“Foods” You Should Never Eat

do not eatI get a lot of questions from friends and family regarding the stuff we eat…or more importantly, the stuff we DON’T. Right now we are on a doctor-recommended diet to aid in the healing our bodies and the boosting of our immune systems, so we have added some things to our list that we didn’t have on there before—refined sugars, dairy (except for butter), foods containing yeast, peanuts and peanut products, and mushrooms. We also really try to limit our wheat intake, although we aren’t strictly gluten-free

Aside from the above-mentioned foods, we have chosen to avoid consuming the following “food” products. These are items that really don’t qualify as food, and can actually be quite harmful for the human body. Because the body doesn’t recognize them as food, they are difficult to digest, and they put a great strain on the body’s organs, particularly the liver and pancreas, but also the kidneys, and the whole digestive system. They increase the overall toxicity of the body and keep it from functioning like it should. They also put a great strain on the immune system, and leave you much more vulnerable to all kinds of things. I speak from experience because I used to eat these things all the time, and now my body doesn’t work right, and my immune system is severely compromised. I would highly recommend avoiding, as much as possible, all of the following products:

Crisco1. Hydrogenated oils

Hydrogenated oils are some of the very first things we chose to avoid around here. These things are super bad for you and do terrible things to your body. Just avoiding Crisco won’t keep you out of trouble though, because hydrogenated oils are in most processed (think boxed, bagged, prepackaged) foods. You really have to watch for them because they are truly everywhere. They contain a high level of trans fats which are poisonous to the body, causing metabolic issues, and problems that can lead to diseases like MS and even arthritis. They are, in part, to blame for the obesity epidemic in our country. Even partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided. Many of the hydrogenated oils are made from GMO crops including soybean oil and cottonseed oil (see below), so we’re talking double jeopardy when you consume foods with these in them. Here are a couple of articles about them:

Margarine Label2. Vegetable Oils and Margarine

Remember when everyone said that Canola Oil was good for you? Well, they were wrong. In fact, Canola is one of the worst oils to cook with , or to have in your food, because the majority of it is genetically modified. Canola and other vegetable oils also have way too much Omega-6 Fatty Acids to be good for our bodies, and this can contribute to asthma, blindness, heart disease and cancer. Many vegetable oils contain a compound called HNE which can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, liver problems, cancer, and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s. Margarine ranks right up there in this category, as it is simply a substance made from vegetable oils, usually hydrogenated vegetable oils. Again we’re talking double jeopardy.

sodas3. High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup is another of those ubiquitous ingredients that is in the majority of processed foods. Sodas are one of the worst offenders because of the amount they contain, but there are hundreds of other food products out there that also contain it–even stuff that you wouldn’t think of as being “sweetened.” HFCS has been linked to diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. You seriously have to watch the labels for this. I bought some diced tomatoes the other day without checking the label first because I thought, well, that they were just diced tomatoes. I realized after I had opened them and used them, that they contained HFCS! What in the world?? Won’t be buying those again! There are a ton of articles that outline the dangers of this product, and I can’t possibly list them all here. Here are a few:

SONY DSC4. “Low Fat” and “Fat Free” Foods

OK, first of all, I used to be HUGE into these things because I had been led to believe that a low-fat diet is really good for you. Foods that are altered to take out the fat are actually really bad for you. Usually they have to add a bunch of junk to it to make up for the added fat, and that junk is not good for you. Often they increase the sugar content (or HFCS). Sure, fats can be bad, but it’s only the BAD fats that are bad. There are healthy fats out there that have gotten a bad rap over the years (with the whole low-fat craze) that we actually NEED in our diet to be healthy. There is this myth that has gone around for years that if you eat fat, you will get fat. That is true if you’re eating fats like hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils, corn-fed fatty beef and pork. But if you are eating the good fats that God gave us (including good saturated fats), you are giving your body something it needs to metabolize food properly and absorb vitamins. Here are some articles about fat:

