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Aug 1, 2015

‘Health’ Foods that Make Us Unhealthy

Sponsored Content provided by Lindy Ford - Registered Dietitian and Owner, Lindy Ford Nutrition & Wellness, LLC

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:

  • They contain the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), a chemical endocrine disruptor and neurotoxin, of any other food in the U.S. food supply.
  • They contain up to 40 times more PCBs than other foods.
  • Farmed seafood is crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter and hydrolyzed chicken feathers which make farmed seafood lower in vitamin D and higher in not only PCBs, but brominated flame retardants and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT.
Any further comment needed?

6. Gluten-Free Carbohydrates

I believe that all autoimmune conditions (not just celiac disease) call for a gluten-free diet. But many people are following a gluten-free diet because their best friend told them it was healthy or they read “something” about it. Food manufacturers are onto this thinking and now package everything as gluten free, including crackers, cookies, cereals and candies. These “healthy” products are made with rice and potato flour and sugar that raise blood sugars just like gluten-laden wheat flour.
These gluten-free “health foods” are especially problematic for my Alternate Metabolism patients who may not be presenting as full-blown diabetics yet, but are on their way. Read the article, “Are you a Met? The Alternate Metabolism” to learn more. 
When blood sugar rises, so does insulin. It is a fat storage hormone and insulin does its job in a stellar manner – nothing will put weight on you faster. Remember that an avocado and an apple are both gluten-free. You can go gluten free without wreaking havoc on your blood sugars by reducing your intake of gluten-free carbs.
7. Soy Protein
I’m just not a fan of non-fermented soy protein. Soy protein isolate (highly processed soy product) is on my “Franken Foods” list and is even more dangerous. Please hear me out all my vegan and vegetarian friends. We have to stick to the latest science and the research doesn’t give soy a favorable review.
The first problem is that about 90 percent of the soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified “Roundup ready,” which means that the plant actually contains a pesticide. Also, soy has been linked to breast cancer, hypothyroidism (under active), kidney stones and disease, asthma and many other conditions.
Some of soy’s ill effects are linked to its phytoestrogens which mimic the effects of the estrogen in a detrimental way. Drinking even two glasses of soy milk daily for one month has enough of the chemical to alter a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Fermented soy protein doesn’t have these health destroying effects. They include miso, tempeh, natto, pickled tofu and tamari soy sauce. If you consume other soy products, make sure they are organic and only in moderation.
8. Artificial Sweeteners
I’m keeping it real. I’m a recovering Diet Pepsiaholic. Yes, I’m sure there is a 12-step program for us. It’s really bad when the folks at my local convenience store used to know me by name because of my twice-a-day habit of purchasing an ungodly large soda.
When I’m stressed, I slip at times and will drink a diet soda. I’m trying to change – just being honest. The benefits of zero calories are not doing me a bit of good because there is evidence that diet soda is just as bad for your waistline as regular soda. Diabetics are encouraged to ingest artificial sweeteners because they are low on the glycemic index. New research reveals that artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) actually cause a disturbance in gut flora and can contribute to diabetes. Nothing more needs to be said. I’m going to work harder to eliminate artificial sweeteners.
My nutrition battle cry has always been, “Add before you subtract.” When I present at health fairs, this is the heading on my presentation board.  I try to stay positive and emphasize adding the hundreds of good things we can eat. It’s great to stay positive, but I would be irresponsible if I didn’t alert my patients and you to foods we consume unwittingly because we think they are healthy.
The following testimonial is from a patient who knew her health could be so much better. She was an avid diet soda drinker. This patient also consumed a lot of foods that she thought were healthy, but were actually antagonizing some of the problems she had like hypothyroidism and blood sugar problems:
“When I started my wellness journey, I was so tired I could barely get through the day. My blood work showed imbalances with blood sugar, thyroid and hormones. I was lost. Where would I start?

I contacted Lindy and sent her a copy of my blood work. We met and she knew exactly how to approach my healing. She set me on a wellness journey and was supportive all the way. Lindy is passionate about health and it shows in her approach to care. I am on my way to feeling the best I have felt in a very long time ... maybe the best I have felt in my life."

Lindy Ford, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist who runs Lindy Ford Nutrition & Wellness, LLC, a private practice in Wilmington. She received her degree in Nutritional Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. She treats each patient according to their unique physiology so they can achieve long-term results. For more information, visit, call (443) 417-8352 or send an email to [email protected].

Lindy ford 15july blk
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