There are foods that are bad for you, but there are also foods that make you ugly.
A lot of the foods that are bad for you have also made the cut for this article on foods that make you ugly, too.
However bad for your health and looks they may be, many of these foods that wreck your look are ubiquitous.
In recent weeks we’ve been examining the crucial role of nutrition in ensuring health and strength. The great Vince Gironda once famously said that bodybuilding ‘is 85% nutrition’ (see our articles on his diets here and here), but it’s still probably the case that the average person, even the average bodybuilder, underestimates just how important correct nutrition is. We have already discussed vegetable oil, soy and six superfoods you should be eating.
The role of nutrition is also central to our series on testosterone, to accompany our forthcoming book Reclaim Your Masculinity: foods that raise your testosterone, foods that lower it and the role of environmental chemicals (xenoestrogens) in the food chain that can upset your hormonal balance. Proper nutrition is also an essential part of joint care, especially the consumption of collagen-rich bone broth, and a difficult consideration when you want to get big but are on a tight budget. Here, in this article, we’ll discuss four foods and food types that are guaranteed to make you uglier. Avoid them at all costs!
The 4 Foods That Make You Ugly
Some of the foods that make you ugly on this list are surprisingly commonplace, yet devastating to your look.
1. Foods That Make You Ugly: Processed Foods
If you eat processed foods, you’re basically just consuming pet food
In our article on vegetable oil, we posted a great quote from Dr Catherine Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition, about the ubiquity of vegetable oil and sugar in the processed foods that make you ugly that most Westerners consume on a daily basis.
‘Take a look at the back of a bag of dog or cat food, and here are the ingredients you’ll see: corn meal, soy meal, (occasionally) wheat, partially hydrogenated soy or corn or other vegetable oil, meat and protein meal, and a few synthetic vitamins. But guess what? The animal pushing the shopping cart is buying foods with the same list of ingredients for himself. The main differences between donuts, breads, and Cheerios are the quantities of hydrogenated oil and sugar.’ (Deep Nutrition, p.111)
If you really want to believe that eating the same food as the average cat or dog is good for you, that’s your choice, Fido. But the truth is, processed food is making the average Western pet and its owner extremely unwell.
What’s worse is that the process by which this happened involved fraud and trickery, at least as far as vegetable oil is concerned. Our article on vegetable oil discussed how saturated fat and animal products came to be demonised as unhealthy and replaced by ‘healthy’ vegetable oils as a dietary staple in the Western world, not through scientific advance but rather through the personal ambitions of an unqualified nutritionist called Ancel Keys.
Press ‘s’ to spit: Ancel Keys, the man responsible for the rise of
vegetable oil and the developed world’s health crisis
We discuss the science of saturated fats and unsaturated fats at length in that article, so we’ll stick to simply outlining what we now know about vegetable oil and how this is one of the foods that make you ugly.
In recent years, consumption of vegetable oils has been linked to:
- Inflammatory damage to the gut and microbiome, including leaky gut
- The transportation of toxins into the brain
- Damage to the arteries and blood vessels
- Immune system dysfunctions and nerve degeneration
- Damage to cell structure
- Damage to genetic material and increased rates of genetic mutation
In short, eating vegetable oil can make you extremely unhealthy, and even kill you – an ugly state of affairs. But let’s just look at one aspect of how vegetable oil makes you ugly: by promoting obesity.
One of the reasons why vegetable oil promotes obesity seems to be the high ratio of omega 6 it contains. In one study, three groups of mice were fed different kinds of fat. Two groups of mice were given different amounts of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that makes up a large percentage of soya, maize and sunflower oils. A third group was put on a diet with a high content of omega-6 that also contained a certain amount of marine omega-3. The results showed that the group given the diet with the most omega-6 ate more and gained considerably more weight than the group on the low-omega-6 diet. [R]
Foods That Make You Ugly: No prizes for guessing which mouse got the vegetable oil diet
Omega 6 is converted by the body into endocannabinoids, which are part of the signaling system involved in controlling appetite. The more of these endocannabinoids in the body, the more hungry we feel, meaning we eat more; crucially, we also store more of the food we eat in the form of fat.
So that’s vegetable oil, one of the principal components of processed food. Another is sugar, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup, and it too has a range of effects that will do nothing to improve your appearance and is one of the worst foods that make you ugly.
One of the most fundamental problems with high sugar consumption – and ultimately that means carbohydrates in general – is that it causes dysregulation of the body’s hormones, especially insulin, which is released to control blood sugar levels.
As a molecule, sugar is ‘sticky’ and this can lead to the body becoming resistant to insulin as sugar molecules bind to hormone receptors and essentially ‘jam’ them. (The technical name for the process is ‘glycation’. It’s ‘advanced glycation end products (AGEs)’ that turn floppy bread into stiff toast under the influence of heat.) Insulin resistance is the first stage on the way to full-blown diabetes, which has a host of related effects including weight gain and sexual problems. [R]
As well as disrupting hormonal function, with devastating effects such as obesity an impotence, sugar can also disrupt basic cellular functions, leading to advanced aging. Again, because of glycation, sugar can stiffen the collagen in your tendons, joints and skins, leading to arthritis and premature aging, including wrinkling, of the skin. [R] [R]
Highly recommended reading
If you’re interested in a detailed examination of the place of processed food in the current health crisis, including the central role of vegetable oil and sugar, we suggest reading Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan.
