Let’s face it: Grocery and convenience stores (not to mention school lunchrooms and vending machines) are full of chemical- and sugar-laced foods we should never eat but that make up a surprisingly large portion of most people’s regular diet. I’m frequently asked which foods are the worst and make us the fattest. Here are 10 of the worst foods you may be eating, ordered from terrible to tragic. You may be surprised to learn which “food” I consider to be the worst.
More: 50 Foods You Should Never Eat
All of these foods are highly acid forming and need to be eliminated as soon as possible. They create inflammation in the body, throw off hormonal balance, bog down the body’s lymphatic system (more on that later), and congest the liver, among other things that negate your efforts to restore a healthy weight.
10. Ice cream
I’m sure you’re not surprised to see ice cream on this list, but it may not be for the reasons you think. Today’s ice cream is full of sugar and harmful trans fats as well as artificial colors and flavors, many of which are proven neurotoxins that should never be allowed in food. Neurotoxins are brain- and nervous system-damaging chemicals. You may think that neurotoxins won’t have an effect on your weight, but they certainly do.
Our brains must maintain a delicate balance of chemicals that control all of our metabolic processes. If any substance interferes, the balance goes out of whack. Of course, there are healthier varieties of ice cream, but most ice cream is hazardous to your health and weight. The best way to indulge without exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals is to make your own ice cream from scratch.
Fix it: Make your own ice cream and you can choose the exact flavors you want without the added harsh chemicals.
9. Corn and tortilla chips
Since the advent of genetically modified foods, most of the corn we eat is a health-damaging Frankenfood. That’s because corn is one of the most genetically modified foods grown. Because of its high sugar content, corn causes rapid blood sugar fluctuations, which translate into fat hoarding and weight gain, as well as mood swings, irritability, and many other symptoms. Most chips are fried in oils that have turned rancid and are linked to inflammation.
Fix it: Opt for homemade (and guilt-free) veggie chips that you can make from your favorite vegetables.
While not all pizza is bad, most of the commercially available and frozen pizza on the market is full of artificial dough conditioners and preservatives. It is made from white flour that has been bleached and reacts in your body just like sugar, causing weight gain and blood sugar imbalances. Contrary to what dairy marketing boards will tell you, cheese is not a health food. Most cheese is high in saturated fats and is heavily processed.
Fix it: Do pizza night at home, with a whole wheat crust, healthy sauce, superfoods, and the right cheeses.
7. French fries
Not only do french fries typically contain trans fats that have been linked to a long list of diseases, but they also contain one of the most potent carcinogenic substances in food—acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed when white potatoes are heated at high temperatures, such as during frying (and other toxic cooking methods). Acrylamide can cause inflammation in your body and throw off its pH balance in favor of acidity.
Additionally, most of the oils used for frying turn rancid in the presence of oxygen or at high temperatures—yet another way these foods can cause inflammation in the body. And researchers are discovering that inflammation is a factor in many serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, and, of course, weight gain.
Fix it: Find out how to cook the healthiest potatoes to maximize the phytonutrients and eliminate the acrylamide.
6. Potato chips
You may not be surprised to see potato chips on this list, but it may surprise you to learn that, according to Health Canada, potato chips typically contain the highest levels of toxic acrylamide of any food. If you, like many people, crave potato chips, don’t worry: I’ll teach you what your cravings mean on page 74 and give you delicious and satisfying alternatives to these harmful snacks.
Fix it: Reach for sweet potatoes instead! You can even turn them into crispy sweet potato chips and you won’t miss the original chips, guaranteed.
Yes, bacon! Sorry, bacon lovers. According to research in the journal Circulation, daily consumption of processed meats like bacon can increase the risk of heart disease by 42 percent and diabetes by 19 percent. Bacon is full of nitrites, is loaded with salt, and is seriously acid forming. Contrary to what some diet plans teach, bacon has no place in a weight-loss program, or any health program for that matter.
Not convinced? Before you say yes to bacon, consider the other health effects of eating it. A study at the University of Columbia found that eating bacon 14 times a month was linked to damaged lung function and a significantly increased risk of lung disease. Remember, no weight-loss program should cause weight loss at the cost of your overall health. Yet that is exactly what many high-protein diets do, particularly when they include regular bacon consumption as part of their meal plan.
Fix it: Follow these rules to buy better bacon and decrease your chances of cancer.
4. Hot dogs
Questionable contents aside, even the 100 percent beef variety is bad for you. A study at the University of Hawaii found that consumption of hot dogs and other processed meats increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent. One of the ingredients found in both bacon and hot dogs is sodium nitrite. This carcinogen has been linked to leukemia in children and brain tumors in infants. Other studies show that sodium nitrate also promotes colorectal cancer.
Fix it: Don’t discount carrot dogs. The veggie favorite can easily replace the summer grilling staple.
Compared with prepackaged snack foods, a fresh doughnut may not seem bad, but most doughnuts are 35 to 40 percent trans fats—the worst kind of fat you can eat. Trans fats are linked to obesity and heart and brain diseases as well as cancer. And then there are the sugar and artificial dough conditioners and food additives many doughnuts contain. As if that weren’t bad enough, the average doughnut also contains about 300 calories.
Fix it: Make healthier dessert choices right at home, that way you control the sugar count.
According to research reported by Dr. Joseph Mercola, “one can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 milligrams of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites.” That alone should make you rethink your soda habit.
But soda is also extremely acidic. It takes over 30 cups of pH-balanced water to neutralize the acidity of one cola. This acid residue can be extremely hard on the kidneys since they have to filter it. Additionally, the bones act as mineral reservoirs. Alkaline minerals, like calcium, are dumped into the blood to help neutralize acidity, which can weaken the bones over time. And, of course, the 10 teaspoons of sugar are a serious culprit in weight gain. In studies, soda is also linked to osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay, and heart disease. If you’re thinking of switching to diet soda, keep reading.
Fix it: Go for naturally flavored water and you’ll get the flavorful drink you want without the calories, sugar, and tooth erosion.
1. Diet soda
Diet soda is the winner of the Worst Food of All Time Award. Not only does diet soda have most of the problems of regular soda, but it also contains aspartame, now called AminoSweet. According to research by Lynne Melcombe, author of Health Hazards of White Sugar, aspartame is linked to the following health conditions: anxiety attacks, binge eating and sugar cravings, birth defects, blindness, brain tumors, chest pain, depression, dizziness, epilepsy, fatigue, headaches and migraines, hearing loss, heart palpitations, hyperactivity, insomnia, joint pain, learning disabilities, PMS, muscle cramps, reproductive problems, and even death.
Aspartame’s effects can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, Epstein-Barr virus, Huntington’s chorea, hypothyroidism, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Lyme disease, Ménière’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and post-polio syndrome. It still astounds me that some diet programs include this treacherous beverage as a means to lose weight. This is pure propaganda and lobbying on the part of the manufacturers and not based in fact.
I know many people whose abilities to lose weight improved only after they cut out the diet soda. I also know people whose migraines and heart palpitations—and even a brain tumor—disappeared after they cut out diet soda. This is not food, and it has no place in your diet.