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Some Of The Foods You Should Never Eat

Jun 26, 2014 - 8 comments


Philip Landrigan, MD, professor of pediatrics and professor and chair of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine

The Problem: One of Dr. Landrigan's No. 1 warnings to women pregnant or looking to become pregnant? "Make avoiding mercury in fish a priority," he says. Swordfish is notoriously high in the heavy metal, a potent neurotoxin that can damage developing children and even trigger heart attacks in adults. Aside from obvious health concerns, swordfish is often overfished and some of the gear commonly used to wrangle in swordfish often kills turtles, seabirds, and sharks.

The Solution: For a healthy omega-3 brain boost, look for fish that are low in contaminants and have stable populations, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, Atlantic mackerel, or pole- or troll-caught Pacific albacore tuna. Got a more adventurous palate? Try snakehead fish to satisfy your fish craving and improve the environment. The invasive species lives on land and water, where it wipes out important frogs, birds, and other critters. Snakehead fish is popping up on some restaurant menus, and the taste and texture is about identical to swordfish.

                                              Nonorganic Strawberries

Robert Kenner, director of Food Inc.
The Problem: While filming Food Inc., Kenner says he wanted to film strawberry farmers applying pesticides to their fields. "The workers wear these suits to protect themselves from the dozens and dozens of known dangerous pesticides applied to strawberries," he says. "When I saw this, I thought to myself, if this is how berries are grown, I don't really want to eat them anymore. I haven't been able to eat a nonorganic strawberry ever since." Unfortunately, for the food-concerned public, he wasn't able to get the shot of these farmers. "I guess they didn't think it looked too appetizing."

The Solution: Opt for organic! The Environmental Working Group, which analyzes U.S. Department of Agriculture pesticide-residue data, has found 13 different pesticide residues on chemically grown strawberries.

                                                               Diet Soda

Isaac Eliaz, MD, integrative health expert and founder of The Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, CA

The Problem: Dr. Eliaz stays away from any diet soda or foods, sugar-free candies, and gum containing artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others. "The safety data on these sweeteners is shrouded in controversy and conflicts of interest with the manufacturers of these chemical compounds," Dr. Eliaz warns. "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."

The Solution: If you're craving a soda but want to avoid the shady sweeteners, fake food dyes, and preservatives found in popular brands, try a bottle of Steaz zero-calorie green tea soda or Bionade, a fermented soda that's majorly popular in Europe.

                                                    Anything from McDonald's

Joel Salatin, sustainable farmer and author of This Ain't Normal, Folks

The Problem: McDonald's isn't just about food-it's about food mentality, according to Salatin. "It represents the pinnacle of factory-farming and industrial food," he says. "The economic model is utterly dependent on stockholders looking for dividends without regards to farm profitability or soil development."

Fast food typically is loaded with all sorts of the ingredients mentioned earlier in our list-genetically engineered corn, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and other bad actors in the food supply. The type of farming that supports this type of food business relies on harmful chemicals that not only threaten human health, but also soil health.

The Solution: Learn to cook! You might be surprised to find that paying extra up front for a pasture-raised chicken can be cheaper than buying prepared fast-food chicken. For instance, cooking a chicken and then boiling down the bones for a rich, disease-fighting stock can yield up to three meals for a family!

                                                             Canned Tomatoes

Frederick vom Saal, PhD, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri

The Problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Studies show that the BPA in most people's bodies exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 micrograms of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

The Solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Eden Organic and Bionaturae. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, such as Trader Joe's and Pomi.


William Davis, MD, cardiologist and author of the New York Times best-seller Wheat Belly

The Problem: Modern wheat is nothing like the grain your mother or grandmother consumed. Today, wheat barely resembles its original form, thanks to extensive genetic manipulations of the 1960s and '70s to increase yields. "You cannot change the basic characteristics of a plant without changing its genetics, biochemistry, and its effects on humans who consume it," Dr. Davis notes.

