If you grew up in the 70s, 80s or even the early 90s then you’ve probably heard all of the following nutrition myths at some point – we test them out.
Myth #1 Skipping Meals Helps You to Lose Weight
Skipping meals is something most girls do in junior high or high school to lose those extra 5 pounds before prom night. But skipping meals sets the body up for a fall in metabolic effectiveness. Each time you skip a meal, the body goes into a state of crisis. It begins to wonder where its next meal is going to come from, and therefore, begins to slightly conserve energy. If it misses more than one meal per day, or misses one meal per day, every day, your metabolic pace will slow down further. Soon, the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) slows down and the body burns less calories at rest than it did prior. For a few days, the body will lose weight (mostly water) but will then begin to conserve stored calories and not let go of them. When food intake is resumed, it’s possible that the body will hoard however many calories the body is taking in, and store them as fat. This sets the person up for a roller-coaster ride of constant weight gain and loss.
Myth #2 Processed Food is Less Nutritious than Raw Foods
No one is going to defend Hostess snack cakes or potato chips, or something so full of fake ingredients that it bears more of a resemblance to a lab experiment than an actual food, but some food processing actually makes sense. Take raw milk, for example. Raw milk is processed through pasteurization (heating), which kills a variety of organisms that would be hazardous to our health. It is further processed by the addition of vitamin D. However, that is beneficial to health also. It may also be skimmed of its fat, to produce skim milk. This is also something that many people find attractive. Heating, canning drying and a host of other processes to alter food can often be beneficial and better than eating it in its raw form.
Myth #3 Carbohydrates are More Important Than Protein
It was believed for many years that carbohydrate rich diets were the be-all/ end-all of dietary bliss. But in recent years, and with the popularity of diets such as “The Zone”, many discovered that large amounts of carbohydrates weren’t beneficial to weight loss, nor necessary for overall good health and well being. Carbohydrates are needed as brain food and to maintain certain functions of the body. . However, protein is necessary for just as much, if not more, than carbohydrates, and promotes the regeneration of cells as well as helping the body to maintain its lean mass; a factor that is crucial to a healthy metabolism. Also, as people (women in particular) get older, they tend to become more intolerant to starch and sugar (both carbohydrates), and require less overall carbohydrate unless they are overly active.
Myth #4 Overeating Sugar is Better Than Overeating Fat
Overeating sugar is actually worse than overeating fat because overeating sugar can cause blood sugar imbalances, and eventually, if it is abused enough, it can cause adult onset diabetes. Saturated fats can most certainly cause heart disease over time, but remember, that’s only half the story. Monounsaturated fats are necessary and healthy for bodily functions. Eating fats such as flax seed oil, walnuts, almonds and avocado, is good for the body. We need fat to survive and remain healthy. We don’t need table sugar for any reason. However, keep in mind that the body turns all carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) in order to digest it and feed the body. Sucrose, on the other hand, or high fructose corn syrup, along with dextrose, are never necessary for the body and only end up raising blood sugar levels, and wreaking havoc on the pancreas. Put your money on fat, not sugar, as the winner of the two.
Myth #5 Vitamins and Minerals are Natural Substances, So They Are Completely Safe
Vitamins are natural substances, but depending on the actual vitamin, they can become toxic in large amounts if care is not taken to stay within recommended daily allowances (RDA). There are two types of vitamins: Fat-soluble and water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins that, if taken in abundance, we flush out on a daily basis. Vitamins C and B are good examples of this. Take 10 times the daily dose and you’ll only excrete what you don’t use. However, fat-soluble vitamins are a bit dicey. These are vitamins A and E and, if taken in copious amounts, can build up to toxic levels because our bodies store these in fatty deposits. They are not excreted daily. A good example of toxicity is an excess of Vitamin A: Skin color actually turns orange and eyesight (the very thing that vitamin A nurtures) can be impaired. Best to stay within the recommended daily allowances.
Myth #6 You Can’t Digest More Than One Food at a Time
Humans, unlike animals, are omnivores (omini=all; voro= eat). We have a medium length gut that can handle eating a hamburger on a bun and digest every bit of it. Sheep, cow and other herbivores (plant eaters), on the other hand, have multiple stomachs that digest different nutrients from different plants. Mammals like lions and tigers are carnivores (meat eaters) with a short gut and have trouble digesting plant substances. Our digestive system is much more evolved than any other animal, so we are able to tolerate many different categories of foods. In my opinion, diets that suggest we cannot eat more than one category of food (protein, carbohydrate, or fat) in one meal, are ludicrous! Humans are built to tolerate a wide variety of macronutrients and types of food at one sitting.
Myth #7 You Should Stay Away From “White Foods” Because They are Constipating
Because foods like white rice and white bread have less fiber, many people assume that all “white foods” are lower in nutritive value. And while more processed foods are lower in food value, not all white foods should be singled out. Foods like white potatoes, white navy beans, white whole grain oatmeal and white barley are very high in fiber and nutritive value. So the correct answer is that foods that are processed less and are not stripped of their fiber are the ones that are high in nutritional value. The color doesn’t matter. Myth #8 You Need More Food in Cold Weather Than in Hot Weather This is a big fallacy and one that keeps a great number of people in cold climates, heavy. Actually, as the thermometer rises, your appetite is likely to go the other direction, and fall. But even if you don’t feel hungry in hotter climates, you still need the same energy to perspire as you do to keep warm in colder weather. If you’re active and play tennis, golf, or swim in hot weather, you may actually need more calories than when it’s cold; unless you ski or are involved in winter sports. The point is, your activity level determines your daily caloric needs, not the thermometer!
Myth #9 High Cholesterol Means that I am at Total Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Cholesterol is one of the most misunderstood substances and readings in the human body. Extrapolating information based on high cholesterol counts can be difficult because cholesterol is such a transient reading. One week cholesterol counts can read in the high range, and with a slight change of diet, the next week can read much lower. Blanket cholesterol readings are also deceiving because a general reading does not account for the differences in cholesterol. There is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, for example cholesterol garnered from plant sources is most always good. This is a simplified explanation, but nonetheless should help put to rest some of the mystery behind the statement “Your cholesterol is reading in the high range.”
Myth #10 The Best Way to Reduce Cholesterol is to Avoid Eating Meat
Actually, the facts tell a different story. A 3 oz. serving of white chicken breast has 73 mg. of cholesterol, a 3 oz. serving of flounder has 60 mg., and a 3 oz. serving of lean eye of round, roasted, has only 56 mg. of cholesterol. So while many people want to scapegoat red meat as the responsible culprit of heart disease and other maladies, the fact is, it is the cut of meat that is important. Red meat provides a great deal of benefit to the diet and body and should not be excluded unless ethical, religious, or personal issues are involved with its consumption.
Myth #11 All Preservatives Are Bad For You
Actually, Vitamin C is a preservative. So is Vitamin E. These antioxidant substances prevent spoilage such as rancidity that can occur naturally when food is exposed to air. Preservatives such as antibacterial nitrates and nitrites are used to protect meats from food poisoning and bacteria that causes botulism. Preservatives also protect against certain cancers by killing off potentially carcinogenic molds in grain products and other foods. In fact, preservatives that kill molds are responsible for lowering stomach cancer in the U.S. So even though your mother meant well by telling you that preservatives were bad for your health, she wasn’t exactly correct. Preservatives are why we can eat a variety of foods and stay healthy.