The biggest challenge most dieters face is thinking nutrition is a matter of “let’s make a deal” – as in, if you skip breakfast, you can eat pizza, or if you have broccoli, you can pour a gallon’s worth of cheese all over it. Sorry, your body can’t make such a trade with the devil. Eat the wrong foods and your body pays the consequences.

Here’s the reason: Five foods alter how your genes function and change the proteins in your body in a harmful way. Those genetic changes last a long time and protein changes t often last for the life of the protein – up to 180 days.

So when you eat foods even once that change your proteins or your genes, their effect can last and age you even if the calories are burned off.

Ban these from your food:

Saturated fat

Found in red meats, dairy, two-legged animal skin, egg yolks, and palm and coconut oils.

The carnitine, lechithin and choline in red meat and egg yolks change the bacteria in your gut to produce proteins that you absorb and cause inflammation in your body. That increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, immune dysfunction, and brain inflammation leading to dementia. It takes just four ounces of red meat, six ounces of pork, or one large egg yolk a week or any combination to do this; limiting red meat to two ounces a week won’t have this effect.

While saturated fats by themselves – as in butter, many baked goods, palm and coconut oil – have been up for debate for their role in cholesterol and heart disease, their devilish traits mainly come in the form of obesity, inflammation-raising properties they incite, and damage to the cells lining your arteries. You can healthfully include a small amount of saturated fats, such as those found in nuts, in your diet.

Trans fat

Found in many processed foods, like chips, crackers, and cookies, some vegetable margarines and foods fried in many oils.

Avoid trans fats. They can poison the receptors that allow glucose to go inside your cells. The federal Food and Drug Administration will ban them in foods sold in the U.S.A. starting in 2018.

Things that raise your blood sugar too fast

While we await an app that measures your blood sugar minute to minute, do what is possible to make these levels optimal with your food choices. Why know your blood sugar level? Because a high blood sugar injures you.

Added sugars in juices, sodas, processed desserts, sauces, many packaged foods; syrups in many processed foods; and simple carbohydrates in white-flour foods like bread, pancakes, rice, and whole grain pasta that isn’t 100 percent raise your blood sugar level.

A high blood sugar level causes sugar to attach to your proteins, including those that serve as grout between the cells in your arteries. Once the sugar attaches to such protein, it weakens the grout between the cells in your arteries, allowing blood pressure to chip away and damage your arteries. That leads to plaque formation, increased risk of heart disease, and a misfiring insulin-transport system that puts you at greater risk for diabetes, memory loss, impotence, wrinkles, and many cancers.

Eating too much of anything, even good foods, can cause you to store fat, but the difference here is that these bad substances promote overeating whereas healthful ingredients – almost any plant food without added oils or simple sugars or syrups added, like legumes, nuts, olive oil, and especially vegetable greens, and salmon and ocean trout – help you stay full longer, satisfy you, and prevent you from overeating. We’ll discuss more about great-tasting healthy foods and dishes in a future column. We want you to enjoy eating.

Dr. Michael Roizen writes about wellness for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Follow him on Twitter @YoungDrMike.

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