9 ‘Healthy’ Foods That Actually Destroy Your Metabolism
Written by: Janet Early
Have you been following all the “health rules,” yet still have trouble shedding excess fat from your waist? Are you frustrated, because you are so careful to eat only fat-free, gluten-free and sugar-free everything?
Well, those “healthy” habits could actually be your problem.
You’ve shown that you have the will power and the dedication to transform into a healthier you – but, unfortunately, the food industry doesn’t fulfill its part on educating you on how to eat properly to get there.
That’s why we’re glad you came here! Because we’re about to break down 9 so-called “health” foods that actually sabotage your metabolism.
1. Whole Grains
The food industry is keen on promoting whole-grain everything. They especially market these products based on their fiber content – but you know what else has fiber? Vegetables and fruit! And they don’t come with the harmful levels of gluten, starch, phytic acid and lectins.
By now, you’ve heard some eyebrow-raising things about gluten. And for good reason. Gluten causes inflammation in 80% of people and 30% of people develop antibodies to fight against gluten proteins. Meanwhile, the lectins found in whole grains damage the gut lining, cause digestive upsets and can lead to leptin resistance, a condition that alters your body’s hunger signals so that you feel hungry more often. Starch turns to sugar quickly in the body, while phytates block the absorption of healthy minerals and vitamins.
But haven’t humans been consuming wheat and other whole grains for ten thousand years? Yes, we have. However, the whole-grain products sold today barely resemble those eaten by our ancestors. They are so manufactured and exposed to harmful chemicals that they become depleted of most of their original nutrients and minerals. Today’s grains are created rather than harvested.
- Instead of pasta – Try spaghetti squash
- Instead of whole-grain bread – Try sprouted grain bread or sourdough bread
- Instead of wheat flour – Try coconut flour, almond flour, or plantain flour
2. “Skinny” And “Fat-Free” Products
The food industry has strongly promoted fat-free products, urging people that eating foods with “skinny” in the title will actually make you skinny. In actuality, products that have had their fat physically removed from them are loaded up with excess sugar, corn syrup, sweeteners and other flavorings to make up for the lack of taste. These changes can be much more detrimental to your health and weight than eating the full-fat version of the same product!
Furthermore, there is no thorough scientific evidence that shows that consuming saturated fat contributes to heart disease. But there is evidence that saturated fats boost brain and bone health, reduce amounts of lipoprotein (a contributory factor to heart disease), optimize liver and metabolism function and improve the immune system.
- Instead of reduced fat milk – Try full-fat milk, coconut milk, or almond milk
- Instead of egg white omelets – Try whole egg omelets
- Instead of low-fat ice-cream – Try coconut ice cream (look for the kind made with Stevia!)
3. Fruit Juices
Talk about added sugar! Fruit is uber-healthy with all the fiber and vitamins and all that, right? Yes, fruit has numerous health benefits that lead to smoother digestion and an improved immune system, but fruit juices contain so much added sugar and sweeteners that some of them are no better than a can of soda.
To make fruit juice, most manufacturers break down the original fruit, remove all of its fiber content and pasteurize it at 280 degrees. Once it’s completely dried, it’s turned into a concentrate and sugar, sweeteners and food coloring are added to produce the apple, grape and orange juice you will find on your local grocery store’s shelves.
- Instead of store-bought fruit juice – Try freshly squeezed juice made only from real fruit, kombucha, or coconut water
4. Peanuts And Peanut Butter
But nuts are good for us, right? Yes, nuts are. But the peanut isn’t even technically a nut – it’s a legume. These sneaky little devils are grown underground, making them more susceptible to aflatoxins, a form of mold that can wreak havoc on your gut health. Peanuts also have a high lectin and phytic acid content, are connected to leaky gut syndrome, a slow metabolism and food sensitivities and are a severe allergen for much of the population.
Additionally, peanuts have high omega-6 fatty acid content, which, when not balanced out with a healthy intake of omega-3 acids, can produce some serious inflammation. Peanut butter carries the same issues.
- Instead of peanut butter – Try almond or cashew butter
- Instead of peanuts – Try almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, or other nutrient-dense nuts and seeds
5. Vegetable oils
Canola oil and other vegetable oils are the cheapest types of oil available for purchase and they’re cheap on nutrients as well. They are composed of hydrogenated oils, which are known to cause inflammation, hormonal issues and a slowed metabolism.
