To check out Part 1 of Damian's guide, simply follow this link.
 
Food Rule #11
Beware of the carcinogenic and estrogenic chemical BPA that is commonly found in some canned foods and bottled drinks. BPA has been linked to increased abdominal fat, birth defects, cancer, and more. Remember that canned tomatoes are one of the worst offenders, with highest concentrations of harmful BPA because of the acidic leaching effect of the tomatoes.
 
Food Rule #12
In my opinion, it's best to AVOID microwaved foods. Some scientists believe that microwaving food changes the the biochemistry of the food in ways that cause negative effects in the body, compared to raw or conventionally cooked food. Think of this from a logical perspective: the human digestive system evolved over a period of approximately 2 million years, eating a combination of raw and cooked food that was cooked with either fire or hot water, not microwaves.
 
Microwaves are a new invention which cook food in an entirely different way than hot water or fire, creating damaged molecules in food that were not found in nature previously, that our body does not know how to deal with. Logically, it's easy to understand how this could have health consequences.
 
Food Rule #13
Some of the healthiest things to include in your daily diet are herbs and spices. In fact, herbs and spices typically contain LOADS more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. Spices are extremely powerful, and almost medicinal for your body. Turmeric has been shown to have protective effects against cancer. Cinnamon has powerful blood sugar controlling effects. Many spices boost your immune system. 
 
Bottom line...spices rule! Use them generously in all of your cooking for the best health benefits.
 
 
Food Rule #14
Remember that despite all of the bad nutrition information you hear from the government and media, saturated fats have been falsely villified in the past and are much healthier for you than most people realise. In fact, in recent years scientists have become a lot more clear on the fact that saturated fats are actually important for health and hormone balance, your cell membranes, and many other vital functions in your body. 
 
Food Rule #15
Always avoid artificial sweeteners! Just because they don't contain calories doesn't mean they don't harm your body. In fact, many studies link artificial sweetener use to weight gain. New research is also showing that artificial sweeteners can 'trick' your body into releasing insulin, due to cells in your mouth and stomach that sense the sweetness and expect sugar. Remember that high insulin levels can cause body fat deposition. Also, triggering insulin in this way can cause more cravings for carbohydrates and sugar in the hours after eating or drinking the artificially sweetened product.
 
Food Rule #16
Pay attention to your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is one of the most important substances in your body. It's one of the single most important things in your body that controls your hormones as well as your immune system. If you get sick often or have hormone imbalances, it's quite likely that the cause is linked to low vitamin D levels.
 
Unfortunately, it's estimated that almost 90% of Irish people are deficient in vitamin D. Get your blood levels of vitamin D tested. Your goal should be blood levels between 50-70 ng/ml, where hormonal balance and immune function seems to be maximised. Sadly, most people typically clock in with levels in the 20's or 30's or lower, and these sub-par levels can cause a lot of health problems.
 
Midday sunshine is the most important source of vitamin D, as your body produces vitamin D from a reaction with oils in your skin and UVB rays from the sun. Fatty fish, egg yolks, and organ meats are the best sources of dietary vitamin D, but it is hard to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, so small doses of daily midday sun is also important for your health (without burning).
 
 
Food Rule #17
Probiotics rock!
 
Along with vitamin D levels, this is one of the single most important things you can do for your health. Your 'microbiome' in your gut is made up of TRILLIONS of microbes in total, and hundreds of types of these friendly probiotics. These serve so many more vitally important functions in your body than most people realise.
 
Probiotics are equally important to your immune system as your vitamin D levels. Probiotics are your first line of defence in keeping pathogens at bay and preventing sickness. They're extremely important for your digestion, too.
 
Food Rule #18
Beware of carcinogenic acrylamides in browned carb-based foods. This is yet another reason to minimise grains as much as possible, as breads and cereals are some of the worst offenders with acrylamides.
 
Food Rule #19
Avoid the unknown health consequences of eating genetically modified foods. Again, going back to the principle that we are most adapted to; eating what our ancestors ate for almost 2 million years, that list of foods obviously did NOT include genetically modified foods, since these 'franken foods' weren't included in the human food supply until the 1990's.
 
There are still no long term health studies proving that GM foods are safe to eat. 
 
 
Food Rule #20
Lastly, enjoy your food! And enjoy good company with food. Don't just mindlessly eat food in front of the TV. Studies show that people unknowingly eat more calories and gain more weight when they mindlessly eat in front of the TV. Focus on your meal instead of a distraction; savour each bite you have. Pay attention to each bite. Enjoy the flavors and the aroma.
 
Yours in fitness,
 
Damian
Health & Fitness Expert
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