COFFEEThe popular beverage raises blood pressure and places a strain on your adrenal glands, which can leave you feeling anxious and restless, warns nutritionist Dr Gillian McKeith in her book You Are What You Eat (Penguin, $29.95). She adds, “All coffee – even decaf – can stimulate skin ageing. It also reduces the absorption of iron and zinc by up to 50 per cent, which can compromise your immune system.”
FIX IT: Try dandelion tea – it’s energising yet caffeine-free.
RED MEATYou don’t need to go vegetarian just yet, but studies have linked red meat to macular degeneration and bowel cancer. Now Harvard University researchers claim that eating 100 grams of unprocessed red meat daily (a portion about the size of a deck of cards) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly 20 per cent; while 50 grams of processed red meat daily – think one sausage, or two pieces of bacon – boosts the risk by 50 per cent.
FIX IT: Avoid processed meats, stick to chicken, turkey and fish, and try a few meat-free meals a week.
UNSOAKED BEANSThey’re packed with protein, anti-oxidants and fibre, but stress the digestive system. “This is because the enzymes needed to digest beans are in the large intestine and the by-product is gas,” explains Natalie Kringoudis, a Chinese Medicine practitioner. Even pre-cooked, canned varieties can bloat sensitive stomachs.
FIX IT: “Soak beans in water before cooking or add vinegar and herbs, like coriander, anise or cumin, to canned bean dishes,” she says.
CHILLIES"Spices contain volatile oils, which are capable of physically irritating the lining of the stomach,” points out Dr McKeith. “A very hot chilli or curry dish that contains a blend of pungent spices can literally bore a hole in the stomach lining.”
FIX IT: Use milder spices, like paprika and cumin, instead, or eat yoghurt with chilli dishes to soothe a burning tongue and stomach, advises Kringoudis.
COW'S MILKDon’t cry over spilt milk – it contains the protein casein, which is hard for humans to digest, explains Dr McKeith. “This is why cow’s milk can trigger allergic responses, such as asthma, earache, runny nose, skin rash, lethargy and irritability.”
FIX IT: Boil milk first to break down the indigestible molecules, says Dr McKeith, or choose goat’s milk, oat, almond or rice varieties, or calcium-fortified soy instead.