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Seven deadly foods you need to avoid

Food warnings should be heeded – here are seven foods you need to avoid.
The chemical used to process deli meats, sausage, pepperoni and cold cuts have been linked to an increase in the risk of cancer.  iStockphoto
The chemical used to process deli meats, sausage, pepperoni and cold cuts have been linked to an increase in the risk of cancer. iStockphoto

There are numerous scary stories about what not to eat – many sensationalised and in some cases contradictory, given the sheer volume of information that is circulating.

Trends also influence nutrition advice – just look at butter and margarine: butter used to be the only option and was consumed without question until margarine became known as the healthier, heart-friendly alternative. Now the advice has completely turned around, with margarine now being left on the shelf due to its processed qualities that have been deemed unhealthy. The health-conscious are now grabbing the all-natural butter again, albeit the organic variety.

This creates confusion about what we should be eating to stay healthy and also breeds scepticism. Food warnings should be heeded – some of them are overstated, but others need attention, such as these.

Hydrogenated oils

These are vegetable oils with hydrogen added and processed at very high temperatures to make the oil less likely to spoil. The problem is that this seems to have a dangerous effect on our health, specifically our hearts. However, recent research published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states the danger could be worse. Edmond Kabagambe, an associate professor of medicine, found in a study of more than 18,000 participants that people who consumed this oil as 3.5 to 4 per cent of their daily energy intake had significantly higher rates of death from debilitating maladies such as strokes, diabetes and cancer.

Genetically modified food

A study in Food & Chemical Toxicology Journal conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen examined the long-term effects of genetically modified organism consumption in rats. The study found that 50 per cent of males and 70 per cent of females suffered premature death. Those fed genetically modified corn developed severe liver and kidney damage.

Soda

Again, it’s the chemicals added to fizzy drinks that cause the problem, with research stating many of these are carcinogenic. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest specifically examined sodas with caramel colour such as Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper and found that the amounts of certain chemicals were found to be up to five times higher than deemed safe by the California government, with previous research linking these same chemicals to lung, thyroid and liver tumours.

Refined sugar

White sugar causes immense stress on your blood sugar and adrenal glands, not to mention its effect on your waistline. Refined sugar is often the underlying cause of both obesity and diabetes, two of the world’s biggest killers.

Refined white flour

A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers and Prevention found that regular consumption of refined carbohydrates was linked to a 220 per cent increase in breast cancer in women. High-glycemic foods can also raise blood sugar levels in the body, which directly feed cancer cell growth. These foods also contribute to obesity and diabetes.

Processed meat

It’s not the meat itself that causes the problem, but the added chemicals that increase the risk of colon and pancreatic cancer in sausage, cold cuts and pepperoni. Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate have both been linked to a significant increase in the risk of cancer.

Diet foods and sodas

Diet foods and sodas contain chemical and artificial sweeteners, which are harmful in themselves, but your body treats these sweeteners just as it would refined white sugar, so you really are not benefiting. Artificial sweeteners raise your blood sugar and actually induce overeating because cravings become worse than if you had consumed regular sugar, given the instability they create in your body.

• Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.beutifulyou.com

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: July 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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