12 Nutrition Myths
A lot of times the health information out there is derived from misguided studies, the truth is it is extremely individual and each of us is on our own path. These are thirteen myths I believe are out there today just to help you decide what is right for you!
Myth #1 Saturated Fat is Unhealthy
For decades, people have believed that eating saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease and this idea has been the cornerstone of mainstream nutrition recommendations. However, studies published recently prove that saturated fat is completely harmless. A study published in 2010 looked at data from a total of twenty one studies that included nearly three hundred fifty individuals, found absolutely no association between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease. Multiple other studies confirm these findings saturated fat really has nothing to do with heart disease. The “war” on fat was based on an unproven theory that somehow became common knowledge. Saturated fat raises HDL or the good cholesterol. It also changes the LDL cholesterol from small, dense LDL which is very, very bad to large LDL, which is benign. There is literally no reason to fear butter, meat or coconut oil these foods are perfectly healthy!
The Truth: New studies show that saturated fat does not increase your risk of cardiovascular disease it actually raises the good cholesterol and changes the bad cholesterol to a benign subtype.
Myth #2 Eating a Lot of Protein is Bad For Your Health
Many people believe that eating a lot of protein can damage your bones, it is true that increased protein can increase calcium excretion from the bones in the short term, the long term studies show the exact opposite effect. Eating more protein is associated with improved bone density and a lower risk of fracture in old age one more example of where blindly following conventional nutrition advice will lead to the opposite result. Another myth is that protein increases strain on the kidneys and contributes to kidney failure. The reality is more complicated than that, it is true that people with established kidney disease should reduce protein intake, studies in healthy individuals show that protein is perfectly safe. Protein consumed by healthy individuals, actually reduces two of the main risk factors for kidney disease which are diabetes and high blood pressure. Eating a high protein diet has many other benefits, including increased muscle mass, reduced body fat and a lower risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease.
The Truth: Studies show that protein has positive effects on bone health in the long run and does not raise the risk of kidney disease in healthy individuals, so eating a high protein diet has many important health benefits.
Myth #3 Everyone Should be Eating Whole Wheat
Commonly mistaken as a health food, evidence is mounting that wheat can contribute to various health problems, this includes “heart-healthy” whole wheat. Wheat is the biggest source of gluten in the diet and new studies are showing that a significant percentage of the population may be sensitive to it . In sensitive individuals, gluten can contribute to various symptoms like digestive issues, pain, bloating, stool inconsistency, fatigue and may damage the lining of the intestine. There are some controlled trials associating wheat gluten with various disorders of the brain, including schizophrenia, autism and cerebellar ataxia, not only that but a controlled trial in humans showed that whole wheat increased various risk factors for cardiovascular disease in as little as twelve weeks. Even though whole wheat is less unhealthy than refined wheat, the best choice would be to skip the wheat altogether.
The Truth: Wheat is the biggest source of gluten in the diet and many studies are showing that wheat, including whole wheat, can contribute to various health problems.
Myth #4 Coffee is Bad For You
Coffee has gotten a bad reputation in the past and it is true that coffee can mildly elevate blood pressure in the short term. However, long term studies show that coffee may actually reduce your risk of some serious diseases. Many studies have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, showing that it can improve mood, memory, reaction time, vigilance and overall brain function. You may be surprised to hear that coffee is also loaded with antioxidants, it is the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables, combined. Coffee drinkers have up to a sixty seven percent lower risk of Type II diabetes, have up to an eighty percent lower risk of liver diseases like cirrhosis, and are at a much lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Caffeine also helps to mobilize fatty acids from the fat tissues, which boosts metabolism and increases exercise performance by an average of twelve percent. If you’re sensitive to caffeine or it tends to disrupt your sleep, then green tea has many of the same health benefits but a smaller amount of caffeine.
The Truth: Coffee contains very large amounts of antioxidants and studies show that coffee drinkers are at a much lower risk of developing many serious diseases.
