A doctor has revealed five foods that are not as healthy as we all think (and why) – including the fruits that should be ‘treated as a dessert’.
Dr Mijin Brown, who posts on TikTok under the username Dr Midge, shared a video about the foods she thinks we should all avoid, ‘at least from an insulin resistance perspective’.
The video, which has attracted more than 26,000 views on the app, is captioned: ‘Healthy alternatives to five “healthy” foods’ – and it’s definitely surprising.
‘I’m not arguing that these foods don’t have nutrients and vitamins – and that’s important – but must be weighed against how they impact our hormones, most importantly, our insulin,’ she says at the start of the video.
‘If we are eating foods that increase our glucose, and therefore our insulin, and then eating them frequently throughout the day we are setting ourselves up for insulin resistance.’
Dr Midge describes insulin resistance as a ‘silent epidemic that is the root cause of most of our lifestyle-related diseases’. In a graphic that she displays on the screen, we see her point out lots of different conditions, like heart disease, cancer, fatty liver, PCOS, erectile dysfunction, dementia, migraines, body fat and diabetes.
Eating foods that have a high glycemic index can cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, triggering the pancreas to release more insulin and then levels quickly fall, leading to overeating and cravings.
If this cycle repeats very often it can lead to insulin resistance, which is when cells in your muscles, fat and liver do not respond well to insulin and are unable to easily take up glucose from your blood.
Because of this, the pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. But when blood sugar levels become too high, this can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes.
Before she gets into it, Dr Midge says she’s shared the video not to stop us eating these foods entirely, but just to help people be more mindful of them.
What is type 2 diabetes?
According to the NHS, type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of glucose in the blood to become too high.
It can cause symptoms such as excessive thirst, needing to pee a lot and tiredness. It can also increase the risk of getting serious problems with your eyes, heart and nerves.
The first food on Dr Midge’s hit list is fruit juice.
‘This one is obvious,’ she claimed.
‘Did you know that some fruit juices have as much sugar as a can of soda? Even the unsweetened variety can have as much as 26g of carbohydrates, which is about six teaspoons of sugar. All this, with very little fibre.’
And up next is fruit. Yes, really.
Although she said we’re better off eating an apple or an orange as opposed to drinking apple juice or orange juice, some fruits are healthier and less sugary than others.
‘Fruit today, even veggies today, are nothing like they were a long time ago in nature,’ she said.
‘Most were small, fibrous and not too sweet. But fruit today is crazy. They’ve been engineered to be bigger, sweeter and less fibrous, all of which impact our blood sugar levels.’
The sweet and delicious varieties like mangoes, pineapples, bananas and grapes are very high in sugar. It’s better to opt for fruit with lots of fibre, as it takes the body longer to digest them – which means a slow release of sugar and prevents blood sugar spiking. Strawberries, blackberries, grapefruits, avocados, and oranges are a few examples.
Number three is an ultimate favourite among the coffee drinkers in particular, and it could change the way you order your next iced latte.
She added: ‘Number three, oat milk. One cup of oat milk has 15g of carbohydrates, and we’re not talking about the ones with added sugar.
‘Not to mention that many of the store-bought brands are made with preservatives, thickeners and emulsifiers, none of which is good for our gut health or our overall health.’
Number four goes hand-in-hand with oat milk and is ‘another controversial one that’s routinely recommended to diabetics as a healthy option,’ Dr Midge tells her followers.
In case you haven’t guessed already, it’s porridge – or oatmeal as they call it in the US.
‘One of the reasons they probably recommend it is as a source of fibre. One cup of oatmeal has about eight grams of fibre but 62 grams of carbohydrates,’ Dr Brown said. ‘It’s not worth it, guys.’
Dr Midge recommends coarse oatmeal rather than the instant variety.
Plain oatmeal is nutritionally rich and oats contain beta-glucan, a soluble fibre which helps promote the regular emptying of our bowels.
The fifth and final food on the list is rice cakes.
‘I think the “calories in, calories out” enthusiasts love this one because two rice cakes only have 70 calories, but they also have 14 grams of carbohydrates and not much fibre at all,’ she said.
‘The only way you’ll be satisfied with eating two of these is to eat more,’ she said.
‘Another way to eat these would be to add something to it like avocados or nut butter to add either more fat or protein and some more fibre. This should lessen the glycemic impact.’
Our packed lunches will probably look a lot different from now on!
The list doesn’t end there. Here are more foods you think are super duper healthy that we should all keep an eye on:
As much as we love the crunch of granola especially with yoghurt, Daniel Herman, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), SAQ Coach and founder of Bio-Synergy.uk tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Most big brand granolas often contain added sugars and calories and like with cereal, where 30g portions are recommended, most of us tend to over-serve, leading to excess calories.’
As we now know, just because it’s fruit it doesn’t mean it’s not high in sugar.
Daniel said: ‘Drying fruits concentrates their natural sugars, making it easy to consume a large number of calories and sugar in a small serving and some dried fruits also have added sugars.’
They seem so handy, but are they healthy?
‘Many readymade salads have creamy dressings, croutons, and excessive amounts of cheese which can turn a seemingly healthy salad into a high-calorie, high-fat meal,’ Daniel explained.
Hannah Alderson, a BANT (British Association For Nutrition And Lifestyle Medicine) registered Nutritionist, told Metro this wrinkly fruits should also be on your radar because of their glucose levels. ‘Famed at helping with digestion and getting things moving – prunes are in fact rocket fuel for your blood glucose levels so best avoided,’ she said.
‘If you’re looking to support the gut with more fibre and getting things moving look at kiwis! best enjoyed with the skin on, will do the trick nicely.’
Diet fizzy drinks
If you’re looking for a drink to tingle your taste buds but you’re concerned about calories, you’re better off reaching for a glass of carbonated water than a diet fizzy drink.
‘You may think you are making the better choice, as you are avoiding sugar, but the sweetener most commonly used, aspartame, can be doing more harm than good when it comes to your gut.
‘We call these nonnutritive sweeteners (NNSs) and in studies what is being concluded is that they can negatively impact and alter your gut microbiome by altering the composition of the intestinal microbiota.’
Low fat flavoured yoghurt
Yoghurt is great for your gut health, right? Well not all yoghurts will give you the health benefits you need.
Hannah said: ‘There are a lot of ultra processed yoghurts on the market which lead you to believe you are making a healthier choice when you are not.
‘Stripped of live bacteria and healthy fats, you’ll often see sweeteners added too, which can be harmful for your gut. Go for full fat live natural yoghurt instead – the only ingredient should be yoghurt!’
White wine vinegar
Don’t confuse white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar, folks. ‘Although vinegar is fermented, white wine vinegar does not have probiotic properties of its close relative, apple cider.
‘There are many incredible health benefits for white wine but for actual gut health, white wine vinegar is not the best vinegar of choice.
‘The molecule in vinegar that is so great for blood sugar regulation, acetic acid (highest in white wine vinegar), can act as a disinfectant that can destroy some bacteria in the gut.
‘So, be careful to dilute your vinegar to avoid any potential damage to the oesophagus and if you’re having it to boost gut health, opt for raw apple cider vinegar not white wine vinegar’.
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