The “foods” on which industry makes the most profit are displayed in the boxes, packages and cans displayed in the middle of the store. Interestingly, that is also where we find the products we should avoid to become or stay healthy. For example:
- Cereals, cookies, crackers, breakfast and energy bars, candy, starchy snacks, lunch cakes, pastries, pancake mix and so on. As I’m sure you know, those contain refined flours and sugar that play havoc with our blood sugar leading to prediabetes. They are also fattening. Not only is the starch and sugar harmful to our important gut bacteria, so are the artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and manufacturing ingredients in them.
- Breads and other grain products present a variety of challenges. Read this blog on 12 reasons to cut back and this one on moldy corn.
- Do I really have to discuss the soft drink aisle? (Sigh. I suppose you know someone that needs to be told.) High fructose corn syrup and chemicals provide a jolt to our blood sugar and pH. Also, as we discussed during the interview with Dr. Seneff from MIT, corn syrup is typically contaminated with mercury. Then there are the “diet” sodas. Except for those sweetened with stevia, the low-calorie drinks are really no better for weight loss. See Splenda® in the next item.
- In the juice aisle, some of what is marketed to look like fruit juice is really a bunch of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. Even the fruity looking drinks that are real fruit deliver a lot of sugar that is hard for the body to handle. The ones that are “lite” are often sweetened with Splenda® (sucralose). The makers of that artificial sweetener poo-pooed early reports that it was hard on intestinal bacteria. A new study shows the problem is worse than we thought. It promotes the wrong kind of bacteria and worsens the imbalance that creates trouble for those dealing with Chron’s Disease.
- Cans are lined with BPA which is a hormone disruptor. Inside many of them are foods that have had the life processed out of them and contain many added chemicals.
- I could go on. While there are certainly good products in the middle of the store, we must be a lot more careful and read labels.
But then, we should be careful around the perimeter as well. Produce is usually produce, but dairy is a mixed bag. Sugary strawberry milk sits next to plain milk. Yogurt can have a lot of sugar or Splenda. (See above.) American “processed cheese food” sits next to healthier Swiss. In the meat section, we should watch out for processed meats with additives.
And, all that is before we start upgrading to organic produce and pasture-raised animal products and wild caught fish. Getting healthy is indeed a journey, but hopefully we are headed in the right direction. If you know someone just getting started, maybe refer them to ABC’s of Healthy Eating,