As the year winds down, many folks are looking to the next year to make positive changes. Many New Year's resolutions revolve around developing better eating habits.
“You are what you eat” is far more than an often-quoted cliche. It is one of the most important things you can do to get and stay healthy. Maybe the most important.
When people talk about “eating better," they usually vow to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, or drink more water, or add a few quality supplements to their daily fare.
These are all great ideas.
But what you don't put in your body is as important as what you do put in it.
Think about it. Most of us would never consider putting cheap, inferior gas, and oil in our cars. Yet most people gobble down slop that would make pigs sick. And they do this daily.
If you are serious about eating for health, it begins with what to avoid. Here are a few suggestions...
1. Microwave popcorn. Yes, it's convenient. But it also contains many unpleasant surprises. First off, the bag itself. Microwave popcorn bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This is a toxin you can also find in Teflon. According to a recent study at the University of California, PFOA is linked to infertility in women.
Numerous studies in lab animals and humans show that exposure to PFOA significantly increases the risk of kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, and testicular cancers. Read more about it at cancer.org.
But we're not done yet. It's time to consider what's inside the bag. Most manufacturers use soybean oil (a GMO product) as well as various preservatives such as propyl gallate, a chemical that causes stomach problems, and skin rashes. But you wouldn't know it by reading the label.
Why? Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require GMO corn kernels to be listed as such. Even if they don’t use GMO corn, you can bet your house they aren’t using organic corn!
If all this weren't enough, applied to the popcorn itself is a chemical called diacetyl. You may have read about the damage to the lungs of workers in the Conagra factory where microwave popcorn was produced.
This is the hideous substance that was responsible for it. It may take a few extra minutes to air-pop your popcorn. But the health benefits are well worth the wait, and the refined, fresh taste is the icing on the cake.
2. Non-organic fruits. Non-organic fruits are contaminated with some hazardous pesticides such as atrazine, thiodicarb, and organophosphates, as well as high nitrogen fertilizers.
Atrazine is banned in European countries, but our FDA has still not moved to do the same in America. This chemical is a weed killer that is extremely hazardous to humans, especially our reproductive capabilities.
A 2009 study found that when pregnant women drank water contaminated with atrazine, their babies had reduced body weights.
In their never-ending quest for profits, the giant agricultural companies (Big Agra) pour an enormous amount of these chemicals on our products, as well as hormones, to make the fruit and veggies grow bigger.
Apples are probably the worst offenders with pesticides showing on more than 98 percent of all apples tested.
Fruits with a 90-percent positive rate of pesticide residue included oranges, strawberries, and grapes.
Washing fruit does not remove 100 percent of the residue. Pesticides are toxic chemicals to insects as well as human beings. The takeaway? Eat organic as much as possible.
3. Canned Tomatoes. Most canned foods are a problem, due to the internal lining of the can: a chemical called bisphenol-A, or BPA.
A study published in May of 2013 by the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences showed that BPA alters the way genes work inside the brain of rats.
Even the FDA is finally moving its quicksand-laden feet on BPA since it's dangers can no longer be suppressed or ignored. Of course, it may take years for them to either eliminate BPA or minimize its use.
But we don't have to wait on Leviathan bureaucrats. We can reduce our exposure to cans now.
Why tomatoes? They are exceptionally dangerous due to their high acidity, which seems to cause BPA to seep from the lining of the can into the vegetables themselves.
The level of BPA can be so high that you should seriously consider not feeding them to children. Again, due to FDA laws, there are no standards for labeling BPA, so just because a can does not say it has BPA does not mean that it does not contain BPA.
Be safe and avoid cans. Cook fresh or buy glass bottles.
4. Processed Meats. What are we talking about here? Sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and most lunch meats like bologna or pimento loaf.
The problem is that the excessive salts and chemicals used when making processed meats are damaging to your health, according to research from the Journal of BMC Medicine.
The study showed that those who ate 160 grams or more of processed meats increased their risk of early death as much as 44 percent within 12 years as opposed to those who consumed 20 grams or less.
This study involved people from 10 European countries and went on for almost 13 years.
Here's the problem: processed meats contain numerous chemicals and preservatives, including sodium nitrates, which make them look appealing and fresh but are well-known carcinogens.
Smoked meats seem to be particularly dangerous as the meat picks up tar from the smoking process. Yes, good old tar, the same deadly ingredient that cigarette smoke contains.
5. Farmed Salmon. Although fish is usually a very healthy food, it depends on where and how they are raised and fed. More than 60 percent of the salmon consumed in the USA is farm-raised.
These fish are fed unnatural diets and are contaminated with chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides, and other known carcinogens. They live in very crowded conditions which results in these fish having 30 times the number of sea lice than wild salmon (Bon Appetit!).
Farmed salmon are fed chemicals to make their meat that reddish pink color that should occur naturally but doesn’t due to the diet of chicken litter they are fed.
Also, as a result of their diet, they have less of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids we think we are getting when we consume fish.
Studies have also shown that farmed salmon contain high levels of PCBs, mercury, and cancer-causing dioxins. Avoid farmed salmon.