Accent5. MSG

MSG, aka Monosodium Glutamate, is a flavor enhancer used in a LOT of foods, but it can cause a lot of health issues. Many people think you only have to worry about this if you’re eating Chinese food, but not so. If you have ever used the once-very-popular seasoning called Accent, you are applying MSG directly onto your food. It is also used in other seasonings as well. But worse than that, it is in a TON of processed foods sitting in your pantry or fridge, and you probably don’t even know it. One of the most tricky things about avoiding MSG is that the food industry calls it by many different names. Even “natural flavors” on a label can contain MSG. Stinks, doesn’t it? So what’s the big deal? Well, MSG is considered an excitotoxin, which means, according to neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock, an expert in this field, that “it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.” See the article below for more information about this toxic substance:

colorful_cupcakes6. Artificial Flavors and Colors

We try to avoid anything artificial around here. The idea of fake food or food ingredients has recently started to creep me out, especially the more I learn about how bad they are for our bodies. Artificial stuff is most always made up of chemicals, and chemicals are toxic to our bodies. There have been many studies linking certain artificial colors to ADD, ADHD and other issues. Here are some articles about these yuckies:

7. Genetically Engineered “GE” foods aka “GMOs” (Genetically Modified Organisms)

There are basically 8 main genetically engineered foods on the market today (although they are working on more):

  • Corn or any products made with corn (including corn oil, corn syrup, cornstarch, cornmeal, etc.)genetically modified
  • Soy and any products made with soy (including soy lecithin, soybean oil, tofu, etc.)
  • Beets and Beet Sugar (and products made with them—if a processed food contains sugar as one of the ingredients, unless it specifies that it is cane sugar, it is almost always GMO beet sugar)
  • Crookneck Squash and some varieties of Zucchini
  • Hawaiian Papaya
  • Canola
  • Cotton and any products made with it (including cottonseed oil)
  • Alfalfa

Not ALL the foods in these groups are GMO, but the majority are—I think it’s over 90% in each category—and the numbers keep rising. It’s also important to note that animals that eat these things as feed (think cows and chickens) are going to absorb these things into their bodies, so unless you’re choosing grass-fed organic chicken, beef and dairy, you are likely consuming GMOs there as well. There is a lot of controversy about GMOs, and the government will tell you that they are perfectly safe. However, more studies are showing that GMOs are hazardous to our health and to the environment, as well as to the integrity of our food supply worldwide. Many countries will not allow GMOs to be grown there, and won’t allow GMO imports from the U.S. Just Google the term and you can find all kinds of articles about the problems associated with genetically altered foods. Here are a few that I found particularly interesting:

carrageenan8. Carrageenan

Carrageenan made from seaweed and is used in many products to give them a thicker, fuller consistency. You would think that seaweed would be good for you, and since it is natural, that it shouldn’t be harmful. However, Carrageenan is a known inflammatory. In fact, it is an agent used by drug researchers and manufacturers to purposefully induce an inflammatory response in lab rats in order to be able to test anti-inflammatory drugs. They use it because they know it will induce inflammation every time. Why would they put this in our food? Unfortunately, even many organic foods contain Carrageenan, so you have to be very careful. We drink almond milk at our house, and I have found that several varieties contain Carrageenan. Silk Pure Almond does not, so that’s our brand of choice. All refrigerated and box forms of coconut milk that I have seen also contain it, which is one reason we chose almond as our milk substitute. Here are a couple of interesting articles:

sweetener packets9. Artificial Sweeteners

This falls under our vow to avoid eating anything artificial, but I think artificial sweeteners are, in themselves, their own special category of evil. These chemicals can do horrific damage to your body, and can cause all kinds of problems. Aspartame is possibly the worst of all of them, and can cause cancerous tumors, blindness, health problems that mimic MS, weight gain (which is usually what people are trying to avoid by using them), and a host of other more serious issues. I personally know someone who was diagnosed with MS, and another who had partial blindness, both from drinking diet sodas. When they gave up the artificial sweeteners, their symptoms cleared up, thankfully. But others aren’t so lucky and suffer permanent damage. There are very informative articles below, and a link to a site with a video documentary called “Sweet Misery” which is extremely enlightening and gives a lot of insight into the FDA’s failure to police and protect when it comes to dangerous food additives.

