There are 120,000 edible plants on this earth, yet most of us will consume about seven to ten “foods” in different combinations for most of our meals. If you have never though about it, write down everything you eat for one week and you will probably see the same things come up over and over again. This may not be so bad, but the things that come up on the average American’s list usually are what I call “the seven deadly sins.” All of the big seven will do damage to your body. Depending on your immune system and the type of genes your folks gave you, the reactions will vary from person to person. Some folks may be able to handle them better than others. Some may be able to eat them and suffer only minor damage. The problem is you don’t know if they will cause disease or death until it is usually too late. Why take the chance when there are thousands of other food choices that taste just as good or better and are just as easy to get your hands (or mouths) on. The seven foods you should never eat and we would all do well to avoid are alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, coffee, soda, dairy and meat. To many people, that is their whole diet! There is enough evidence to write a book on each one of the big seven, and, in fact there are many books written on just such topics. A few highlights on each one, hopefully, will be enough to scare you away from them and have you looking for better alternatives. We all know alcohol will destroy brain cells. (If you knew this at one time and have since forgotten it, perhaps it is time to discontinue alcohol use all together.) Once a brain cell is destroyed, it never grows back. We all have lots of brain cells, but a little bit of alcohol does a little brain damage, a lot of alcohol does a lot of brain damage. It will also dehydrate your body. Did you ever wonder why you drink one beer and pee out three? It is your body’s way of flushing out the alcohol before it can do any more brain damage. In the process, you lose vital fluid and nutrients in your urine and this will shrivel up cells which can cause more permanent damage. It causes liver and pancreas malfunction and puts stress on other organs of detoxification that prevent your body from doing its regular detoxification job. This extra burden on your systems can speed up the aging process and cause organs to malfunction. For the few hours you might feel good from drinking, is it really worth all the damage it does? Sugar is something that is a regular part of many people’s diets in almost every meal. From cereal or donuts in the morning, to sweetener in coffee, to candy bars, to desserts, white processed sugar is everywhere. It can be disguised as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, or any ingredient ending in -OSE. If sugar is found in a whole food, let’s say an apple, the fiber in the apple pushes the sugar along the digestive tract and a little bit is absorbed at a time. The body can handle a little sugar and convert it to glucose, which the body uses as energy. If the cells have enough glucose the liver turns the glucose into glycogen. It is then stored for use later when the body needs glucose, but does not have enough in circulation in the blood. The body simply releases the stored glycogen and turns it back into glucose. If all the places the body stores glycogen are filled up, the liver converts it into Triglycerides. These are then sent out to be stored as fat. Just because a food is low in fat does not mean it will not make you fat. Sugar is a great way to put on extra pounds. Studies have shown that sugar will weaken your immune system. It is also a mild acid and when acid gets in the body, the body must neutralize it. The body uses calcium as a neutralizing agent. It is now being shown through numerous studies that most people do not need more calcium in their diets, they need less acid so that they will not keep losing the calcium that they already have. (By the way, all of the big seven are acid forming). Artificial sweeteners are probably the worst of all the big seven. There are mounds of books, papers, and testimonials showing the dangers of aspartame, as well as other artificial sweeteners. However, we will just highlight aspartame for now. Aspartame often is the cause of headaches ranging from mild to debilitating. In my practice, I see this at least several times a week. There are testimonials of people attempting suicide (and sometimes succeeding) in an attempt to rid themselves of the pain. I had on patient who had seizures after just one stick of sugar free, aspartame-containing gum. It can also affect your serotonin levels, which is a chemical in your brain that helps regulate mood swings and hunger. By eating low or zero-calorie food with aspartame you may actually gain weight by eating more because you are hungrier. There is also strong evidence that it can cause brain tumors, depression, and even mimic multiple sclerosis symptoms, which can lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment. I can go on and on about the dangers of aspartame, but the bottom line is avoid it at all costs. Coffee is another favorite that has strong negative side effects. A recent study showed that coffee raises your Homocysteine levels, which increases your risk of heart attack even more so than high cholesterol levels. In fact, 80% of people that die of heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. The caffeine in coffee speeds up just about every function in your body (except sleep) and actually wears out your body, thus speeding up the aging process. It is also a diuretic, which causes you to excrete large amounts of fluid and with this fluid you also lose important nutrients. If you are trying to kick the habit but are having side effects such as headaches and nervousness, try keeping a cup of coffee nearby and drinking just one tablespoon every hour. This will help you get over your addiction and within about three to five days you should have kicked the habit. Decaffeinated is not much better. Oftentimes turpentine and formaldehyde are used in the decaffeination process; two things I would not want to put in my body. The problem with soda is that it contains either sugar or artificial sweeteners and caffeine. To make matters worse, colas contain phosphoric acid which robs your body of calcium and creates an acidic state. Pour cola on a car and it will strip the paint; pour it on a car engine and it will clean it. Can you imagine what it is doing to your insides? Dairy is not designed for human consumption; it is designed for baby cows. When we pasteurize milk, most of the nutrients are destroyed and the remaining product is a big problem for human digestive systems. In fact, if you fed pasteurized cow’s milk to a baby cow, that cow would not develop normally and become sick. Even a cow, which is designed to drink milk, cannot handle it once it is pasteurized. Cow’s milk also contains bovine growth hormone, which is suspected of causing abnormal growth in humans. (Have you noticed that kids today seem a lot bigger and more physically mature than they did about twenty years ago? Perhaps there is a correlation.) Cow’s milk substitutes, made of soy, rice, almond, coconut, oat or grain, will fulfill your milk cravings and will not cause the problems cow’s milk will. Even the American Pediatric Society states you should never give a human baby under the age of one cow’s milk because they cannot digest it properly. If it is not good at that age, what makes us think it is good at any age? Many people falsely believe that we need milk for calcium. This is far from the truth. Again, it is not that we need more calcium in our diets, it is that we need less acid. According to the American Dietetic Association’s position paper on vegetarian diets, as long as you are eating enough food to maintain your desired weight, have enough energy and your food choices consist of a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts you are getting all the calcium, protein, and other nutrients that you need. Vitamin B12 is the only thing that you might need to add to your diet, but a daily tablespoon of nutritional yeast or a supplement would solve that problem. Meat of any kind is also not necessary. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough “complete protein” fear not. There is no such thing as a complete protein. You can get all essential amino acids, which are the little components that protein is made of, if you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Soy protein has all eight essential amino acids just like meat, without any of the bad stuff meat has. Things that meat may and often does contain are steroids, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and tranquilizers. It is a strong acid and can cause digestive problems such as gastritis, gas constipation and bloating. Being an acid, it will rob your body of calcium stores and increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. You have to eat anyway, why not eat good, healthy food? There you have it. 7 Foods You Should Never Eat! To set up an appointment please call my office at 770-427-7387 or you can send us a message in the live chat.