10 Foods to Leave at the Store

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When you’re grocery shopping, do you feel like you have a very good sense of what kinds of foods you should put into your cart and, eventually, into your body? If not, that’s one of the first skills you should develop as you work on the many ways that you can detoxify your body and strive for maximum health.

if you want to get some quick, basic information on the foods that you should definitely leave on the grocery store shelf, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out which foods you should eat very, very sparingly or — if you’re really serious about detoxification and building good health — not at all!

1. Milk

Cow’s milk can seem like a harmless food, and millions of dollars are spent each year to make you think that it’s healthy. But the truth is that most of the milk you find in grocery store refrigerators can be harmful to your health. Most milk is heavily processed: It’s spun, heated, separated, and reconstituted, for starters. The majority of the healthy proteins that can be found in milk are destroyed during all the processing steps. How different is the milk at the grocery store from natural cow’s milk? One research project gave grocery-store-bought milk to newborn calves, and all of them died before they reached 2 months of age.

Here’s some more food for thought: A 12-year Harvard study of 80,000 nurses showed that the nurses who drank the most commercially produced milk also had the most bone fractures. That certainly doesn’t jibe with the message that comes from milk proponents, who insist that we need to drink milk to get the calcium and vitamin D we need. That’s simply not the case. You can get all the calcium and vitamin D necessary for strong bones (and more) from vegetables, sunshine (for the vitamin D), and supplements.

Some people can’t imagine life without cow’s milk. If you’re among them, please find a good, clean source of whole, raw milk. Chances are you can get a tip if you ask around at your local health food store.

If you want to drink milk but you’re not dead set on drinking cow’s milk, try substitutes like rice milk, almond milk, and soy milk. (However, if you go with the soy milk option, remember that almost all soy products have been created using genetically modified soybeans.)

Many brands of commercially produced milk contain antibiotics and hormones. If you want to drink cow’s milk, make completely sure that the brand you buy states clearly on the label that the milk doesn’t contain these toxic substances.

2. Margarine

It always breaks my heart when I hear about someone who has decided to give up butter in favor of margarine in order to lose weight and stay healthy. Given the amount of fat present in butter, a lot of people avoid it. But please don’t start eating margarine as a substitute. It’s unhealthy and in many cases can contain trace amounts of toxins.

About halfway through the 20th century, people began eating margarine as a butter substitute for health reasons. We’re now at the point where Americans eat twice as much margarine as they do butter. The problem is that margarine isn’t healthy. More often than not it contains hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and you don’t want either of those things in your system.

What’s more, margarine is made using processes that involve toxins, and I have a hard time believing that margarine makers are able to remove all the toxins from the finished product. Two of the toxins commonly used to make margarine are hexane — a nasty petrochemical solvent — and nickel, which is a very harmful heavy metal toxin.

Before you reach for the margarine, consider using very small amounts of 100 percent organic butter instead. The butter may not be as good for you as many of the other foods out there, but it’s always better for you than margarine.

3. Corn Oil

If you look in most people’s pantries, you’re likely to find a bottle of corn oil. If the same goes for you, do yourself a favor and get rid of that bottle!

Corn oil is an extremely common cooking and baking ingredient, but it’s flat out not good for you. In addition to being loaded with plenty of bad fats, most corn oil is hydrogenated and made using genetically modified corn. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of genetically modified food products here.

If you’re looking for healthy oil alternatives to corn oil, consider using 100 percent organic coconut oil and hempseed oil. Find them at a nearby health food store or online.

4. Artificial Sweeteners

In my opinion, very few products are as detrimental to detoxification and a detox diet lifestyle as artificial sweeteners. If you could get a dime for every food product in the average grocery store that contains an artificial sweetener, you could easily be reading this article on a big, beautiful boat someplace sunny (with a nice glass of 100 percent organic carrot juice by your side!).

For the purposes of this list, I’ll just say that you should do everything you can to cut artificial sweeteners and any products that contain artificial sweeteners out of your diet. You’re much more likely to live a healthy, detoxified life if you can make that important step.

