7 “Healthy” Habits that are Killing You Slowly



We’ve been fed contradicting information on what “experts” say we should and shouldn’t do for decades. One day coffee is good for you, the next day it will kill you. Some say CrossFit is the greatest thing since protein powder and others swear it’s more dangerous than swimming in a pool of great white sharks.

The list goes on and on.

But there are some things that have generally been viewed as healthy and safe for far too long (when they’re really anything but). And it’s time for these lies to be exposed — once and for all.

Stay Away From These 7 Things:

  1. Soy. Every time I see an otherwise health-conscious person order a soy latte or tofu salad, I cringe. Here’s why.

    • Soy contains more phytoestrogens than just about anything. Phytoestrogens are plant-based substances that latch onto the receptor sites of our cells meant for estrogen. Consuming them can contribute to hypothyroidism, early onset puberty, breast cancer, testicular cancer, and male fertility issues.
    • The high levels of phytic acid in soy make it extremely difficult for the body to absorb adequate levels of zinc, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and other important minerals.
    • 93% of soy produced in the United States is genetically modified.

  2. Fluoride. I’ve used fluoridated toothpaste for my whole life (up until a few months ago). I’ve drank fluoridated water for most of my life. I even got regular Fluoride treatments from the dentist as a kid.

    You can imagine the shock and horror that I experienced after finding out that Fluoride is a toxic chemical that has been linked to a lower IQ, impaired thyroid function, bone cancer, and many more serious health conditions. And it’s not even good for your teeth. In a major study done by the National Institute of Dental Research, no difference was found in the dental health of children living in areas with fluoridated vs. unfluoridated water.

    Think it’s a bunch of hog wash? Harvard doesn’t. And neither does the National Research Council. According to Dr. Ludgwig Grosse, Chief of Cancer Research at the U.S. Veterans Administration,

    The plain fact that fluorine is an insidious poison — harmful, toxic and cumulative in its effects, even when ingested in minimal amounts, will remain unchanged no matter how many times it will be repeated in print that fluoridation of the water supply is ‘safe.’

    Still not convinced? Read this. Or watch this.

  3. Vegetable Oil. Often praised for its low levels of “artery clogging” saturated fat and high levels of “healthy” polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, vegetable oil is in reality one of the most processed, toxic foods on the market.

    The process that vegetable oil goes through in order to even be considered edible is nothing short of ridonkulous. Unlike coconut oil or butter which can be extracted through natural pressing or separation, vegetable oil must be chemically removed, bleached, deodorized, and more before being put into your salad dressing, sauce, or condiment. The chart below shows the lengthy process in greater detail:


    Vegetable oil and other highly processed oils (canola oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, etc.) can be extremely damaging, especially when used in place of the healthy saturated fats that our bodies need and crave.

    These oils have a disproportionately large amount of omega-6 fats relative to their low omega-3 content (safflower oil is 75% omega-6 and 0% omega-3). As a result, omega-6 fats are used almost exclusively for cell repair and hormone production (the desired ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the body is 1:1). This creates an inflammatory response that leads to an increased risk of developing diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and many more.

  4. Sunscreen. Conventional sunscreen contains dangerous chemicals that disrupt hormone balance, cause allergic reactions, and contribute to a slew of additional complications. One chemical commonly used in sunscreen, Retinyl Palmitate, is known to cause reproductive toxicity and increase the growth rate of skin tumors.

    On top of all of that, sunscreen does little to nothing to protect us from the sun. It shields us from UVB rays that cause us to burn and also provide Vitamin D, but offers very little protection from the UVA rays that cause the more serious, lasting damage to our skin at a DNA level. Read more about the harmful effects of conventional sunscreen (and what to use instead) here.

  5. Low fat/fat free Products. Dietitians, personal trainers, and other “health experts” have been singing the praises of “low fat,” “fat free,” “reduced fat,” and “light” foods for years. But let’s get one thing straight — healthy fats aren’t bad for you. They won’t make you fat and they won’t make you sick. And there’s no reason to remove them from foods they’re meant to be in — other than for the companies who produce them to make big bucks at the expense of your health.

    “Fat free” or “low fat” labels are simply a way for marketers to make their product seem more appealing and healthy to the naive consumer. Foods that brag of such labels are often highly processed and are labeled as “fat free” as an attempt to make up for the massive amounts of sugar and artificial ingredients that they contain.

    Don’t fall victim to this marketing ploy. And never use these labels as excuses to eat “foods” that by every other standard would not be considered healthy!

