From daily probiotics to things like millet falafel with avocado relish, we're endlessly fascinated by the foods nutritionists eat. They're the ones who know the effect foods can have on their bodies after all, so we can only assume they choose to eat only the best and healthiest.
On the flip side, we're just as--if not more--fascinated by the foods nutritionists won't eat. A splurge is a splurge, but what indulgences are 100% off limits because they're just that bad? Curious, we spoke with three certified nutritionist--Elissa Goodman, Meryl Pritchard, and Kelly Leveque--and asked them to share a few of the foods on their "do not touch with a ten-foot pole" list.
"Soda is not a food, and is way over-consumed in today's diet," Pritchard says. "There are about 40 grams of sugar in one single can--anything that contains over 8 grams of sugar is too much for me!" Goodman agrees, saying that the artificial sweeteners in soda (and other junk food) actually contribute to obesity and diabetes, even though they were created to solve those issues. "Basically, artificial sweeteners trick your body into believing you've just consumed sugar," she says. "This has dramatic effects on both your waistline, as well as your insulin sensitivity. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to infertility and cancer as well." She says to read labels and be cautious of ingredients like neotame, sucralose, advantame, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K).
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
Leveque says she avoids this ingredient commonly found in junk food and condiments "like the plague." She explains that fructose is 100% metabolized in your liver and undergoes something called the Maillard reaction, which leads "to the formation of superoxide free radicals...that can result in liver inflammation." It also turns into fat faster than any other carb, and is linked to metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, she says. And if you reach for agave because you think it's healthier, it's time for a wake-up call. "I avoid agave because it's 90% fructose and the closest thing to high fructose corn syrup," she warns. "It's used a lot as a sugar in 'health' foods."
INDUSTRIAL SEED OILS
Industrial seed oils like soybean,safflower, corn, and cotton are called that because they're highly processed and chemically extracted, and usually need to be deodorized in order to be edible. Yikes. "They oxidize quickly, which create loads of free radicals," Leveque says. "They're also full of Omega-6, which further throws off the imbalance of omega fatty acids in the body." Instead of industrial seed oils, try oils that are high in omega-3 and monosaturated fats, like coconut, olive, macadamia, and avocado oil. And in case you were wondering, yes, industrial oils are the ones used for all you guilty-pleasure deep fried dishes. "The oils in deep fried foods are usually cheap and full of trans fat, which is the worst type of fat you can consume," Pritchard says. "It can cause heart disease among many other health issues. I stay clear of this fat at all times."
Soy has been both celebrated and shunned over the years, but Leveque says the processed version is definitely on her "avoid at all costs" list. "Free glutamic acid, or MSG, which is a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing, "she says. "Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and can lead to infertility and promote breast cancer in adult women." She notes how the FDA never approved GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status for soy protein isolate, because of concern regarding the presence of toxins and carcinogens in processed soy. "And the FDA approves everything, so that should tell you something!
"Processed meats typically come from animals which are held in confined spaces, spreading disease and being exposed to a number of hormones and antibiotics," Goodman says. "They're also filled with sodium nitrate, which is used to chemically flavor, preserve, and add color." The downside? When your body is exposed to nitrates, Goodman says it converts them into cancer-causing chemicals. Processed meats include salami, sausages, deli ham, and yes, bacon.
Are you ready for this news? (Probably Not!!) Your favorite at-home movie snack is straight up dangerous to your health. "Perfluoroalkyls are synthetic chemicals that are added to wrappers, especially in the fast food industry, to prevent grease from leaking through," Goodman says. "Microwave popcorn bags are lined with these chemicals. Once heated, these chemicals leach into the popcorn itself. This creates highly damaging effects on your endocrine system, creating both developmental and reproductive risks. Researchers have also linked these chemicals to cancer, increased LDL cholesterol, decreased immune function, thyroid disease and infertility." "Looks like we'll be making our popcorn fresh from now on...
"Margarine is highly processed vegetable oil, which is packed with trans fat," Goodman says. "In fact, it's made from the cheapest, lowest quality oils." Remember our previous slide about industrial seed oils? Well, margarine is made with them. During this high heat process of turning liquid oil into a solid, free radicals are formed, which can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, and hormonal imbalances. Margarine and other butter substitutes contain a high number of additives and chemicals, Goodman says, as well as omega-6 fatty acids, which off-sets the ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
Here's the thing about fat-free foods--you might feel like you're making a healthier decision because in most people's minds, "fat" equals "bad", but in reality, these overly-processed foods are actually quite damaging to your health. "The food industry began replacing animal fats with unsaturated vegetable oils, which has led to an increased consumption of trans fats." Goodman explains. "In order to compensate, manufacturers add high concentrations of sugar as well. These highly refined sugars cause you blood sugar to spike, increasing your risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer."
