No food is bad, although some foods may be best consumed in moderation.
Sugar: In the last 20 years, sugar consumption has increased from 26 lbs to over 135 lbs of sugar per person per year. The majority of this sugar intake is consumed from prepackaged food sources. While the sugar found in fruits and vegetables is not a bad source of sugar with its added vitamins and minerals, refined sugar is not so great. Due to the lack of vitamins and minerals in processed food, the body needs to find an appropriate way to digest them by taking minerals and enzymes from internal sources. This borrowing causes a deficiency in the body, which in turn causes biological confusion. Blood sugar levels spike and dip and cause disorder in the breakdown of carbohydrate. While eating a packaged product here and there will not kill you, structuring your diet around processed foods can potentially lead to hypo and hyper glycemia, as well as diabetes.
Dairy: Although once praised for its weight loss benefits and high calcium content, dairy products are not all they are chocked up to be. The high saturated fat content in many dairy products can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and numerous other health issues. After a brief abstinence from dairy products, the majority of people notice benefits immediately such as clearer skin, decreased mood swings, and relief from mucous build-up in the back of the throat. Dairy production is no longer what it used to be. Typically, cows produce milk for less than a year after giving birth. To supplement the growing demand for dairy products, dairy companies use BST (a genetically produced growth hormone) to increase the milk production phase in female cows. These added hormones end up in the dairy products that we find on the supermarket shelves. The hormones are not as harmful in adults but they can lead to early puberty in children. If you cannot live without dairy, purchase an organic option. Try to trade one serving of dairy a day for a dairy-free option such as soy or almond based products.
Meat: The average American consumes over 222 pounds of meat per year. While meat consumption in itself is not bad, the consumption of conventionally raised meat is harmful to your health. Animals that are commercially raised are full of harmful hormones and antibiotics that are designed to produce the maximum amount of meat per animal possible. Not only are the animals being forced to grow twice their normal size, using growth hormones but they are also treated poorly. Conventionally raised chickens and pigs are crammed into cages with hundreds of other animals resulting in unnecessary stress and disease. Organic and free range meat is usually more expensive but definitely worth the extra few bucks. Excessive meat intake whether organic or not, can lead to chronic disease due to the saturated fat content. If you feel best on a diet with meat, try to minimize your intake and eat organic whenever possible. Also, try to supplement meat consumption with vegetarian options. Meat can be a great source of protein, iron, and B vitamins when consumed in moderation.
Coffee: Over 150-million Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, among these drinkers, an average of 3.1 cups are consumed per day. Although there are numerous benefits including alertness, concentration, and mental and physical performance, coffee contributes to just as many, if not more negative side effects. It inhibits the absorption of essential minerals and B-vitamins. Many statistics have also linked coffee consumption to osteoporosis and heart disease. Try to limit your daily coffee consumption and trade your regular cup of joe for an apple, or a cup of hot tea every once in a while.
Trans Fats: These are found in many processed junk foods: margarine, baked goods, and in low fat, reduced fat, and fat free options. Trans fats are artificially produced by combining hydrogen with polyunsaturated oils. Consuming these fats in large quantities can interfere with your bodies normal metabolism. Focus on substituting good fats for bad fats such as avocados, walnuts, and seeds, to increase your energy and boost your immunity.
Salt: The majority of health concerns related to salt intake are from processed and refined forms of the mineral. About 74.5 million people in the United States age 20 and older have high blood pressure and medical experts agree that excessive salt intake is a significant contributing factor. If you cannot live without it, use a high-quality sea salt in moderation. Make sure the sea salt is in it’s purest form, free from coloring and harmful additives.
Remember that moderation is KEY!