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Enter The New Year 2021 Busting Some Common Nutrition Myths

As we hopefully and cautiously step into the new year, resolutions have almost become a habit or a part of welcoming the New Year; along with it, a new you. New Year resolutions can be anything and everything, from deciding to quit a bad habit of taking up new hobbies, the resolutions are basically a step towards a better you.

This year, Boldsky urges you to start the year by elucidating some of the common nutrition myths, the ones that can hinder and even misdirect the journey to a better and healthy you. Let's take a look at the most common nutrition myths.


1. High-Fat Foods Are Unhealthy

Wrong. One of the most common nutrition myths is that high fat foods are by default unhealthy. All fats are not the devil as assumed by many people and our body needs essential fats to function properly and aid weight loss. Fats can be classified as good and bad fats. Good fats help in increasing your metabolism and protect your heart from various ailments [1][2]. You do not have to avoid all fats if you are trying to improve your health or lose weight.

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Foods with good high fat are avocado, chia seeds, flaxseeds, dark chocolate, whole-egg, fatty fish like salmon, sardine and mackerel, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, full-fat yoghurt, and nuts like walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts.


2. Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy Alternatives

We, as a society is naturally (more like conditioned) drawn to ‘diet' ‘low-fat' foods in the supermarket shelves; thanks (not really) to the deluge of advertisements that promote this low fat, diet foods as the healthy options. According to studies, much low fat and diet items contain much more added sugar and salt than their regular-fat counterparts and can cause more harm than any good to your body [3][4].


3. Being Skinny = Being Healthy

Whoever said this must be fired. Being skinny is no indication of prime health. Just like being obese, being skinny is in no way healthy for anyone. It is important you consume a nutritious diet, exercise regularly and have a regular sleep schedule to improve your health and maintain a healthy body fat [5]. Tell yourself, "you don't have to be skinny to be healthy," and don't you forget that.

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4. All Fruit Juices Are Healthy

We are not saying that all juices are smoothies are unhealthy; a freshly made juice composed primarily of non-starchy vegetables or a nutrition-rich smoothie is a healthy way to get some vitamin, mineral, and antioxidants into your body [6]. But it is important to note that most juices and smoothies are loaded with sugar and calories, and when consumed in excess or regularly, it can lead to weight gain and other health issues like tooth decay and blood sugar dysregulation [7][8]. The best way is to make your juices at home, so you are aware of the ingredients that go into the making.

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5. Carbs Cause Weight Gain

Many people steer away from carbohydrates to lose weight or to avoid gaining weight [9]. Consuming carbs in a controlled and limited manner can only benefit our health and not cause any harm. A diet that is a balanced mix of high fibre carbs has been linked with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease [10]. Including healthy carb foods such as starchy root vegetables, legumes and grains will not make you gain any unhealthy weight.

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6. Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Many of you may come at us for this one right here, but facts are facts. While we have been led to ‘believe' that skipping breakfast can ruin your whole as it is the most important meal of the day, health experts and study findings say otherwise. For most adults, skipping breakfast can help reduce the calories intake throughout the day [11], and can help improve blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation [12]. However, if you are a breakfast person, do not let us stop you - just remember that skipping breakfast is not the end of the world (when you are an adult).

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Note: This does not apply to growing children and teens or individuals with specific nutritional needs (pregnant women, people with certain health conditions).


7. Non-Nutritive Sweeteners Like Stevia Are Healthy

Sugar is treated as nothing less than a supervillain in the journey towards a healthy you. The rising demand for low calorie, low carb, sugar-free foods that contain non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) is a reflection of the blind faith and need of the society to be ‘slim and trim.' Studies point out that regular consumption of these type of artificial sweeteners can lead to negative health outcomes, such as increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes [13].


8. White Potatoes Are Unhealthy

Ummm, no. White potatoes are an excellent source of many nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, and fibre, and are more filling when compared to other carb-foods like pasta or rice, therefore causing you to eat less and make you feel more satiated [14]. Eating any type of food, be it carbs, fibre, or minerals, in excess is never good for your body.

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9. Supplements Are Just A Fad

One cannot be blamed for considering supplements to be a waste of money, especially in our health-conscious society where each day witnesses the birth of a beauty and health product, with the majority of them having no benefits whatsoever [15]. For many individuals, such as those with health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, etc, taking specific supplements can positively affect their health. Supplements are also beneficial for people on restrictive diets, people with genetic mutations people over the age of 50, and pregnant or breastfeeding women [16].

Note: Talk to a doctor or nutritionist before choosing the right supplement for you.


10. Low-Calorie Diet = Easy Weight Loss

Cutting down on your calorie intake can indeed help promote weight loss [17]. So why not cut down on calories as a whole right? Let me tell you, that's not how it works. Studies point out that cutting calories too low can lead to metabolic problems and long-term health consequences. Losing weight quickly (weight loss in a week/3 day etc.) leads to a reduction in metabolic rate, increased feelings of hunger, and alterations in fullness hormone, making l long-term weight maintenance difficult.

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Some of the other common nutritional myths/misconceptions are as follows:

  • Calories are the only factor you have to focus to lose weight: No, the ‘calories in, calories out' method will not help you healthily lose weight but result in health complications [18].
  • Small, frequent meals are the way to a healthy you: No, for a healthy individual, the frequency of your meals does not matter and all you need is to mee your body's energy requirements.
  • Calcium supplements are necessary for bone health: Not really, having a diet rich in dietary sources of calcium like full-fat yoghurt, sardines, beans, and seeds can help meet your body's needs.
  • Fibre supplements are a good substitute for fibre-rich foods: No, high fibre whole foods like vegetables, beans, and fruits should not and cannot be replaced by fibre supplements.
  • Eating disorders only affect women: Apart from being a sexist notion, this myth is a common one. Eating disorders affect both men and women. However, eating disorders present differently in men than in women [19].
  • Detoxing is important and healthy: A big no. You don't need to detox regularly to be healthy [20]. Detox diets have been in popularity for some time now, but the reality is slowly being exposed and understood, stating that diets commonly limit foods to plant-based juices should not be your primary source of energy.
  • Choosing gluten-free foods will help you eat healthier: Not really, this applies to people with celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten. A gluten-free diet is not a weight-loss diet and is not intended to help you lose weight.
  • To lose weight, you have to give up all your favourite foods: NO! Just remember to keep track of the foods and eat in a controlled manner, also cook at home.

On A Final Note…

In a sea of a plethora of nutritional misconceptions and advice, be keen to know the right one from the misleading one. Instead of making nutritional decisions for yourself, talk to a doctor or a nutritionist for an expert opinion.

Story first published: Friday, January 1, 2021, 16:55 [IST]