.
(5) Chlorine: From toxic chemical to household cleaner, Rowlatt J, BBC World Service, 18Apr2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27057547
(6) The Lethal Science of Splenda, a Poisinous Chlorocarbon, Bowen J, 08May2005, http://happyhealthyweightloss.com/weightlossblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/The-Lethal-Science-of-Splenda-A-Poisonous-Chlorocarbon.pdf
(7) American Society of Nephrology, Cohen L, et al “Association of sweetened beverage intake and incident hypertension is similar between sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverages” ASN2011; Abstract TH-PO765. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3515007/
(8) Dietary n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: from biochemistry to clinical implications in cardiovascular prevention. Russo GL. Biochem Pharmacol. 2009 Mar 15;77(6):937-46. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2008.10.020. Epub 2008 Oct 28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19022225
(9) Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Diet in Secondary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease, J. M. Woodhill,A. J. Palmer,B. Leelarthaepin,et al, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Volume 109, 1978, pp 317-330. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4684-0967-3_18