Jill Reid | Kitchen Spirit
In Part One of this post, we talked about the importance of choosing natural, quality foods as well as taking time to read labels to identify and eliminate unhealthy ingredients from our diets. In Part Two, we’re going to talk about the very foundation of healthy eating. Frankly, it could be the most critical article you read on my site, because by making these simple, easy changes, you’ll be taking major steps to rid your body of toxins and excess fat, while protecting yourself from the dangerous effects of inflammation, free radicals, and the degenerative results of eating the wrong foods.
To start, we’ll focus on just three ingredients. In my opinion, they’re the worst of the bunch. Fortunately, by simply replacing them with natural alternatives, you’ll be on your way to staying healthy, fit, and having the body you’ve always wanted.
Although these culprits are often hidden in the fine print, I’m going to show you how to recognize them by their various names, and explain why it’s necessary to eliminate them from your diet. Many of these items may be sitting on your pantry shelves and in your cabinets right now, so that’s the first place we’ll start.
Here are the top three enemies preventing you from having of a healthy, fit, and trim body:
Let’s start with a little inconvenient truth about one of the most commonly added substances used by Big Foodie to trick us into buying food we shouldn’t eat.
We’ve all read about how bad sugar is for us, yet I’m sure many of you may be wondering what the big deal is. After all, if we eat something with sugar, we can just do a little exercise or take a walk and burn it off, right?
Not so fast . . .
Before you take a bite of that glazed donut or gulp down another bottle of soda, here’s a glimpse at what processed sugar does to our bodies. Ingesting unnaturally sweetened products causes extreme fluctuations in blood sugar, which produces glycation.
1. Your organs, skin, arteries, and joints accelerate in aging
2. Eating too much sugar stresses your pancreas and insulin sensitivity, which can lead to type 2 diabetes
3. Consuming sugary foods causes your triglyceride levels to rise, which can contribute to heart disease.
I could go on, but I think you get the drift.
And before we go any further, I want to make it clear that small amounts of natural sugars, such as unrefined raw honey in your tea, is not the issue. The real damage occurs when your diet includes processed sugar-laden foods like cakes, cookies, soda, so-called fruit drinks, and candy.
So the next time you’re in the store and can’t take your eyes off that triple-layer double-chocolate cake, check the label not only for calorie count and ingredients, but also the nutrition facts.
If sugar is near the top of the list or the serving size (the actual one used to measure calories, grams, and fat—not the size you plan on eating) has a high percentage of sugar compared to the other ingredients, or if the product contains chemically-modified substitutes to produce the effects and taste of sugar (such as high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, polydextrose, sorbitol, neotame, and others), put it back on the shelf and step away. Why? Because you don’t want them in your life.
So what about other options when you want something sweet?
Be sure to check labels for added or unnecessary ingredients. For example, all stevias are not created equal! The one I use offers the purest form, and is organic, made with dry stevia leaf from non-GMO plants.
Store aisles are loaded with them—more oils than you can possibly imagine. Where did they all come from and why are there so many? Most important, which ones should you use? Here are a few guidelines for selecting the healthiest oils for your recipes and cooking.
It’s a fact: Vegetable oil is not made entirely from vegetables.
The truth is, vegetable oil is derived from a combination of several different sources, including corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil. The problem is, none of these are healthy choices, either by themselves or when used in a blend. Why? All so-called vegetable oils, including non-hydrogenated, are refined and contain trans fats due to the extremely high heat, solvents, and pressure used during the refining process.
But wait! It gets worse. Vegetable oils are made up mostly of inflammatory omega-6 fats, with very little anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Recent studies indicate a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 to be around 2:1. Unfortunately, most vegetable oils have ratios as high as 20:1 or more.
In addition, free radicals formed during the refining of vegetable oils create “mutant” fats, which damage your cell membranes and chromosomes, creating inflammation in your body. The free radicals in vegetable oils can also damage your arteries, which may contribute to heart disease.
So what’s the answer?
Use healthy, natural oils for cooking, baking, and meal prep. A few good choices include unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and grass-fed butter. As always, choose organic whenever possible.
It’s the grain referred to as the staff of life, and the one most mentioned in ancient history. Unfortunately, it’s also the most recognized culprit of health issues and gluten-related reactions. Wheat has a field day (no pun intended) with your blood sugar levels. Here’s why: Wheat contains Amylopectin-A, a carbohydrate which studies show raises blood sugar levels, causing glycation of your cells. These resulting high blood sugar levels can also cause your body to pump out more insulin, negatively affecting your pancreas and signaling your body to pack on more fat, both of which may result in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Over time, this process damages your organs, joints, and skin, and as a result, speeds up the aging process. You can use all the face and skin lotions you want in an attempt to retain a youthful appearance, but remember, health starts from the inside . . .
So what about gluten? In short, gluten is best avoided as it causes inflammation in your digestive system, often resulting in autoimmune issues. You may not know whether you’re “gluten-intolerant” until the symptoms appear—bloating, gas, intestinal discomfort, to name a few. The theory behind our growing intolerance for gluten is based on excessive hybridization of wheat, which creates modified gluten molecules the human digestive system isn’t designed to process. Even if you don’t exhibit physical symptoms, the elimination of gluten products will likely make you feel stronger and more energized.
By the way, wheat is not essential for the human diet. It contains phytic acid (also called phytates), an anti-nutrient which prevents absorption of certain minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to digest phytates because we lack the enzyme phytase to break them down. Another concern with phytic acid is that it inhibits the essential digestive enzymes amylase, trypsin and pepsin. Amylase breaks down starch, while both pepsin and trypsin are needed to break down protein. If you eat a lot of wheat, over time, you may experience a mineral deficiency, which can lead to additional health issues.
What are the alternatives?
Substitute almond flour, coconut flour, or other naturally-based flour or meal products in your recipes. Read labels carefully when buying baked goods and look for healthy, gluten-free, paleo-friendly ingredients to insure you’re giving your body the nutrients it was designed to digest.
But what about all the fiber you’ll miss by giving up wheat? Simple solution. You can get all the fiber you need from eating natural foods including fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
Here’s the take-away . . .
You don’t need to make an immediate and radical overhaul of your diet to make a difference in the way you look and feel. Start with small adjustments in your diet by eliminating sugar, vegetable oils, and wheat from your kitchen. Make it a habit to read the labels of everything that goes in your food cart. Be honest—even brutal—in evaluating and removing unhealthy and toxic ingredients from your food choices and recipes. You’ll begin to notice the results almost immediately, and after a few months, the changes in your health and appearance will be so apparent, you’ll never want to go back to your old way of eating.