In the course of a day, many of us fill our body with foods that are only a step above poison. These foods clog our arteries, weaken our bodies, deplete our immune system and contribute to chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Despite this, we continue to consume them in near-record quantities. However, this is often due to ignorance.

Once you become aware of these deadly foods, you can cut them out of your diet and take control of your health in a powerful way.

Refined Sugar

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Refined sugar is present in many different forms; one of its most insidious and problematic is soda. However, these detriments of refined sugar apply to all of its forms.

It is hard to find anything that has contributed more profoundly to the global obesity epidemic than soda. The amount of sugar in these drinks is unhealthy even in small doses, but the problem is that small-dose consumption is a thing of the past. When soda first came on the scene, people would have a small bottle or glass as a treat once in a while. Now, the daily consumption of litres of soda is not uncommon for many people in the big-gulp era. It has been suggested that as much as 8% of the calories in a person’s daily intake come from soda. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity through a number of different studies.

Trans Fats

There are many different types of fat, and some are actually good for you, such as the fats found in fish. However, at the very bottom of the list are trans fats. Trans fat causes cholesterol to spike, blood pressure issues, and increases your likelihood of contracting both diabetes and heart disease. Trans fats are typically present in high quantities in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats have also been linked to the development of certain types of cancer.

Refined Carbohydrates

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Refined carbohydrates are terrible for your body. Diets high in refined carbs are very likely to contribute or lead to obesity. However, people find it very difficult to cut these out of their diets. In a very real sense, it is possible to become addicted to refined carbs. This is because our bodies like to seek rewards. Studies have shown that consuming refined carbohydrates boosts serotonin levels; the “feel good” chemical your brain releases to put you in a positive mood. When your brain recognizes that eating these types of foods makes you feel good, it will start to crave them more and more. This then leads to the habitual consumption of food that your body processes rapidly, which means it stores much of it as fat.

Sodium

In the age of pre-packaged, overly processed and fast foods, sodium is one of the most dangerous substances we consume, because we’re consuming it in such high quantities. It is added in huge doses to almost all processed foods. Cured meats, such as bacon, are another particularly dangerous source of sodium. People who exist on a diet heavy in processed foods are often consuming 2-3 times their daily-recommended amount of sodium. Sodium is a serious contributor to heart attacks and strokes. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 1500 mg of sodium daily.

Artificial Sweeteners

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Trying to replace sugar in your diet with artificial sweetener is a bad idea. Many of these products are just as bad for you, only in different ways. Diabetes and obesity have both been linked to high consumption of artificial sweeteners. There is also ongoing research trying to answer questions about potential links between artificial sweeteners and cancer. Overall, these products should definitely be left out of a healthy diet.

At the end of the day, natural foods are the key to cutting these dangerous substances out easily. If you stick to natural, unprocessed meat, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, you will naturally reduce the refined sugars and carbs, sodium, trans fats and artificial sweeteners in your diet. Some of these, like sodium and trans fats, may occur in some natural foods, but only in much smaller and manageable doses.