Myth #5 Meat is Bad For You
For some very strange reason, many people are now blaming meat for diseases like heart disease and type II diabetes, which are relatively new, this does not make any sense at all and the studies don’t support it. Blaming new health problems on old foods has never seemed right to me and an example of that is meat which humans have been eating throughout evolution, for millions of years. While it is true that processed meat is associated with all sorts of diseases, the same is not true for unprocessed red meat. A massive review from 2010 that looked at data from twenty studies with a more than a million individuals revealed that unprocessed red meat had no significant association with either cardiovascular disease or type II diabetes. Other studies that included hundreds of thousands of people agree with this processed meat is bad, but unprocessed red meat is harmless, even though some observational studies have found a link between meat consumption and cancer, review studies that look at the data as a whole show that the effect is weak. Let’s not forget that meat is incredibly nutritious. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, quality proteins, healthy fats and various lesser known nutrients that are important for the body.
The Truth: Studies show that unprocessed red meat does not raise your risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes and there is a very weak association with cancer, that is most likely caused by excessive cooking and not the meat itself.
Myth#6 The Healthiest Diet is a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet
Since the year 1977, the health authorities have told everyone to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet, this was based on political decisions and low quality studies that have since been thoroughly debunked. Interestingly, the obesity epidemic started at almost the exact same time the low-fat guidelines first came out and since then, several massive studies have examined the health effects of the low-fat diet. In the Women’s Health Initiative, the biggest study on diet ever conducted, nearly fifty thousand women were to either a low-fat diet or continue to eat the standard western diet and after a study period of over seven years, the low-fat group weighed about a pound less and there was no decrease in cardiovascular disease or cancer. Other studies agree with these findings this diet is notoriously ineffective, even though it may work for healthy and active individuals for people with obesity, metabolic syndrome or diabetes, the low-fat diet can be downright harmful.
The Truth: The low-fat, high-carb diet recommended by the mainstream nutrition organizations is a miserable failure and has been repeatedly proven to be ineffective.
Myth #7 Refined Seed and Vegetable Oils Are Healthy
Some studies show that polyunsaturated fats lower your risk of heart disease, for this reason, many have recommended that we increase our consumption of vegetable oils like soybean oil, sunflower oil and corn oil. However, it is important to realize that there are different types of polyunsaturated fats, mainly Omega-3s and Omega-6s and while we get Omega-3s from fish and grass-fed animals, the main sources of Omega-6 fatty acids are processed seed and vegetable oils.The thing is we need to get Omega-3s and Omega-6s in a certain balance and most people are eating too little Omega-3 and way too much Omega-6. Studies show that excess Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation in the body, which is known to play a causal role in many serious diseases and most importantly, seed and vegetable oils are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart disease the biggest killer in the world. If you want to lower your risk of disease, eat your Omega-3s and avoid the refined seed and vegetable oils, it’s important to keep in mind that this does not apply to other plant oils like coconut oil and olive oil, which are low in Omega-6 and extremely healthy.
The Truth: Excess consumption of refined seed and vegetable oils can increase inflammation in the body and dramatically raise your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Myth #8 Low-Carb Diets Are Ineffective and Downright Harmful
Low-carb diets have been popular for several decades, because they are high in fat, they have been demonized by nutritionists and the media. They repeatedly claim that such diets are “unproven” or downright dangerous, however, since the year 2002, over twenty randomized controlled trials have examined the effects of low-carb diets on various aspects of health. Almost every one of those studies agrees that low-carb diets lead to significant decreases in blood pressure and an increase HDL the good kind of cholesterol and decrease triglycerides much more than low-fat diets. Low-carb diets where people are allowed to eat as much as they want cause more weight loss than low-fat diets that are calorie restricted . Low-carb diets have powerful positive effects on type II diabetes, significantly lowering blood sugar and reducing the need for medication and if anything, low-carb diets appear to be easier to stick to than low-fat diets, probably because people don’t have to restrict calories and be hungry all the time. Low-carb diets are unnecessary for people who are healthy and active, studies show that they are extremely useful against obesity, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes which are some of the biggest health problems in the world.