tofu10. Soy and anything containing soy ingredients

Soy is certainly NOT the health food that it has been promoted as being. The exception to this is fermented soy, which is actually good for you. Soy sauce is fermented, and we eat that in a lot of Asian dishes. Tofu, however is not fermented and isn’t recommended, despite all the healthy hype it has gotten, because like other unfermented soy products, it can cause lots of problems. When I started having thyroid issues, I learned that unfermented soy is one of the foods that can really wreak havoc on thyroid and thyroid hormones. And upon further examination, I found that all kinds of other problems are associated with soy and soy products. Did you know that just two glasses of soy milk a day can alter a woman’s monthly cycle? Think about what that much could do to an infant fed soy formula or a child fed soy milk—it’s mega-multiplied! In the second article below, Dr. Mercola describes how giving a baby soy formula is like giving them the same amount of estrogen in 5 birth control pills every day! Check out these articles:

hot dogs11. Processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs, sausage and bacon

Nitrates and nitrites are chemicals that are used in fertilizers and rodenticides (to kill rodents) and also in processed meats as preservatives. Yum—rat killer. I know they come in various forms and all, but still. Ick. Moreover, these preservatives are linked to all kinds of nasty stuff like brain tumors, several different kinds of cancers, diabetes, thyroid issues, blood disorders, COPD and other diseases and problems. They can also lead to birth defects and SIDS, carrying a great enough risk that many OBs advise expectant moms to avoid them completely during pregnancy. They can also be found in some drinking water, thanks to them being used as fertilizers and pesticides, because they get into soil and leach into the water. So you’re compounding your consumption if you happen to be ingesting them through water and food. Children are most at risk to develop the diseases associated with nitrates and nitrites because their smaller bodies cannot handle the large amounts of the chemical coursing through their systems. This is scary because hot dogs and lunch meat are standard fare for many kids. Not only do these types of meats contain these risky chemicals, processed meats are questionable in themselves, especially hot dogs, but really all of them. It is a stretch to call many of them meat at all. We’re not taking any chances on these things. Here’s an article put out by the EPA that is very informative, and another by Mercola that outlines these and other dangers of processed meats, along with some of the other “foods” I’ve mentioned above:

microwave popcorn12. Microwave Popcorn

OK—this one may seem to have popped up (pardon the pun!) on this list rather unexpectedly, but it is worth noting. Popcorn, in itself, is not necessarily bad. I read once that popping corn is always non-GMO (although I still try to always buy it organic, anyway). And if you pop it and flavor it yourself with natural ingredients (i.e. real butter or coconut oil and MSG-free seasonings), it can be a pretty good little snack. It’s the pre-packaged microwaveable stuff that gets you in trouble. There are dangerous chemicals that coat the insides of microwave popcorn bags, and these chemicals leach into the popcorn when heated. They have been linked to cancer, infertility, thyroid disease, immune system problems, and other issues. There are accounts of people who have eaten this popcorn for years, and now they are experiencing serious and irreversible lung damage from inhaling the buttery aroma. There are also lots of icky things in some of the flavorings they put on these kinds of popcorn as well. Here’s an article from Environmental Science & Technology, and another article by Mercola about this and other foods he recommends avoiding:

These are the main things we seriously avoid at all costs. I can’t really call them foods (without the little “quotes”), because they are either completely fake, or so altered that they don’t even count as food. Many overly processed foods and stuff from fast food restaurants contain some of these ingredients, so we don’t buy those things either (I could have listed fast food as its own category, but I’ll leave that for another post). As you can see, each one packs an ugly punch, and can harm your health in more ways than you can imagine. I’ll talk more in detail about some of these foods in future posts, but just wanted to introduce them here. I would urge you to consider removing them from your diet like we have—you will be glad you did!



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About Susan Cunningham

Susan lives in Texas with her husband and son. She loves sharing about her faith in Jesus, writing, homeschooling her boy, natural living, eating real food, pursuing health and wellness, and teaching others about essential oils. She blogs about real life at www.livethereallife.com.

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