With increasing rates in obesity, it’s no surprise that there are many ingredients in our food today that are unhealthy and cause weight gain. But what you may not realize is how toxic and dangerous some of these ingredients in our foods really are. To help you learn more about the dangers and to keep you informed and help guide you to smart food choices, here are ten foods to avoid and why.

1. Soda: It’s unfortunate the popularity of soda as it can do so much damage to your health. Soft drinks have artificial sweeteners like aspartame that are literally small quantities of poison and can alter brain neurochemistry. Over time they damage body cells and can cause sugar cravings, which can lead to serious weight gain and a slew of other health problems.

2. Refined Sugar: There are many sweet and natural alternatives to sugar like coconut sugar, molasses, palm sugar and more. Refined sugar can elevate insulin levels, cause fatigue, lower immune function and contribute to several diseases. Not to mention, sugar is highly addictive once you become hooked.

3. MSG (or Monosodium Glutamate): MSG is used to flavor food – it is harmful because, it inhabits natural growth hormone and dramatically promotes irreversible obesity. Other reactions include headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing or difficulty in breathing, and changes in heart rate, pulse rate, and/or heart palpitation.

4. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): GMOs are plants or animals that have had their DNA modified. GMOs can increase food toxicity, allergy susceptibility, immune suppression and resistance to antibiotics.

5. Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite: These are preservatives that are added to canned foods and processed foods, in particular to processed meat products. They’ve long been shown to be harmful to both humans and animals. In fact, more than 90 percent of nitrosamines have been shown in tests to be carcinogens.

6. Brominated vegetable oil (BVO): Brominated vegetable oil is used to keep flavor oils in soft drinks in suspension. Bromate, the main ingredient of BVO, is literally a poison. Just two ounces of a 2% solution of BVO can severely poison a child. In adults, this additive reduces immune defenses and can lead to allergic reactions.

7. Artificial Food Colorings: Many processed foods contain artificial food coloring, which can contribute to allergies, general irritability and more. Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Green 3 are the most commonly used ones.

8. High Fructose Corn Syrup: High fructose corn syrup is rapidly absorbed and triggers big spikes in insulin, our body’s major fat storage hormone. This can lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and more.

9. Soybean oil: Soybean oil limits the functionality of the thyroid and drains our energy levels.

10. Refined Flour: Refined flour has little to no nutritional value and can clog your system, slow down digestion which creates a sluggish metabolism, and can often be the cause of stress headaches and migraines