The Non-Foods “Food” Group

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The goal of a proper diet is to provide all the nutrients essential for body and health maintenance, but we don’t just want to live healthily, we want to THRIVE. Many people change their diets, include more natural foods while ditching the processed junk, but what they haven’t given up are the “non-foods”. This group includes coffee/tea, chocolate, alcohol, white sugar, and tobacco. Each of these can have an adverse effect on your health and nullify all the hard work and positive steps you’re taking.
1. Coffee/Tea
Regular intake of caffeine is linked to a variety of health problems and plays a major role in masking chronic fatigue. When consumed, it will deplete your body’s stores of vitamin C and all B vitamins. The B vitamins play a large role in providing you with natural energy. When you drink caffeinated drinks, these are depleted and unless replaced, the effects of caffeine will wear off and you’ll be left feeling exhausted, which will in turn have you reaching for more caffeine. It’s a vicious cycle!
I definitely love my morning cup of coffee, but I do limit my daily intake to JUST ONE cup. After that, I supplement with a B-complex mid-morning to stave off any caffeine withdrawal lethargy. Some days I don’t need coffee, but let’s get serious, this life is crazy. So just make sure you are consuming limited quantities and supplementing appropriately.
2. Chocolate
Chocolate is also considered a stimulant as it contains mild levels of caffeine. Because of the sweet taste of processed chocolate, it is one of the most commonly craved foods. Like all non-foods, it is an irritant to the stomach and can cause digestion to slow as the body tries to regulate the sudden and drastic rise in blood sugar. There is no nutritional value to processes chocolate (especially milk chocolate) BUT you can now easily buy raw cacao nibs, which are crushed cacao bean and are high in vitamin C and manganese.
3. Alcohol
Alcohol is a staple in many cultures all throughout the world and there is documentation that suggests moderate consumption of alcohol can provide health benefits. The problem in the west is that we don’t do well with moderation; we are over-consumers. Regular overconsumption of alcohol can lead to addiction, obesity, ulcers, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, diabetes, and cancer just to name a few. It will also impair the absorption of nutrients, particularly B vitamins, and will cause dehydration.
Alcohol is also considered a stimulant which is surprising for most people. It does have a depressant effect at first, but will stimulate the nervous system about 3-4 hours after consumption. Have you ever had 1 or 2 glasses of wine with dinner only to find you can’t fall asleep or you wake up in the night? Try cutting out the booze and see if there’s any improvement.
4. White Sugar
Overconsumption and daily use of sugar is the first compulsive habit for almost everyone with addictions later in life. Sugar is addictive and it is in everything! Reading the nutritional labels in the grocery store is what nightmares are made of. Many nutritional authorities believe that the high use of sugar in our diet is a significant underlying cause of disease and it just ravages all the vitamins and minerals in your body. On top of everything, it produces quick bursts of energy, which is why many people turn to it. The problem is, once ingested, it quickly burns up and your energy levels will come crashing down. This leads you to search for the next “fix”.
The physical withdrawal from sugar is actually considered quite mild. You will have periodic strong cravings, but if you can resist they will fade. To make this time more tolerable, ensure that you are getting adequate protein and you can try supplementing with extra B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc.
5. Tobacco/Nicotine
We all know smoking is bad for our health. It is one of the top causes of preventable disease and one of the hardest addictions to deal with. It increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, and the list goes on. Nicotine is a well-known stimulant and this is part of the addictive nature of cigarettes; even the strongest willed people cannot stop smoking. Smokers and people exposed to cigarette smoke should ensure they are taking at least a basic vitamin-mineral and antioxidant formula daily.
If you feel that you cannot cut out these non-foods completely (which would be very difficult in today’s society) ensure that you are consuming only in moderation and supplementing appropriately to ensure you are providing your body with the appropriate support.
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