In his book, Dr. Davis makes the case that modern-day wheat is triggering all sorts of health problems, everything from digestive diseases like celiac and inflammatory bowel disease to acid reflux, obesity, asthma, and skin disorders. "If there is a food that yields extravagant, extraordinary, and unexpected benefits when avoided, it is bread," says Dr. Davis. "And I don't mean white bread; I mean all bread: white, whole wheat, whole grain, sprouted, organic, French, Italian, fresh, day-old…all of it."

The Solution: Try eliminating bread from your diet for a few weeks to see if you note health improvements. When you do choose grains, look to things like quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and wild rice, but in smaller quantities (less than a half cup) because these can also trigger high blood sugar, Dr. Davis says.

                                                 Industrially Produced Hamburgers

Michael Pollan, author of numerous books and articles on the food system

he Problem: Cattle raised in filthy conditions, pumped full of growth hormones and fed diets composed mostly of genetically modified corn are three major reasons humane, grass-fed ground beef is a better alternative for your burger. But they aren't the only ones, says Pollan. While a steak or roast usually comes from a single animal, processors of ground beef combine meat from hundreds of animals. "This vastly increases the risk of contamination," he says. USDA scientists have found dangerous levels of disease-causing bacteria in over 50 percent of ground beef samples they've tested.

The Solution: "I love hamburgers, but only eat them when they're grass-fed and ground by a butcher," Pollan says.


Maryam Henein and George Langworthy, directors of the documentary Vanishing of the Bees

The Problem: Today's corn plants are more like little pesticide factories with roots. Most of the nation's corn supply is genetically engineered to either produce its own pesticide supply within the plant or withstand heavy sprayings of chemicals, which wind up inside of the food. That's problematic not just for bees, but for people, too. "I avoid corn because most is genetically modified, and on top of that, most of the seeds are treated with systemic pesticides that are killing our bees," says Henein. "And let's not be fooled—the sublethal effects of these pesticides also slowly impair our health."

The Solution: In one way or another, corn is present in the vast majority of processed foods. From ketchup to salad dressing, and even bread, it's hard to escape corn ingredients. One to look out for? "I always try to avoid foods containing high-fructose corn syrup," says Langworthy. "Not only is it unhealthy, but the pesticides used in the production of the corn is detrimental to honeybees and other pollinators."

To avoid genetically engineered corn, which has never been tested for long-term impacts on human health, choose organic or Non-GMO Verified foods.

                                                                White Chocolate

Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

The Problem: The right kind of chocolate serves not only as a sweet treat but a brain-boosting superfood, too. The problem is, white chocolate's health profile is blank. "The data on the health benefits of cacao is pretty awesome," says Dr. Ramsey. "Much of this is due to a set of amazing phytonutrients that can increase blood flow to the brain, protect blood vessels, and boost mood and focus. White chocolate is missing all this goodness."

The Solution: Indulging in a chocolate treat? Look for organic versions from companies like Theo and NibMor.

                                                        Artificial Sweeteners

Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale Inc

The Problem: Ironically, there's a lot of evidence that suggest using artificial sweeteners, which have zero calories, is just as bad for your waistline as using regular, high-calorie sugar. For instance, research from the University of Texas has found that mice fed the artificial sweetener aspartame had higher blood sugar levels (which can cause you to overeat) than mice on an aspartame-free diet. Not only are they bad for your health, scientists have detected artificial sweeteners in treated wastewater, posing unknown risks to fish and other marine life. Plus, as Rodale says, "They're unnatural, nonorganic, taste horrible, and lead to all sorts of bad health consequences, false expectations, and short-term strategic thinking."

The Solution: Refined white sugar isn't any healthier, but you can replace it with small amounts of nutritional sweeteners, including honey, blackstrap molasses, and maple syrup, all of which have high levels of vitamins and minerals.


Doug Powell, PhD, professor of food safety at Kansas State University

The Problem: Sprouts have been the source of so many major food recalls that they're not worth the risk, Powell says. Whether bean or broccoli, alfalfa or pea, sprouts have been at the center of at least 40 significant outbreaks of foodborne illness over the past 20 years. They're often found to be contaminated with salmonella, E. coli, and listeria; they're vulnerable to contamination because the seeds require moist, warm conditions in order to sprout—conditions that are ideal for bacteria to multiply.

