Foods to Avoid or Minimize for Optimizing Metabolism & Health
Following is a list of foods to avoid, or enjoy infrequently, whether or not you may be following our Meats & Sweets High Vitality Diet, meat, dairy, eggs and fruit-focused dietary approach for optimizing metabolism and health.
Generally speaking, the majority of people would benefit from avoiding or greatly minimizing the foods to avoid listed, as they are known to contribute to ill health, weight gain, disease, and/or accelerated aging.
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During a health coaching session with clients, I emphasize foods to enjoy, versus just focusing on which foods to avoid, as it is psychologically easier on those rebellious parts of our mind that don't like to feel deprived. It's mentally more encouraging to focus on the abundance of choices, versus the restrictions.
However, for the purposes of better understanding what constitutes a healthy diet, I will start with a list of foods that pretty much everybody agrees are best avoided, or greatly minimized.
That said, if the bulk of the population greatly minimized the foods on the following list, I believe most would begin to experience better health.
Foods to Avoid
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats
These fats have a hydrogen atom added chemically to allow a vegetable oil that is naturally liquid at room temperature to become solid, and therefore more shelf stable. You can often read this on the label as "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" palm, cottonseed, or corn oil.
Hydrogenated oils are a synthetic alteration that the body is not designed to utilize, and can cause a host of problems, and tops the list of foods to avoid, although the PUFAs, listed below, are also very toxic to our health.
Anything that is synthetically altered should be strictly avoided, and is not part of a healthy diet.
Commercially Refined, Polyunsaturated Plant & Seed Oils
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs), are also on the top of the foods to avoid list, along with the hydrogenated oils. Examples of these oils include: corn oil, soy oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and other commercial oil blends.
These oils have a high ration of pro-inflammatory fatty acids, and impair the body's ability to appropriately metabolize sugar, possibly leading to insulin resistance and diabetes. There are many other health problems which occur as these foods are often combined with 'starches' or refined grains, which breaks down into glucose. Glucose metabolism is impaired without an appropriate balance of fructose. The starch or grain + PUFA oils is ubiquitous, and very damaging to health.
Better choices include unrefined coconut oil, MCT oil, butter, ghee, and other good quality saturated animal fast; single origin extra virgin olive oil, and smaller quantities of avocado oil, or nut oils higher in saturated fat such as macadamia nut oil, or pecan oil.
Synthetic or 'fake' sugars, such as saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame, neotame, and sucralose ~ sweeteners that go by the brand names of 'Equal' or 'Sweet and Low' are also high on the foods to avoid list. Synthetic modified food substances are lower in calories, but they are intensely sweet. They are used in diet sodas, gum, mints, and many other products.
Better alternatives include raw local honey, molasses, locally procured tree syrups, and even raw or organic sugar! Alternatives include stevia, and possibly monk fruit, agave syrup, or other 'natural sweeteners' that are becoming more widely available. Some people following a Ray Peat inspired approach to eating use table sugar. This is not what we recommend, however, it is better than synthetic sweeteners.
Seeds and Most Nuts
Seeds may be hazardous to gut health! They are not easily chewed and broken down, causing them to potentially permeate the gut lining, leading to a host of digestive and immune system issues.
Nuts like almonds are high in oxalate acids, which are crystals which bind with calcium, and is believed to be the cause of kidney stones. Baby's fed almond milk instead of mother's milk developed kidney disease, and/or rickets! Horrible way to begin life, especially when your mom believes she is doing the 'right' thing by avoiding real dairy, or Mother's milk.
If consuming nuts, keep them minimal. Most people can tolerate small amounts. Soaking them for 8 hours may help reduce some of the anti-nutrients found in nuts, and help them be easier to digest. After soaking, crisp them back up by roasting them on a low heat.
Foods to Greatly Minimize
The Dry Crunchies
Most snack foods are dry and crunchy, which is not well tolerated by our digestive systems. Couple the dryness with the combo of ingredients found in these foods, and you have a disaster on your hands. They are usually made with refined flours, PUFA or hydrogenated oils, and excess sodium. They are lab-tested to ensure you keep coming back for more as well!
They are drying, causing you to drink above and beyond what you may ideally assimilate of liquids as well. While they narrowly missed the foods to avoid list, I consider these foods celebratory foods to be consumed infrequently, not as a regular staple food.
