5 ‘Clean’ Foods That Are Actually Dirty

1. Eggs

Eggs are many people’s go-to ‘clean’ food, especially among protein hungry or lean dreaming gym goers. However, this is at the top of the list for a reason. Eggs may be one of the unhealthiest foods you can eat.

Eggs

Health

Cholesterol

Eggs contain an astronomical amount of fat and cholesterol and their health damaging effects have even been compared to cigarette smokingEating just 1 egg a day may exceed your safe upper limit for cholesterol! 1

Prostate Cancer

Men eating even less than one egg a day appear to have twice the risk of prostate cancer progression. Men who consume only one egg every three days may have an 81% increased risk of dying from prostate cancer!!! 1

Not Even Safe

In America, the USDA does not legally allow egg companies to label or advertise their eggs as healthy or even safe due to the dangers of eating eggs. 2

Salmonella

The main food sources of Salmonella are poultry and eggs, which causes more hospitalisations and deaths than any other bacterial food-borne illness. 3
Up to 10% of people stricken with Salmonella, E. coli, or Campylobacter are left with lifelong conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Chronic dyspepsia and Reiter’s Syndrome (a debilitating form of arthritis). 4
Eggs salmonella
Common methods of cooking eggs may not be sufficient to kill all Salmonella bacteria. Cross-contamination, either in the kitchen or even in supermarket shopping carts can pose a risk as well. 4

Environment

Resources

1 lb of eggs takes twice as much water compared to 1 lb of soy, and 3 times as much compared to 1lb of wheat. Keeping chickens to lay eggs uses more resources, and compared to plant-based protein sources such as lentils and chickpeas, egg production emits more than six times the carbon dioxide equivalents per kg.

Free Range

If you were thinking free range eggs might be a better choice for the environment, think again. Battery hens need 2 kilograms of feed to produce 1 kilogram of eggs and free range chickens need 20% more than that, therefore more water, land and emissions are needed for free range eggs.

Manure Emissions & Water Contamination

Chicken manure releases nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is even more potent than methane and has 298 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 100-year period. 5
Chicken manure is especially degrading to waterways because it contains 2 – 4 times more nutrients (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus) than the manure of other types of livestock. Due to such high concentrations, this has disastrous effects on water and soil quality. 5
chicken eggs

2. Fish

Fish is another food that is widely thought of as a clean health-food. Fish closely follows eggs as one of the dirtiest foods you can eat for both the environment and your health.

Fish

Health

Toxic Chemicals

Sadly, the oceans have essentially become humanity’s sewers. Everything eventually ends up in the ocean. This includes toxic chemicals such as pesticides, heavy metals, chemicals used to dye clothes, fertilizers and many other industrial chemicals. 6
This means that all seafood contains high levels of these toxic chemicals and pollutants, all of which are absorbed by the human body after eating fish. These chemicals can cause and speed up diseases such as cancer and diabetes and lead to heavy metal poisoning.6

Brain Function

Many people believe fish to be the best source of omega 3 for brain function. However, studies have shown that omega 3 from fish actually impairs brain function, cognitive abilities, motor function, concentration and memory. 7

To protect brain function, look to plant-based sources of omega 3 such as chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds.

brain function

Diabetes

Recent studies have shown that one serving of fish per day increases your risk of diabetes by 35%. 8

Cancer

A study of about 30,000 Californians found that those who ate chicken or fish once or more a week tripled their risk of developing colon cancer. 9

Environment

Fishing

By-Catch

For every 1 pound of the target species caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-catch. As much as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded, and as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels. 10

Bio-Diversity Loss

Fish populations are dwindling and the lack of biodiversity caused by overfishing, along with the contamination caused by aqua-farms, could have disastrous results to human life. Experts predict fishless oceans by the year 2048. This is important because the ocean plays a big part in regulating temperature and it also creates 50% of our oxygen on Earth. 11
Bycatch

Photo credit: Ocean Oculus

3. Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is very much thought of as a clean health-food that is good for weight loss, muscle gain and overall health. White meat is also generally thought of as a sustainable food choice. Studies show that the opposite is in fact true for all of the above.

