Are there unhealthy foods?

What is the explanation behind that there is no such thing as unhealthy food?

I read Craig Good answer on some question that there is no such as unhealthy food bit I never understood that concept, isn’t ice cream bad for you? Or what about French fries? Why do we called it junk food?

This my answer to the Quora question above:

You get what you pay for.

Teachers tend to teach as much as they know and not beyond it.

Most people lack the discipline or wherewithal to deeply examine diet and change it towards the healthiest possible. Most people don’t even start. Many start and give up. Very few actually research and discover what’s best for them and then live it, and even fewer of those people publicly become teachers.

Nutrition is not taught seriously in medical school. This means that the majority of doctors did not have any serious nutrition training.

How can a person be seen as an authority on the body without understanding food is beyond me. How can you understand the stomach without having an understanding of what goes in it? How can you understand the kidneys, liver, pancreas, blood, etc… etc… without understanding how diet impacts these organs functioning.

Well, you can’t.

But somehow they still have more authority than nutritionists. Which is understandable in part because nutritionist is a largely unregulated term that anyone can slap on their own back.

But when you realize that the doctors and government recommendations really have tons of holes and contradicting recommendations, maybe that’s not so bad.

Anyhow, there are many conclusions that many scientists have reached about diet, but that don’t really connect to recommendations – but if you follow these conclusions you can realize how yes many foods do qualify as unhealthy.

Read up on the Omega 3: Omega 6 balance literature.

They say that having a near 1:1 or 1:2 balanced ratio is important for IQ and general brain development. Okay, well if people knew how much Omega 6 was in certain foods and realized that if you only ate a few grams of those foods you would get so much Omega 6 that there would be no way you could have a balance of these fatty acids.

So does that make those foods unhealthy?

Well, not necessarily.

But it’s not really enough to just say “moderation is key”. What is moderation actually?

Does eating fast food once or twice a week seem like moderation?

Well, that would be the equivalent of eating more than 500 times at fast food in 10 years. Is that moderation?

How many times can you do something in your life and it still be called moderation?

Does fast food cause harm?

The generalists that just say “moderation is key” perhaps are aiming to be helpful as though this advice will help talk down a person who’s eating nothing but junk food all the time because it seems more reasonable to “just moderate” than the approach of someone who says “eat healthy food all the time… there’s no reason why nearly all of your food should not be healthy food”

What is the legitimate argument for not meeting your nutrition needs with nothing but nutritious foods?

Keep in mind that the first directive is to make sure the person gets their needs met.

I believe that it’s better to get your needs met while unfortunately intaking some toxins then not meeting your needs but avoiding toxins. Our bodies have mechanisms to detox. It’s part of our system and role of the stomach acid and kidneys and so forth.

But why not decrease the total toxin load when we can?

Some things really do not represent a positive role in diet.

Refined sugar. Refined oils. It is rare to find a person that actually needs the calories from either of these. Most people are overweight and would benefit from at least decreasing their caloric intake from junk food. Note that I specified from junk food because I believe that most people could actually still benefit from increasing their caloric intake – even people that are obese.

In my perspective, people that say “there are no unhealthy foods” are really just not interested in scientific analysis or even thinking much at all.

How many people know of a certain food or combination of foods that will result in: heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, or even headaches, or painful indigestion?

Isn’t it fair to suggest those foods that tend to result in those things qualify as possibly unhealthy?

I can think of a variety of foods that if I eat them I get some kind of undesirable result. Maybe it’s just a pimple, or maybe it’s not feeling so fresh.

The total fat content of a person’s diet can make an impact on their athletic performance. Fat has been shown to decrease the efficiency of cell oxygenation. Nobody eats a bunch of peanut butter and suddenly gets huge burst of energy.

Why? Because peanut butter is mostly fat and fat takes a long time to digest. That’s just how it is. Does that make peanut butter unhealthy?