You should avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs and do your best to limit your intake of sugar. But what’s left to use for sweetening foods and drinks? Try using stevia, which is an extremely low calorie, natural sweetener that comes from a plant and has been used in other cultures without negative health impacts for decades.

5. Artificially Colored Foods

When it comes to foods that have been colored, I like to imagine what it would be like to go back in time a few centuries and offer some of these food items to the people of that era. Can you imagine trying to get an early American settler, for example, to drink a fluorescent blue liquid and eat a neon pink snack cake?

The chemicals used to make most food colorings are a murderer’s row of harmful toxins, and you don’t want them in your body. Many food coloring products are made of coal tar — the same stuff used on our streets. Don’t eat foods that have been colored! To make sure you’re making wise choices, always check ingredients lists. When in doubt, do a simple logic check: Is the bright green gummy snack in front of you really that color because of natural factors? Probably not. Skip it.

6. Olestra

In the 1980s, scientists cooked up a new substance that was touted as a terrific replacement for fat. The idea was simple: The olestra molecule had some of the characteristics of fat, but it was too big to be absorbed by the human digestive system so it didn’t end up in your body and didn’t cause weight gain and all the other problems commonly attributed to fat.

Sound too good to be true? It is. At its very best, olestra is simply a fake, unnatural fat. At its worst, it makes absolutely no contribution to weight loss and can cause a disgusting anal discharge condition. Not good.

What’s more, olestra doesn’t do any of the positive things that good fats can do for your body, like helping you to absorb important vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K). Leave olestra and any products that contain olestra on your grocery store shelves.

7. Tuna

Tuna is a delicious, easy-to-find fish, and you can get it in all kinds of forms — from a gourmet tuna steak at a fancy restaurant to a big vat of tuna salad at a corner grocery store and deli. Unfortunately, more often than not, tuna contains the deadly toxin mercury. Because of that disturbing trend, I have to suggest you avoid eating tuna whenever possible.

If you’re used to eating tuna and you want to continue making fish part of your diet, try using wild Alaskan salmon instead. That variety of fish traditionally scores very low when it comes to mercury levels, and it also happens to taste great and works in a huge range of delicious recipes.

8. Soy

When I tell my patients that they should consider avoiding eating soy or buying soy food products, they sometimes look at me in disbelief. Most people think of soy as harmless or even healthy, and in a perfect world that might be true.

The problem is that an overwhelming amount of the soy and soy products available in the United States come from genetically modified soybeans. And if you know anything about soy, you know how impossible it is to get away from
the stuff. It’s everywhere!

What if you want to keep soy and foods that contain soy in your diet? Make sure that the soy you eat is 100 percent organic and that it doesn’t come from a genetically modified soyce . . . er, source.

9. Processed Meats

It doesn’t take a natural foods specialist to realize that processed meats are a bad idea. Just looking at some potted meats can make you wonder how it ever makes sense for someone to eat those materials. But lots of people do eat potted meat, along with other processed meats like lunchmeat and hot dogs.

Just to set the record straight, here’s what’s wrong with processed meat: It offers little or no nutritional value and can be full of toxins. All the various chemical and mechanical techniques used to make processed meat rob it of whatever nutrients it had to begin with, and just about every processed meat product on the market contains a toxin called sodium nitrite. It’s a chemical used as a preservative, and after it’s in your body it can go through a chemical reaction or two to create nitrosamines, which are compounds that many people believe cause cancer (particularly liver cancer).

10. Animal Fats

What’s an animal fat? You guessed it: any fat that comes from an animal. Animal fats are not bad if they come from clean animals. And fats (oils, really) that come from fish are quite good for you. But most animal fats available in your
grocery store are rotten for your body’s systems; they often contain toxins because substances like antibiotics, hormones, and steroids are used on many commercially raised animals.

To get the good types of fats into your diet, focus on vegetable fats (more commonly referred to as vegetable oils). The best varieties to use are coconut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and hempseed oil. (Make sure you pick out 100 percent organic oils if possible.)