Five Nutrition Myths and the Real Truth Behind Them
Let's talk about how simple discretion in certain situations can make a world of difference to your health
A healthy life is everyone's right, irrespective of gender, age, race, or religion; and so, nobody should have to choose anything over good health...ever. Whether you have a successful career or are a full-time mother, a retired octogenarian or a college student busy with theatre, music and gigs, I promise you that living a healthy life isn't as complicated as people make it up to be.
Let's talk about how simple discretion in certain situations can make a world of difference to your health.
With the veritable cornucopia of fitness gurus, fad diets, weight-loss programmes, and food boot-camps present today, it's not shocking that there is an information overload on nutrition everywhere. The shocking bit is that the majority of this overload consists of misleading information and absolute balderdash. Let's bust some myths, shall we?
1. Fat makes you gain weight - The most common misconception of all time - eating fat will make me fat. It may definitely seem like a logical assumption, but it couldn't be farther from truth. Today, this myth affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The craze of eating a low fat diet has spread rapidly, and lead to a spike in the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart issues, and obesity. A person who believes that a high fat diet is bad for them moves to eating a low fat diet, which usually means artery-clogging trans-fat. The truth is, what really makes you fat, the main culprit in a diet is SUGAR. These sneaky white demons having 61 different names on nutrition labels, find their way into almost everything. It's really time to understand that fat does not make you fat. Don't be afraid of fueling up on good fats, like those present in avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, ghee, and olive oil.
2. Artificial sweeteners are safe to replace sugar - It's like buying an umbrella with holes - an analogy I often use to explain this myth. Very often, people believe that they are preventing diseases by replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, but little do they know that these "harmless" sweet-treats are in fact only causing more weight gain than the calorific sweeteners available. Scientific research has proved the side effects that come with consuming low-calorie sweeteners like aspartame. Did you know that artificial sweeteners have the ability to retrain your taste buds to need more and more sweet, leading to a high risk of developing the various infamous lifestyle diseases? Artificial sweeteners are non- nutritive and hence provide no sense of satisfaction, leading to cravings, to unnecessary weight gain and other related-diseases. It is best to be consuming natural sugars through fruits, grains, dates etc.-all in moderation, of course.
3. Saturated Fats lead to heart diseases - Think about waiting at a bus stop when all the buses are on strike. That's what really happens to your body without saturated fats. One of their primary functions is to act as important carriers for other fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K . They are also responsible for other biological processes including converting carotene to Vitamin A and for other mineral absorption. So even if you consumed all the vitamins and minerals, the body will still be deprived of essential nutrients because the carriers wouldn't be available to move them around optimally. Saturated fats play a very important role as the building blocks of cell membranes, hormones and other hormone-like substances produced in the body. A good trick to try on yourself is to eat such fats as part of a meal and observe that you can go on longer without feeling hungry. This is because they slow down absorption leaving you satiated for longer periods. Another thing to think about is breast milk - the first meal of our lives - full of saturated facts that are vital for proper growth and functionality. The need for these fats doesn't stop at being infant-hood, we continue to need a certain amount of saturated fats as part of our diet in order to remain healthy. What we need to avoid is trans-fat, the criminal cause of heart diseases.
4. "Soy is a health food"- Soy is a classic example of excellent marketing! What you are really doing is making your body susceptible to diseases like thyroid, cancer, kidney stones, reproductive disorders and even brain damage. While healthy soy does exist, it is quite limited to all the fermented varieties like Natto, Tempeh, Soy Sauce, and Miso. These options are really healthy and have an array of health benefits associated with them. What you want to stay away from is items like soybean oil and processed foods that are made in this oil. 90% of soy crops in countries like the US are genetically modified, which is a double whammy on your health because they kill the good bacteria in your gut and impact your digestive system. Therefore, most soy products today - because of the phytoestrogens and genetic modifications - are terrible for your health. In conclusion, soy can be good for you if it's organic, non-GMO, and fermented.
5. Eating 5-6 smaller meals a day boosts your metabolism - I often see people looking at their watch and saying, "I must eat now; it has been two hours since my last meal."
Firstly, it is unnatural to be eating by looking at the clock, whether you are hungry or not. Secondly, what really matters is the total amount and quality of food you choose to eat. Intermittent fasting is in fact, the thing to try - that helps the body burn fat more easily by keeping the insulin levels low.
When you eat 6 meals on average per day, you are postponing fat burning as the body doesn't go into fasting mode at all. What really helps is to narrow your eating window to 6-8 hours, and fast for the remaining 16 hours giving your body the right fuel of high fat, medium protein, and low carbs during that window. You will actually feel full, and burn fat at the same time!
Never forget that too much of everything is good for nothing. Therefore, never, ever follow fad diets blindly.
Everybody is built differently, and what may work for someone may not necessarily work for you. Learn to listen to your body instead of the magazines that tell you what Miranda Kerr has for dinner.
"If you listen to your body when it whispers, you wouldn't have to hear it when it screams."
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.