Updated: May 12
I posted a short version of this to my instagram account @drterrawinston last week but I wanted to elaborate a bit more here.
Depending on what fad diet or magazine you’re following on any given day you will see many things labeled as “bad”. But that’s far from the truth. In reality very few things are always good or always bad. There is generally a time and a place for most things to fit into a healthy life.
I’ve definitely avoided all of these things like the plague at some point in life due to bad information from outside sources. (Except maybe the sun 🤷🏼♀️) Whenever you see a statement like "three foods you should never eat again", run away fast. I cant say it loudly enough, there is no one universal "optimal" diet. Each person varies in their needs and sensitivities.
Let's talk through each of these to find out why they are most definitely part of a healthy lifestyle:
Sunshine - you’ve been taught to slather on chemical sunscreen to “protect” you from the sun. But we NEED direct sun exposure on our skin to synthesize vitamin D. We definitely do not need harmful chemicals. If you’re out in direct sun ALL DAY you might want to use a mineral sunscreen or cover your skin a bit with shade or clothing but consider soaking up some sunshine from time to time as well.
Salt- I see salt deficiency in practice more often than overuse. There I said it. Salt isn't the enemy unless you are very sensitive to it, in which case you probably have other mineral and electrolyte imbalances than need to be addressed as well. If you are unsure about your salt intake and what is a healthy limit for you, please consult your doctor.
Meat- high quality, humanely raised animal protein is essential to life. There are very few cultures ever in history that have been 100% vegan. We NEED complete protein to maintain lean body mass and proper brain function. As a former vegan of 8 years I’m telling you, for optimal gut, brain and skin health you probably need to eat some meat. Bonus point if you can stomach organ meats, they contain the highest amounts of essential vitamins.
Fat - fat keeps you full, not to mention the fact that it helps with hormone production, slows skin aging, and is essential for brain function. Nine time out of ten the recommendation for a low fat diet is a scam, especially for weight loss. There are very few reasons to ever recommend this. Fat got a bad rep when the sugar industry paid off the FDA to suppress information on how sugar causes cardiovascular disease. Google it if you dont believe me or read more on this topic here.
Carbs- feeling depressed? Have you been restricting carbs? Tryptophan is an amino acid dominant in some animal proteins and many carb heavy foods (rice, wheat, potato, oats, etc). Without tryptophan we can’t make serotonin- the feel good neurotransmitter or melatonin for sleep. Carbs are also our primary fuel. Unless you are trying to lose weight or control diabetes, you will likely need a healthy level of fiber rich carbohydrates in your diet for optimal energy.
On the other hand here are a few examples of things that have been sold to us as health foods but most definitely are not:
Sugar- remember those low fat foods? Yep, full of sugar. They have to replace the fat with something! If you didn't already read this article, do it now.
Corn- I get asked ALL the time why I hate corn so much. The truth is corn hates me. But what I want to point out here is that corn is a grain, it’s a grass actually, and a very common food trigger that destroys the gut, especially in people with other grass sensitivities (wheat, banana, latex, etc). Corn is heavily subsidized by the government and that’s why it’s in nearly every processed food, especially gluten free foods. It’s also heavily genetically modified and covered in glyphosate, a chemical weed killer that destroys our gut lining. If you love corn, try to choose organic or grow it yourself. At the very least, please stop calling it a vegetable.
Processed foods- do I need to explain this? I don’t care how healthy the macros are if it’s been heavily processed your body won’t use it the same as if you ate the raw ingredients. Limit convenience foods if you can and choose ones that are whole-food based when you cant.
Artificial sweeteners - these trick your body into thinking you have sugar when you don’t, causing insulin spikes and then blood sugar crashes. Try something natural like monk fruit or stevia instead. These are herbs and don't react the same in your body as aspartame or sucralose. Research has even shown that stevia is a potent antimicrobial that might help kill off unwanted infections! *Side note: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol extracted from birch trees, it is calorie free and a potent antimicrobial but I no longer use this regularly in food preparation because it is extremely toxic to pets.
Ready to get your gut health in order? Confused where to begin? I hear you, it took me decades to muddle through all the info and reestablish a healthy digestive tract. Skip the hassle and apply for care HERE. I will be in touch within one week of receipt. Note that if you do not live in Washington State you will be automatically added to my online class waitlist. I hope to launch this program in a few months.
Did you enjoy this? Please consider forwarding to a friend who might find this useful as well. My mission is to change the face of healthcare one empowered patient at a time!
In health, Dr. Terra