  6. Antibacterial soap. This subject has recently gotten a surprising amount of attention from the mainstream media, with good reason. Here’s a few points that may cause you to reconsider your soap of choice:

    Bottom line? Your body knows what it’s doing. It’s already equipped with all sorts of good bacteria that constantly work to fight infections and disease. By overusing antibacterial products, we get rid of the good stuff along with the bad stuff, preventing our bodies from fighting off anything on their own. And when something really bad comes along that necessitates the use of antibiotics, our resistant bacteria renders the antibiotic useless — not good.

  7. Grains. These highly genetically modified foods wreak all sorts of havoc on our bodies. In short, they’re addictive, highly inflammatory, and they make us sick and fat — don’t eat them! According to Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly,

    Documented peculiar effects of wheat on humans include appetite stimulation, exposure to brain-active exorphins (the counterpart of internally derived endorphins), exaggerated blood sugar surges that trigger cycles of satiety alternating with heightened appetite, the process of glycation that underlies disease and aging, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses. A complex range of diseases results from consumption of wheat, from celiac disease—the devastating intestinal disease that develops from exposure to wheat gluten—to an assortment of neurological disorders, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, curious rashes, and the paralyzing delusions of schizophrenia.

    Want more information before swearing off bread and pasta for good? Read Wheat Belly. Or Grain Brain.

Okay, I get it — these things are bad. Now what?

Maybe some or all of this is new information to you — maybe it isn’t. That’s irrelevant. What matters is where we go from here and how we use this information to shape the decisions we make every day.

Always question what “they” say is good for you. Heck, question what I say is good for you too! This is your life, your body, and your health. And ultimately, you are the one who decides what’s best for yourself and your family. But every one of us can benefit from making these choices based on research and careful consideration (instead of just doing as we’re told).

Can you think of any other “healthy” habits that are really anything but healthy? Tell me about them!

Want more info on any of the points listed above? Let me know by commenting below — I’ll write a blog post on whichever subject gets the most interest!


    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hey Kim! I’m with you 100% on the grains! That was the easiest non-paleo food for me to give up because the difference in how I felt after not eating them was night and day!!

      About the sunscreen, I feel ya. I was mostly referring to the conventional sunscreens filled with all kinds of junk. I checked out the Arbonne stuff but couldn’t find the ingredient list. I like Badger sunscreen (link below) for times when I’ll be in the sun for awhile. It has very few ingredients with non-nano zinc oxide as the main one.


  1. laura fletcher says

    Wow! Ok, so for the soy, even the non gmo, locally made tofu is still bad, right? Also, even whole grains like farro or spelt are bad? What about gluten free grains like amaranth or buckwheat? I love this blog so much, so informative, I look forward to each new post! Keep up the great work!

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hey Laura! Thanks so much for being a fan – I’m really glad and grateful that you’re enjoying the blog so much!

      In regards to the local, GMO-free tofu, I would still avoid it. Non-GMO is great, but the phytoestrogens and phytic acid will still be present even in soy products that haven’t been genetically modified.

      As for the grain question, I do think that the vast majority of the population should steer clear of them completely. But if your body can tolerate properly prepared gluten free or ancient grains, I wouldn’t want to stop you from eating them! :)

      • Lynn says

        From what I’ve read about soy is, it’s ok to eat if it’s been fermented, such as miso and natto.

      • Clint says

        Fermented soy is ok, fermented soy includes miso, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh. Soy milk is not, any soy, organic or not, if not fermented, avoid it.

        • Bethany McDaniel says

          Lynn and Clint – thank you for pointing this out! It’s true that properly fermented soy is OK to consume in moderation! :)

      • Myra says

        Hi Bethany, love, love your mind of information thank you. When you say stay away from grains does that include porridge oats?. .

        • Bethany McDaniel says

          Hi Myra! So glad you are enjoying the blog :) Thanks so much for reading! Oats, like other grains, can cause problems for many people (one of the major ones being that they cause blood sugar to skyrocket). In addition, they don’t contain any nutrients that can’t be found in meat or vegetables. But if you really don’t want to give up your oats and don’t experience any negative side effects from them, opt for a gluten-free variety. The post below by Mark Sisson tackles the oat dilemma in greater detail:


  2. monya says

    great article! 100% agreed, though i have a hard time ditching sunscreen on my face. will check out the links noted above, as i would love an alternative that won’t leave a white film on my face.

    this kinda goes with #5, but i cringe when someone orders “egg white-anything”, followed with “um…because it’s healthy?” or “yolks have a lot of cholesterol?”. eat the whole egg – it’s good for you!

    • laura fletcher says

      Ohh yes I also cringe with eggwhite only orders. I was taught in culinary school that you cant get the nutrients without eating both white and yolk! And still, people would rather eat whites only :( sad

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Thanks Monya! Unfortunately, the sunscreens that leave a pasty white film on the skin are really your best bet. The filmy residue that non-nano Zinc oxide leaves behind is actually a good thing because it means that the large, non-nano particles are staying on your skin and protecting you from the sun’s UVB and UVA rays instead of seeping into your bloodstream like the smaller particles in conventional sunscreens do. I don’t think there is any way to get around it if you want to protect yourself the right way! :(

      And you are SO RIGHT about the egg white thing! Have you heard of the book, “Eat the Yolks” !? I have been dying to read it!