Well, we don’t need to label it one way or the other, but if you try to eat an equal amount of peanut butter in calories for breakfast instead of what you’ve been normally eating, odds are you will not feel glorious, but go ahead and check to find out. Peanut butter also has a huge load of Omega 6 making it exceedingly unlikely that you will reach an Omega 3:Omega 6 balance on any day you eat peanut butter.

Also it tends to be roasted at high heats. When you high heat fats they can become rancid… read carcinogenic. Is that unhealthy?

Well, everyone who eats peanut butter or expects to in the future will not want to believe that it would negatively affect them. Perhaps it doesn’t in some kind of magical, if you don’t believe it’s unhealthy it won’t hurt you.

And sure, stressing about food can be quite harmful in itself…

But that doesn’t really justify this “no food can be unhealthy” argument.

Prod at this argument a little more.

Ask them for how much of the food is okay to eat. Perhaps they will offer some good caveats such as, if it causes you any obvious problems then you should probably stop.

That sounds reasonable!

But let’s look from another angle: the angle of – what does ideal nutrition look like.

One thing that I believe we could get agreement from everyone is this: fresh food tends to be better.

Studies have shown that nutrients get lost as soon as a food is plucked from its source or killed or removed if it’s an animal part. Exposure to sun, light, and heat are known to destroy nutrients. Exposure to high heat can actually create toxic compounds such as acrylamide, nitrosamines, and heterocyclic-amines.

I recommend working in a kitchen that uses a deep fryer and just breathe in the air for a few minutes… or hours. See how that does for you. Look up the smoke points of the oils you choose to cook in and consider whether it’s such a good idea to raise these fats to these heats.

This is a good example of something that a person could choose to consume differently. As far as I know, there’s little nutritive value to frying a food in fat as opposed to steaming it in water.

By steaming it in water you can keep the temperature of the mixture down to the boiling point of water. Oil on the other hand can get much hotter to the temperatures that have been shown to create things like acrylamide etc…

I don’t know much about the law, but I noticed that in Starbucks and McDonald’s have signs that say that their foods contain acrylamide a chemical known by the state of California to cause cancer.

I would assume these mega corporations fought against putting the signs up and lost. OR it is a way for them to avoid any lawsuits by having a sign that informed people that they were at risk by eating their food. It also clarifies that acrylamide is a compound that gets created whenever a food gets browned.

So is toast healthy?

Well, if healthy means free from unnecessary toxins, then no it’s not.

Will most people stop eating it from this post? Probably not.

But if people really thought about it and weighed their options and considered that there isn’t a fundamental reason other than “eating for fun” when it comes to justifying foods that have been produced in a manner that creates toxins… then they might be able to be okay with labeling this as a relatively unhealthy thing and to limit their consumption of it.

Not eating toast doesn’t mean a person must miss out on wheat.

Wheat can be boiled whole and can be quite delicious. Wheat can be powdered and made into pasta – also delicious.

But is wheat healthy?

Well at least for some people, no. Wheat is very harmful to some people.

What I hope people understand for the most part is this, just because some food is “unhealthy” doesn’t actually limit them because there are other foods that ARE healthy. People should focus on intaking enough healthy foods FIRST before worrying about what foods are unhealthy also.

If you eat healthy foods first, you might be able to meet your needs and then will have no desire for unhealthy food.

Most people don’t really learn how to eat healthy food so they crash their diets.

YOU MUST EAT ENOUGH FOOD in order to be eating a healthy diet.

It is not healthy to “just eat salad” or some vague idea of what healthy is where a person just cuts out “junk food”. You need a legitimate plan that involves getting enough calories for the activity level you require and meeting all your needs.

Most people have never done that these days.

People have not had a single day where everything they ate was truly healthy.

Plenty of doctors eat junk food every day.

They will never be able to legitimately say “you should not eat junk food every day”… because they do it.

There exist plenty of unknowns with regards to diet. I know from my experience that if I don’t eat fresh food (things directly from the bush, tree, etc… or from the farmer’s market)… then I feel less fresh. I have found that the people that increase their quantity and quality of fresh foods feel better.

On paper this might have nothing to show for it though!