The Solution: Get the crunch of sprouts—without the added bacteria—by shredding cabbage or carrots onto your sandwiches. If you really enjoy the flavor of sprouts, cook them first.

                                      Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn

Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women's Voices for the Earth, a nonprofit that advocates for environmental health issues that directly affect women

The Problem: Diacetyl, a chemical used in butter flavoring, is used in a lot of fake butter flavorings, despite the fact that the chemical is so harmful to factory workers that it's known to cause an occupational disease called "popcorn lung," Scranton says. After news of the chemical got out to the popcorn-eating public, companies started replacing diacetyl with another additive—which can actually turn into diacetyl under certain conditions, she adds. Neither chemical is disclosed on microwave-popcorn bags because the exact formulations of flavorings are considered trade secrets. "It's a classic example of the need for better chemical regulation and improved transparency on the chemicals used in our food and other household products," she says.

The Solution: Make your own popcorn using real butter. Pop it on the stovetop in a pot, or go an easier route: Put a small handful of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag and stick the bag in the microwave. The kernels will pop just like those fake-butter-flavored kernels in standard microwave popcorn bags. When they're done, pour some melted organic butter over them. "Makes pretty good popcorn at a fraction of the cost!" Scranton says.

                                                           Food Dyes

Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest

The Problem: Health advocates have tried for years to get the Food and Drug Administration to ban food dyes, based on small studies linking them to hyperactivity in children and cancer in animals, and that's one reason Jacobson avoids them. Red 3 has caused cancer in lab rats, and Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 may contain cancer-causing contaminants. But mainly, he says, he avoids them on principle. "I just don't like eating synthetic chemicals and the oftentimes synthetic foods in which they're used." His group criticizes companies that use food dyes to make foods appear healthier than they are and to replace truly healthy ingredients—in a recent report on the nutritional quality of fruit juices, the center noted that Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast contains no berry and cherry juice but lots of the artificial dye, Red 40.

The Solution: Read labels anytime you're buying a prepackaged food. Food dyes can crop up in some really unexpected places, even healthy foods like cheese and yogurt.

                                  Chain-Restaurant Ice Cream Sundaes

Dave Zinczenko, author of the Eat This, Not That series of books

The Problem: "No matter where you go, the ice cream sundaes made in most chain restaurants have a couple things in common—namely, supersized portions and an ingredient list a mile long," he says. "All you really need for ice cream is milk, sugar, and maybe a little vanilla, but somehow these places are loading it up with corn syrup, cellulose gum, and vegetable shortening." In addition to being unhealthy, those additives are usually derived from genetically modified corn and soy.

The Solution: Go local, says Zinczenko. Small-batch ice cream from local stores is less likely to be some industry Franken-food creation. Or, for totally homemade sundaes, you could try making your own ice cream. "A killer caramel sauce can be made with just sugar, butter, and heat, and you'll never have to wonder what kind of chemicals you're loading up on," he says. "Plus, you'll control your portion size, which means you can indulge in moderation without widening your waistline."

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189897 tn?1441130118
by Sandman2, Jun 27, 2014
   I always see recommendations to go organic to avoid pesticides.  Yet, as far as I know, organic farmers do use pesticides.  They are organic pesticides, but as far as I know - just about as deadly.  Do you have any info on this?

1236893 tn?1487770007
by gymdandee, Jun 27, 2014
Under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops. These pesticides, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. Also, these pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.
Most organic farmers use mechanical and cultural tools to help control pests. Including insect traps, careful crop selection (disease-resistant varieties and predator insects and beneficial microorganisms).