  3. Matt Armistead says

    Hey Bethany,

    I think everyone has to find out what works or does not work for them – sweeping statements are never correct. For example, the no grains statement. It works great for you and Kim, right? Great! Not for me. I think you would be hard pressed to find adverse affects; I have energy, have gained 20lbs of muscle doing CrossFit (eating grains practically every meal), and no gut, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or curious rashes to speak of. Maybe it is my ancestry…who knows? Everyone needs to work at finding out how to best eat, you can’t passively approach what others say and implement.

    After seeing what my sun-worshiping dad is going through now, I think I will trade toxins for some sun protection. Maybe Arbonne?

    Take care, you are awesome.


    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hey Matt! Thanks for reading the post! :)

      I definitely agree that it is up to each person to decide what is best for him or herself. Like I said in the third to last paragraph, “Always question what “they” say is good for you. Heck, question what I say is good for you too! This is your life, your body, and your health. And ultimately, you are the one who decides what’s best for yourself and your family. ”

      As for the grain thing, it’s great that you are able to tolerate them so well. Most people can’t. Although I don’t believe that anyone can benefit from consuming the science experiment that is modern wheat, I would never demand that you stop eating it. I am only posting information on what I believe to be true.

      In regards to sun exposure, I would never advocate that anyone practice any sort of senseless sun worshiping. The sun can be damaging. There’s no getting around that. But I also think that it’s important for people to know that (in addition to its toxic chemicals) sunscreen does very little to protect us from the sun’s cancer-causing UVA rays. As I wrote in a previous post,

      “Sunscreen provides us with a false sense of protection by blocking UVB rays (sparing us the temporary discomfort of sunburns) while letting UVA rays penetrate deep into our skin to do the more serious, lasting damage.”

      Conventional sunscreens are truly NOT SAFE to use, especially for those who have fair skin and are sensitive to the sun. The best way to protect against sun damage is to cover up, find shade, or use a simple sunscreen with non-nano Zinc oxide as the main active ingredient. Non-nano Zinc oxide is made of larger particles that effectively protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The larger particles of non-nano Zinc leave a white pasty film on the skin – which is why most conventional sunscreens use micronized Zinc oxide.

      Thanks again for reading…see you soon!


    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Kevin, just read through the abstract – super interesting! This is the first I’ve heard of this concept. I plan to read through the whole thing as soon as I have the time. Thanks for sharing! And great idea about the cleaners – I’ll tackle that soon!

  4. Michelle says

    Hi Bethany. Love your blog! Keep all of the great information coming. Thanks for exposing the soy and sunscreen scam.

  5. Jessica says

    I appreciate the concepts, but nobody is going to give up grains. They are a necessary part of eating, the largest food group is grains.
    And when you said sunscreen does not protect from UVA rays, you did not list an alternative to avoiding UVA rays, and you did not suggest that sunscreen intensifies them, so nothing can be done about it. The tumor part, yes, valid. But going unprotected could do just as much damage, sometimes even more.

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hey Jessica, thanks so much for reading!

      I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you on the grain comment. Many people have given them up entirely and experienced extraordinary results from doing so. And if you are referring to grains being the largest food group of the food pyramid or my plate or whatever the latest USDA nutritional tool is, I’d like to point out that special interests are largely responsible for this.

      As for sunscreen section, I clearly linked to another post that contains more information on “what to use instead” of conventional sunscreen. Non-nano Zinc oxide sunscreen will effectively protect from both UVA and UVB rays. Badger Balm makes some great ones that work very well. Unfortunately, these sunscreens leave a white film on the skin, which is why most conventional sunscreens do not contain non-nano Zinc oxide particles. You can read up more on the issue by clicking on the post below:


      Again, thanks so much for reading. I meant no offense by the post and appreciate your comments!


    • says

      Great information. I grew up in Hialeah Florida drinking water with Fluoride in it. We were told it was good for your teeth. I drank this water from 1952 till 1964, about 12 years. Back then we never knew of its dangers.

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Agreed!! A few years ago I drank soy milk daily. Glad I know better now :) Thanks for reading!

  6. tom fahland says

    Seems overall like a fairly common sense list.
    I will respectfully state my opposition against GMO food though.
    There is ZERO shred of evidence that is it harmful at all (it has in fact done the world enormous good). And I got news for you, EVERY thing you eat is GMO, we have been manipulating plants for thousands of years, we are just becoming better at it now. There would be no single large fruit or vegetable without manipulating it. Now this is no way is a defense against companies like Monsanto, etc; that is a whole other issue. But study genetics some, the living world is constantly exchanging genes between organisms.

