For many of us, the quest to find the right diet plan involves looking at calories, the macronutrient ratio’s of such foods, and whether or not they will put us at risk for weight gain.
For others, you may be considering things like cholesterol, total sugar content, or how much saturated fat is in the food depending on whether you have any pre-existing health conditions that you need to be mindful of.
But what about foods that are actually potentially dangerous?
Ever think about those? While you might consider food such as a burger being dangerous because it is linked with weight gain due to the high-calorie nature of its calories on their own aren’t dangerous. If all you eat in a day is a burger and a salad, you’ll actually probably lose weight because your calorie intake will be relatively low.
But there are some foods out there that could very well be dangerous and put your health in serious jeopardy. But learning what these foods are and taking measures to prevent them from entering your diet plan, especially if you happen to have a certain health situation going on, you can maximize your health in the long run.
It’s important when it comes to nutrition to look beyond the surface. While it’s vital that you are considering all the calories and macros and such, there really is so much more to eating healthy than just those things.
Let’s take a look.
While saturated fats can be harmful if you eat enough of them, alone they are not. In fact, your body needs some saturated fat each day because while cholesterol isn’t desirable in large amounts, you do need some cholesterol to function. Cholesterol is responsible for helping with the manufacturing of sex hormones, so without it, testosterone and estrogen would not exist.
Trans fats, however, are totally different. Even small amounts of trans fats taken in on a regular basis could put you in serious harm as they have been linked with things like heart disease and cancer2.
One study published in 2015 assessed people who were eating trans fats and found that those who had the highest intakes were about 34% more likely to pass away from any cause compared to those who weren’t eating as many1.
Trans fats don’t just cause an increase in your risk factor for heart disease for example but completely change the entire health structure of your body and put you at risk for a number of unwanted illnesses.
So where will you find trans fats? How can you be sure to avoid them?
Trans fats are most often found in heavily processed foods, freezer foods, or snack and baked foods. Those cookies you get from the package in the middle of the supermarket for instance, likely have trans fats in them. If you want to get cookies that are free of trans fats, you might want to check out the bakery. Chances are good they’ve been made using fresher ingredients and won’t contain the trans fats you want to avoid.
Trans fats are created any time processed oils are extracted by high heat and pressure and with the use of solvents. After this process takes place, they’re then exposed to light and air and this causes oxidation to take place, which then is what changes the chemical make-up of that fat and causes it to be trans fats, with potentially devastating consequences.
Unlike saturated fats where the body does have an actual need for the fat, trans fats are different. They are not natural for the body and you have no requirement for them. You are best without any in your diet.
Even as little as a gram per day can cause your body harm. Most processed products like granola bars and crackers have to list on the label whether the food contains any trans fats, however, be aware that this doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the clear. Lots of products that contain trans fats don’t have labels, therefore you’ll never know.
If you stick to a healthy eating diet and avoid deep-fried and processed foods along with convenience and bakery items, you should be doing pretty well at keeping trans fats out of the picture.
You know that you should stay well hydrated and are probably taking lots of steps to do so. You’re drinking your 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, thinking you’re doing your body a lot of good.
And while you may be, if you happen to be getting that drinking water from your tap, you may be doing more harm than good. The problem with tap water is that for many people, their house tap water isn’t what you’d consider pure. There is a growing amount of research that is showing that the chlorine that’s found in tap water could be causing the healthy bacteria in your gut to dwindle, which you need to keep your immune system strong.
Most people aren’t aware that there is an entire ecosystem of healthy bacteria living inside their gut and when not treated properly, health problems can occur. If this tap water is slowly damaging these bacteria, it may not be too long before you find yourself feeling ill and coming down with colds, cases of flu, and even other diseases.
The good news is that you can use a quality probiotic product such as P3-OM to help manage the bacteria and promote better growth. Use this for just a short while and then your numbers will be optimized and you’ll be feeling great.
But, you need to also cut the cause. If you keep drinking that tap water, you’ll always be playing catch up and it’s far better to simply be ahead of the game.
Many people will turn to bottled water to solve this issue but in some cases, bottled water may also contain contaminants that could harm your body.
The best way around this is to look for a water filter that helps filter out the chlorine so you aren’t getting that but are still getting the pure water that tap water would otherwise provide.
For most people, this will be the best case scenario. And, it’s also more environmentally friendly because you aren’t disposing of all those plastic water bottles over time.
There’s a lot of debate about grains in the nutrition industry. Many people are of the belief that we should avoid grains entirely because they are too high in carbs and are leading to weight gain, and they aren’t really food that our ancestors ate. The paleo diet shuns grains completely and with that diet catching on all around the world, many people are abiding by this eating practice.
Another issue with grains is that many contain phytic acid and antinutrients, which can irritate the gut lining and may decrease the overall absorption rate of the nutrients that you are taking in.
So when you eat these grains, you may actually be putting yourself at risk for nutritional deficiencies, despite the fact that you are taking in those nutrients! If your body is not able to absorb them properly, it’s not going to be able to utilize them as you should.
The key nutrients that antinutrients seem to work against include zinc, calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium.
This is quite significant because most people already aren’t getting enough calcium and often times iron in their diet plan, so if you now have something that is preventing you absorbing the little that you do get, you could be facing bone density loss as well as iron-deficiency anemia, which can lead to low energy levels amongst other problems.
Sprouted grains are the main grains to be considered here, which ironically are often touted as being some of the healthiest grains because they are not processed and high in dietary fiber.
