Consider the following daily diet: You scarf down some cereal and milk in the morning, a bit of chicken for lunch and then some cream cheese and a "health" bar for dinner. Sounds relatively nutritious, right? Wrong. You actually just consumed a whole bunch of saturated fats, trans-fats, sugar and preservatives.
Previously, we celebrated the Top 10 anti-inflammatory foods according to Dr. Michael Weinfass, a family medicine specialist for the Maccabi health maintenance organization who is also an expert on natural medicine and how to quit smoking. Now Weinflass explores the other side of the coin: 10 foods that trigger inflammation in the body and other harmful foods you should avoid.
White sugar consists of empty calories that lack nutritional value. They lead to weight gain and disrupt the existing balance of many of the body's systems. White sugar is a simple carbohydrate that creates excess blood sugar levels (glucose) and leads to a sharp rise in insulin levels (the hormone whose function is to regulate blood sugar levels). This leads to severe fatigue, increased hunger, weight gain and diabetes.
White sugar intake increases the levels of triglycerides (fats from food sources) in the blood and thereby contributes to the development of heart disease and inflammation. It increases the oxidization processes that weaken the body's systems, destroying tissue and contributing to the development of cancerous processes.
Most sugar substitutes, or artificial sweeteners, are inferior materials. They confuse the body's satiation mechanism and remain in the body, unable to be absorbed or broken down, thus contributing to weight gain. They are foreign to the body, are not participants in the metabolism and are suspected of having a laxative effect. In addition, they may also be allergic and carcinogenic. Many food companies are inventing an alternative drug to replace sugar and capitalize on the claim of being "fat free" and "sugar free." But while they may be less fattening, they may also be more dangerous.
White flour is flour that has been refined, removing the whole wheat grains' bran and husk, and stripping it of its nutritional vitamins, minerals, proteins and fiber. It only contains wheat starch – an empty carbohydrate with a very low nutritional value that is absorbed in the blood and quickly raises blood sugar levels. To use the sugar for energy, the body steals vitamins and minerals from the heart, brain, blood, bones, muscles, liver, kidneys and the nervous system. The result: an imbalance in vitamins and minerals that affects the functioning of the body's organs.
Even innocent-looking breakfast cereals, mostly comprised of white sugar and flour, are basically harmful products. They are processed foods rich in sodium, sugar substitutes, preservatives and stabilizers that are not properly digested in the body and are not meant to be consumed. Nearly all types of breakfast cereals are processed, including whole grain and sugar free cereals. They are not as healthy as we think or are led to believe.
This type of salt, more popularly known as MSG, is found in large quantities in powered soups, sauces, spices, meat, processed and canned food and Chinese food. It has a toxic effect on the nervous system: It is a neurotransmitter that in high quantities can cause cognitive malfunctions and brain damage. It can cause pathological conditions such as brain development disorders in infants and small children, memory impairment in adults, epileptic seizures and tumors.
Red meat (cows, calf, sheep and pigs)
The age of industrialized meat has changed the rules of the game. The meat pre-historic man ate had a significantly different composition to the meat we eat today. It was rich in omega-3 acid and had far less saturated fat – a pro-inflammatory substance of the highest level that was discussed in detail in last week's article. The meat we eat today contains cholesterol, arachidonic acid – an omega-6 fatty acid that contributes to the creation of the inflammatory process, and has many hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals. It also has other unwanted ingredients such as antibiotics used to accelerate growth in animals, toxic metals, pesticide residues, medicine residues, hormones and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Fatty chicken, like drumsticks and thighs
Although chicken meat contains less fat than beef, its fat percentage has increased due to genetic deformities and other growth manipulations – from eight percent in the 1970s to 22-23 percent today. Removing the visible fat will only partially help as the fat also penetrates the chicken muscles. In addition, chicken also contains toxins from growth acceleration hormones. These cannot be eliminated through cooking, and they stimulate inflammation and cause cumulative damage that may cause the development of cancer. And here's news for those who like the high levels of protein chicken offers: animal protein scorched at a high temperature (on a barbecue or grill for example) undergoes changes that make it especially carcinogenic.
Milk is also a source of health risks because it contains large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, among other things. Milk also has large amounts of female sex hormones (because in modern dairies they milk cows in their third trimester of pregnancy) that are likely to affect cancerous tumors, especially prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. Some hormones are also linked to early sexual development in children, acne, and decreased fertility in men. Milk has traces of antibiotics, and according to the veterinary services report for 2011, around 10 percent of cow milk samples in Israel deviated from the recommended levels of aflatoxins – carcinogenic poisons that are resistant to pasteurization. Dairy products are low in fiber and in iron. It is also worth remembering that the milk and cheese that we buy in chains are industrial, processed products.
Among other things, margarine contains fat that has been industrially processed and hardened (like that made from soy and sunflower oils, which are otherwise liquids). This processed vegetable fat is also called trans-fat, and is present in large quantities in margarine. When processed, its acid structure changes and it becomes similar to saturated fat, causing similar damage to the body (such as weight gain, high cholesterol, infections and allergies). When consumed regularly, its causes even worse damage.
Salty and sweet snacks
All forms of processing lead to the loss of a food's original, intrinsic nutritional value. Snacks such as pretzels, cookies and biscuits are completely processed. In most cases they contain white flour, the worst kinds of fat and large amounts of salt or sugar. In addition, they contain allergens that are found in preservatives and flavorings. Prolonged exposure to these may cause asthma and skin diseases. Snacks are also packed full of food colorings, preservatives, sodium and more. High levels of consumption may harm the proper functioning of the intestinal mucous membrane. Also, "health" bars are not necessarily healthy. Some of them are high in fructose – an industrial sweetener that is made from corn, which can be harmful and is devoid of any real nutritional value. Studies show that their consumption increases inflammation in the body and the risk of kidney stones.
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