Level Up Your Diet: Purge These 7 Foods from Your Diet for Better Health

Diet Purge

Staying healthy is more than exercising daily and getting a good night’s sleep. What you put into your body plays a crucial role in your overall well-being. Unfortunately, many staples in the Western diet are nutrient-deficient but also contain an abundance of sugar, salt, and additives. Research clearly links an ultra-processed diet to chronic health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. That’s why what you put on your plate and into your cup is so important.

In this article, we’ll look at the worst offenders – foods that offer little to no nutritional value and contain other ingredients that do your body no favors. The goal is to help you be more mindful of the choices you make at the grocery store, so you can optimize your health and still enjoy tasty, but healthy, meals.

Processed Sugars

Added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, agave, and other sweeteners are ubiquitous in today’s food supply. Pick up a few products at the grocery store and read the label. You’ll be shocked at how many contain added sugar, even ones that don’t taste sweet. So, it should come as no surprise that the average American consumes over 270 calories per day from added sugars alone, which far surpasses expert recommendations.

Why is this a problem? Consuming a high sugar diet is linked to increased risk of weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, dementia, depression, and even some forms of cancer. It’s clear that sugar isn’t your friend. But why? Sugar spikes blood glucose and insulin levels, drives inflammation, and supplies empty calories without beneficial nutrients.

Rather than feeding your sweet tooth and reinforcing the sugar habit, start scaling back and give your body a chance to appreciate the taste of unenhanced foods. Over time, your brain and taste receptors will adapt to the point that you don’t need super-sweet foods. Success!

Refined Vegetable Oils

Those innocent-looking “vegetable” oils lining grocery shelves are often anything but vegetable-based. They’re refined seed oils like soybean, canola, and corn oil, which are loaded with inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. But that’s not even the worst part – when you expose these oils to high heat, like during cooking, they can oxidize and spawn nasty characters like aldehydes, trans fats, and other troublemakers that don’t play nice with your health.

The scientific evidence has been sounding the alarm on these oils for a while now. Regularly gulping them down has been linked to systemic inflammation, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that you don’t want to tango with. So do your body a favor and ditch these unhealthy impostors in favor of cold-pressed plant oils like luscious olive, creamy avocado, rich walnut, or tropical coconut oil instead. Your cells will thank you!

Processed Meats

Let’s talk about sizzling bacon and juicy hot dogs. As delicious as they are, those processed meats are hiding some seriously shady characters – chemical preservatives like sodium nitrate. Once inside your body, these compounds go rogue and transform into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds that could put your health at risk.

In fact, research has shown that even just two slices of processed meat per day can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by a whopping 18%. Talk about a gut punch! But cancer isn’t the only issue – studies link processed meats to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and greater mortality.

So do your body a favor and opt for fresh, unprocessed cuts of meat whenever possible. Your taste buds and your cells will both be thanking you.

Ultra-Processed Foods

You know those packaged snacks, frozen meals, and sugary treats that seem to make up the bulk of the modern diet? Well, they may be ultra-convenient, but they’re also ultra-processed nightmares. We’re talking refined oils, added sugars galore, chemical preservatives straight out of a science lab, and artificial flavors that trick your taste buds into thinking you’re eating the real thing.

These Franken-foods might provide calories, but beneficial nutrients and fiber? Forget it. In fact, a jaw-dropping 57% of the average American’s daily calorie intake comes from these ultra-processed impostors. No wonder we’re struggling with overconsumption and weight battles!

But it’s not just about the extra pounds. These processed pals have also been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases that’ll really put a damper on your quality of life. So, do your body a favor and start minimizing your consumption of those ultra-processed snacks, sweets, and convenience meals. Your body will thank you for giving it the real, nutrient-dense foods it craves.

Fried Foods

Deep frying oxidizes oils into inflammatory advanced glycation end products (AGES) and aldehydes. Consuming fried foods regularly is linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, heart disease, and shorter lifespan. Air frying, baking, roasting, and sautéing foods in healthy oils are better cooking methods.

Sweetened Beverages

Sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages supply empty calories and spike blood sugar. Drinking just one sugary beverage per day raises type 2 diabetes risk by 18%. It’s best to stick to unsweetened beverages like water, seltzer, or unsweetened tea.


While moderate intake may be safe for some individuals, alcohol is an addictive group 1 carcinogen. Drinking more than 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day significantly raises the risk of mouth, throat, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers. Alcohol also contributes to heart failure, fatty liver disease, dementia, depression, and weight gain. It’s wise to minimize intake.

Avoid Processed Fare

The unhealthiest foods in the modern diet are those that have been heavily processed and contain excessive added sugars, refined vegetable oils, chemical preservatives, and compounds formed from high-heat cooking techniques. These ingredients provide little nutritional value while promoting overeating and weight gain.

Foods like soda, candy, cookies, chips, fast food, and microwave meals often check all these boxes. The processing they undergo removes beneficial nutrients and fibers that satisfy hunger, while adding sugars, fats, and chemicals that overload the pleasure and reward centers in the brain. This drives overconsumption of calories leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses over time.

To maximize health, it’s best to focus the diet on minimally processed whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. These nourish the body with antioxidants, fibers, essential fatty acids, and diverse nutrients that reduce inflammation, balance hormones, optimize digestion, and provide lasting energy. Centering meals around these wholesome ingredients can help prevent many modern diseases.


  • Petre A. What Is Refined Sugar? Healthline. Published September 5, 2019. Accessed February 26, 2024. .healthline.com/nutrition/refined-sugar
  • Atli Arnarson BSc, PhD. Why Processed Meat is Bad For You. Healthline. Published June 4, 2017. Accessed February 26, 2024. .healthline.com/nutrition/why-processed-meat-is-bad
  • “Alcohol and Cancer Risk Fact Sheet – NCI – National Cancer Institute.” 14 Jul. 2021, .cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet.
  • “Alcohol Use and Cancer | American Cancer Society.” .cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/diet-physical-activity/alcohol-use-and-cancer.html.
  • Uribarri J, Woodruff S, Goodman S, Cai W, Chen X, Pyzik R, Yong A, Striker GE, Vlassara H. Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):911-16.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.018. PMID: 20497781; PMCID: PMC3704564.
  • “SugarScience.UCSF.edu | SugarScience.” http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/.
  • “Are Vegetable and Seed Oils Bad for You? A Critical Look – Healthline.” 09 Jun. 2023, .healthline.com/nutrition/are-vegetable-and-seed-oils-bad.
  • Simopoulos AP. An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 2;8(3):128. doi: 10.3390/nu8030128. PMID: 26950145; PMCID: PMC4808858.

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