Please stop reading if you still believe that nuclear power is the energy of the future, suspension systems on the mountain bike will never prevail and the oversized shoulder pads of your old leather jacket will ever be cool again.

For those more up-to-date with recent findings, I’m more than happy to share my top 3 ranking of the worst fake foods available. And to emphasize the importance of this message, I decided to grow my beard specifically for the cover image and against the heavy resistance of my wife.

#1 – Sugar and artificial sweeteners

The fact that sugar is not necessarily healthy, is probably known to most of you. However, most do not realize that it can have no less than devastating effects.

  1. Sugar in any form is poor in nutrients, but it sparks off a huge metabolic fire. In order to get through this fire without damage, your body’s own minerals and nutrients are wasted – and are then missing elsewhere, such as bones, joints, heart, etc.
  2. Sugar has an unnatural psychological effect. Sugar affects our emotions, such as joy or reward. This easily leads to excessive consumption or even addiction.
  3. Sugar can cause hormonal stress and negatively impacts the hormones leptin (responsible for our sense of satiety), insulin, glucagon and cortisol (control blood sugar levels).
  4. Sugar can lead to a permeable digestive tract. This leads to the leakage of foreign substances into the blood causing allergies and sensibilities. Due to a “leaky gut” the immune system gets highly stressed and even becomes overwhelmed with time. Eventually this can lead to chronic, often undetected inflammation. (Think asthma, heart problems, depression, obesity, fatigue, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, skin problems, hair loss, disturbed sleep, joint pain, etc., etc.)

Artificial Sweetener: I consider them to be problematic because they have been developed to deliver a sweet bang, which does not occur in nature in similar form. Aspartame, for example, is 200 to 300 times more sweet than table sugar. As a result, there is a risk of a disturbed sense of taste, making it even more difficult to go back to enjoy natural food. Shamed be he who thinks evil of it…

What are your options? I recommend quality honey (from Switzerland of course), stevia or dates to use as sweetener. You can also try the so-called sugar alkahols such as xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol and maltitol, which all have some promising characteristics. However, they can cause digestive problems, and in such case they need to be avoided as well.

#2 – Industrially produced vegetable fats & oils, seed oils and margarine

Refined vegetable and seed oils are bleached and deodorized mostly by using chemical solvents to neutralize their natural taste. If these products are exposed to more stressors like heat and light, the polyunsaturated fatty acids may oxidize rapidly on exposure to air and form free radicals.

  1. Studies show that some of these oxidized fats are converted into toxins and lead to liver damage if ingested.
  2. The consumption of such oxidized fats and oils can lead to cell damage caused by free radicals.
  3. And I think to no surprise for anybody, abnormal cells can trigger a whole chain of damage as a result. For instance the already mentioned, disastrous systemic inflammation just to name one possibility.

What are your options? My favorites for frying and cooking are the good old butter, coconut oil and lard. For salad dressings, I only use best quality, cold-pressed olive oil.

#3 – Industrially processed grain products (eg bread, pasta and muesli)

Oops! And with this last heading I probably just lost the last remaining readers *lol*. I know that I’m up against your parents, your doctor, your fitness trainer or coach, your TV commercials and most so-called nutrition experts. All these sources usually tell you to consume more of these “healthy whole grains”. Fact is they are all wrong, as harsh as that may sound. May I refer to Anatole France: “Even if 50 million people say a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.”

  1. No matter to what shape or form the industry processes the grain, these products are converted into sugar in the form of glucose in our bodies. And this takes us straight back to all the problems with sugar described above. Ouch.
  2. Whether white or 12-whole-grain bread, grain is low in nutrients compared to fruits and vegetables. And fiber content, often admired by nutritionists, is about the same as in fruits and vegetables. Even berries such as blackberries are highly superior in this regard.
  3. Grains contain the nasty phytic acid. It binds with minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. Such bonded substances are very hard to be broken down by the digestive system and as a result the body can not absorb most of these minerals.
  4. And then there is: gluten.
    a) Gluten is a protein contained in many grains. Its complex structure makes it difficult for most people to properly digest it. As a result, it harms the protective layer of the digestive tract and can cause a reaction of the immune system with an intensity level ranging from imperceptible to massive.
    b) The direct contact between the undigested protein and the immune system also triggers a local inflammation. This condition can expand if the overly large gluten protein erroneously enters the blood stream and is carried around the body. In other words, again we fight against a devastating system-wide inflammation.

As a reminder: systemic inflammation is usually hidden and can cause symptoms from obesity, fatigue, depression, digestive problems, sleep disorders, skin problems, hormonal imbalances to heart problems, lupus, dementia and other auto-immune conditions.

And what about soaked, sprouted, fermented or cooked? Our ancestors were fully aware of the negative effects of grain consumption. But grain helped them to survive in situations and regions where otherwise this was hardly possible. They found out that by soaking, sprouting, fermenting or cooking a part of the phytic acid and a part of the complex proteins can be neutralized. I recommend such preparation types, however they make the grains not better – only less bad.

What are your options? Just eat more of the healthy stuff! *lol* Yes, I know. Let me reveal my personal grain sins to not let you completely defenseless in your sudden feeling of food emptiness: I still eat non-processed, gluten-free grains such as rice (my favorite), millet, buckwheat and oats. Vegetarians should also consider protein-rich legumes such as kidney beans, black beans, etc.
BOOM! Now the force is with you young Anakin. No more excuses :)) If you know someone who is struggling with persistent health problems for some time, please remember this article and share. If such a friend has the courage for change, he or she will thank you forever.

I hereby ask the only logic follow-up question possible: what then are the three best foods to eat? What is your guess?

I apologize for the length of this post and
therefore extra two thumbs up for reading.

Source: “It starts with food” by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig