7 Harmful Foods to Avoid for Inflammation, Hormones & Healthy Weight
Hippocrates, known as The Father of Modern Medicine, famously and wisely stated that “All disease begins in the gut”. And modern research keeps proving just that. Scientists now believe that 80-90% of the immune system is in the gut. It is also where we are supposed to absorb nutrients, create certain nutrients, modulate the immune system, get rid of toxins and waste, and so much more. But what if the gut is severely impaired? Based on all my own research and personal experience, I believe that all of the following conditions have systemic inflammation and autoimmunity, as a direct result of gut problems, at their very root: Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroiditis), Hyperthyroidism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Lyme Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Allergies, Eczema, Psoriasis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Infertility in many cases, ADHD, and MOST DISEASES IN AMERICA. The steps to treating these conditions are much the same, which is to address the roots of cellular inflammation at the very core.
Giving the body the right foods to heal and function is imperative. Eliminating foods that impede function and contribute to toxicity and inflammation is just as important and is an absolute must first step for recovery. There are foods that assist the body to heal, and there are also foods that damage and contribute to the disease process in the body. Unfortunately, in America, the vast majority of our diet is not even real food. It has been modified, processed, and pumped full of chemicals, artificial hormones, antibiotics and other harmful substances. It is recommended that you eliminate the following unhealthy foods from your diet:
Pesticides, herbicides, etc. are sprayed on most crops today to make them undesirable (or toxic) to pests. That would be just fine except they are also very damaging to the human body. They are extremely neurotoxic, and the USDA recognizes that they are linked to the explosion of mental illnesses such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. They are also known carcinogens (linked to brain, prostate and other cancers). They alter the balance of good to bad bacteria in the gut, directly negatively affecting the immune system. And if that’s not enough they are disrupting to the delicately balanced endocrine system and linked to miscarriage and birth defects. Please read about the most important produce to buy organic here:
Note that when it comes to meat and dairy, there is no such list. All nonorganic meat is full of toxic chemicals (see number 5 in this section), and it is most important to buy your meat and dairy organic.
Most of the sugar in America comes from genetically modified sugar beets. It is also stripped of any nutrient value it has and bleached to make it white! Processed sugar has zero nutrient value to the body. In fact, the body actually treats it as a poison. It contributes to inflammation in the body, and feeds cancer cells and bad bacteria such as candida which can be so very harmful when out of balance. It suppresses the immune system, disrupts hormones, and is damaging to major organs such as the pancreas and liver. It causes the body to be acidic, which is a major contributor to illness. It is very inflammatory to all skin conditions. Sugar (and consumption of other refined carbohydrates) is a major cause of many diseases and serious health concerns today such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, heart disease and cancer. Moreover, it is extremely addictive. Sugar has been found to be literally 8 times more addictive than cocaine! Sugar is poison. If you love your body, you will want to stay away from it! It is hidden in most foods today, so you have to get really good at reading labels to be sure to avoid it. Learn more about sugar and how to avoid it here:
Grains today (in America) are nothing as God intended them. Ancient grains, in their original form, were generally sprouted and fermented. Sprouting the grains causes them to produce phytic acid, which assists the body to digest them. Fermenting them eats up a large portion of the hard to digest proteins such as gluten. But today, grains are hybridized (cross-bred with other grains), genetically modified (literally laced with bacteria and viruses in their DNA in an attempt to make them resistant to such bacteria and viruses), sprayed with mass amounts of toxic pesticides, and processed (which strips them of their nutrient value). Wheat today contains way more gluten than original wheat. Gluten is a sticky protein that is very inflammatory and very difficult for the body to digest. It can be very damaging to the digestive tract. It is specifically bad in autoimmune disease, as most individuals with an autoimmune or inflammatory disorder have Leaky Gut Syndrome, where proteins such as gluten leak through the intestinal lining undigested directly into the bloodstream. This is a major cause of systemic inflammation, autoimmune disease, and even weight gain and diabetes.
Gluten can be a lot more difficult to avoid than just quitting bread, because it is hidden in so many ingredients that you wouldn’t think. Please reference the following guide for avoiding gluten. https://www.glutenfreesociety.org/guidelines-for-avoiding-gluten-unsafe-ingredients-for-gluten-sensitivity/
And I really don’t recommend shopping in the “gluten free” sections at the grocery store in general, because these foods are usually made with potato or some other very high glycemic and inflammatory starch. To avoid this, I recommend not eating packaged/processed foods in general, and cooking real, whole foods such as organic meat and veggies.
Gluten and other inflammatory proteins in grains, along with the sugar/insulin spikes associated with eating refined carbohydrates, are major causes of weight gain.
NOTE: When working towards healing the body, it is recommended that all grains be cut out for a minimum period of 2 months to give the digestive tract an opportunity to rest and heal. Some individuals with true gluten sensitivity or allergy may need to cut them out for a year for the immune system to repair, or even indefinitely. You may be able to reintroduce grains in moderation and in ancient, sprouted forms (such as Ezekiel Bread) once the digestive tract is fully recovered and all symptoms are gone. If symptoms reoccur, cut them out again. Common side effects of gluten intolerance include bloating, anxiety, joint pain, inflammatory bowel issues, thyroid conditions (90% of hypothyroidism is due to an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s which is directly linked to gluten), fatigue, weight gain and skin inflammation (hives, etc.).
