Here's a list of foods to avoid or reduce to feel better and live longer:
Avoid processed carbohydrates such as refined flours and sugars. They have no or very little nutrient content, and your body must expend nutrients to process them.
I like sweets as much as anyone, and struggle sometimes to avoid them. If I can hold out over a few days, the cravings eventually go away. I also notice that if I eat a lot of carbohydrates, the cravings come back.
Eating small amounts of candy or cake every once in a while isn't going to kill you, especially if you keep your overall daily carb intake below 100.
But if you eat large quantities of high carb foods over time, you will most likely damage your body's ability to regulate your blood sugar and insulin. Once that happens, your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease go way up.
Fortunately, switching to a diet plan which is low in carbohydrates and processed food can reverse a great deal of any damage done over time. I think the best diet books are those which discuss the science behind why low carb diets work. I recommend The Protein Power Lifeplan by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, Life Without Bread by Christian Allan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz M.D., and The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger by Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. to learn more.
If you are having trouble identifying high carb foods, I've created a healthy food list to help you figure out what foods are high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
Lower your intake of whole grain based foods. Grains, even whole, should be on everyone's foods to avoid list. I realize this statement goes against the advice of every dietitian and government official out there.
But I've done quite a bit of research on this subject and believe grains have serious health effects. All cereal grains have relatively low levels of good nutrients and high levels of toxins. These toxic anti-nutrients include lectins and phytates, which cause a long list of digestive issues, and are at the root of why grains are foods to avoid.
Grains are linked to a host of health problems because when eaten, they disable important minerals in the body, and degrade the digestive tract, causing autoimmune reactions. Celiac disease is an example of grain related autoimmune problem.
If you want to continue eating grain based foods, be aware that grains must be prepared properly in order to make all the nutrients available and neutralize the anti-nutrients such as phytic acid. Sprouting or soaking the grain overnight in yogurt or whey will help reduce these toxic anti-nutrients.
Sally Fallon talks about this in depth in her cookbook, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, which is an excellent resource for how to cook foods for a traditional diet plan.
Sprouting grains and making bread is time consuming, and in all honesty, it isn't something I'm willing to spend my time doing.
As a compromise and time saver, you could try Ezekiel sprouted wheat bread from a company called Foods for Life. It's usually in the freezer section at the grocery store. Sprouted grains are much lower in anti-nutrients, and the each slice only has about 12 grams of carb. (Most other flour based breads have about 25 grams of carb per slice.)
Personally, wheat is at the top of my foods to avoid list. Wheat has a protein called gliaden in it, which in particular has been shown to effect gut permeability. It disrupts the tight junctions between the cells lining then intestinal wall. Damaging the integrity of the gut allows all sorts of dietary proteins to gain access to the blood stream and, causes a response from the immune system. Some researchers believe diabetes, arthritis and gastric diseases such as Crohn's disease are all autoimmune diseases, meaning they are caused by autoimmune reactions to a "leaky gut".
Basically, the research is saying that eating wheat causes the body to attack itself via its immune system. That fact alone should put wheat products on any foods to avoid list.
In addition, wheat protein acts as an insulin mimic, having the same effect on fat metabolism as insulin, which is to say, the higher the insulin (or insulin mimic) the more fat is stored. Another excellent reason why wheat is on my foods to avoid list.