Vegetable oils can be tough to avoid, since most mainstream restaurants favor cooking with the cheapest oils in order to turn-over higher profits. Additionally, they are often included in pre-packaged snacks and even things you wouldn’t expect, like frozen vegetables and trail mix.
- Instead of vegetable oils – Try coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter
Here’s another troublesome “health” food that may surprise you. Granola has become a common breakfast food and compatible partner to many a yogurt, but today’s store-bought granola is the baby of whole grains and sugar. It can contain high amounts of gluten, phytic acid and processed sweeteners.
As one example, honey is a commonly used ingredient in packaged granola. But this version of honey is generally so manually manipulated that it contains no pollen at all, which is one of the components that makes honey so beneficial in the first place. Instead, the honey was found to be highly pasteurized and as harmful as corn syrup.
- Instead of store-bought granola – Try homemade sprouted granola complemented with raw honey, raisins, coconut flakes and cinnamon
7. Gluten-Free Desserts
But reducing your gluten intake is super healthy, right? Yes. But like fat-free products, many gluten-free commercial products add sugar, sweeteners, or trans-fats to make up for the diminished taste and lack of texture. While gluten-free cakes and cookies may look appetizing, they aren’t the best dessert choice when you’re trying to improve your health. In fact, there’s healthier and tastier options out there!
- Instead of gluten-free cake product – Try “brownies” made with cacao, walnuts and dates (or even opt for black bean recipes, which are amazing!)
- Instead of gluten-free granola bars – Try trail mix, incorporating a variety of healthy nuts and some dried fruit (look for no added sugars)
- Instead of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies – Try a dark chocolate bar made from at least 75% cacao ingredients
8. Lean Meat
Lean meat doesn’t contain nearly as many benefits as fatty cuts of meat. I know – this runs counter to everything society has been telling us for the past 20 years. But since then, studies have proven the extraordinary benefits of fatty meat, such as boosting brain function and satiating you for longer.
Fascinatingly, human brains started to get bigger during the glaciation period (ice age) in which prehistoric humans had to eat a diet consisting only of animal products. That’s a pretty powerful example of how fat improves brain health – by actually increasing the size of the brain!
Fat provides a lot of other benefits to the body as well. For example, the complicated digestive process needed to break down fats keeps them in your body for longer, keeping you full. Furthermore, fat is needed to transport nutrients and metabolites, regulate hormones and immune health and fuel the brain’s neurological processes.
Plus, fat naturally tastes delicious. Contrary to food industry dogma, food does not have to be rid of its fat and taste for it to be healthy for you. Healthy food can taste good! You don’t have to go all bacon-crazy, but try incorporating a fattier cut of meat into your meals a few times throughout the week. You’ll feel fuller and more satiated.
When it comes to fat, be sure to buy the grass-fed varieties (which come from animals fed a natural diet rather than a problematic grain-based one).
- Instead of chicken breast – Try drumsticks
- Instead of lean turkey – Try bacon (you’re welcome!)
- Instead of lean fish – Try fatty fish
Legumes like beans, peas and lentils have been praised for their high fiber, iron content and heart health benefits. While they do have their advantages, legumes can also contribute to a myriad of issues with gut health. For example, they contain phytic acid, which as we said, prevents the full absorption of key nutrients. Legumes are also a type of FODMAP, because they contain the carbohydrate galactooligosaccharides, which is known to aggravate IBS symptoms.
To break it down even more, legumes also contain lectins, a protein found in nightshades, which are a trigger for people with autoimmune-related issues. Plus, people who eat legumes tend to eat them in place of vegetable alternatives, which are far more nutrient-dense. And while they’re marketed for their high protein content, legumes contain a higher proportion of carbohydrates, which – when not balanced out properly with other macronutrients – can lead to weight gain.
- Instead of beans – Try red or white quinoa
- Instead of lentils – Try organic veggies
Remember, you don’t have to be dissatisfied in order to be healthy. The words “healthy” and “all-natural” get thrown around quite a bit and it can be tricky to identify which foods are actually good for you and which are simply marketing schemes. To protect yourself, always check the ingredient labels to guard against added sugars, unhealthy oils and unnecessary flavorings. When in doubt, the best rule of thumb is to go with whole, organic and minimally-processed foods.
Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
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