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10 Mainstream Nutrition Myths (Debunked by Science)
This is a great article by Authority Nutrition. At bioXscan, we spend a lot of time talking to clients and we hear what you tell us. It’s hard to sift through all the info to decide what’s good for you. We could go on all day about eating a low-carb, high-fat diet and why it’s so good for you (that’s how we keep our body fat super low all year around), but we’ll post more about that later. You see, it’s even hard to know what to believe from the ‘authorities’ which we are supposed to trust, like the Heart Foundation (responsible for the ‘tick’), and that provided by other government and health authorities. Clued up fitness professionals and nutrition experts are going against the grain. Information that we’ve been ‘fed’ is turning out to be wrong, and in some cases be doing the harm that it was supposed to be preventing. Adam and I often shake our head at the rubbish we read and see on food products and in advertising. Check out these 10 Myths debunked by science. Mainstream nutrition is full of nonsense. Despite clear advancements in nutrition science, the old myths don’t seem to be going anywhere. Here are 10 mainstream nutrition myths that have been debunked by scientific research. Myth 1: The Healthiest Diet is a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet With Lots of Grains Several decades ago, the entire population was advised to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet (1). At the time, not a single study had demonstrated that this diet could actually prevent disease. Since then, many high quality studies have been done, including the Women’s Health Initiative, which is the largest nutrition study in history. The results were clear… this diet does not cause weight loss, prevent cancer OR reduce the risk of heart disease (2, 3, 4, 5). Bottom Line: Numerous studies have been done on the low-fat, high-carb diet. It has virtually no effect on body weight or disease risk over the long term. Myth 2: Salt Should be Restricted in Order to Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes The salt myth is still alive and kicking, even though there has never been any good scientific support for it. Although lowering salt can reduce blood pressure by 1-5 mm/Hg on average, it doesn’t have any effect on heart attacks, strokes or death (6, 7). Of course, if you have a medical condition like salt-sensitive hypertension then you may be an exception (8). But the public health advice that everyone should lower their salt intake (and have to eat boring, tasteless food) is not based on evidence. Bottom Line: Despite modestly lowering blood pressure, reducing salt/sodium does not reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes or death. Myth 3: It is Best to Eat Many, Small Meals Throughout The Day to “Stoke The Metabolic Flame” It is often claimed that people should eat many, small meals throughout the day to keep the metabolism high. But the studies clearly disagree with this. Eating 2-3 meals per day has the exact same effect on total calories burned as eating 5-6 (or more) smaller meals (9, 10). Eating frequently may have benefits for some people (like preventing excessive hunger), but it is incorrect that this affects the amount of calories we burn. There are even studies showing that eating too often can be harmful… a new study came out recently showing that more frequent meals dramatically increased liver and abdominal fat on a high calorie diet (11). Bottom Line: It is not true that eating many, smaller meals leads to an increase in the amount of calories burned throughout the day. Frequent meals may even increase the accumulation of unhealthy belly and liver fat. Myth 4: Egg Yolks Should be Avoided Because They Are High in Cholesterol, Which Drives Heart Disease We’ve been advised to cut back on whole eggs because the yolks are high in cholesterol. However, cholesterol in the diet has remarkably little effect on cholesterol in the blood, at least for the majority of people (12, 13). Studies have shown that eggs raise the “good” choleserol and don’t raise risk of heart disease (14). One review of 17 studies with a total of 263,938 participants showed that eating eggs had no effect on the risk of heart disease or stroke in non-diabetic individuals (15). However… keep in mind that some studies have found an increased heart attack risk in diabetics who eat eggs (16). Whole eggs really are among the most nutritious foods on the planet and almost allthe nutrients are found in the yolks. Telling people to throw the yolks away may just be the most ridiculous advice in the history of nutrition. Bottom Line: Despite eggs being high in cholesterol, they do not raise blood cholesterol or increase heart disease risk for the majority of people. Myth 5: Whole Wheat is a Health Food and an Essential Part of a “Balanced” Diet Wheat has been a part of the diet for a very long time, but it changed due to genetic tampering in the 1960s. The “new” wheat is significantly less nutritious than the older varieties (17). Preliminary studies have shown that, compared to older wheat, modern wheat may increase cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers (18, 19). It also causes symptoms like pain, bloating, tiredness and reduced quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (20). Whereas some of the older varieties like Einkorn and Kamut may be relatively healthy, modern wheat is not. Also, let’s not forget that the “whole grain” label is a joke… these grains have usually been pulverized into very fine flour, so they have similar metabolic effects as refined grains. Bottom Line: The wheat most people are eating today is unhealthy. It is less nutritious and may increase cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. Myth 6: Saturated Fat Raises LDL Cholesterol in The Blood, Increasing Risk of Heart Attacks For decades, we’ve been told that saturated fat raises cholesterol and causes heart disease. In fact, this belief is the cornerstone of modern dietary guidelines. However… several massive review studies have recently shown that saturated fat is NOT linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke (21, 22, 23). The truth is that saturated fats raise HDL (the “good”) …