THE DANGERS LURKING IN YOUR PANTRY

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Many people think they’re eating well because they don’t buy takeout all the time, have cut down on soft drink consumption, and eat a lot of salads and veggies. However, many of the staples people have in their pantry aren’t as healthy as they think. Some products can lead to digestive issues, mood instability, hair loss, joint problems, foggy thinking, and more.

Here are some foods you should consider reducing or eliminating from your diet if you’ve been having health problems or simply want to feel better, in general.

SUGAR

We all know sugar is one of the biggest contributors to a long list of health issues. Apart from the expected weight gain, a diet high in sugar can increase inflammation and lead to extremes in blood sugar levels. It affects mental clarity, accelerates aging, can cause tooth decay, reduce immunity levels, lead to hair loss, and put people at higher risks of things like Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.

It’s important to note that just clearing out the actual packets of sugar from your pantry isn’t enough to limit its intake. Many foods have a lot of sugar added to them these days. This includes canned soup, sauces, cereals (even supposedly healthier mueslis, granolas, and oatmeal products), some breads, juices, energy drinks, cordials, trail mixes, dried fruit, salad dressings, muesli bars, jams and peanut butter, yoghurts, etc.

If you want to kick sugar, limit your consumption of processed items and read the food labels on items carefully. Look out for words ending in ‘ose’ as you examine labels, such as fructose or sucrose – these are sugar, but just called by a different name.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

If you’ve swapped out soft drinks for diet versions, or buy other items with artificial sweeteners in them, be aware that you might be trading one bad choice for another. Studies are now showing that artificial sweeteners may be addictive, just like sugar, and can potentially cause spikes in insulin, too.

One of the most common artificial sweeteners, aspartame, has also been linked to a range of health issues. This includes thinning hair, weight gain, stomach upsets, headaches, insomnia, mood dips, and depression. Steer clear of these dangers by not buying items containing the word ‘diet’ in their name, as these usually use artificial sweeteners to yield a sweet taste. Read food labels to be sure about what you’ll be ingesting, too.

REFINED CARBOHYDRATES

Avoid refined carbohydrates where possible. These are carbs made from refined grains such as white rice and white flour. They are easily digested and affect the body by causing a rapid spike in insulin levels. They also have low nutritional value. This is because these items are processed extensively and thus stripped of much of their whole grains. These are the parts containing nutrition-rich, body-boosting fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Over time, consuming significant amounts of refined carbs can potentially lead to Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, decreased mental alertness, lethargy, and higher levels of inflammation in the body (which in turn can lead to various problems). Try to replace refined carbohydrates with wholegrain versions. For example, good options are wholegrain rolled or steel-cut oats; ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, and millet; brown rice; lentil pasta; and whole-wheat crackers.

HIGH SODIUM PRODUCTS

With many people these days having high sodium levels, another hidden danger to be on the lookout for is salt added to consumables. Always read the labels of packaged foods, in particular, as they tend to add significant amounts of salt to achieve more flavour. This is particularly the case for sauces, soups, processed meats, breads, olives, anchovies, pickles, soy sauce, smoked fish, stock cubes, potato chips and popcorn, packaged nuts, ready-made meals, and breakfast cereals.

High salt intake has been associated with health concerns such as kidney stones and other kidney issues, fluid retention, osteoporosis, heart problems, stroke, lowered immunity, fatigue, depression, bloating, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

These items are by no means the only dangers that could be lurking in your pantry, but they are a good starting point to watch out for next time you head to the grocery store to restock your shelves. Cutting down, or eliminating (in some instances) these ingredients will go a long way to improving your overall health.