It’s National Nutrition Month and we’re helping you focus on what is truly good for your body. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation out there about foods, diets and tricks that are just not true. Stop believing these nutrition myths…
Myth #1: Eating Fat Makes you Gain Weight
Eating healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids are actually great for your body and, when part of an overall healthy diet, may help you lose weight. Trans fat is always bad and too much saturated fat can be counterproductive to weight loss.
Myth #2: Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day
Water is vital to sustaining your body’s day-to-day functions, however water consumption isn’t all about the number of glasses of pure water you drink. Many foods you eat – like fruits and vegetables – have high water content and other beverages besides pure water also hydrate your body. If you were to only consume water from pure H2O, you would actually need more like 11-15 glasses per day.
Myth #3: Trendy Diets like Gluten-Free and Paleo Are Better for your Health
Only people who have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant absolutely need to eliminate gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley. Otherwise, there are no substantial proven health benefits and you may be eliminating many valuable nutrients, especially minerals, from your diet. Eating too much protein, as recommended in a paleo diet, can backfire in the long run. But the premise of eliminating processed foods is always a good idea.
Myth #4: Calories Are All the Same
The 300 calories of lean turkey or beans are not the same as 300 calories of donuts or cookies. Your body processes the nutrients differently. Lean protein-rich and high fiber foods are harder to digest so they keep you full and less fat and calories are absorbed. Conversely, the fat and calories from sweets are not metabolized and burnt, but rather turned into stored fat while still leaving you hungry.
Myth #5: Herbs are Natural so Herbal Supplements Must be Safe
Tobacco and opium come from plants but you know they are not good for your health. Many plant-based foods have amazing nutrients but some have serious side-effects. Herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA so you should do your research before relying on them for nutrition or other health benefits they claim to posses.
Myth #6: Carbohydrates Make you Gain Weight
Again, it’s not eating carbs that’s bad, it’s the carbs you choose that may be sabotaging your weight loss goals. Simple carbohydrates like those from sugary sweets, pasta and white rice and bread will probably make you gain weight. But complex carbohydrates like vegetables, 100% whole wheat breads, brown rice and legumes have key nutrients that your body needs. Plus, they contain more fiber that causes them to be digested slowly and keep your body satiated for longer.
Myth #7: You Can Eat as Much Health Food as You Want
Portion control is always important, even if you are eating the healthiest foods. Some health foods like avocados and nuts have too much fat for binge-eating. Eating appropriate servings will keep your health in check.
Myth #8: Foods Labeled “Natural” Are Healthier
There is little regulation over the term natural in food labeling so many brands flat-out lie about the nutritional content of their foods. Others are just being sneaky because their ingredients may be derived from a natural source but by the time if is added to the food, it’s far from natural.
Quick Bites: Additional Nutrition Myths
- Nut Butters are Healthy – Only if they are pure nuts with no added sweeteners or salt.
- Low Fat is Always Better – Not if it contains more sugar. Read labels and don’t avoid fat if it is more natural and has less sugar.
- Sea Salt is Better than Table Salt – They’re about the same but sea salt lacks iodine.
- Dark Chocolate is Healthy – Not if it contains less than 70% cacao.
- Yogurt Helps the Gut – It must contain Lactobacillus acidophilus to be an effective probiotic.
- Nutrition Bars are Healthy – Most are packed with sugar so look for ones with pure ingredients like fruit and nuts.
Sources: Eat This Not That, Martha Stewart and Active