Avatar universal
by Paxiled, Jun 28, 2014
My understanding is that mackerel and particularly albacore are two of the most mercury laden fish.  Given you've limited it to a very small area and it's impossible to know if the food you're buying is from that tiny area, the recommendations I've seen if for people to moderate their intake of these fish and for pregnant women to avoid them.  In light of this, albacore, which used to very expensive, is now very cheap.  Organic farmers come in different categories.  There are militant farmers who don't use pesticides much at all, and then there is the modern industrial organic farm created by Whole Foods and supermarkets when they got the federal government to standardize requirements for what can be labeled organic.  These standards were very much watered down from what the organic movement required previously.  Another reason why huge corporate interests shouldn't be writing our laws.  But organic is still a whole lot better than conventional, it's really no contest in what's allowed to be used.  But if you know a farmer locally who is an idealist, you can get cleaner food.  Sprouts are a tougher call than indicated.  They are far healthier than other foods -- sprouting food releases a plethora of nutrients you can't get in that amount elsewhere.  Broccoli sprouts have so much more antioxidant value than broccoli they're almost different species.  I personally eat a lot of sprouts.  I know they have a tendency to mold, but I think the food poisoning is overstated for most sprouts because they're grown mostly in greenhouses commercially, and if you buy from you local organic health food store they come from close by.  Or you can sprout your own.  Cooking sprouts defeats the purpose, because it kills off most of what's good about them.  It's a bit of a risk, but all food is a risk -- lettuce and cabbage are just as risky if you eat them raw.  Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

1236893 tn?1487770007
by gymdandee, Jun 28, 2014
Recently the news had a segment on an organic farmer that has land next to a none organic farm and the buffer zone between the two farms.
"One of the requirements for organic certification is to have “distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones such as run-off diversions to prevent the unintended application of a prohibited substance to the crop or contact with a prohibited substance applied to adjoining land that is not under organic management.”

A buffer zone is defined as “an area located between a certified production operation or portion of a production operation and an adjacent land area that is not maintained under organic management. A buffer zone must be sufficient in size or other features (e.g., windbreaks or a diversion ditch) to prevent the possibility of unintended contact by prohibited substances applied to adjacent land areas with an area that is part of a certified operation.”

In other words, you need to maintain buffer zones along field borders where your neighbors apply synthetic chemicals (or other prohibited substances). This includes farm fields, conservation areas, residences, and commercial operations.

The federal rule does not specify that a buffer zone be a specific width, but 25 to 30 feet is generally accepted by certifying agents as adequate to prevent most contamination from a neighboring field. Buffer zones can be planted to a crop that is managed organically but is sold as conventional.

1236893 tn?1487770007
by gymdandee, Jun 28, 2014
Contrary to popular belief, you do not get fat from eating fat. You get fat from eating too much sugar and grains
Refined carbohydrates promote chronic inflammation in your body, elevate low-density LDL cholesterol, and ultimately lead to insulin and leptin resistance
Insulin and leptin resistance, in turn, is at the heart of obesity and most chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s—all the top killers in the US
To normalize your weight and protect your health, it is crucial to address your insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains
Donal O’Neill turned the American food pyramid upside-down—eliminating sugars and grains from his diet and dramatically boosting his fat intake, thereby reducing his hereditary risk factors for heart disease to nil.

1236893 tn?1487770007
by gymdandee, Jun 28, 2014
Sorry! Try this link

Avatar universal
by Paxiled, Jun 29, 2014
You can get fat from eating fat, but you have to eat a lot.  I heard a report recently on public radio while I was at the gym (one of the few times I made it lately, broken all over) about a recent study done on fat consumption that didn't find the high correlation constantly reported between eating food high in fat and disease or obesity.  This has been falsely reported as recommending people go back to eating a lot of butter, but what it basically said was, butter isn't the big problem, phony food is.  Saturated fat isn't the biggest problem, phony fat is.  It's amazing how we all got conned into eating things that aren't, by any definition we grew up with, food.  When I was growing up we changed from corn flakes and shredded wheat to sugar frosted flakes and trix.  Mothers were told formula was better than breast milk.  We were told to drink, what, 8 glasses of milk a day by a gov't funded advertising program -- nobody in history drank much milk, including in the US, until this program (the milk mustache program).  Or Crisco -- just looking at it should have convinced people not to use it!  Amazing how well advertising works, and how trusting Americans are of people selling things.

1236893 tn?1487770007
by gymdandee, Jun 29, 2014
Pax, As children My brother was a big milk drinker, he could drink a quart of milk at a sitting.

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