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hi Tom, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I completely respect your opinion and stance on GMO food. My biggest complaint with GMOs is that the majority of them are geared up to be resistant to herbicides. This has dramatically increased the use of herbicides on crops, which I am opposed to. I’m definitely biased and maybe even a bit naive, but I truly believe that there is a better way — to grow yourself or purchase from a local organic farm.

  7. Lynda Shumway says

    Very excellent post! Your research lines up with everything I have been trying to convince my children and grandchildren of for years. Once a week or so I do like to eat organic couscous, brown jasmine rice, oatmeal, or quinoa. What do you think about those grains? Also, I have found a toothpaste that mineralizes the teeth, repairs saliva, and heals the gums without fluoride or any other toxic chemicals, and has no sugar, artificial sweeteners or poison warning on the tube. This company makes a large product line of personal care and home care products without toxic chemicals. It’s great to use shampoo without sodium laurel sulfate and lipstick without lead.

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Thanks Lynda! I’m so glad you liked it. I’m in the same boat as you — except that I’ve been trying to convince my parents and grandparents! Haha :)

      I’m working on a more detailed post on grains that should be up by the end of the week, so definitely check back for that! And what brand of toothpaste have you been using?

  8. May Andrade says

    Hi Bethany! Excellent article. I’m so glad this information is getting out there! I also want to encourage folks to look into the roundup correlation with the adverse health and digestive issues of grains. Almost all studies I’ve read/seen regarding wheat, grains, gluten, celiac, etc etc have been performed with *conventional* wheat, which is poison from seed to finished product. I strongly believe CLEAN, traditionally prepared grains, in moderation have benefit. Traditional cultures have been eating grains this way for centuries with no issues. I believe the issues people have today are a result of modern, industrial poison, treatment and processing of otherwise healthy grains. I feed my family little grain, but when I do, it’s properly prepared and in small amounts (sourdough bread, soaked and sprouted grains). Oh, and it’s free of pesticides and processing!

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hi May, thanks so much for reading and commenting! I think there’s a lot of truth to your points about grains. I may have been a bit unfair to them in this post, but am currently working on a post that will explore the issue in greater depth. Check back for it towards the end of the week!

  9. Dawn says

    Great post! I especially love the flow chart showing the process for creating veg oil. I’d love to see it side-by-side with one showing the process for creating olive oil. That would tell a cool story.

  10. says

    The Veggie oil was new to me! I totally thought that was super healthy.
    Sometimes I like to buy pork fatback and render it down to make my own lard to cook with. What about that?

    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hey Travis!! Thanks for checking out the blog. Yeah — I’d take lard over veggie oil any day! So cool that you make your own! Looking forward to the wedding this summer :)

  11. says

    Hi Bethany,

    Read your info on Soy. Yes! I’ve been unable to eat Soy all my life. And Tofu, too, which I call ToadFood.

    Maggie is my guide (I’m her dad) and slowly, slowly, I am transitioning to grass-fed beef, plain and simple organic whole wheat bread (gluten isn’t a problem for me), organic brown rice and now I’m looking at other foods. I already eat a lot of fish and I’ve always eaten butter. A friend of mine once worked at a company which made margarine. He said it came out of a fire hose and was black. Then it got bleached and coloured. So much for that! Is organic virgin olive oil OK? That’s the only oil I eat. I loved your interview with Maggie. She’s something. A light in the sky of my being. Don’t know what I did to deserve her, but I’m just going to accept it. Such a good thing. The night of her accident broke me in ways I can’t describe.

    You both are doing fantastic work. Keep it up.


    • Bethany McDaniel says

      I loved reading this comment, Matt! Nice to e-meet you! Glad to hear you’re working on making the transition towards a more healthy diet. There’s nothing wrong with making baby steps :) For me, it took awhile to really get on track and learn what my body did and didn’t respond well too. And I’m still learning! I think the most important elements in making this sort of change are effort and awareness…results will always follow :) Can’t believe what your friend said about margarine! Well, I can, but still — gross!! EVOO is definitely OK to eat :) You’ll just want to be sure it’s from a reliable source, as many brands also contain soy and seed oils! I like Kasandrinos EVOO (you can find it listed in the “shop” link at the top of my blog).

      Maggie is truly incredible! It was such a delight to share her story :) Thanks for your support – really appreciate it!



  1. […] corn, but never soy. Soy in the United States are more genetically modified than any other crop and can cause big problems when digested by humans. The corn in our supplemental feed makes up a small percentage of our […]

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