Food Myths: Busted

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If myths like these are constantly being passed around, how are we supposed to know what is best for our bodies? Some nutritional myths can be quite dangerous to our health, so we've put together a quick guide to help you out. Food Myths: Busted.

1. Juice Cleanses Are an Easy & Healthy Way to Loose Weight

As much as you might like it to be, this is not necessarily always the case. Many individuals engage in a juice cleanse with the hope to detox the body and loose weight.1

Typically, juices have little to no protein in them; since your body is looking for protein, it will, in turn, take it from muscle mass. When you begin to lose muscle mass, your metabolic rate, which is the calories burned throughout the day when not exercising, begins to drop as well. Juices still can contain a high number of calories, and if they aren’t being metabolised, they can lead to weight gain.1

Many popular juice cleanses advertised through juice companies are quite high in fruit juices, which can contain a high amount of sugar; since juices contain minimal fibre, there is very little fibre that the body is able to use to slow down the release of sugar sent into the bloodstream and to the liver. Without the fibre, the sugars are rapidly sent to, and can overload, the liver, as it is one of the few organs that can process fructose. When the liver is overloaded, it takes some of the sugars that is is unable to quickly process, and turns the sugars into fat.2

So, if you’re doing a juice cleanse that is high in fruit juices, as many of them are, it may not produce the desired results it claims to have; you're better off eating a balance diet, consisting of wholegrain carbohydrates, protein, good fats, fibre and minimal processed foods, alongside regular exercise.

2. Coconut Nectar & Syrups Don't Count as 'Added Sugar'

Often times, people resort to alternative sweeteners because they think that they are healthier than table sugar, or dismiss them as not being a form of sugar at all. Coconut nectar, agave, date, maple, golden & rice syrups etc. are all added sugar and should, therefore, be limited in the diet.3

While some alternative sweeteners may have a slighty lower Glycaemic Index (GI), or, in other words, the rate at which they raise your blood sugar, they shouldn’t be discarded as not being a sugar at all. They will still cause a spike in blood sugar and are not necessarily better than table sugar.4

3. 8 Glasses Of Water is Optimal for Everyone

Though drinking water is important to ensure optimal function of the body, and the average recommended amount is 2L per day for an adult; everyone requires a different amount depending on their lifestyle and diet.Water and unsweetened drinks such as tea and coffee all contribute to your daily water consumption. Those with a highly active lifestyle or that live in hot climates will need to drink more that the average amount due to the body expelling more water than average.6

Individuals with illnesses or medical conditions, it may be necessary for them to consume more than up to 11 glasses a day, considering it is likely that they are losing additional fluid.6

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume 13 cups a day. Everybody is different and has different nutritional needs, so it is important to listen to your body and do what feels right.6

4. Children Need Low-Fat Diets

The brain is made up of 70% fat! That is quite a large portion in one of the most important parts of the body that is developing during childhood. Therefore, it is crucial that children consume a HIGH fat diet to support this quickly developing organ during this period in their lives.7

A low intake of fats in a child’s diet can affect the absorption and metabolism of many nutrients, as well as the formation of many cells. Fats help make up the membrane of cells and the formation of hormones. By not having an adequate fat intake, this can deprive the child of many essential vitamins, such as Zinc and Vitamin E, all which support growth and a healthy immune system.8

Many parents are concerned about giving their child fats due to a concern about weight gain. It is necessary that a child receives a diet high in fat, but is is important WHICH type of fats they are receiving. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are needed for good immune and nervous system function. They are called “essential” because the body cannot produce them and they must be received from the diet.9

There are two forms of EFAs. Omega-3 fatty acids, and Omega-6 fatty acids. Long chain Omega 3s, in the highest amounts, can be found in most oily fish, such as anchovies, herring and salmon. For those children who are vegetarian, or allergic to fish, long chain omega 3s can be found in algae oil.Additionally, short chain omega 3s are found in flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, however, it is difficult to consume a sufficient amount of these for the beneficial effects on health. Omega-6 is also important, but is needed in smaller amounts and is much easier to attain through a typical diet, due to it being present in many foods. It can be found in most food oils, as well as poultry and eggs.10

An imbalance of the two can cause many health issues, which is why it is so important to have a sufficient intake of long chain omega 3s.

5. Complete Proteins & Meat-Free Diets

Often times people assume that a protein needs to be accompanied with a complementing protein in order for the nutrients to be fully absorbed. However, the theory of ‘protein complementing’, which is when certain plant foods are combined in order to receive all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), has been controversial ever since Frances Moore Lappe wrote a book in 1971, concerning the topic. Since then, she has retracted her statements and said that the theory is invalid.11

There are 20 amino acids, with 9 being ‘essential’ or in other words, are essential to be gained through the diet because the body is unable to produce them, and ‘11 non-essential’ which the body is able to produce. Complete proteins are proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids, and are often difficult to find as plant based proteins.12

This is why this theory has been developed, where people believe combining plant based proteins will make up all nine essential amino acids. Plant foods based proteins, such as beans, seeds, nuts, and grains, all contain different amino acids.12 Though, the mistake being made is that that these complementary proteins actually do not need to be consumed at the same time for the body to receive the nutrients. The proteins can, in fact, be consumed at any point in the day and the body will still be able to utilise the nutrients in the same manner.13

The body makes its own temporary storage of amino acids, and the amino acids from different foods work together throughout the day as each protein is consumed, producing protein building blocks. Therefore, it is not essential the complementary proteins be eaten together, and are able to be eaten separately throughout the day.14

So, nutriton and following a balanced diet is actually pretty simple; don't believe all the hype and follow a diet low in processed foods, rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, proteins and good fats, whilst exercsising regularly.

 

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