Avoiding unhealthy foods seems like a pretty simple endeavor. Don’t eat ice cream for breakfast and snack on cookies and crisps all day and you’ll be fine, right? Well, that may not be the case. As demand for quick, easy and tasty food increases so does the lengths we go to produce said foods and they very rarely contain all the nutrients our bodies need.

Here we have four foods you should avoid at all costs in order to maintain a healthy body and nutritious diet:

Refined Sugars

These days, refined sugars are in almost everything we consume. They’re in soda, juice, cake, ketchup, cereal: pretty much everything. However, what the labels don’t tell you is that refined sugar can be incredibly toxic to the human body.

Sugar found in many of our meals has gone through a process that almost completely obliterates any nutrients or vitamins called refining. Whilst they themselves are devoid of nutrients, they can actually drain our bodies of vitamins and minerals due to their demanding digestion processes. Put simply: refined sugars are empty calories that drain us of all things nutritious.

Consuming refined sugar can lead to rises in blood sugar, which contributes to chronic health conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Studies have also shown that large amounts of refined sugar can lead to impaired cognitive function. So instead try to stick to natural sugars!

Synthetic Dyes

Synthetic or artificial dyes – also known as food colouring, tartazine and FD&C Red No. 40 – can be found in numerous foods from macaroni and cheese to lemonade. Despite the fact many have been banned, food colourings still exist in thousands of products we consume daily. It’s estimated that a massive 15 million pounds of food dye circulates annually in the USA. However, here in the UK any food that contains food dye must have a warning printed on the packaging. Why? Because synthetic food dyes are actually made from petroleum.

Synthetic dyes are incredibly detrimental to our bodies and have been linked to long-term health problems such as cancer, and to causing hyperactivity and ADHD in children.

Factory-Farmed Meat

Crowded, confined and cruel factory farms are notorious for feeding animals unnatural diets and unnecessary antibiotics. When our meat is reared in unhealthy conditions, fed corn instead of their natural diets and given synthetic hormones so they produce more meat quicker, we are risking bad health.

Factory farmed animals are significantly less nutritious than local or free-range alternative, not to mention being incredibly bad for the environment.

If you can, try to pick free-range products (including eggs) and visit local farmers and butchers!

Diet Foods

Despite their promise of keeping you thin, ‘fat-free’ and ‘low-fat’ foods are often more bad for you than their full-fat counterparts.

In order to be low fat or fat free, manufacturers must take out all the fat and replace it with sugars – which we established above are incredibly bad and unhealthy.

Our bodies need fats in order to stay healthy, we do not need toxic refined sugars or chemicals that we haven’t seen the long-term effects of yet. So stick to full fat!