BLACKLISTED: Here are the WORST junk foods in the “healthy” aisle

Grocery stores use sneaky strategies to lure you away from the building’s perimeter (where they place the fresh, healthy, whole foods) and into the center aisles (where they place the ultra-processed junk food).  

Of course, as a reader of mine, you already know to avoid the ultra-processed snack foods, like chips and cookies, in the center aisles.  

But did you know that many of the foods in the so-called “health food” aisle are just as processed…and just as bad for you? 

Well, they are!

So, let’s talk about four of the WORST OFFENDERS in the “health food” aisle that you should blacklist forever 

Stay away from these four health saboteurs  

1.) Processed “gluten-free” foods. About 1 percent of the U.S. population has celiac disease and carry a gene that makes them unable to digest and absorb foods made with gluten. (Gluten is a protein found in wheat.) 

But the proportion of the population following a gluten-free diet has grown way beyond the 1 percent…

In fact, many people today without clinical celiac disease still blame gluten for a variety of common health problems—including diarrhea, bloating, headaches, fatigue, canker sores…you name it. 

But I (and few other experts) have figured out there’s something else to blame for the common woes after eating regular wheat products… 

We think it’s the glyphosate (the herbicide in Roundup®)—which farmers spray on about 95 percent of our wheat supply because it’s genetically modified. In fact, we know it poisons the healthy probiotic bacteria in your gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome. And that disturbances to the GI tract can certainly cause some of the digestive problems (and other health problems) seen in people with real, clinical, genetic celiac disease.  

It also means if you experience a sensitivity to gluten (but don’t have clinical celiac disease), loading up on “gluten-free” processed foods ISN’T the answer to your digestive woes. Rather, this behavior may actually lead to bigger problems, like cardiometabolic heart disease. In fact, a recent study found that people with the lowest gluten intake had slightly higher heart disease risks than those reporting the highest gluten intakes. 

That’s probably because all the processed, gluten-free foods flooding the market tend to replace the missing gluten with a lot of sugar. So, if you’re eating more gluten-free foods laden with sugar, of course you’re going to also have a higher risk of heart disease—as well as metabolic syndrome and obesity. 

Bottom line… 

Unless you’ve been medically diagnosed with celiac disease, I suggest simply following a balanced Mediterranean-style diet—which includes a wide variety of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, full-fat dairy, and an absolute bare minimum of processed foods. 

And remember, you can cut back on refined wheat and carbs without going gluten-free. Choose only organic wheat products, which cannot be grown with pesticides like glyphosate. 

2.) Kombucha. Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented beverage made from green or black tea (or both), sugar, yeast, and bacteria that supposedly originated from China about 2,000 years ago. Proponents claim it offers a host of health benefits.  

But there’s no science to back up that claim. And there are lots of reasons to suggest drinking it regularly may actually HARM your health… 

Specifically, all the fermented yeast can worsen digestive problems for those who already have an overgrowth of yeast in their GI tract. Not to mention, you want to avoid any and all beverages with added sugar. 

Instead, as I always recommend, eat naturally fermented foods like cheeses, yogurt, kimchi, pickles, and sauerkraut. They help the probiotics in your microbiome flourish…without the added yeast. Plus, you can mix them into healthy salads (as an ingredient, or part of a healthy dressing with yogurt),  or add them to sandwiches (with organic, whole grain bread) or main dishes.  

3.) Protein bars. In recent years, big food manufacturers have introduced all kinds of processed food products geared toward men and women who want to cut carbs and increase protein in their diet. So, they flooded the market with all kinds of protein bars! 

But most of these protein bars contain highly processed soy protein—something you should absolutely avoid at all costs. (You can learn about the dangers of soy protein in the January 2017 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures [“Is it time to say ‘soyo-nara’ to soy?”]. If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, now is the perfect time to become one.) 

They also tend to contain lots of added sugar and/or other unhealthy, processed sweeteners (like sucralose, beet syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane syrup)—as well as unhealthy oils (like palm kernel oil). So, in some ways, they’re just like another version of a candy bar. 

Bottom line?

Add protein bars to the list of ultra-processed foods that masquerade as healthy foods. And if you’re looking for a quick source of protein during the day, just grab a handful of nuts…or cut a slice of your favorite full-fat cheese. (And make sure to avoid all processed “cheese products.”) 

4.) Pre-packaged trail mix. Big food manufacturers promote pre-packaged trail mix as a healthy way to provide on-the-go protein and “energy” while you’re away from your kitchen. Some are even geared to the “paleo” crowd or make promises of being “vegan” and “non-GMO.” 

But here’s the thing… 

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a handful of organic nuts, seeds, and dried berries (in fact, I recommend it), you don’t want any of the “extra” junk they throw into the pre-packaged varieties…like sugar, extra salt, unhealthy oils, artificial ingredients, and even candies! 

Instead, I suggest you make your own healthy trail mix with nuts and seeds, as part of a healthy “Bear Diet,” which my daughter originally formulated in middle school. (To learn more about the Bear Diet, see my special report called The “Top of the Food Chain” Cure for Obesity. Subscribers to my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter get this seven-page report for FREE.) 

By making your own trail mix, you’ll avoid all the unnecessary junk. (Pro tip: Instead of always adding dried fruits or raisins to your trail mix, opt to enjoy some fresh, organic fruit. It will cut down on the natural fruit sugars and calories and count toward your daily target of two fruits a day!) 

Plus, at this time of year, nothing makes an easier, on-the-go food than an organic apple. (I’ll tell you more about the health benefits of apples next month.) And, of course, bananas, clementines, and oranges make for great, year-round, on-the-go snacks! 


“Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study.” BMJ 2017; 357:j1892.