8 Health & Nutrition Myths Busted
1 Going Gluten-free is super healthy
While there are legitimate reasons to avoid gluten, for example if you have coeliac disease, there’s often a minimal benefit from avoiding gluten. Gluten itself isn’t typically unhealthy but often gets a negative outlook due to its presence in so many things, many of which are unhealthy, think biscuits, cakes, pies and pastries.
You can find gluten in a huge number of different foods. And avoiding it completely, has minimal benefit for most people, and can even be a hindrance to creating a balanced diet.
2. Sugar is all Bad
In the next few weeks, we’ll be realeasing an article about the balance of fats and sugars. It’s a bit of a point of contention for many people. The phrases good and bad sugar get thrown about a lot too, which can be confusing. So let’s get something straight. Sugar is sugar and, ultimately, all sugar is broken down in our bodies into glucose, which our cells use for energy.
The difference between having a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee compared to eating an orange is that the orange has a host of vitamins and minerals which refined sugar does not. You may be interested to know that an orange has approximately 9g of sugar which is equal to roughly two teaspoons.
3. All Fat is Bad
Some fats are good for you. Contrary to deeply entrenched opinion, a low-fat diet is not a necessarily a healthy one. The important thing is not to cut out fat entirely, but to make sure that you’re eating the right kind. Unsaturated fats are the ones our bodies need and use. They have been associated with lower blood cholesterol, and are found in foods such as oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, and oily fish.
4. Carbs will make you fat
Well pretty much anything will make you fat if you eat too much of it. But that’s the wrong way to think about it. Starchy carbohydrates come in two forms: refined and whole. The latter are the ones to go for – higher in fibre and full of other essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, far from making you gain weight, eating high-fibre foods will help to keep you feeling full, which means you are less likely to overeat.
We need starchy carbohydrates to give us energy, and they should make up one third of our diet. Instead of cutting them out, make some smart switches and cut down on the more unhealthy carbs, like highly refined flour products.
5. Fresh is better than frozen
As fruits and vegetables ripen, their sugar content rises and their nutrient content deteriorates. Often, fruits and vegetables are frozen quickly after harvest, which prevents all of this, and actively preserves the nutrients.
What this means is that frozen vegetables can sometimes be more healthy than fresh ones!
6. Coconut oil is the healthiest oil
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. As we mentioned earlier, unsaturated fats are the ones to go for, think olive oil. Coconut oil is actually a saturated fat. That’s right, it’s a baddy. There is research to suggest that coconut oil isn’t as bad as other saturated fats though, suggesting that it may be metabolised differently, so as to not have such an adverse impact on blood cholesterol and general cardiovascular health.
7. You need protein shakes if you go to the gym
It is true that our muscles need protein for growth – especially if you’ve done anything particularly high intensity. However, most people get plenty of protein from their regular diets. What is important, is the timing of that protein intake, which should ideally be within an hour of exercising. Your body can only metabolise a certain amount of protein at a time, so overloading on the protein shakes is completely pointless.
The goal should be to limit our protein intake to shortly after exercise so that our bodies can use it to help our muscles build and repair, rather than overdoing it on the protein shakes!
8. Snacking is evil
Not necessarily. Once again it comes down to what you snack on and how much you eat. There is evidence to suggest that snacking is actually good for you, eating little and often means you avoid the large glucose spikes that you get after large meals which cause you to produce a large amount of insulin. Whilst you might immediately feel sleepy your body is actually absorbing a huge amount of energy. Once this process has been gone through the spike drops and you find yourself crashing – and often becoming hungry again.
Snacking is a good way to try and avoid this cycle of energy highs and crashes.
You have to choose your snacks wisely though. Go for something dense in nutrients that will help fill you up. For example fruit (not dried) and natural yoghurt.