One of my favorite sites for health information lured me in with an article titled, “The Foods You Shouldn’t Touch with a Ten Foot Pole.” Turns out, none of the foods on the list should come as a surprise to anyone out there, but the reasons why to avoid these foods was compelling. As I’ve discussed in the past, the key to changing behavior is to change the belief that drives that behavior and changing beliefs comes from knowledge like this.
The foods we should all avoid include all sodas (especially diet drinks), doughnuts and pastries, French fries, breakfast cereals, and all processed snacks or junk food. This should be a familiar list to everyone, but this time, the reason to quit these foods is not just the trans-fats, the sugar, the additives and preservatives, or the genetically modified grains. A recent study has shown that a diet rich in these junk foods will cause a deficiency in the normal balance of bacterial flora in our own system – meaning that we will be lacking the healthy bacteria that help to prevent illness. Lacking these “good guy” bugs has been found to be linked to a weakened immune system, increased bad bacteria, poor digestion, and a general inability to absorb vitamins/minerals and eliminate dangerous toxins. Worse than this, many believe that this imbalance of bacteria is a major cause to ailments such as eczema, asthma, various allergies, inflammatory conditions, and autoimmune disease. If you’ve followed this column very long, you know that all disease is linked to inflammation in some manner and that normal bacterium of your intestine is one of the first lines of defense we have as part of our immune system -- they say 80% or our immune function is in our gut.
Knowing this, what should you do? First, avoid the above listed foods as much as possible. Secondly, be conservative when taking antibiotics or using antibacterial soaps that kill not only the bad guys, but also the good guys. Eat foods that replenish healthy bacteria such as organically grown fruits and vegetables and fermented dairy products such as real yogurt (not the sugary kind) or Kefir. Lastly, as I have recommended in the past, take a high-quality probiotic supplement regularly to reseed the gut with these vital microorganisms.