Refined Grains and Flour Products
While we consider refined grain products a 'celebratory food' best kept to a minimum, it is harder for most people to avoid them, especially if in a pinch, trying to eat out. Think sandwiches, pizza, toast, pasta ~ items that are easy to grab out.
Grains contain phytates and lectins which inhibit absorption of important minerals, including zinc, copper, and iron. Over time, micro deficiencies may show up. The fiber in whole grains is also mostly indigestible, which, contrary to popular belief, is a non-essential nutrient. Fruit fibers are far easier for most people to digest.
When choosing to include grains, we prioritize sprouted grain breads and tortillas, and true sourdough breads.
Grains and grain products are not on the foods to avoid list, however we caution people to be judicious about their consumption, and keep the celebratory foods to a minimum. Why? And Which celebratory foods are we referring to? Those which contain an unholy (but sweet tasting) trio: refined grains + refined sugars + commercial plant oils or other fat.
During a recent visit to help my mom, we had to rely on eating out several times. We generally chose more affordable places, like Corner Bakery, or Panera which of course features breads! Sometimes you just have to make your best choice, and enjoy it without beating yourself up! We would share an egg or other type of sandwich on a sprouted grain bagel, or croissant (my preference!). If I begin to eat these foods too often, I notice my elimination changes, and other symptoms follow.
Refined grains are devoid of any kind of real nutritional value, and worse, they spike insulin when consumed, a fat storing hormone. It is now believed that the excess consumption of refined grains + PUFA oils are the underlying cause of inflammation, and many modern diseases.
Packaged Processed Foods
The bulk of foods found in the center aisles of grocery stores contain some combo of the above mentioned foods to avoid. Read labels, and do your best to eat simple meals with whole foods. Our Meats & Sweets approach is super simple, requiring minimal food preparation.
Canned meats, tomatoes and tomato sauces, sardines, mackerel, tuna, olives, and select condiments are the exception, and can be included in a healthy diet.
Other foods to avoid include any gluten-containing foods (most grains), dyes, guar gums, chemicals, genetically modified foods and any other ingredient you do not recognize as a food!
We've also added 'unclean' meats to our upcoming second edition of A High Vitality Diet, especially pork and shellfish.
Greens & (Raw) Cruciferous Vegetables
Many greens are also high in oxalate acid. Cruciferous vegetables are also known thyroid hormone disrupters. Eating these foods on a regular basis ~ especially raw ~ can cause the thyroid to not function properly, leading to many other health imbalances. If eating, consume well cooked, or naturally fermented.
A few signs of sluggish thyroid is poor metabolism and circulation, small clumps of hair falling out, unable to sleep deeply throughout the night, moody, difficulty losing weight, and cold hands and feet, to name a few.
Talk to your doctor if experiencing any of the above symptoms. If he/she tests your Thyroid hormone levels to be 'normal' yet you are still experiencing symptoms, it could be still related to sluggish thyroid function that is just not out of their standardized range. A change of diet, and thyroid glandular supplementation may help.
For those interested, Don and I offer one on one Health Coaching. During a health coaching session, we help you customize a healthy diet for your particular preferences and needs. and make supplement recommendations, including herbs as needed. Learn more. Or, Contact us with questions, or to get started.
Read more about Meats & Sweets ~ A High Vitality Diet.
|Milk Jello w/ Raspberries, Honey & Coconut Sugar Sprinkle
Chicken Salad w/ Herbed Goat Cheese & Chopped Summer Vegetables
|The 'sweets' of Meats & Sweets, A High Vitality Diet
Burger w/ Grilled Mushrooms & Onions, & Cucumber & Tomato Salad
Is Your Diet Supporting Your Health? You Will Know You Are On the Right Track When you experience:
- Less pain and stiffness
- Better elimination
- More lustrous, glowing skin
- Softer hair, less falling out
- Better moods
- Better focus, clarity and motivation
- Increased vitality
- More balanced blood sugar and moods
- You can better manage stress
- Safe, steady weight loss if needed
- Improved sleep
- Age with grace, maintaining reasonable cognitive and physical functioning
- More energy to enjoy and create a fruitful life!
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