When man takes what God has made, and thinks he can do a better job, the result is generally detrimental. God does everything best. He does food best. Genetically modified foods are foods that have been changed, by adding certain properties to their DNA, for some purpose such as making the plant naturally resistant to pests, mold, etc. A recent study in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that GMO’s can lead to kidney damage, liver failure and early death! There are other studies that show massive tumor growth, sterility and death in rats fed a high GMO diet. Other reports show correlation between allergies, endocrine and reproductive disorders, and cancers. Europe and other parts of the world have completely banned genetically modified foods, due to the statistics showing how damaging they are. For scientists in the U.S. to continue to ignore the effects of genetically modified foods is mass negligence. Its greed actually, as it is a massive money-making business. And for Americans to continue to consume these foods and hope for the best is pure ignorance. It’s time for us to educate ourselves and make wiser choices when it comes to what we choose to put into our bodies.
The most commonly genetically modified foods to avoid are:
- Canola/Vegetable Oil
- Most packaged foods (note that most packaged foods contain some form of soy, corn and vegetable oil, along with toxic preservatives and fillers, and should just generally be avoided)
Conventional meat and dairy products today are loaded with toxins. Most animals raised for their meat are fed a GMO grain diet. This is very unhealthy for the animals. Cows, for instance, were created to eat grass, not grains… especially not genetically modified grains! The animals are also pumped full of antibiotics, steroids and artificial hormones. According to research done by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, a conventional gallon of cow’s milk contains on average 20 synthetic chemicals (growth hormones, steroids, antibiotics, antifungals, anti-inflammatory medications, sex hormones and other medications)! Conventional chicken (70% of it!) is known to contain toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, known to be a neurotoxin and carcinogen even in trace levels. To avoid these, eat organic at home as much as possible.
In addition to the problems with chemicals in conventional dairy, it has also been pasteurized and homogenized. This denatures the proteins and turns good fats into bad fats. The high heat processing also destroys certain enzymes and vitamins that are important to things like bone health, digestion and energy. One of the main proteins that is a problem in dairy is casein, and it is even more inflammatory than gluten! Once again, this is an example of man thinking he does food better than God, and really messing things up!
Moreover, if you suffer from allergies, sinus infections or asthma, dairy is very inflammatory, mucous-forming and tends to breed infection (especially for those with sinus issues).
NOTE: As with grains, it is recommended to cut dairy out of your diet completely for at least 2 months to give the gut a break to heal. If symptoms are gone after the two-month break, you may add back in easier to digest forms of dairy such as organic sheep and goat products (these do not contain the same form of casein). Also, look for low heat processed or raw if you have access, as these will have many beneficial nutrients and fats still intact. For an individual with true casein and lactose allergy or sensitivity, I recommend cutting cow’s dairy out for good. Others may be able to add at least organic, low heat processed and fermented options back in once the gut is healed, as they can be a great source of probiotics and healthy fats.
I recommend that you limit caffeine or cut it out all together for any hormonal imbalance. Anyone struggling with any sort of autoimmune condition should cut it out altogether. It is very acidic (acidity contributes to inflammation and many chronic issues), among other concerns. If you don’t have an autoimmune condition or hormonal imbalance and insist on having your morning cup of coffee, at the very least go organic, as coffee is a crop sprayed with high amounts of toxic pesticides. Hormone specialist Dr. Sara Gottfried also recommends getting rid of the caffeine. The following is an excerpt from her article Dump the Junk: Reasons to Dump Caffeine…
Caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain. When you restrict blood flow to the brain, you get premature aging, lousy memory and brain fog.
Caffeine makes your sleep suck. Sleep, you know, is key to brain health, skin rejuvenation, repair work globally in the body, and weight management (particularly appetite control).
Caffeine dehydrates your brain and your body. Your brain is 80% water and needs lots of water to keep hummin‘ along. Result? You’re less likely to think quickly.
Caffeine inflames you. Amen quotes two studies which showed that 200mg caffeine (about 2 cups of coffee) raises homocysteine, a biomarker for inflammation and heart disease.
Caffeine linked to the muffin top. Come for the vanity and stay for the sanity. Caffeine raises cortisol, which makes you store fat at your mid-section for a rainy day.
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Splenda are extremely detrimental to health. Medical conditions linked to aspartame consumption include anxiety, depression, memory issues, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, hearing issues, fatigue and weight gain. These sweeteners are also hepatoxic and neurotoxic, causing damage to the liver and kidneys. A study by Duke University in 2008 found that Splenda alters intestinal flora by destroying good bacteria (also known as probiotics). This means it damages the immune system.
NOTE: Stevia is my top recommendation for a natural sweetener. It is an herb with no calories that does not affect blood sugar. Raw organic honey may be used in moderation, and has some great health benefits.
For many with autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, it is beneficial to do an elimination diet, where you eliminate all of the for mentioned foods as well as nuts, eggs, legumes and nightshade vegetables (white potatoes, tomatoes, squashes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers – all can be inflammatory) for a year, and then slowly reintroduce them back into your diet one at a time, paying close attention to whether they trigger symptoms at that point.