Over the past year or so I’ve been studying exercise science and nutrition. I’ve read several books on nutrition, which I plan to review in a series of posts in the future. But here’s the nutritional bottom line that most sources agree on: There are four foods we should limit in our eating plans. They are, in no particular order:
- trans-fats – trans fats are one of the things that make processed and fast foods taste delicious. That’s the only positive aspect of trans-fats! They raise LDL and reduce HDL levels, increasing your risk for heart disease. The US FDA has even put a 3 year time limit on their removal from processed foods because, they said, trans fats are “not generally recognized as safe”. Look out for and avoid “partially hydrogenated oil” in your food. Stay tuned for my book reviews to find out more about cutting out trans-fats!
- sugar/refined grains – cookies, cake, crackers, white bread, white sugar, chips, soda and even juices contain large amounts of added sugar. (I’m including refined grains in this category because the starches in bread and the like are broken down quickly in your digestive tract and then enters your bloodstream as glucose. This causes the spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.) In addition to putting you two steps closer to diabetes, added sugars are harmful to your liver and may contribute to development of cancer. Yikes! Also, it’s addictive – sugar causes a dopamine release in the reward center of our brain and affects how you eat for the long term. So start by weeding all the refined carbs out of your eating plan, then cutting back on added sugars. It’s really hard to do – I know! It’s so hard to do! – but I am certain it will be worth it.
- animal protein – there are many people who will disagree with me on this one but there is so much evidence to show that, over the long term, a plant-based diet is better than an animal meat-based diet. I’m not saying that meat, in general, is bad. What is bad is the long-term diet of primarily animal protein. It increases the risk of cancer, especially eating a lot of processed meats. Stay tuned for my book reviews to learn more about how a plant-based diet can increase longevity!
- sodium – too much sodium in Americans’ diets has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Fortunately for us, cutting out the processed foods and refined grains to reduce sugar will also remove a lot of the sodium in our food since processed and restaurant foods are some of the main culprits for both.
What are your thoughts? Anything else you think should be listed here?