When you look at the TV, internet, or read the papers you are always going to find articles somewhere about nutrition. The media is saturated with ever changing opinions on what is best for your health and beauty. This is not really surprising because most of the media relies in one form or another on sponsorship or advertising. Many articles you read in the media about nutrition are placed there to support the advertiser’s money.
Nutrition is a competitive market like all the others and is full of supposed evidence that you must stop eating one product in favour of eating another. So how can you decide what is fact and what is fiction?
We take a look at ten myths that are doing the rounds of the nutrition industry to help you decide for yourself. What is actually good for you and what is just really – snake oil?
If you look in your shopping basket you will often see the word ‘natural’ in big letters somewhere on the packaging, but when do you see the word synthetic used with such enthusiasm? How often have you heard the claim that whole foods are better than supplements?
Some compounds are more effective when taken as a supplement due to their bioavailability. This just means the proportion of any substance when introduced into the body that is able to have an active effect.
One example of this is with vitamins because certain vitamins like folic acid (B9), have far more bioavailability than B9 naturally present in foods. A vegan diet that is very low in B12 would be impossible to maintain, so a supplement is the only practical source.
It is estimated that more than a third of Americans take a multivitamin every day citing soil depletion, chemical additions, and maintaining a good vitamin balance on low carb or low fat diets. However in truth there is no evidence that taking multivitamins will make you live any longer.
If you look at the labels on foods that you purchase you will find that many already have nutrients added. Milk often has vitamin D added to it as do many big brand cereals, so you may be eating as many supplements as you need.
You don’t need to add vitamin supplements to your diet unless you are on a defined diet. This is because many foods have vitamins added to them at source. On the other hand, some foods just can’t provide the bioavailability to be able to release enough of the right nutrients. The jury is still out on this because although taking supplements is a more efficient way to get certain vitamins and micronutrients into your system, a lot of them are already added to commercial foods.
By eating many times a day your digestion slightly raises the metabolism. So the idea seems to be that if you eat a lot of small meals during the day, your metabolism increases and you burn off more calories. This is another media myth and the “keep metabolism high” slogan is just that, a slogan.
Although your metabolism rises slightly when you digest your food, it is the amount of food eaten that determines the amount of energy used because a bigger meal takes longer to digest than a smaller meal, so you gain no advantage by having more meals. In fact one meal may raise the metabolism more than many smaller meals and may even create an extra calorie burn.
We are not well adapted to be in a constantly topped up food state in the way we are today. Our ancestors would have sometimes had to go without food from time to time and they survived. Lastly, who really has the time to graze all day because it is not practical.
There is no evidence that constantly eating small meals is beneficial to your health. If anything is true it is probably the opposite. Sometimes it may be better to do without a meal to improve digestion as our early ancestors would have done. However, if eating smaller meals throughout the day helps prevent you from overeating at meals and improves the adherence to your diet, then it is beneficial.
The media supports gluten free diets as a healthier option claiming that gluten causes a lack of energy. The supermarket shelves have an ever growing range of gluten free products, so it’s not really surprising that it has become a fashionable idea. Gluten is a nutrient found in crops like wheat, rye, and barley and people who have Celiac disease cannot absorb this useful nutrient.
The only way that removing gluten from your diet will make you healthier is if you have Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition where your body cannot digest gluten, and this build up of undigested material eventually causes damage to the small intestine.
Gluten intolerance, may sometimes be diagnosed if you notice fatigue regularly occurs after consuming gluten, but this only happens if Celiac disease has been checked for. A gluten test for Celiac disease is very simple and just requires a simple blood test, so if you have concerns about gluten contact your health professional.
Unless you have Celiac disease or a specific intolerance, removing gluten from your diet will not make you healthier and will just take out useful nutrients like breads and grains from your diet. If you are worried about gluten ask your doctor for a blood test. If you don’t have a medical reason for following a gluten-free diet, there’s probably no benefit.
“Eat fat and get fat” is the media myth associating the amount of fat you gain to the amount you eat. Eating fats is actually necessary for our body’s health so removing all fats from your diet can be dangerous.
