Foods can generally be termed as those edibles which nourish the body. There are, however, certain foods that adversely affect the body. These can be termed as “harmful foods”.

Harmful foods can be divided into two categories:

1. Foods that are not beneficial to anybody.

2. Foods that do not agree with certain people.

1.  Foods that are not beneficial to anybody.

The foods that are not beneficial to anybody are those foods which have a very low or no nutritional value at all. Examples of these foods are almost all ‘junk foods’ such as certain sweets which comprise of mainly citric and tartaric acid, etc.

Many excessively refined foods also fall into this category, as these foods are refined to such an extent that the natural minerals and vitamins are destroyed. Thereafter, these minerals and vitamins are artificially replaced, as is common in many cereals.

Sometimes, these foods are not only non-beneficial but are downright harmful, and this is due to the way they affect the metabolism or block the different pathways of the body, ultimately leading to illness, e.g. oil which was excessively used for frying is extremely harmful. Genetically modifying the natural foods given to us by Allah Ta‘ala also causes harm to the health.

2. Foods that do not agree with certain people.

These foods are of two types:

1. An allergic reaction to certain foods. This happens when the immune system regards a particular food as harmful to the body and thus triggers a reaction to the food as soon as it is consumed. The most common allergies are the allergies to nuts and fish. Normally, allergies are found from birth, and there is no known treatment for allergies besides abstention.

2. An adverse reaction through consuming certain foods due to an imbalance in temperament. This happens when the body becomes ill due to an imbalance in either the temperament or humours of the body, and this illness is then further aggravated by eating foods of a similar temperament. Some examples of this are sweet foods affecting a diabetic person and acidic foods affecting a person suffering from gout.

The conditions caused by the second category can be remedied by under-going treatment for the ailment. A Hakeem would have to be consulted after which a diet and medication will be prescribed. Once the ailment is cured, these foods are not harmful, especially when consumed in limited amounts.

Adapted and summarized from “Your Health” by Moulana Hakeem Jalil Muhammad Pandor (An Nasihah vol. 104)