Chicken Breast

Health

Cancer

A study that followed half a million people for 10 years found that eating just ¼ of a chicken breast (50g) daily, increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 72%. 12
A study of about 30,000 Californians found that those who ate chicken or fish once or more a week tripled their risk of developing colon cancer. 9
Another study found that men who ate chicken and turkey had up to four times the risk of prostate cancer progression. 12
weight gain

Weight Gain

Poultry may also be one of the most fattening meats you can eat. Those eating even one ounce of chicken a day (think two chicken nuggets) had a significantly greater gain in body mass index over a 14-year period than those who consumed no chicken at all. Chickens have been genetically manipulated through selective breeding to now contain two to three times more calories from fat than from protein. Even skinless chicken may have more fat, and more artery-clogging saturated fat, than a dozen different cuts of steak.12

Contamination

A 2014 issue of Consumer Reports published that 97% of chicken breasts found in retail stores were contaminated with bacteria that could make people sick, and 38 percent of the Salmonella found was resistant to multiple antibiotics. And, according to a survey by the FDA, about 90 percent of retail chicken showed evidence of contamination with fecal matter (poop!). 12

Environment

Resource Depletion

There are now 3 times the amount of chickens alive on earth than humans. If you consider the amount of water, land (deforestation) and emissions used to grow the food that is needed to keep these chickens alive until they are killed, it’s easy to see why chicken is so damaging to our environment. 13
Chicken Farm

Photo Credit: The Guardian

If every American dropped one serving of chicken per week from their diet, it would save the same amount of CO2 emissions as taking 500,000 cars off the road. 
14
The annual American appetite for chicken produces 129 billion lb. CO2e emissions per year—the same amount as from 12.37 million cars. 15

Manure Emissions & Water Contamination

Chicken manure released nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is even more potent than methane and has 298 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 100-year period. 5
Chicken manure is especially degrading to waterways because it contains 2 – 4 times more nutrients (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus) than the manure of other types of livestock. This has disastrous effects on water and soil quality due to such high concentrations.5

4. Whey Protein Shakes

Many people consume protein shakes as a weight loss or muscle gaining food. Whey protein powder is the most popular protein powder and is widely regarded as a healthy, clean food. This couldn’t be further from the truth…

Protein Shake

Health

Risk Of Disease

The world has been obsessed with protein over the past hundred years. But people are far more likely to suffer from protein excess than protein deficiency. In fact, a long term high-protein diet can cause increased risk of cancer, bone and calcium balance disorder, disorders of liver function, disorders of kidney function and worsening of coronary artery disease. 16

With many single serves of protein powder containing a large portion of your protein requirements for the entire day, you should steer clear of these protein dense foods to avoid potential disease risks.

Toxic Chemicals

Protein powders contain chemicals such as heavy metals that are toxic to the human body. 8 out of 10 American protein powders contain such a high level of lead and other heavy metals that in the state of California, they would legally require to carry a warning stating that they contain toxic substances. 17

Skin

Protein powders are known to cause acne and skin problems. Whey protein and protein powder derived from dairy specifically, have been shown to cause or worsen acne. This is due to a naturally occurring hormone found in dairy called IGF1. IGF1 is a natural growth hormone intended for baby cows to make them grow rapidly when drinking their mothers milk. IGF1 produces excess oils on your skin, tells your skin cells to multiply too fast and sticks dead skin cells together inside your pores. Not good news for your skin! 18
Acne

Environment

Footprint

Dairy comes with a huge environmental footprint. The dairy cows themselves produce a huge amount of methane (which is 84 x more potent than carbon dioxide20) in their lifetime as a dairy cow. Additionally, the amount of land, water and carbon emissions needed to feed the cows is huge.
Approximately 10 x more land, 20 x more water is needed and 3 x more carbon emissions are released per litre of dairy milk compared to plant-based milks. 19

5. Yogurt & Other Dairy Products

Dairy products such as yogurt are widely thought of as a ‘clean’ foods that many people eat for weight loss. The only problem is, dairy actually aids weight gain, wreaks havoc with your skin, shortens your life and is contaminated with a bunch of nasty things and are bad for your health and the environment.