Fats can be broken down into three types. These are: Trans fats, Saturated fats, and unsaturated fats. Trans fats are hydrogenated fats, a process that causes the fat to thicken through hardening. It is used for frying and can be purchased in blocks. This type of fat doesn’t break down in the body.
If your diet is too high in trans fats, you run the risk of increasing the levels of cholesterol in your blood. Trans fats are bad for you in large quantities and can cause conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Many food companies are now removing trans fats from their products, but the real problem we are left with in our food are the saturated fats. This is because we all eat too much of them, sometimes because they are added to our foods but also because meat and dairy produce are already high in them. Saturated fats include those that are solid at room temperature.
These fats can be significantly reduced by trimming skins from poultry. and cutting the fat of your meat before cooking. Try to avoid full fat dairy products like creams, butter, and hard cheeses and swap them for lower fat alternatives.
We need dietary, unsaturated, fats in our food to provide us with essential body energy and to support cell growth. These fats include fish, tree nuts, and avocado. Fats will also help protect your organs, absorb nutrients, and help keep your body warm.
A certain amount of fats in our diet is essential for our health, and as long as you try to avoid too many saturated and trans fats which raise cholesterol levels in the blood, you can lead a perfectly healthy life with fats in your diet. If you are in doubt about a food’s fat content, look at the product label for information.
Microwaves heat food the same way the sun heats your face, and this is known as radiation. Radiation simply refers to energy that travels in waves and spreads out as it goes. Microwaves are similar to the electromagnetic waves that provide the signal for TV and radio.
The microwave oven cooks food from heat that is generated inside the food and not from the microwaves themselves. Microwaving will not remove nutrients any more than any other form of cooking.
Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, professor of nutrition at Rutgers University, said. “It’s the heat and the amount of time you’re cooking that affect nutrient losses, not the cooking method.” “The longer and hotter you cook a food, the more you’ll lose certain heat and water-sensitive nutrients, especially vitamin C and thiamine (a B vitamin).”
Microwave cooking is really no different from any other cooking method that applies heat to food. You will only lose nutrients if you overcook your food in exactly the same way if you overcook it by any other method.
The media constantly promotes a belief that we intake so much junk food, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and general pollution that we need a break from the overload of toxins we ingest.
A detox diet means you stop eating for a period of time, which can be anywhere from a day to a dangerous amount of time. If you go without food for long enough you will not only lose significant amounts of vital nutrients, but you will actually cause serious damage to your body. Taking a detox supplement that contains laxatives makes this even worse and can lead to dehydration. If you actually lose weight by this method then it will surely come back as soon as you start eating again.
There is no evidence that not eating (or consuming only juice) for any period of time makes the body remove toxins any better than when it’s left to its own job.
The liver, kidneys, skin, digestive system, and lungs, as well as enzymes in our cells all work hard to break down and eliminate toxins and waste products. Cutting back on food can lead to a nutrient deficiency that will work against your body’s ability to remove toxins from your body, and may actually help to increase toxic overload.
The body already has a fantastic system to breakdown toxins and eliminate the waste. Detoxing diets and products can remove essential nutrients that enable the liver, kidneys, skin, and digestive system to do its job properly. If you want to cut down on toxin intake swap your diet for homemade meals made from fish, lean meats, fruit, vegetables, and whole-grains. Cutting down on alcohol, smoking, and high sugars will help this process.
The media loves to promote and demote food safety and your health, and eggs are one of the victims of this publicity. Eggs are currently in the firing line because they contain a high proportion of cholesterol. It is true that having high cholesterol levels in our blood increases our risk of heart disease, but it has been proved that cholesterol in eggs does not raise the cholesterol level in the blood.
Eggs contain protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, folate, and iodine and these are all important nutrients for our health and maintenance.
If there are problems with eggs, these are usually due to cooking them improperly or poor storage. Raw eggs can contain salmonella and must be cooked properly before consumption. You need to take care in removing the shells and discard them before preparing other foods, as the discarded shells can contain bacteria.
Eggs have a 28 day shelf life from lay that should be printed on the container. An old trick to test their age is to put the egg in a deep bowl of cold water. If the egg floats it’s gone off and need to be discarded immediately. If it lifts to one side it needs to be eaten soon or discarded.