This said, you can eat them, but you will need to soak them first in order to help eliminate these anti-nutrients and ensure they don’t do your body damage.
Even then, it’s still a good idea to practice moderation when it comes to grains. There are plenty of other carbohydrate-rich foods you could eat that don’t pose any threat like this to the body, so focus your intake there first and foremost.
Most people are well aware of the potential problems associated with too much sugar in the diet and are doing their best to avoid foods rich in sugar. The obvious ones are quite easy to avoid: soda, cake, cookies, chocolate, granola bars, and of the like. We know these are high in sugar as it’s really quite obvious.
What isn’t so obvious though are the forms of sugar that are hidden. This includes foods like yogurt, milk, some seemingly wholesome cereals that are actually still quite high in sugar (check out Bran Flakes next time you’re in the supermarket for instance!), bread, tomato sauce, and so on.
These foods all seem like healthy choices, in fact, many of us have probably been told to get them in our diet plan before. We’ve been instructed they are healthy and will provide us with valuable nutrients our body needs.
And while it’s true, they may provide us with valuable nutrients such as calcium, iron, and lycopene, the problem is that they are still providing all this extra sugar.
And that sugar is a problem. Even when it does come from healthy foods, it still adds up and can put you at risk for a number of issues.
For instance, sugar is the primary thing that yeast feeds on and this can put you at a risk for candida development3. If you suffer from that, you’ll also be prone to having the inability to fully absorb foods as you should be.
Too much excess sugar like this can also significantly increase your triglyceride levels, which is then going to put you at a risk for cardiovascular disease.
Very often it’s not actually dietary fat that’s the problem when it comes to the increasing prevalence rate of heart disease but rather, its sugar. We as a nation are taking in so much more sugar than we used to and it’s showing in our health profile.
All this excess sugar is also making it far more likely that we will suffer from diabetes as well, which if you check the stats, is significantly on the climb.
So what’s the best way around this? You really need to read food labels and educate yourself. Most people would never think that something like milk is high in sugar when it’s often regarded as one of the best dairy sources to consume if you choose lower fat milk, but it contains nearly 10 grams per glass. If you or your kids drink three glasses per day, one with each meal, that’s 30 grams of sugar you’re taking in right there with milk alone. That’s more than many should be taking in over the course of the entire day.
While it is naturally occurring sugar (milk sugar, which is lactose), it’s still sugar nonetheless and will have impacts on the body the same as all sugar would.
Finally, you’ll want to keep close tabs on how much gluten you’re eating in your diet as well. Gluten is a scary substance because it’s found in so many foods and can be linked to increased levels of inflammation in the body, which can then be linked to a wide number of diseases.
There are a select few people as well where gluten can be downright dangerous for them to consume because it harms their intestinal lining and can cause severe pain. While these people – those who suffer from Crohn’s disease – aren’t all that terribly common, there are a number of people out there who are dealing with gluten intolerance and that can cause them a number of issues as well.
Those who are gluten intolerant may notice symptoms such as:
· Low energy levels
· Headaches or feeling foggy brained
· Feeling more inflamed (achy and sore all over)
· Having difficulty sleeping
· Noticing greater mood swings
Everyone will show symptoms of gluten intolerance a little different and as there are no real tests that will tell you that you are or aren’t (and to that, most people will have gluten intolerance on a sliding scale), so it is an issue of severity of the condition here.
What you can do to find out if you are in fact someone who is dealing with some gluten intolerance is remove all gluten from your diet for at least one week. Be very diligent with this and make sure that your diet is 100% gluten-free.
Then after doing so, you’ll want to add it back in. See if you notice any changes to how you feel. If you don’t, chances are your body can handle gluten just fine. If you do, you may want to avoid it.
Most people who are doing this exercise who do struggle with gluten will notice that as soon as they start cutting gluten from their diet plan, they are immediately feeling better already, so that gives them all the information they need to know.
Gluten is found almost everywhere so if you do come to find that you are in fact gluten intolerant, you must read all food labels. That’s the best way to go about things. Look for any products that contain wheat or wheat containing byproducts. This extends further than to just carbohydrate-based foods like bread and cakes to foods like condiments, snack foods, canned foods, dairy foods, and so forth.
When you start looking for it, you will be amazed at how many foods do contain gluten.
So there you have a few of the most dangerous foods you could be eating today. They all could potentially put your body in harm’s way, especially if eaten again and again over time.
Sadly, many people are not even aware that these foods are problematic so they just continue to eat them without thought. Now you know however and are in a position to take control over your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is gluten bad for you?
Gluten may lead to an immune reaction in those who have celiac disease and in those who don’t, may just lead to an increased level of inflammation throughout the entire body.
Which foods are high in trans fats?
The foods that you’ll find the most trans fats in include:
· Cakes, pies, and cookies
· Baked goods such as biscuits and scones
· Microwave popcorn
Which foods have hidden sugars?
You’re most likely to find hidden sugars in foods such as:
· Low-fat yogurt
· BBQ Sauce and ketchup
· Fruit juice
· Spaghetti sauce
· Sports drinks
2. Chavarro, Jorge E., et al. “A prospective study of trans-fatty acid levels in blood and risk of prostate cancer.” Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers 17.1 (2008): 95-101
3. Reed, Barbara D., Martha L. Slattery, and Thomas K. French. “The association between dietary intake and reported history of Candida vulvovaginitis.” J Fam Pract 29.5 (1989): 509-15.