Now, as we know, there are many foods that are not healthy. However, if I had to narrow it down to 3 to optimize health & wellness, I would choose the following:
Casein—the protein in dairy—has been associated with some negative health conditions, including hormonal imbalance and certain cancers. Casein and other animal proteins increase IGF1 which is a growth hormone in the body. When this is elevated, cancer risk is heightened. More research is being done on the effect of casein with other diseases such as Alzheimer's, Type 1 Diabetes and osteoporosis.
Now, when most people think "dairy," they think milk. I’m not talking just milk, here. It’s a great first step to switch over to almond milk, but dairy is more than that.
Milk- yes all kinds, even skim! Although skim/fat free milk has no fat (which is a great step in the right direction), it is still loaded with casein!
Cheese- this, in particular, is one of the least healthy foods on the planet. Not only is it extremely high in saturated fat and sodium—two nutrients that are known to contribute to disease risk—but it also contains casomorphins, which is why you're likely a cheese-addict!
Butter- This provides empty calories, saturated fat & therefore disease!
Protein powders, snack foods & other packaged products containing milk/cheese
2. Red Meat
All red meat is classified as carcinogenic, meaning it increases risk of cancer. However, some types are more dangerous. Cured meats (ham, pork, bacon, salami, etc.) are Group 1 carcinogens, meaning there is sufficient evidence these foods cause cancer. Beef and lamb are considered group 2 carcinogens, meaning there is a probably link to cancer.
Red meat also impacts our heart health. When we consume red meat (and other animal proteins including dairy!), our bodies produce a substance called TMAO which elevates plaque formation risk. This can contribute to heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s!
Red meat is:
Pork- no, contrary to what you may have heard, it’s not “the other white meat”
3. Oil, especially coconut oil
I hesitated to put this one in here because OIL IS NOT A FOOD, it’s a processed product from a food. However, because a lot of people believe oil to be a “health food,” it is important to address that is, in fact, not the case.
Coconut oil is such a controversial topic. The media gets you confused enough about it (as well as many other nutrition-related topics) that you give up and say forget it, I'll eat whatever I want! But do not let media hype confuse you—coconut oil is absolutely NOT a health "food." Just 1 Tbsp of coconut oil contains 14g of fat—11 of which are saturated! Even just looking at coconut oil at room temperature, what does it look like?
.....CRISCO / LARD!
But isn’t olive oil healthy?
Short answer: NO!
Long answer: Think of it this way, 1 Tbsp of olive oil is 120 calories, 15 g of total fat, of which 2g are saturated. If we added 1 Tbsp to each of our meals, we would end up with 6g of saturated fat which is over 50% of what’s recommended by the American Heart Association. This isn’t even taking into account all the other healthy whole foods you are consuming that contain saturated fat such as avocado, nuts, seeds. These provide a good deal of saturated fat, as is, but they also provide a lot of essential nutrients and fiber!
No one eats a PERFECT diet, because there is not such thing. But, the less of these 3 foods we eat, the better we will feel, the less disease we will have and the more life we will live.