If all the information about which foods have achieved superfood status has you head spinning, you're not alone. The term encompasses different grains, meats, fruits, vegetables, and just about every other edible substance. According to LiveScience, the word is probably more of a marketing ploy than an indication of nutrition, as you won't find any scientists using it. Still, certain foods experience a surge in popularity after some trusted nutrition source gives it the label. While many of these ingredients are healthy in moderation, overzealous folks might take the claims a little too seriously. Here are six of the most popular superfoods to show you that more isn't always better when it comes to healthy eating.
1. Juice: Sippable meals are nothing new, and it doesn't look like the craze will be going away anytime soon. The Los Angeles Times revealed juice bars continue to open with much success, and patrons are willing to shell out upwards of $12 for a nutrient-packed beverage. The healthy image probably has a lot to do with that popularity. Agter all, ;the drinks are made from little besides fruits and vegetables. CNN reported drinking juice is a good way to get vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, but also acknowledged it's easy to go overboard. The article wnet on to compare eating whole fruits to downing just the liquid, and said eight ounces of orange juice could contain up to four of the fruits.
Let's take a closer look the the citrus favorite. According to Calorie Count, 8 ounces of orange juice contains 112 calories and 20.8 grams of sugar while one fruit is just 62 calories with 12.2 grams of sugar. Some turning produce into liquid removes the fiber, a glass doesn't have the same satiating power as eating the whole shebang. Men's Fitness said trying to replace meals with juice is a surefire way to overeat. Also, removing the solids quickly leads to nutrient loss. Unless you're drinking that glass immediately, you're better off keeping produce whole.
If you hate eating fruits and vegetables, juicing could be a good way to get some nutrients you would otherwise miss, as long as you do it the right way. Don't try to replace all produce with liquid. Keep munching on ones you don't mind, focus on getting fiber from whole grains, and make sure you're eating enough protein.
2. Salmon: In a country that loves chicken, pork, and beef, seafood doesn't get much love. The Wall Street Journal revealed American's are actually eating less fish than ever. While that might be the overall truth, some folks have heartily embraced seafood. Salmon might be the most popular among health fanatics thank to high levels or protein and omega-3 fats. It's also among the least risky for mercury contamination.
It's not all good news, though. Since the worldwide harvest of wild salmon is only about 2 billion pounds every year, according to The Wall Street Journal, most of the stuff you'll find at the store is farmed. And it comes with some ingredients you probably don't want on your dinner table. The Huffington Post reported many farmed fish go overboard on fat content and contain higher levels of pollutants than wild varieties. Even if you're willing to shell out extra for wild fish, you can still overdo it. Unfortunately, even fish that aren't enclosed run the risk of swimming in polluted water. Cleveland Clinic said eating large quantities of wild or farmed salmon puts you at risk for consuming cancer-causing chemicals.
The omega-3 craze might be to blame. Though there are plenty of health benefits associated with these fats, some research is showing ti's possible to go too far. An Oregon State University team found eating omega-3s in extreme quantities can suppress your immune system and increase your risk for colitis, a type of inflammatory disease that affects your intestines. Most folks
will be fine, but you might want to rethink your supplements if you're already feasting on loads of fish.
3. Quinoa: It's the rare restaurant that doesn't have at least one quinoa dish on the menu. This grain, though it's technically a seed, gets a lot of love in the health world. Forbes explained quinoa has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. The article also mentioned it has nearly twice as much fiber as the grains. Praised for its ability to maintain a healthy digestive system and promote a feeling of fullness, fiber is a key nutrient in any healthy diet. As with anything, too much leads to some not-so-good side effects.
FitDay revealed eating too much fiber can lead to cramping and reduce your body's ability to absorb key nutrients. In extreme situations where you're not drinking enough water, you can become constipated or even experience a blockage that requires surgery. Any fiber rich foods can lead to these issues, but quinoa's sky-high levels could make it particularly troublesome.
You also need to pay attention to portion size, because this grain carries a pretty hefty number of calories. Quinoa might seem like diet food, but it actually contains more calories per serving than both brown rice and pasta. A serving should be around 1/2 cup, not an entire bowl.
4. Avocado: Fat is back in a big way, and avocados are now as common in a Caesar salad as they are on a taco. There's no denying the creamy fruits pack plenty of monounsaturated fats, and Today reported those nutrients can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Because the fruits are so high in fat, they also deliver a huge dose of calories in a relatively small package. Livestrong said one avocado contains around 322 calories, so it can quickly lead to weight gain. It's also important to remember you need to consume other foods to get all of the protein and other nutrients your body needs. You can certainly enjoy a few slices, but not at the expense of other nutritious eats.
