IN THE REHAB ZONE

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Grocery store aisle of soda and snacks.

Most people these days at least pay lip service to a healthy lifestyle. We try to be healthy, cut down on fat or sugar or alcohol and get in some exercise. But even when you think you’re paying attention to your diet, did you know that there are numerous toxins you eat — probably every day?

Toxins You Eat Every Day

1. Processed Foods

These are in many processed foods we eat everyday.

When a regular fat like corn, soybean, or palm oil is blasted with hydrogen and turned into a solid, it becomes a trans fat. These evil anti-nutrients help packaged foods stay “fresh,” meaning that the food can sit on the supermarket shelf for years without ever getting stale or rotting. Eating junk food with trans fats raises your “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and lowers your “good” HDL cholesterol. These fats also increase your risk of blood clots and heart attack. Avoid palm oil and other trans fats, and kiss fried foods goodbye too, since they’re usually fried in one of these freakish trans-fatty oils.

Ditch any food that lists shortening or partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient, since these are also evil trans fats. In addition to clogging your arteries and causing obesity, they also increase your risk of metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes). Choose healthier monounsaturated fats, such as olive, peanut, and canola oils, and foods that contain unsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids instead.

When a whole grain is refined, most of its nutrients are sucked out in an effort to extend its shelf life. Both the bran and germ are removed, and therefore all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals are gone. Because these stripped down, refined grains are devoid of fiber and other nutrients, they’re also easy to digest. TOO EASY. They send your blood sugar and insulin skyrocketing, which can lead to all sorts of problems like hyperglycemia, which can damage nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Replace processed grains with whole grains, like brown or wild rice, whole wheat breads and pastas, barley, and oatmeal.

The evil king of all refined grains is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The amount of refined sugar we consume has declined over the past 40 years, but we’re consuming almost 20 times as much HFCS as in the 1970s. According to researchers at Tufts University, Americans consume more calories from HFCS than any other source. It’s in practically EVERYTHING. It increases triglycerides, boosts fat-storing hormones, and drives people to overeat and gain weight. Adopt my zero-tolerance policy, and steer clear of this delicious “poison.”

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin), and sucralose (Splenda) may be even harder on our metabolic systems than plain old sugar. These supposedly diet-friendly sweeteners may actually be doing more harm than good! Many studies suggest that artificial sweeteners trick the brain into forgetting that sweetness means extra calories, making people more likely to keep eating sweet treats without abandon. Nip it in the bud. Scan ingredient labels and ban all artificial sweeteners from entering your mouth.

These preservatives are sometimes added to soda to prevent mold from growing, but combined with other ingredients, they become benzene, a known carcinogen that is linked to serious thyroid damage. Dangerous levels of benzene can build up when plastic bottles of soda are exposed to heat or when the preservatives are combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Don’t risk it, folks.

  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

BHA is another potentially cancer-causing preservative, but it has been deemed generally safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Its job is to help prevent spoilage and food poisoning, but it’s a major endocrine disruptor and can seriously mess with your hormones. BHA is in HUNDREDS of foods. It’s also found in food packaging and cosmetics. BHA has many aliases. You can look them up. Or you can follow my advice and completely DITCH processed foods altogether.

  • Sodium Nitrates and Sodium Nitrites

No that’s not a typo. These two different preservatives are found in processed meats like bacon, lunch meat, and hot dogs. They’re some of the worst offenders, and they’re believed to cause colon cancer and metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes. Protect your health by always choosing fresh, organic meats.

  • Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow Coloring

The artificial colors blue 1 and 2, green 3, red 3, and yellow 6 have been linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, and brain cancers. Always seek out foods with the fewest artificial chemicals, especially when shopping for your kids. Look for color-free medications and natural food products that don’t contain artificial colors like these.

  • MSG

Monosodium glutamate is a processed “flavor enhancer.” While glutamates are present in some natural foods, such as meat and cheese, the ones exploited by the processed-foods industry are separated from their host proteins through hydrolysis. The jury is still out on how harmful MSG may be, but high levels of free glutamates have been shown to seriously mess with brain chemistry. Don’t fall prey to chemical flavor enhancing. Just play it safe and flavor your food naturally.

That seemed like a lot, huh? That’s just the first category. Keep reading to learn what other toxins you eat every day

2. Foods with Excessive Amounts of Sugar.

Sugar substitutes are no lab-created toxins that you ingest into your body. But sugar can be equally toxic. Sure, those desserts and sweet drinks taste so good, but the high sugar content can damage a body over time. Sugar is a source of energy, but it is often not something accompanied by other essential nutrients, like protein and healthy fats (hence the designation of “empty calories”).

With all this extra sugar in the body, the liver can become overloaded, and rather than turning that energy source into actual energy, the body transforms it into fat cells as storage. This can cause disease later in life like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

3. Pesticides

Agricultural companies will often spray pesticides on their crops to protect them from bugs that can infest plants. However, these pesticides often end up infesting our bodies. The same products that kill and fight off pests from our food are slowly killing us over time as we consume these chemicals.

The “dirty dozen” produce items, those that are cultivated using the highest amounts of pesticides, are apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines (imported), cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas (imported), and potatoes.

4. Hydrogenated Fats and Oils

These products are fats and oils that have been treated with hydrogen to strengthen them and make them harder to break down in the body. These chemically modified fats were once in liquid form but are now solids and they are a source of trans fat. Trans fats, as you know, cause a range of health problems, including increased inflammation, higher risk of cancer and diabetes and weight gain.

5. Heavy Metal Toxins

Where do we get heavy metal toxins?

Some sources include farmed fish, contaminated water, dental fillings, and various household products. Heavy metals like mercury are often in fish like shark and tuna. Aluminum is often in products like antacids, antiperspirants and deodorants, and processed cheese. In some places, there is even a heavy concentration of lead in the water, such as in Flint, Michigan; that lead content is wreaking havoc on people’s health.

In conclusion, it can be hard to avoid all these toxins because they are so prolific. Especially in our society today, where convenience trumps quality, even the foods that seem healthy are often filled with additives.

Taking control of what goes into your body is therefore critical to your health. Capitol Rehab of Arlington wants you to be as healthy as possible, and offers a detoxification strategy to get rid of these chemicals.

Interested in learning more? I will be hosting a special detoxification seminar on Tuesday, May 8. It’s free to attend, and you can learn more on how to detox your body from these invasive chemicals and get rid of the pain, fatigue, energy spikes, and extra weight — not to mention reduce the risk of the serious diseases associated with regular consumption of toxins.

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