Toxic Foods to Avoid

The Greeks in ancient times called inflammation the “internal fire”. Many physicians still describe the inflammatory process in this way. Think of it as a switch that we can turn on and off as a result of our lifestyle choices. The inflammation process is a necessary, naturally occurring process by the body for the purpose of cellular repair. It is when the inflammatory process is chronic that cellular damage and tissues nearby can be damaged and start the disease process. Let’s examine this process and what to avoid, in particular, what foods are the most toxic ones to avoid.
What You Should Do to Avoid Inflammation
The inflammation switch can be turned on by a number of different things. “Microbial invasion” (Harmful invaders like bacteria, fungus, mold, parasites, etc.) is one obvious way. Physical injury is another. Poor nutrition can also turn this switch on and keep it on which allows for chronic, low-grade inflammation to occur. There are many markers of inflammation that can be directly measured to determine what the inflammation status is of a person. High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (HS-CRP), interleukin-6 and homocysteine levels are among the most widely used. A traditional Mediterranean diet that provides a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats as well as a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and supplies plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, has shown tremendous anti-inflammatory benefits when compared to the standard American diet. That is typically the main issue seen in the very unbalanced ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats. I’ve covered this before here.
Diets high in carbohydrates and definitely SUGAR, omega 6 fats (vegetable oils-soybean, canola, safflower), some saturated fats and trans fats (commonly found in baked goods and packaged foods like cookies, cakes, and crackers), not only provide too little antioxidants but also flip that inflammation switch on, especially sugar. This is most likely due to the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines while at the same time a reduction in anti-inflammatory cytokines. You’ll want to consume plenty of the “stable” fats that protect our cells from inflammation. I’ve covered that here. You’ll definitely want to avoid the following toxic foods:

  1. Vegetable Oils (Corn, soybean, safflower, canola) All are highly unstable and pro-inflammatory. Don’t fall for those misleading commercials promising the “heart health benefits” of consuming vegetable oil over olive oil because it delivers more cholesterol-lowering plant sterols. Here’s a newsflash, we NEED cholesterol. It is essential for life. Cholesterol acts as an antioxidant that battles inflammation. The consumption of these vegetable oils has increased by more than 400% since 1980.
  2. Margarine and shortening. Both are hydrogenated. A chemical process that adds hydrogen to the fat to make it more stable for shelf life. Highly unstable in our cells and very pro-inflammatory. Choose grass-fed butter and coconut oil instead.
  3. Refined Carbohydrates like cookies, crackers, biscuits, and breads are some of the most common and pro-inflammatory foods you can eat. Not only producing excess insulin but also inflammation due to the hydrogenated fats included as ingredients. Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates
  4. Low-Fat packaged foods. Low fat is definitely not the way to go. Low-fat foods are some of the most processed foods you can eat. Nothing in nature comes low fat. These foods are chemically altered and to compensate for the lost taste the fat provides, a lot of harmful food additives are added as well as high amounts of salt. Our cells need the fat. Consume healthy fats.
  5. Conventionally Raised Meats. Choose free-range, grass-fed beef and pastured chicken, pork, and lamb. Conventionally raised meats are highly inflammatory. The World Health Organization just recently announced that bacon and red meat can cause cancer. What they failed to tell you is conventionally raised meats that can cause cancer through inflammation. Cows, for instance, are not meant to feed on GMO corn and grain or live indoors in crowded, harsh conditions. When they do, they get sick. They must be treated with antibiotics, very often given growth hormones and when the meat is ground it is treated with carcinogenic ammonia to kill any harmful pathogens like E-coli. Doesn’t exactly get your mouth watering for that T-bone steak, does it? Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, has higher levels of vitamin D, zinc and B vitamins as well as high levels of conjugated linoleic acid. CLA is an anti-inflammatory fat. Grass-fed beef also has much lower levels of arachidonic acid, which is a pro-inflammatory omega 6 fat.

Avoid the pro-inflammatory foods above and give your body what it needs to reverse the damage done by chronic low-grade inflammation.
Speaking of giving your body what it needs, it begins with the food you buy!
Download your Healing Foods Checklist and Shopping Guide here to get started
In health,
Joe Tatta, DPT, CCN

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