Dr. Passero’s Top 5 Foods to Avoid and Why!

Ever wonder why you get that high and inevitable crash from sugar? Learn why here and more about other foods to avoid while you're at it!

1. Gluten

You’re probably sensitive, if not intolerant to gluten; many people are and don’t even know! Whenever we consume foods our bodies are sensitive, intolerant, or allergic to, inflammation occurs as a resistance towards the substance. Gluten is a difficult to digest protein found in certain grains (wheat, barley, rye) and many processed foods. For people who are sensitive, it’s hard on your intestinal tract and tends to cause bloating, gastrointestinal discomfort, and fatigue, amongst other symptoms. Rates of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease have skyrocketed over the last 50 years as wheat has become hybridized and genetically selected to contain more of this allergy promoting protein, gluten. While your body is trying to cope with this, it’s not tapping into weight loss or daily detoxification. Tell gluten it’s time to hit the road! There are many other delicious options to explore. You may be thinking, “But, what about bread!?” Listen up, go to your local health food store and buy yourself a loaf of millet or brown rice bread from the freezer case. It’s delicious, trust me, it tastes like a dense, chewy bagel. Pre-warning, it will cost more than the gluten-y counterpart. Wheat is cheap, it’s true, but save your boutique quality gluten-free bread for a special treat (it will be fresh and ready for you in the freezer—no need to rush through the bag). It’s best to hit up the gluten-free grain options most of the time. They happen to be extremely economical. Quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth are all easy on digestion, and brown rice isn’t too bad either (though harder to digest than the others). These are the original comfort foods!

2. Pasteurized cow dairy

Let me start off by saying that personally I do enjoy cheese; I get it! But it is best to choose unpasteurized goat and sheep cheeses. How come? The fat molecules in cow dairy are a lot larger than that of goat and sheep. The molecular structure of cow’s milk is not recognized by our bodies; goat and sheep dairy have a closer structure to human’s milk. Plus, dairy contains a protein called casein which is a large protein commonly linked to allergies and sensitivities. Modern mass production demands that dairy is pasteurized for safety, and any live enzymes that could assist the digestion process are killed off. Your body wants to get rid of the unrecognized substance, and it does so in the following ways. Phlegm production, mucus production, storage in fat cells, and excretion through our skin (sometimes resulting in acne) are the beginning, but cow dairy is also acidic and inflammatory in our bodies. So, if you must have cheese, the top choice would be unpasteurized goat or sheep. If you can only find pasteurized goat or sheep, they are still better options than the cow. As for milk, there are many dairy free options on the shelves today. I recommend almond or coconut, but new, interesting milks are popping up all the time from various nuts and seeds. I have recently seen sunflower, flax, and hemp, and none of these options are intended to grow a baby farm animal into a 1,000 pound adult. If you’re convinced you won’t get enough probiotics without yogurt, consume raw sauerkraut or take a supplement. Ice cream junkie? There are many dairy-free options out there; no more excuses!

3. Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners

Sugar is a horribly addictive food. Ever wonder why you get that high and inevitable crash from it? Well, eating sugar causes the release of a chemical called dopamine in the brain. The release of this chemical gives you a temporary happy feeling, and after it wears off, your body demands more sugar to reproduce this feeling. Why resist, right? Here’s the deal, sugar is empty calories, which means there is absolutely NO nutrition derived from eating it. On top of that, it actually steals minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium from your body. It inhibits the function of your immune system, can fuel the growth of cancerous cells, is hard on your liver, and stores away as excess fat when too much is consumed. Need any more reasons to nix it? Let me think…. it can cause diabetes, lead to premature aging by attaching itself to proteins found in the bloodstream that produce collagen and elastin, and tends to have adverse effects on cholesterol. Artificial sweeteners aren’t any better. They’re basically a chemical concoction that have been shown to lower the good bacteria in our intestines, trigger the release of the hormones insulin and leptin which trigger our bodies to store fat, and are acidic to our systems. One of the most common artificial sweeteners, aspartame, gets broken down by your body into formaldehyde. The best option is stevia, which has 0 calories and is made from an herb, rather than a bunch of synthetic chemicals. Stevia is sold in both liquid and powder form. Erythritol is another good choice, which occurs in small amounts naturally in certain foods such as grapes, melons, mushrooms, and some fermented foods. It is considered a sugar alcohol, and not as ideal as stevia, but still an acceptable choice over sugar. Some people enjoy the taste of erythritol to stevia, and find the transition off of sugar easier with it. As for caloric sweeteners, the best choices are coconut crystals or coconut nectar, raw honey, and maple syrup are high mineral containing and far less processed than traditional sugar.

4. Trans fatty acids

The term “trans fatty acids” is a scientific way of saying processed oils. When unsaturated fats are put through hydrogenation (a process used to extend shelf life and achieve certain tastes/textures in fats), trans fatty acids are produced as a by-product. Trans fatty acids lower your good cholesterol level while raising the bad, put you at a higher risk for heart disease, are hard on your liver, and have been linked to the rise in obesity. Choose non-hydrogenated, unprocessed oils and don’t fool yourself by ordering a griled chicken salad from a fast food joint! The meat was most likely cooked in cheap, hydrogenated vegetable oil. Go buy yourself a nice jar of raw coconut oil and cook yourself a delicious piece of organic meat at home! Luckily, trans fats are slowly being phased out of our food supply under the mandate of the FDA.

5. Peanuts

This one might be the easiest food for many to nix given the large number of peanut allergies. Did you know that peanuts are not even a nut? They are actually a legume which is the family that contain beans. Ever wonder why so many people seem to be allergic to peanuts? Peanuts are highly susceptible to growing excessive amounts of mold and fungi because as a legume they grow under or close to the dirt vs. traditional nuts which grow high up on trees. Studies have shown peanuts to contain 24 different fungi, as well as a mold called aflatoxin, which is highly toxic. Big surprise, this causes inflammation in the body. And we’ve discussed what that means; your body won’t tap into weight loss, or any sort of daily detoxification. Raw almond butter and sunflower seed butter are both insanely good (be sure to get the unsweetened varieties).

It may seem overwhelming to cut all of these foods out at once, but don’t sweat it! There’s no good reason to feel the pressure of perfection. The point is to get healthier, not stressed out. Make a smaller goal to start. Maybe pick three of these foods to stop eating, or cut out all five until dinner; do what is manageable for you!

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