6 Foods Doctors and Nutritionists Will Never Eat – and Why You Shouldn’t Either
By Angelique Johnson
You’ve heard it from the experts before: don’t eat this, don’t eat that. But have you ever wondered what exactly health experts themselves are choosing to never include in their diets because of the adverse health effects?
Check out what 6 different medical experts had to say about the foods that they absolutely avoid in their diets, why they avoid them and what you can do to make sure these unhealthy foods stay off your dinner plate.
1. The Food Activist: Cottonseed Oil
Cottonseed oil is a cooking oil that is made from the seeds of cotton plants. Since the late 1800’s, it has been widely produced in the United States. The issue with this is that our current farming practices now demand an increase in the use of pesticides in order to meet the demands of an ever-growing population.
As cotton is not classified as a food crop, farmers use many chemicals in order to grow cotton in high amounts. Manufacturers use the oil, because it is inexpensive and the widespread use of this oil could be harming your health. Studies have linked the consumption of pesticides with brain, prostate and kidney cancer.
Michael Pollan, an American author, journalist, activist and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, says he personally stays away from cottonseed oil.
“Humans have not been eating cotton for most of their history. They’ve been wearing it. And now we’re eating it. [Cottonseed oil] receives an enormous amount of pesticide as a crop.
“How many residues are in the oil? I don’t really know the answer, but it has been approved by the FDA as a foodstuff. But it’s one of these novel oils that I’m inclined to stay away from.”
How to Avoid It: Read the ingredient labels on your food. If it says it’s made with cottonseed oil, avoid it. Use organic versions of your favorite oils to ensure you’re not accidently ingesting pesticides.
2. The Cardiologist: Bacon
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that higher intakes of high-fat red meat products were related to higher rates of heart disease.
Dr. Omid Javadi, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California, says that he does not eat bacon “because it is full of fat and cholesterol and the nutritional value is very minimal.
“I think bacon is probably one of the worst foods on the planet. People love the taste and it is very palatable because of that fact, but when you look at its content, it is pure fat and cholesterol – and fat is just hanging from it.”
How to Avoid It: Just avoid bacon… yes, even turkey bacon. The difference nutritionally between the two is only about 25 calories and turkey bacon has less protein. Plus, since turkeys don’t have a belly to slice the bacon off of, turkey bacon is actually made from ground up turkey. The entire turkey… including parts you don’t really want to be eating. Bottom line? Avoid bacon. Period.
3. The Gastroenterologist: Low-Fat Processed Foods
Food products that have been labeled as “fat-free” might seem like a great idea, especially if you’re trying to manage your weight, but the reality is that these foods are actually giving you more than what you’ve bargained for.
Because “fat-free” might also mean “taste-free,” food manufacturers load them with other high calorie ingredients like sugar and salt to make them more appealing.
A recent study done in the UK showed that 10% of these “low-fat” and “fat-free” foods contain the same or more calories than regular food products and 40% of these products had more sugar.
Rebekah Gross, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, says that staying away from these products is crucial for good health.
“Typically, these items are extensively processed and packed with chemicals that are added to try to achieve the consistency or reproduce the flavor of the full-fat models on which they are based.”
How to Avoid It: Choose foods that are in their natural state and not overly processed. Aim for filling heart-healthy fats that contain mono- or poly-unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds and healthy oils such as olive oil, macadamia nut oil, or sesame oil. Studies have shown that healthy fats can actually help you lose weight.
4. The Integrative Health Specialist: Diet Soda
Diet soda was once thought to be the healthy alternative to drinking regular sodas, but research now shows that diet soda not only increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, but can also change the way your body releases gut hormones that signal fullness and also changes the way your brain registers the sweet taste, causing you to eat more.
Isaac Eliaz, MD, integrative health expert and founder of The Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, CA, says:
“Independent research strongly suggests that when metabolized in the body, these sweeteners can cause health-related issues and problems related to metabolism and weight gain, neurological diseases, joint pain, digestive problems, headaches, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, chemical toxicity and cancer, among others.”
How to Avoid It: Just say no. Just as you would say no to harmful street drugs or too much alcohol because you realize how bad they are for your health and your body, it is time to realize that drinking regular soda or diet soda is also not okay for your health. Once you convince yourself of the damage you could permanently be doing to your body, it’s easier to make the switch.
5. The Farmer: McDonald’s Food
Fast food is not only loaded with a variety of ingredients that are harmful for your health, such as genetically modified corn, food colorings, artificial sweeteners and pesticide treated soy, but fast food restaurants rely on big farming techniques that hurt our soil and involve the slaughter and inhumane treatment of over 10 billion animals per year.
According to Joel Salatin, a sustainable farmer, eating at McDonald’s it not just about eating bad food, it’s about making bad decisions about food.
“[Eating at McDonald’s] represents the pinnacle of factory-farming and industrial food. The economic model is utterly dependent on stockholders looking for dividends without regards to farm profitability or soil development.”
How to Avoid It: Learn to cook at home. Although the $1 menu may seem like a good deal, actually preparing a meal for your family can cost the same if not less, plus it can help strengthen family bonds and your health.
6. The Nutritionist: High Fructose Corn Syrup
Although as a nutritionist myself, I advocate that there “are no bad foods, just bad habits,” the one thing I will absolutely avoid at all costs is high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn starch that is used the most by food manufacturers to replace regular table sugar. Fructose is naturally almost twice as sweet as regular table sugar, so through the production of high fructose corn syrup, food manufacturers are able to make their food sweeter for less money.
The problem with this is that high fructose corn syrup has been shown in studies to be related to the increase in obesity worldwide. Because the fructose sugars have different effects on the release of the hormones that regulate body weight and hunger, consuming foods rich in high fructose corn syrup are contributed to overeating and weight gain.
High fructose corn syrup has also been shown to increase triglyceride levels in the blood, which can lead to the hardening and thickening of the arteries of the heart.
How To Avoid It: Read your food labels, but be careful. Since the beginning of 2015, the FDA has allowed the renaming and relabeling of high fructose corn syrup into ingredient labels as either “fructose syrup” or simply “fructose.”
Be wary of what you are buying. Does it have names that you can’t pronounce? Is the ingredient label over eight ingredients long? If you said “yes” to either of these questions and see “fructose syrup” or “fructose” on the label, it might have high fructose corn syrup.
All right health fans, sound out! What foods do you absolutely avoid and why? Let me know in the comments below!
Angelique Johnson is a nutritionist from Miami, FL. Through her own journey in weight loss, she discovered her love for health and nutrition and realized she wanted to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle. Angelique has been featured as a nutrition consult on CBS4 Miami News and is a published author on many online health sites. She is passionate about debunking diet rumors and showing her clients how to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food.
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