Getting recommendations from others about what is good or bad has become important in the decision-making process for many consumers.
Reading an online review or learning about a product in the media can often sway our opinion.
Many people do this with foods that they choose as well as actions taken to be healthy.
Unfortunately, not everything we read is accurate or scientifically based.
In fact, many decisions lately seem to be made through unsupported hearsay – – and that can be dangerous to our health!
There are buzz words that draw our attention and sensationalize food and eating habits without any actual benefits, but many believe the media and are changing their actions. The result is often paying more, with our health not getting better and even getting worse.
Common Food Myths
A myth is a widely held belief or idea that is false and which usually can’t be traced back to the originator.
Hmm…false. Unfortunately, some food myths have a small kernel of truth that often make their accuracy hard to decipher for many consumers.
Some of us believe food myths and even hope they can cure us of a disease or prevent a disease from affecting us and our loved ones. Many pass the myths on and warn others against eating something or trying a new food thinking we are helping. One such example is giving up chocolate to prevent acne.
Let’s look at some popular food myths that currently have little scientific evidence to support their claims:
There are many foods that claim to be super food, such as goji berries, blueberries, seaweed, chia seeds, maca, hemp, kale, kefir, nutritional yeast, acai juice, and the list goes on…
Superfoods claim they will be a cure all for what ails you so eating more and more often will be good for you. There are many good properties in these foods but they haven’t cured anything yet or been proven to prevent disease.
Sometimes eating superfoods in excess means you may leave out other important foods. Any food eaten in excessive portions can add unnecessary calories. Too much of a good food is no longer good.
Also, some superfoods can interfere with prescribed medications, so be aware of any potential food-drug interactions.
2) Junk food can be overcome with a workout
Eating foods high in calories, salt and fat can derail even the best exercise routine. Preservatives and additives in junk food potentially damage your body and may be related to autoimmune disease according to one study.
Burning off the excess calories in a workout may not be enough when it comes to choosing less nutritious more processed foods containing minimal nutrients.
3) High protein is good for you and can’t hurt you
Many of us think that adding protein supplements, especially post workout, will build muscle and speed recovery — which it can. But excessive protein could potentially hurt your body especially if you already have some kidney function problems.
Some research indicates too much protein can not only create an obstacle to weight loss and cause weight gain, but also put extra strain on your kidneys.
Overdoing any type of food, especially if it leads to excess calorie intake, can lead to weight gain.
4) Eating fat adds to your body fat
Fat alone won’t add body fat. Instead, too many calories overall will. It is actually the extra calories you consume in excess of nutritional needs that tend to get stored (and not always in the place you want it to!).
Fat does have more calories per gram than other macronutrients, such as protein and carbohydrate, so watching your portion sizes of high fat foods is important. A balance is what we should be seeking.
Fat in the diet is necessary as our bodies need it for many processes and to protect vital organs from damage.
5) Avoid fruit because it has sugar
Fruits contain natural sugar, not added sugar. Sugar is a compound made of glucose and fructose. Glucose is the body’s preferred energy source. We get sugar/glucose naturally in foods like fruits.
Fruits have less sugar by volume and contain nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. The fiber in fruit slows down the rapid absorption of glucose in the blood, unlike added sugar.
6) Foods labeled “all natural” are the best choice
There is no definition of what a food describing itself as “natural” on the label actually means.
Consumers assume something when they read that label such as no pesticides, no genetic modification or no processing has occurred but this isn’t always the case. For example, frozen vegetables are washed and flash frozen and, although they don’t contain added ingredients, have been processed.
7) If it is organic it is more nutritious — or pesticide free
Certified organic growers are allowed and do use naturally occurring pesticides, which are not always considered “clean eating” by those trying to avoid all pesticides.
Organically grown produce has not been proven to always be more nutrient dense than its non-organic counterparts.
8) Cleansing is necessary to rid the body of toxins
Your body clears the toxins on its own without a shake or expensive diet product. The liver, kidney and spleen clear your system of waste by design.
No scientific evidence has shown that they need help to remove toxins in the form of water or juices.
9) Juicing is the best way to eat plants
Plants in our diet are very often overlooked but juicing isn’t the only or even the best way to get plants into your body.
When you pulverize veggies to make a juice, many processors will separate the fibrous materials out. This is essential fiber loss; your bowels need this fiber to move regularly.
Chew much? If all your produce comes in the form of a liquid, won’t you miss chewing? Your jaw, teeth and muscles need to work to remain at their peak performance too.
For many, getting enough juice can prove to be expensive, not to mention time consuming, because it wastes portions of the food requiring a larger quantity to extract similar nutrition and to fill you up.
Carbohydrates Aren’t The Enemy Either
You have heard “Never eat white foods” right? Wrong!
White food avoidance usually means eliminating carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are our primary source of energy. They provide fuel for our body and systems so that our bodies function correctly.
Some think cutting out carbs will result in weight loss but this hasn’t been supported by research. In fact, excluding carbohydrates means you will also miss out on fiber and essential nutrients.
Avoiding all white foods would include milk, cauliflower, rice, bread and other foods that can be good for your overall diet.
Preferably we will eat whole grains but that doesn’t mean we need to exclude other forms of grains. Eating whole grains has shown to reduce heart disease by 20-30%.
Every food has a place in our diet. If you like a particular food, such as chia pudding, eat it because you love it not because it will give you shiny skin or make you lose 5 pounds in a day!
Conversely, don’t seek out a food and pay large amounts for it when you don’t enjoy eating it, hoping it will cure a chronic disease.
Maintain Nutritional Balance
Eating foods in appropriate amounts and a balance in the variety of foods you choose will help maintain your caloric load to prevent weight gain or help lose weight.
In addition, eating nutritious, fresh, and minimally processed foods will help you remain healthy so that you can prevent poor health that can lead to chronic disease.
Buying foods based on their claims will probably not change our health outcomes. Spending money on expensive items or products to help us achieve the latest fad may not be a good tradeoff — in either time or money — for our health.
The more we learn through science to guide our food choices and manufacturing practices, the healthier we will make ourselves.