“You are what you eat” has become generally accepted principle in today's world. What most people don't realize is that we are also only what our bodies can metabolize. With such a large percentage of the North American diet coming from packaged/processed foods containing a multitude of questionable ingredients, it's no wonder the nation's health is declining. In addition to these chemicals and preservatives, there are six foods that the majority of the population consume multiple times every day. Foods that, if eliminated, would result not only in weight loss, but a massive and almost immediate improvement in health. Let's take a look at these “sinister 6” and the reasons why you might want to make an effort to avoid or even eliminate them from your diet.
Gluten has become a hot topic of debate the last few years. To eat or not to eat, that is the question. In my, and neurologist, Dr. David Perlmutter's expert opinion we most certainly should not. Gluten can cause stomach upset and discomfort, bloating, headaches, brain fog, mood swings, depression, inability to focus and cognitive decline. Dr. Perlmutter addresses this in his book “Grain Brain” highlighting studies showing that as the waistline increases, the size of the brain decreases. A few extra pounds aside, who really wants to set themselves up for Alzheimers, Parkinson's or Dementia?
Soy is another item you'll find a lot of back and forth on. Although a complete, plant-based protein, soy has a high estrogen content. And at the end of the day it's also a very low-quality protein that is difficult to digest. Bloating, diarrhea and upset stomach can result.
Dairy used to be touted as the one and only source of calcium but today we know there are much better, more readily absorbed sources that do our body good.
Alcohol is a toxin. Whether it's dressed up as a pina colada or your favourite craft beer in a solo cup, the internal inflammation triggered when we sip and chug far outweigh the benefits. Alcohol is also a processed carbohydrate, meaning it creates a spike in blood sugar, which the body then stores as fat. And of course after a few drinks there's always the poor judgement when it comes to food choices, or anything else for that matter.
Sugar. We all love the taste but the effects on physical and mental health are really not so sweet. Like alcohol, sugar and sugar substitutes (including honey, agave, coconut palm sugar, cane sugar, aspartame, Sucralose and many more) are also carbohydrates that enter the blood stream quickly. Again, blood sugar spikes and the body stores belly fat. Artificial sweeteners, although they have zero or very low calories, are not a better option. Not only do these toxic concoctions cause bloating, headaches, stomach aches, irritability, mood swings, depression, ADHD, etc., they have been linked to many serious health conditions including a decline in cognitive function.
Salt has been a dinner table staple for decades. And decades ago when home cooking was king and fewer processed foods were consumed, the need to monitor our sodium intake was far less of a concern. Fast forward to today's world where sodium is in absolutely everything. Combine that with what most people are still doing at the table and it's no wonder that blood pressure rates are at an all time high. Not only can too much salt/sodium can lead to serious conditions like hypertension, high blood pressure and heart disease, it also causes water retention and bloat making us uncomfortable in our clothes and even in our own skin.
Regardless of your commitment level to health, attempting to eliminate all six foods in one fell swoop is a lot. The good news is that making small changes over time that stick is much better than going all in and lasting a week at best. Start by cutting back or eliminating one item at a time – perhaps buying gluten free bread, or replacing cow's milk with almond milk. Progress over perfection. And if you are an all-or-nothing kinda person, be all in at one percent. Think about it, if you did something one percent better tomorrow than you did today, where will you be in a year?
Lose weight, eliminate the Sinister 6 and set yourself up to Survive the Holidays! Get started today and never have to make that New Year's weight loss resolution again!
Kelowna Nutritionist STOP dieting, start living! Lose the Bloat, Melt your Belly, Love Your Life!! Last thing, last time, believe it! Sign up to receive my bi-weekly FIT Nutrition blog, and get started today.