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Diets Focused on Food Sensitivities

We saw gluten-free diets explode this past year, and the trend will continue as new programs pop up aimed at avoiding food sensitivities. In addition to gluten, look for soy, dairy and healthy sugars to be on the food sensitivity list, says J.J. Virgin, a certified nutrition specialist and author of "The Virgin Diet."

Why scratch these from your diet? Soy is a ubiquitous food that's been incorrectly labeled as healthy, though it made into everything from soy dogs to soy ice cream. In reality, soy is a highly reactive food (meaning it can cause sensitive or allergic reactions) that's been linked to several cancers, thyroid issues and is a high-pesticide, genetically modified organism (GMO) food, says Virgin. “Asian cultures typically use fermented soy like miso or tempeh, which can be healthy in small amounts if you don't react to soy, but the processed soy stuff is just junk food in disguise.” And Virgin isn’t crazy about dairy, either. “Dairy is another highly reactive food that could create inflammation and may trigger several skin problems like acne and rosacea, and I am happily seeing more dairy alternatives in the supermarket these days, such as coconut milk and almond milk,” she says.

It’s also time to get rid of the trend of using so-called healthy alternative sweeteners, says Virgin. “People are using a lot of honey, agave and that sort of thing, not aware that these things still break down to sugar in your body. Agave is the worst. It is up to 97 percent fructose, which can create liver problems and inflammation. Excess sugar becomes triglycerides in the liver, which stores as fat,” explains Virgin. She recommends using monk fruit, a new kind of no-calorie sweetener made from actual monk fruit, xylitol, erythritol or stevia as sweeteners instead.

(CREDIT: John Carey/Photolibrary/Getty Images)
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