5. Coconut Oil: Health food bloggers can't get enough of coconut oil. Whether raving about the flavor or the health benefits, they seem to be finding ways to tuck the fat into just about everything. The recent popularity has a lot to do with new reports that saturated fats don't have the cholesterol-raising, heart damaging properties we once thought. The folks at Muscle & Fitness are fns, saying it's a great addition to just about any meal.
While eating coconut oil can be perfectly healthy in moderation, drastically increasing your intake is just going to make you gain weight. It is, after all, a fat. Berkeley Wellness said none of the claims about weight-loss or preventing Alzheimer's disease have any merit, so treat it like you would butter or olive oil.
6. Kombucha: Fermentation fanatics go for foods like kimchi, but they also like to down glassed of kombucha. Though the tea has been around for centuries, it only recently caught on in America. WebMD explained it's made by adding bacteria and yeast to a sugar and tea solution, and then left to ferment. The article also mentioned it contains B vitamins and antioxidants, but that's about it as far as its health benefits go. Claims that it prevents cancer and boosts liver function just don't have and scientific basis.
While the do-it-yourself method is now as common as buying a bottle at the store, you should be aware of the increased risk of consuming harmful bacteria from homemade versions. The drink is also pretty high in acid, which could leave you with an upset stomach. In extreme cases, it could lead to a toxic buildup called metabolic acidosis. Cleveland.com reported two cases of the condition in 1995 were from drinking too much kombucha, and one was fatal. While drinking the tea from time to time is fine, don't expect it to be some magical, cure-all potion.
Osteoporosis and bone loss are two issues that affect many people every single year that can be both painful and problematic for overall health. Our bones support our muscles, joints, and without healthy bones, we may suffer fractures, breakages, and severe pain that affect our day to day life and abilities. As we age, we naturally lose bone mass. This is one reason why strength and resistance training are recommended for everyone, especially those 45 years of age and above. It's also why weight-bearing exercises like walking and yoga are so highly recommended; they support a strong body for life, indirectly prevent the breakdown of bones, and strengthen the muscles. The saying, "If you don't use it, you lose it" rings true for your muscles and your bones; to preserve bone mass, you have to help build your muscles and support your overall skeletal structure.
However, when it comes to bone loss, no amount of exercising can overcome the effects of a poor diet or daily habits that directly cause bone loss. Though one of the worst lifestyle choices for our bones is not exercising, there are some other choices we make that also can. These choices directly leach calcium from the bones, the very lifeblood that keeps our bones healthy. We've all been tricked into equating calcium needs with milk consumption since we were young. When someone hears the word calcium, milk and strong bones are the very two things that normally come next in a person's mind. However, this is only due to years of marketing tactics by the dairy industry, who pay for milk to be advertised to us as youth, and is why milk is recommended for strong bones--not because it's the best (or only) source of calcium. What's not promoted in schools and nutritional organizations, however, is how to prevent calcium loss to begin with. If more people focused on living a life that supported calcium preservation in the body, a fear of not getting enough calcium wouldn't even be an issue.
Here are some daily lifestyle choices that all deplete calcium from the bones and what you can do to ensure your bones stay as healthy as possible, all without the need to chug three glasses of cow's milk a day...
1. Soda Consumption
Diet or not, all types of soda have been linked to bone loss. They are high in phosphoric acid that leaches calcium from the bones and also places a strain on the kidneys. Soda is also full of chemicals that can lead to mineral loss and depletes the body of real nutrition. If the soda has caffeine, the effects are even worse; caffeine causes excess water loss in the body which can exasperate calcium loss since calcium and other minerals leave the body via excess urine output. Even caffeine-free sodas contain harmful properties to the kidneys such as chemicals and artificial sweeteners that lead to mineral loss.
2. Excess Caffeine and Salt
Caffeine is a natural diuretic which causes excess urine to leave the body. Along with water, out goes all the minerals you need too, including calcium. A cup or two of coffee a day isn't going to hurt you, but a pot a day or multiple sources of caffeine just might. You lose 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine you take in. One cup of coffee (8 ounces) has 160 milligrams of caffeine, while some energy drinks have double that amount and some sodas have more or less.
Too much salt is also a no-no for preserving calcium. Salt is only one form of sodium, a necessary mineral for good health just like calcium, however, table salt is not the best source to get your sodium from. Processed salt is highly refined and leaches calcium from the bones unlike true sodium found in plant-based foods or even ancient, unrefined sea salts (pink, black, etc.) that provide necessary nourishment to the cells.
Some foods that are good sources of natural sodium include: celery, greens like spinach, fortified almond or soy milk, hummus, cocoa, and even many fruits and vegetables.
Instead of reaching for the salt shaker to season your food, go for herbs and salt-free spices that come with other health benefits and more natural flavor. You should also avoid as many processed foods with refined salt as possible, such as cereals, chips, and other types of boxed and packaged snacks with over 250-300 milligrams per serving.