Yogurt

Health

Skin

Studies show significantly higher cases of acne in milk drinkers21. This is due to a naturally occurring hormone found in dairy called IGF1. IGF1 is a natural growth hormone intended for baby cows to make them grow rapidly when drinking their mothers milk. IGF1 produces excess oils on your skin, tells your skin cells to multiply too fast and sticks dead skin cells together inside your pores. 18 Not good news for your skin!

Weight Gain

Dairy is specifically designed to increase body weight. Dairy milk is designed by nature to enable a newborn calf to gain about 1kg of body weight per day and grow into a big, strong 700-1,100kg cow in 18 months or less. This is thanks to the natural hormones found in dairy including IGF1 and estrone which promote an increase in body weight.

Osteoporosis

Dairy has been marketed as a health product that is good for bone health because of its high calcium content. But what many people don’t know is that dairy can actually be damaging to your bones. 

Researchers following more than 100,000 men and women in Sweden for about 20 years found significantly higher rates of bone and hip fractures in women who drank more milk.22
Bones Health Cancer

Cancer

Dairy naturally contains female hormones. These hormones are naturally occurring so are found in all milks including organic dairy. These hormones have been proven to increase your risk of developing cancer 23 and have been proven to worsen the progression of cancer. One of these naturally occurring hormones is IGF1. IGF1 is a growth hormone that is intended to rapidly turn a small calf into a fully grown cow (a calf grows 40 times faster than a human baby in its first year of life). This hormone has the same effect on our bodies, speeding up cell multiplication leading to tumour growth and cancer. 23

Early Death

Research shows that the consumption of dairy also significantly increases your risk of heart disease, cancer, and premature death in general. Three glasses a day is associated with nearly twice the risk of dying early. 24

Pus, Blood And … Poop!

Because of the continuous pregnancies and excessive milking, many dairy cows suffer from mastitis. As well as being painful for the cows, this means there is blood and pus in their milk. In the US the FDA allows 750 million pus cells in every litre of milk. In Europe, regulators allow 400 million pus cells per litre. In Australia there is no limit on how much pus is allowable. It is also legally ok for milk to contain a certain amount of faecal matter. Yep, that’s right. Milk is legally allowed to contain poop, pus and blood. 25

Environment

Footprint

Dairy comes with a huge environmental footprint. The dairy cows themselves produce a huge amount of methane (which is 84 x more potent than carbon dioxide 20) in their lifetime as a dairy cow. Additionally, the amount of land, water and carbon emissions needed to feed the cows is huge.
Approximately 10 x more land and 20 x more water is needed and 3 x more carbon emissions are released per litre of dairy milk compared to plant-based milks. 19
amazon Deforestation

Image Credit: New York Times

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Sources –
1 https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/eggs/
2 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/who-says-eggs-arent-healthy-or-safe/
3 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/foster-farms-responds-to-chicken-salmonella-outbreaks/
4 https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/salmonella/
5https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/takeextinctionoffyourplate/pdfs/ChickenFactsheet.pdf
6 https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fish/
7 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/fish-brain-food-older-adults/
8 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/fish-and-diabetes/
9 https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/chicken/
10 https://oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/Bycatch_Report_FINAL.pdf
11 https://animalequality.org/blog/2019/09/30/fishing-industry-destroying-environment/
12 https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/chicken/
13 https://www.statista.com/statistics/263962
14 https://inhabitat.com/veganism-and-the-environment-infographic-shows-the-environmental-impact-of-raising-animals-for-food/
15 https://www.takeextinctionoffyourplate.com/extinction_facts/pdfs/ChickenFactsheet.pdf
16 https://nutritionfacts.org/2019/04/11/changing-protein-requirements/
17 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/heavy-metals-in-protein-powder-supplements/
18 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900340/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5350548/
19 https://theconversation.com/which-milk-is-best-for-the-environment-we-compared-dairy-nut-soy-hemp-and-grain-milks-147660
20 https://www.unece.org/energywelcome/areas-of-work/methane-management/the-challenge/Methane%20is%20a%20powerful%20greenhouses,are%20due%20to%20human%20activities.
21 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dairy-acne-2/
22 https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/
23 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dairy-and-cancer/
24 https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/
25 https://www.alv.org.au/cow-truth/17-reasons-to-wean-yourself-from-milk-today/#:~:text=That’s%20not%20all%20you%20have,in%20every%20litre%20of%20milk.
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