I hear this quite often in my practice: “Lindy, I eat healthy most of the time. I don’t understand why I’m struggling with these health and weight issues.”
Launching into nutrition detective mode, I analyze my patient’s bloodwork, hormone profiles, health history, and food journals. Most of the time, I discover a few health issues going on, but sometimes the food journals also shout, “Houston, there’s a problem.”
Some of my patients are eating “health” foods that are leading them to poor health. Many foods are perceived as healthy because of antiquated science, slick marketing and ingrained habits. They are anything but healthy. I’ve picked just eight to be on the “Lindy Hit List.” But believe me, there are more (like “healthy” granola and energy bars, and commercial milk products). I didn’t want to write a book today, so I had to narrow it down, but I trust you will get the point.
Please be careful with the following “healthy” foods. You will be healthier for it.
1. Fruit Juice
I hear some of you gasping for air. I know. I’m threatening your world because your momma gave you orange juice every day as a child. How could I go against dear momma? I’m not trying to “dis” her, but instead, help you get healthy.
I’m not just singling out OJ, but all commercial fruit juice. First of all, they are pasteurized which means heated to a point that denatures the vitamins, enzymes and minerals. Not good. Does anyone remember Kool Aid? Do they still make Kool Aid? Commercial juices are close.
Also, drinking juice is not the same as eating fruit. Fruit contains fiber, enzymes and phytonutrients that cause blood sugars to rise much slower than fruit juice. In 10 seconds you can consume the juice of five oranges. Can you eat five oranges in 10 seconds? You are consuming pure fructose (sugar) into your bloodstream and pretty much nothing else.
What about fresh juice you squeeze at home? The latest craze right now is juicing and fresh juice periodically is okay, but be oh-so-careful. Although better than commercial juice, you are still getting a quick surge of concentrated sugar. Read my article, “Responsible Drinking (of Juice)” for more information.
Juice is not great for kids either. They don’t need all that sugar. You might want to try flavoring your kids’ water with fruit juice. I use about one-quarter juice (like V8 Fusion—not Splash) and thre-quarters water for my five year old.
2. Vegetable Oils
When I was studying at the University of Maryland back in the Neanderthal Age of the 1990s, we were taught all about the evils of saturated fats and were sung the praises of polyunsaturated fatty acids like vegetable, corn, soy, safflower and canola oils.
New research has turned that theory on its head.
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not telling you to eat a stick of butter a day. Saturated fats need to be limited, but they should NEVER be eliminated because of hormone health. We’ve discovered that saturated fats are not the main culprit in heart disease. There’s something else that is, but you’ll have to read future articles to find out.
Polyunsaturated fats are high in omega-6 fatty acids and Americans consume a boatload – more like the Titanic-load. There’s a ginormous problem with this because omega-6s block omega-3s (think fish oil and flax) from doing their amazing heart healthy work in the body.
Studies reveal that the optimum ratio of omega 6s to 3s should be 1:1 for good health. The Western diet ratio is 20:1 to 50:1. Does anyone see a problem? This unbalanced ratio is the main culprit in inflammation and many of the disease issues we are facing.
I recently did a happy dance. The FDA finally banned trans fats (hydrogenated oils) from most of our food supply. This ruling is about 25 years too late. Many countries around the world had already banned this deadly substance years ago. We were just slow to catch up. Hydrogenated oils are made from omega 6 oils that have been adulterated so much that I put them on my “Franken Food” list. Most margarines are comprised of hydrogenated oils. Just say no.
3. Conventional Corn-fed Meat
I believe that our Creator endowed cattle with certain unalienable rights and among these include the pursuit of eating grass. Most conventionally raised beef is not given this right and is instead fed corn and soybeans to fatten them faster for slaughter. Nutrition is compromised and our health suffers. Clemson University teamed up with the USDA in a recent study that found grass-fed beef is higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), omega-3s, beta-carotene, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium, and lower in inflammatory omega 6s (remember them from above) and saturated fats than corn-fed beef.
Corn and grains fed to livestock are hormone- and pesticide-laden and end up in the meat. My suggestion is to purchase meat from a local source you trust. There are many farms that sell grass-fed beef around Wilmington. Get to know them and how their meat is sourced, as well as how humane the animals are treated.
4. Microwave Popcorn
Some of you want to throw something at me right now. Just hear me out. First of all, I’ve been making popcorn the old-fashioned way in a saucepan with a little cold pressed oil (the better way to do omega 6s) for eons. It just isn’t that hard and it tastes great. I don’t understand how microwave popcorn is so much more convenient. I don’t get it.
The main problem with microwave popcorn is the darn bag. It is coated with chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is linked to infertility and cancer. These chemicals vaporize into the popcorn. DuPont and many manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA in the near future, but the chemical is still there.
The dangerous chemicals don’t stop there. Fake butter flavoring contains a compound called diacetyl, which has been linked to lung disease. Is the perceived convenience of microwave popcorn really worth it?
5. Farmed Fish and Seafood
Wild caught fish and seafood are always best. Why? I will lay out the findings from independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) about the farmed-fish found in our grocery stores:
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