3. Too Little Protein
While we know it can be easy to get protein-obsessed, we should keep in mind that bones are made up of 50 percent protein. So, regardless if we don't need an excessive amount, we do need protein to maintain healthy bones. Protein preserves calcium in the body where it is stored and supplies the body with support. It's also easy to obtain enough protein without meat (or dairy, eggs, fish, or poultry if you choose). Eat sources such as: hemp seeds, chia seeds, legumes, broccoli, tofu, beans, greens, tempeh, teff, amaranth, oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp protein powder, vegan protein powders (choose organic or not-GMO when possible), quinoa, tahini, walnuts, hazelnuts, and other nuts and seeds as the best sources.
Including a few different options from these foods at each meal (greens and nuts, seeds, beans/legumes, and or grain) is a simple and efficient way to get enough protein. Plus, most of them all have ample amounts of calcium to boot. Most people need 1/2 the amount of protein in grams per day as what they weigh in pounds, though choose to eat more.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking causes calcium loss, not to mention cancer, hormone problems, aging, heart disease, and has been linked to many other serious, life-threatening health problems and even minor health problems like low energy and poor recovery after exercise. If you need help quitting, go on a patch or look into alternative therapies to help you quit.
5. You Minimize the Important of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin for good health; don't pass this off as a simple recommendation. Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body, optimizes calcium absorption and also can help prevent colon cancer, breast cancer, depression, and digestive problems like constipation. It can also affect how your body preserves (not just uses) calcium. Take vitamin D3 supplement, as fortifies vitamin D foods are made with vitamin D2, a harder to absorb form.
You should also be sure to do some type of exercise daily, even if it's just 15-20 minutes. Everyone has time for that! Yoga, walking, lifting weights or heavy objects around the house, jogging, and other simple exercises are all great ideas if you can't hit the gym.
What about Dairy?
As was mentioned, dairy is often equated to calcium intake, but it has not been shown to preserve bones any better over a longer period than plant-based sources have when enough are eaten. It should also be noted that a highly acidic diet can lead to calcium loss. This is because extremely acidic foods can cause mineral leaching from the body, including from the bones. Magnesium, potassium, and calcium are three of the top minerals affected by this. Acidic foods are largely animal-based, with dairy being one of the major sources (red meat, eggs, fish, and poultry are also very acidic). Plant-based, whole foods are naturally more alkaline, even some of the most acidic grains, nuts, and seeds. This is one way that a plant-based diet may support long-term bone health in comparison to one that's animal-food based. So while dairy might not directly cause calcium-loss, it's acidic nature combined with other acidic foods may cause an unnecessary weakening of the bones. Plant-based foods like vegetable, fruits, and leafy greens directly counter the effects of mineral loss even if they're not necessarily a 100 percent proof way to prevent calcium loss.
The Bottom Line:
You don't need the cow's milk to get enough calcium, but you do need to be sure to fill up on more alkaline, calcium-rich foods.
Fast Fact: There is actually more calcium in four ounces of tofu, 8 figs, and two cups of collard greens than there is in an 8 ounce glass of milk, which makes getting enough pretty simple on a plant-based diet. Teff and millet are also two "super seeds" packed with calcium that can replace grains in your meals as well.
Take care of your bones so they can keep you strong, lean, and energized for life!!
Here's something controversial, but extremely true: You don't have to buy EVERYTHING organic to obtain a flat belly. Some foods are important, and others you can definitely get by with the regular stuff. For example, you should always choose organic meats to avoid being exposed to the synthetic hormones that non-organic livestock is generally treated with throughout their life cycle. Sure, it's a little more expensive, but some things are just worth paying for--protecting the health of your family and yourself is definitely one of them!
That said, It's all about saving cash where it makes sense, and that's why there are certain foods you do not need to buy organic. Why? Because for some foods, there is no additional benefit to the organic vs. the non-organic version.
When it comes to produce, the benefit of buying organic is to avoid ingesting pesticides and chemicals that are generally used on non-organic fruits and vegetables. That said, foods like bananas, avocados, oranges, melons, and grapefruits have a thick skin barrier between the outside world and the fruit itself so the pesticides actually never come in contact with the fruit that you eat, and of course these are fruits where the outer layer is typically discarded.
Contrast that with apples, tomatoes, pears and other fruits and veggies where you eat the skin, and you'll see why it's important to choose organic for some and not for others.
So, Rule #1, if a fruit has a thick skin that you discard and don't eat, save some cash and go with the non-organic version.
Next up, there are other veggies that pests simply aren't attracted to due to the high sulfur content, such as onions and garlic. Don't bother spending the extra cash here either as these veggies aren't typically treated with pesticides in the first place.
In the end, spend the money where there's benefit, and pinch those pennies when there's not!