Buy it canned or look for labels that state the fish you are buying is wild sockeye salmon.
6. Potato Chips. Potato chips are a cheap, great tasting, quick snack. However, the havoc they wreak on your body IS NOT worth the little bit of pleasure you derive from these crispy snacks.
Potato chips are high in both fat and calories, which are sure to bring on weight gain.
A study done in the New England Journal of Medicine found that eating just 1 ounce of potato chips per day caused an average 2-pound weight gain in one year...UGH!
Besides being full of trans-fats, which can cause high cholesterol in most people, they have excessive sodium levels, which, for many people, cause high blood pressure.
Potato chips are loaded with artificial flavors, many preservatives, and colors as well, more garbage your body doesn’t need. Potato chips are fried at high temperatures to make them crispy, but this also causes them to make a material called acrylamide, a known carcinogen that is also found in cigarettes.
If you must eat them to preserve peace in the family, or if you have an occasional craving, buy baked potato chips or tortilla chips, which are both lower in fat and calories.
Air-popped popcorn, and whole wheat pretzels are other healthier options.
Or try baked apple chips or dehydrated banana chips. Both are crispy and are far healthier than regular potato chips.
7. Hydrogenated oils. Let’s start with this: all hydrogenated oils are vegetable oils.
Vegetable oils must be chemically removed from their source, not extracted naturally like butter. They are then changed to be more acceptable to consumers. They are frequently deodorized and colored to look appealing.
All vegetable oils contain high levels of Omega–6 fatty acids. The bad news?
An excess of Omega-6 fatty acids can cause health problems, such as heart disease and an increase in various cancers, especially skin cancer. You need the right balance of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Try to get plenty of Omega-3 every day. You can do this in the form of supplements and grass-fed meats. Also, remember that fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are an excellent source of Omega-3.
Hydrogenated oils are used to preserve processed foods and keep them looking appealing for a long as possible. Hydrogenated oils influence our cell membranes’ structure and flexibility, which is linked to cancer.
Remember, they are used to increase the bottom line profits of Big Agra...not for your health and well-being.
8. Foods that are highly salted, pickled, or smoked. These are foods that are cured using nitrates, which act as preservatives and add color to the meat.
Although nitrates do not cause cancer in and of themselves, under certain conditions, these chemicals change once they are inside the body into N-nitroso composites. This insidious substance is associated with a higher increase in the risk of developing cancers.
Smoking meat or nuts causes them to absorb considerable amounts of the tar produced by the smoke.
Tar is a known carcinogen. Meats such as bacon, sausage, bologna, and salami are high in fat and salt. Pickled foods are also very high in salts.
There is overwhelming evidence that eating these types of foods significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer and higher rates of stomach cancer.
The rates of stomach cancer are much higher in Japan, where a traditional diet contains many foods highly salted or smoked.
9. Highly processed white flours. Most people know that white flour is not healthy. But they may not know just how bad it is for your health. Refining grains destroys its natural nutrients.
Mills are no longer content with waiting for their flour to whiten with time; mills now bleach flour with a chemical called chlorine gas.
The EPA states that chlorine gas is a dangerous irritant that is not safe to inhale and, in large quantities, can be lethal.
White flour lurks in many processed foods. White processed flour has a very high glycemic rate, which quickly raises the blood sugar level and insulin levels, which can be a direct cause of diabetes.
If that weren't bad enough, it is believed that it spreads cancer cells by feeding the cells directly.
Cancerous tumors feed mostly on the sugars in your bloodstream. By avoiding refined grains such as white flour, you can prevent, or at the very least, starve tumors.
10. GMO’s. Genetically Modified Organisms (more commonly called GMO’s) are foods that have been modified and grown by chemicals in a “Frankenstein” manner.
In a study done by Dr. Pusztai at the Rowett Institute in Scotland, rats were fed GMO foods, especially potatoes. ALL rodents showed damaged immune systems, precancerous cell growths, and smaller brains and livers...in just the first ten days of the project!
American consumers believe that the FDA has approved these GMO foods, but as usual, they haven't. Even if they had, considering the track record of the FDA's reckless disregard for safety, it would not make GMO's a bit safer.
The FDA has NO testing procedures for GMO foods, NONE. ZERO. NADA.
The only human study ever published showed that those foreign genes present in GM food transfer to the DNA in the bacteria in our digestive systems.
We, the American consumer, are the guinea pig (or rat) in this case. Unfortunately, almost all grains, including soybeans, wheat, and corn, have been grown via GMOs.
GMO’s do not have to be listed on food labels, so read carefully and look for labels that state the food is GMO-free.
11. Refined Sugars. Refined sugars are not only known to spike insulin levels but also be a tasty feast for cancer cells, which can cause them to experience explosive growth.
It is a known fact that cancers have a sweet tooth. Otto Warburg, a Nobel laureate in medicine, discovered in 1931, that tumors and cancers both use sugars to “feed” themselves and to increase in size.
To multiply, cancer cells seem to prefer feeding on fructose-rich sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Why? Because HFCS is metabolized by cancer cells most quickly and easily.