The Truth: Low-carb diets are the easiest, healthiest and most effective way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease and it is pretty much a scientific fact at this point in history.
Myth #9 Everyone Should be Cutting Back on Sodium
The health authorities constantly tell us to reduce sodium in the diet in order to reduce blood pressure. While it is true that reducing sodium can cause mild reductions in blood pressure, especially in individuals who have elevated blood pressure to begin with, it’s important to keep in mind that elevated blood pressure itself doesn’t kill anyone directly, it is a risk factor, not necessarily a cause of disease. Many studies have examined whether sodium restriction has any effect on cardiovascular disease or the risk of death and these studies consistently found no effect even in individuals with high blood pressure. Other studies show that too little sodium can also be harmful, leading to adverse effects such as insulin resistance, elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as an increased risk of death in type II diabetics.
The Truth: Overall, there is no evidence that healthy people need to cut back on sodium, despite sodium restriction being able to mildly reduce blood pressure, this does not lead to improved health outcomes.
Myth #10 Sugar is Bad it Contains “Empty” Calories
Many think that sugar is unhealthy just because it contains “empty” calories, this is true sugar contains a lot of calories, with no essential nutrients, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Sugar, mainly due to its high content of fructose, can have severe adverse effects on metabolism and set us up for rapid weight gain and metabolic disease. Large amounts of fructose, get turned into fat in the liver and is either shipped out as VLDL particles, or lodges in the liver to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Studies in humans show that excess fructose can lead to insulin resistance, elevated blood sugars, elevated triglycerides, increased small, dense LDL and increased abdominal obesity in as little as ten weeks. Fructose also doesn’t lower the hunger hormone ghrelin and doesn’t affect satiety in the brain in the same way as glucose, in this way, sugar causes a biochemical drive in the brain to eat more and get fat. This applies to fructose from added sugars, and not the natural sugars found in fruits. When consumed in excess, added sugar is associated with multiple diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes, even cancer and sugar is probably the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.
The Truth: The harmful effects of excess sugar go way beyond empty calories, sugar can have severe adverse effects on metabolism, leading to weight gain and many serious diseases.
Myth #11 Fat Makes You Fat
It seems to make sense that eating fat would make you fat, after all, the stuff that is making people soft and puffy is fat, eating more fat should give us more of it, however, it turns out that it isn’t that simple. Despite fat having more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates, diets that are high in fat do not make people fat. This depends completely on the context. A diet that is high in carbs and fat will make you fat, it’s not because of the fat. In fact studies consistently show that diets that are high in fat and low in carbs lead to much more weight loss than diets that are low in fat.
The Truth: A diet that is high in carbs and fat will make you fat, it’s not because of the fat.
Myth #12 Eggs Are Bad For Your Health
Eggs are so incredibly nutritious that they’re often called nature’s multivitamin, the nutrients in them are enough to turn a single cell into an entire baby chicken. However, eggs have been demonized in the past because they contain a large amount of cholesterol, which was believed to increase the risk of heart disease. The truth is that despite being high in cholesterol, eggs don’t really raise the bad cholesterol in the blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the good type of cholesterol. Despite all the warnings about eggs in the past few decades, studies show that they are not associated with heart disease and if anything, eggs are pretty much a perfect food for humans. Eggs are loaded with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and unique antioxidants that protect the eyes, they are also an excellent source of Choline, a nutrient that is very important for the health of the brain and about ninety of people aren’t getting enough of . Despite being a high in fat food, eating eggs for breakfast is proven to cause significant weight loss compared to a breakfast of bagels.
The Truth: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet and do not raise your risk of heart disease and eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Watch this space as we discover more mysteries about food and health!