2. Foods That Make You Ugly: Soy
Three soyjaks in the wild
Be in no doubt: soy is bad for your testosterone levels if you’re a man, and having low testosterone will absolutely make you look and feel less attractive.
Testosterone is the master hormone of masculinity, and while it’s also important to women’s bodies and their health, it is increased levels of testosterone in the male body that are responsible for the host of traits that make men men, rather than women.
Body hair, muscle mass, bone density, strength, aggression, dominance and competitiveness – increases in all of these things are associated with increased testosterone in men.
While falling testosterone levels are a fact of life for all men as they age, especially after the age of 30, the natural reduction all men can expect to suffer pales in comparison with the society-wide collapse in testosterone levels that has occurred over the second half of the twentieth and the first quarter of the twenty-first century.
Men today have considerably less testosterone than men of the same age even a single generation ago.
A 2007 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed a significant reduction in the testosterone levels of men since the 1980s. A 60-year-old American man in 2004, for example, had 17% less testosterone than a 60-year-old American man in 1987.
These findings were corroborated in a study of Danish men, who displayed a two-digit decline between the 1920s and the 1960s.
The main symptoms of having low T include:
- Reduced libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fertility problems (inability to conceive)
- Inability to build muscle
Boys with low testosterone may develop slower, with little or no body hair, under-developed muscles and smaller penises; and men with low T will have difficulty building muscle, no matter how hard they try.
In extreme cases of low testosterone, usually referred to as hypogonadism, men may also develop breast tissue (gynecomastia) and osteoporosis (reduced bone density).
Hypogonadism has a variety of causes, which include:
- Certain genetic disorders
- Pituitary disorders, including pituitary tumours and injuries
- Inflammatory diseases
- Obesity and also rapid weight loss
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Steroid use
Obesity, in particular, is an increasingly common cause of hypogonadism.
Soy is what is known as a phytoestrogen, a plant product that mimics the effects of the female hormone estrogen in the human body. No wonder, then, that scientific research has shown that regular consumption of soy products like edamame, tofu, soy milk and miso may cause a drop in testosterone levels. For example, one study in 35 men found that drinking soy protein isolate for 54 days resulted in decreased testosterone levels. [R]
As well as lowering testosterone levels – and thus making it harder for you as man to build muscle, feel confident and just generally be a high-energy individual – soy consumption is also known to reduce male fertility.
‘There was an inverse association between soy food intake and sperm concentration that remained significant after accounting for age, abstinence time, body mass index, caffeine and alcohol intake and smoking. In the multivariate-adjusted analyses, men in the highest category of soy food intake had 41 million sperm/ml less than men who did not consume soy foods (95% confidence interval = -74, -8; P, trend = 0.02)… The inverse relation between soy food intake and sperm concentration was more pronounced in the high end of the distribution (90th and 75th percentile) and among overweight or obese men. Soy food and soy isoflavone intake were unrelated to sperm motility, sperm morphology or ejaculate volume.’ [R]
One soy isoflavone, daidzen, has been shown to reduce penis size in rats too. [R]
The plant sausage is trying to warn you!
So if you want to be less muscular, have less hair, be less confident and less fertile, have less energy and a smaller, less useful penis – choose soy!
3. Foods That Make You Ugly: Soft Foods
The effects of physical degeneration were shown by Price in a series of photos posing different generations and also siblings against one another. One side illustrates the effects of the native diet, the other those of the modern.
A diet of soft food will make you ugly? Really? Really.
In fact, this is one of the most well-established points in modern nutrition. In the 1930s, Dr Weston A. Price, in his landmark study Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, showed the devastating effects that the transition from their ancestral diets to the modern, Western diet, had on native populations, especially the introduction of grain consumption for the first time.
The shift away from chewier to softer foods qualifies the grainy Western diet to the list of ‘foods that make you ugly.’ We will also tackle one grain in our list of ‘foods that make you ugly’ later in this article.
Where the natives eating their traditional diets had strong and properly formed jaws, with evenly spaced teeth without decay, the younger generation, eating instead a more or less Western diet, had narrowed faces, poorly formed dental arches and crowded jaws full of crooked, decaying teeth.
An important part of the problem with these modern diets, Price recognised, is that they are just too soft. Whereas our ancestors would spend hours a day chewing their food – bone, cartilage and connective tissue, tough cuts of meat – as well as using their teeth and jaws for practical tasks, which might include leather-working and other forms of handicraft, we moderns essentially slurp our food — and, at that, foods that make you ugly on top of allowing our jaw muscles to atrophy.