Some foods like mayonnaise contain raw eggs, and should be avoided if you are concerned about this. Store bought mayonnaise uses pasteurised eggs which are high heat treated to kill dangerous bacteria.
Eggs are good foods wrongly accused of being unhealthy, and they are a fantastic source of many useful nutrients. The main problems people suffer from eating eggs are in the storage and the cooking. Unless your heath professional has told you to stop eating eggs in your diet, you are good to go. Just be careful how you prepare and cook your eggs.
If you don’t already have a moderate fitness plan don’t even consider this one! Taking up an intensive exercise regime can be a quick way to hurt yourself if you are inexperienced, and is dangerous if you are inactive. However exercise is important. You don’t need an intensive exercise regime to be healthy, but you do need to be active because this is a fundamental part of our body’s make up.
If you have a desk job, fitting in exercise can be hard and sometimes the ending of the working day can feel similar to waiting for the last 5 minutes of a school term. We are built to move and this feeling is often attached to getting some much needed exercise.
Try walking to and from work if you can, or making simple changes such as taking the bus and getting off a stop earlier. Just find ways to get more movement into your life. Even getting up from your desk every hour and walking around the office helps increase your activity level. Hobbies like gardening or simple physical home cleaning can be fantastic exercise.
Of course if you are into physically taxing exercise like running or cycling, you probably already have this level of fitness. But don’t forget walking can be great way to get some air into those lungs, and allow you to build up your exercise levels slowly.
Just taking exercise regularly is good for your health. Try to fit exercise into your life by doing what you enjoy, because to go from little movement to an intensive exercise regime could be dangerous. The recommended daily amount of exercise is 30 minutes of moderate exercise. This can be done in increments throughout the day, and increased gradually to increase activity levels. Of course if your hobby already happens to be marathon running, then you are probably good to go.
One trend in weight loss is for a high carbohydrate and low fat diet. Essentially true for dieting, because there are nearly half the calories in carbs as there are in fats. However, not all carbs are the same.
Currently it is thought that a diet should contain 50 – 60% carbohydrates. This would mean eating a diet that contained lots of grains and pulses, and fewer fatty foods like meat and eggs. This type of diet may work for many people who are already at their correct BMI, but for anyone who has a metabolic or diabetes condition this would be potentially very dangerous.
While whole grains like oats and brown rice are useful, you have to watch out for added extras like toppings and sauces which are often added to high carb foods. Sugar for example is added to bread when there is absolutely no need.
It is good to have whole grain carbs in your food, but a diet that has a balance of carbs, proteins, and fats is better for healthy maintenance of your body than a high carb and low fat diet.
The high carb low fat diet is not the best way to lose weight. Fats play an important role in our health, and studies have shown it is better to have a high fat low carb diet. If you stick to the lower fat options and avoid saturated and trans fats as much as possible, then you will feel healthier and still be able to lose weight. High fat options are not always the best, as every body runs differently. A balance of 35-45% of calories coming from whole grain carbs, 30% from protein, and 25-35% of calories coming from unsaturated fats has shown to be a successful ratio for fat loss.
Throughout our evolution, we have never had so many Omega – 6 fats in our diet as we do now. Research looking into omega 6 fatty acids instead of polyunsaturated fats shows there may be an increase risk to the cardiovascular system because of this reason alone.
We need Omega-3 in our diet because not only are they an anti inflammatory, they also lower the risk of contracting inflammatory diseases. Omega 6 and Omega 3 are all part of the same chemical family, and you can’t get one without the other. The problems arise when the balance between Omega 6 and Omega 3 is wrong within your body. The level is correct when the Omega 3s are slightly in the majority.
The biggest sources of Omega-6 in the modern diet are processed seed and vegetable oils like soybean, corn, and sunflower oils. They are not always the healthy option.
You need Omega 3 and 6 to maintain a healthy diet, but you need them in the right proportions. In the case of the Omegas you would be better off choosing a supplement like cod liver oil, rather than the over processed seed and vegetable oils available in the supermarket shelves. Eating nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, and fats like avocado are also a natural way to gain Omega 6 fats in the diet.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.