If you look at standard nutrient analysis performed in a bomb calorimeter, there might be no difference whatsoever between an apple picked off the tree versus an apple that has been in a warehouse for 9 months. But the experience is different and I hypothesize that better analysis will show that there are observable differences.

I would also say that eating one food can lead to eating others.

“Bet you can’t eat just one”

Eating one food can make your appetite swell for another.

Perhaps you say that eating a pretzel is not unhealthy (despite the high salt content, acrylamide, and often hydrogenated oils)… but what happens after you eat a salty pretzel? You want more salty things.

What kind of salty things do people eat?

You can answer that for yourself.

If we look at other animals or think of human physiological history or design, it makes sense that we would eat very simply.

There are digestive reasons why. Different nutrients require different environments for digestion. Different nutrients require different enzymes for digestion.

The food you eat, how much of it, when you eat it, with what you eat it… these make a difference. A HUGE difference. You can’t just “moderate” the junk food and “be healthy”. If you think you’re “moderating” the junk food… odds are that you’re not really eating that much healthy food either. You’re eating junk food, questionable food, and occasional health food. You might eat carrot sticks from time to time and pat yourself on the back as though you’ve really done yourself a big favor.

The thing is we don’t really know some things. We base big directives on isolated studies. How much calcium should you get on a daily basis? How much phosphorus? How much is too much? How much iron? How much zinc? In what ratios?

There are SO many questions and so many people are actually not qualified to answer but we’re looking to them to answer.

I would say this: consider whether you would benefit from being healthier.

Consider whether you’d like to have more energy.

Consider whether you’d like to be at a different body composition.

Consider whether you’d like to be stronger.

Consider whether you’d like to not have indigestion, acne, diarrhea, stomach aches, heart disease, or any other condition that occurs in relation to diet.

Consider whether you’d like to be happier.

Now look at how you’ve been eating in the past and ask yourself could you do better?

If you CAN do better, why not try to do better?

What do you lose by replacing some food that you suspect are junk with foods that you believe to be healthy?

It’s okay to change your mind! Sometimes things change. Sometimes we make new discoveries. Maybe you thought something was healthy but it’s not and maybe something that you thought was unhealthy… is healthy after all.

A lot of people say eating meat is unhealthy now… and then develop deficiencies and decide maybe meat is healthy to some extent. But guess what, it’s possible that it’s both. There might be unhealthy things in meat when it’s prepared a certain way (like deep fried or baked or eaten in too large quantities and too often). Why not learn from everything you can?

Why not try to figure out what way of eating truly makes you feel the best not just during the meal but after as well.

A lot of people that avoid viewing foods as unhealthy are not considering the full picture.

They are people that have never freed themselves from the addictions to certain foods.

If wheat or corn based diets are all you know, it might seem like some wild idea to consider replacing your foodbase across the board. It could seem like a tremendous task – and one that you have no basis in history for doing. You’ve never just eaten healthy foods for a week let alone a month. So why be confident in doing so?

The idea of “not” eating healthy foods might seem like choosing to starve and deprive yourself – but this would be different if you had a legitimate plan of 100% healthy foods for at least a day and better yet a week or month.

You can do it.

There’s no shortage of things to learn when it comes to food, but it doesn’t mean that it is so complicated. You can create a healthy meal plan that meets all RDA’s with as few as 2-5 different food items per day.

Download a program like CRON-ometer and punch in your food for a few days without trying to change anything… just to see what your intake looks like.

You might already see you fall short in certain categories, but more to the point you can start associating how you feel with what you eat and start to discover some correlations and eventually perhaps some causation.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that a certain food causes you heartburn so that you could just stop eating that food and eat something else and feel better? There are plenty more options.

A lot of people just don’t really feel that good in general, despite saying they feel okay. Once they actually stop eating anything that bothers them at all… they start to feel amazing. People often experience blissful feelings while fasting because they don’t have to deal with the digestion of foods, but you can only fast for so long.

If you make it a habit to only eat foods that really feel great for you AND you make sure you meet all of your nutritive needs then you will understand much more directly how different certain foods are.

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