As well as forgetting how to chew in the first place, many of our foods, especially soft grains, barely require any chewing at all. And even our modern meat preferences, for fillet over a tougher piece of flank steak say, predispose us to the least amount of chewing possible. As a result, the musculature of the jaw and face do not develop as fully as they should, leading to the various effects Price documented.
The incredible effects of choosing a tougher cut of steak instead of your favourite fillet
The risk of a very soft or even liquid diet is simple. If you use the muscles of the jaw for mastication little or not even AT ALL –as for instance if you choose the uber-convenient and uber-Reddit Soylent diet – then the muscles aren’t going to stick around.
In our ebooks we’ve been at pains to emphasise how metabolically expensive the maintenance of muscle tissue is. Your body will move to get rid of muscle it feels it doesn’t need, and so an essential part of the struggle to be muscular is to ‘convince’ your body it actually needs the extra muscle. You do this through the constant targeted application of increasing levels of stress and, just as importantly, proper nutrition and recovery.
Look at the founder of Soylent, Robert Rhinehart, if you want an illustration of the effects of an all-liquid diet on the structure of the face. On the left, at an early stage, we see that he is still recognisably possessed of a jaw; on the right, further down the line, months or even years into his all-liquid diet regime, we see his transition to chinless wonder proceeding at a pace. Soylent is a double-whammy for foods that make you ugly as your jaw muscles will wither while simultaneously consuming soy.
Rob Rhinehart, founder of soylent, before and after a life of only liquid food
If you want to have a jaw, you’re going to have to eat solid food and you’re going to have to chew it: it’s that simple. Further ways to improve your facial structure include mewing and chewing hard gum like mastic. We recommend Greco Gum to help undo the damage of ubiquitous foods that make you ugly.
4. Foods That Make You Ugly: Wheat (Gluten)
The wheat field science in Gladiator (2000) is inaccurate, because modern dwarf wheat varieties were used. In Roman times, the wheat would actually have been as tall as Maximus himself or even taller
Now this is an interesting one. Within the last two years, I decided to eliminate all bread and wheat from my diet. The effects were immediate. I had clearly been suffering from a certain amount of bloating, which now almost miraculously disappeared. My mental processes were also clearer, and my moods seemed more stable. Did I have a wheat allergy of some kind, as increasing numbers of people today say they do?
Not only does wheat potentially make the cut for foods that make you ugly, but its consequences could be further reaching.
I had become interested in ketogenic dieting (check out our Keto Warrior programme), and my decision to cut wheat was part of transitioning to a fat-based diet. But I had also read a paper called ‘Bread and Other Edible Agents of Mental Disease’, in the journal Frontiers of Human Neuroscience. The authors make a number of quite stunning claims, including the following:
- Gluten attacks an enzyme involved in the production of GABA, dysregulation of which is linked to anxiety and depression
- Antibodies against gluten are found in greater frequencies in schizophrenia and autism patients than among the general population
- In historical situations, such as World War II and the introduction of wheat-based diets to native populations, hospitalisation rates for schizophrenia have shown a positive correlation with wheat consumption, sometimes showing dramatic increases
- Patients on grain-rich diets in mental hospitals take longer to be transferred to open wards or discharged than patients on grain-free diets [R]
Leaving aside the sensitive question of mental health, especially as it pertains to attractiveness, one of the most commonly reported side effects of gluten intolerance is bloating, which of course is unlikely to make you look better.
Bye bye belly
Diarrhea and foul-smelling feces as a result of poor nutrient absorption are also linked to gluten intolerance, and neither is attractive — something, for most, would qualify it as one of the foods that make you ugly.
Gluten intolerance may not perhaps have quite as dramatic effects as Turbo-Lax™, but there’s no question diarrhea can really ruin a date
Gluten intolerance is also linked to a number of skin conditions such as dermatitis herpetiformis, and psoriasis, alopecia areata and chronic urticaria have all been shown to be aggravated by consumption of gluten. [R]
Whether it’s actually gluten per se causing these symptoms, or the fact that most wheat is consumed in combination with other pro-inflammatory factors, remains to be established.
Indeed, Catherine Shanahan has suggested that most wheat intolerances may be caused by the fact that wheat is now generally consumed in combination with harmful vegetable oil – that is as part of processed foods that make you ugly.
As a result of the chronic inflammation caused by vegetable oil, the immune system becomes oversensitised and begins producing antibodies against more or less all the proteins it encounters – including gluten. If the body does not develop what is known as ‘immune tolerance’ and get rid of this antibody against gluten, then consuming gluten will continue to stimulate an immune response and inflammation. This process may be involved in the proliferation or allergies and sensitivities we see in the modern world – peanuts, eggs, shellfish, milk and so on.
The solution then, in the case of wheat, may be to eliminate processed foods and vegetable oils and instead to consume sprouted and sourdough breads, preferably home-made or from a local bakery, to ensure that gluten is not consumed in a dietary context that will encourage the formation of anti-gluten antibodies.
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