Now it should be crystal-clear why high-fructose corn syrup is considered the worst offender. Cakes, pies, cookies, sodas, juices, sauces, cereals, and many other famous, processed food items are loaded with refined sugars in general and HFCS in particular.
This helps explain why cancer rates are soaring these days.
12. Artificial Sweeteners. There is a cruel irony here. People who need to lose weight or have diabetes, use artificial sweeteners to avoid sugar.
Sounds good. But in reality, numerous studies show people who consume artificial sweeteners regularly gain weight! Artificial sweeteners also do little or nothing to help those with diabetes.
In fact, artificial sweeteners make it even harder to control their blood sugar levels and worsen conditions that are related to diabetes, such as cataracts and gastroparesis.
Sometimes aspartame has been found to cause convulsions, which some people will mistake for an insulin reaction.
Not to mention that artificial sweeteners inhibit your body’s ability to monitor its daily calorie consumption and make the body crave even more sweets...in essence, creating a vicious circle.
There is mounting evidence that the chemicals that make up these sweeteners, especially aspartame, break down in the body into a deadly toxin called DKP.
When your stomach processes this chemical, the stomach then produces chemicals that can cause cancer, especially brain tumors.
There are no shortcuts. Avoid this poison.
13. “Diet Anything.” Diet foods, including frozen foods, or prepackaged foods labeled as “diet” or “low-fat," including diet sodas, generally contain aspartame, which is a chemical, artificial sweetener (see above).
Numerous studies are showing that aspartame causes many diseases and sicknesses, such as cancers, birth defects, and heart problems.
All “diet” food is chemically processed and made from super refined ingredients, has excessive sodium concentrations, as well as artificial colors and flavors to make it taste good.
Don’t forget; artificial anything is NOT real food! Although the FDA says that all these added chemicals are safe to eat, just remember their cozy relationship with Big Agra. Keep it as natural as possible.
Countless studies have shown that these additives can be addicting. They feed that “feel good” part of your brain, similar to cocaine!
Don't put anything beyond Big Agra's never-ending quest for profit. The more addictive, the better, at least for Big Agra. As mentioned earlier, keep it natural and organic.
14. Alcohol. An American study that followed the diet and lifestyles of more than 200,000 women for almost 14 years found that postmenopausal women who drank one drink per day or less had a nearly 30 percent increase in breast cancer rates compared to women who did not drink.
Alcohol use is the second leading cause of cancer, right behind tobacco consumption. While moderate or low consumption of alcohol can be healthy and lead to a reduced risk of heart disease, excessive drinking is known to cause heart failure, stroke, and sudden death.
In 2007, experts working for the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer looked at the scientific evidence regarding cancer and alcohol use from 27 different studies.
They found sufficient evidence to state that excessive alcohol abuse is the primary cause of mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, mouth, rectum, and female breast cancers.
This doesn't mean that you need to abstain from alcohol entirely. Provided you have no serious medical condition, moderate alcohol intake can be relaxing, and possibly have a few beneficial health benefits.
The key is moderation: no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
15. Red Meat. We evolved eating red meat, but not the kind of meat that is available in our grocery stores today. The difference is how the cattle are fed. They are meant to eat grass.
But in Big Agra's mass production farms, cattle are fed cheaper corn, which is not a natural food for them.
There is evidence that shows red meat is actually a good thing in your diet, in small, infrequent amounts, if it is from grass-fed cattle. Grass-fed beef contains conjugated linoleic acid that fights against certain cancers
Grass-fed beef contains conjugated linoleic acid that fights against certain cancers
16. Soda Pop. A recent study that was published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed more than one soda per day had a higher risk of stroke than people who did not drink sodas.
Loaded with sugar, sodas are an empty source of calories that cause weight gain and contribute to the nationwide epidemic of obesity.
Drinking large amounts of this rapidly digested sugar causes your blood sugar to skyrocket, which can lead to both inflammation and insulin resistance.
Soda is often the cause of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, which is when the contents of the stomach leak into the esophagus, causing not only pain but an actual burning of the esophagus from stomach acid.
Although sodas are not a direct cause of ulcers, they are known to irritate and make those with ulcers have more pain. Sodas also contain artificial colorings and food chemicals like derivative 4-methylimidazole (4-MI); no wonder soda has been linked to cancer.
Okay, I'm Convinced...Now, What Should I Do?
As you read this list, it appears discouraging, to say the least. It seems like no matter how hard you try, it is virtually impossible to avoid all cancer-causing food additives altogether. And that's correct. No one can avoid these harmful substances altogether.
But that doesn't mean throw in the towel. By being aware of the damage these foods can cause, you can raise your awareness, and at the very least, minimize your intake of them.
Remember, total avoidance is the end goal, but you can still work wonders on your excellent health by dodging these nutritional bullets as much as possible.
Finally, don't forget to keep educating yourself on dangerous food additives. Discoveries of harmful substances in food are happening far more quickly than in the past. Make it a point to stay aware of them. Your continued good health depends on it.
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