I have been a professional health care provider for almost three decades and there are certain constants throughout my career which have held true to today.
One of these issues deals with the degree of false health claims and misconceptions people are faced with almost every day it seems.
Within the field of health care, nutrition is certainly no exception to the volume of information that may steer you down the wrong path or have you trying to overhaul your diet in a way that might not be quite right for your body. Everyone is different!
There are many myths, partial truths and just plain fiction out there to truly baffle and confuse even the most hyperbole-proof of us.
One of the most frustrating things regarding nutritional medicine is you have to fish out the facts from the fiction.
Here are some typical examples of nutritional myths that I think it’s high-time I debunked.
Plant-based diets detox your body. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest misconceptions in nutrition. Plants including vegetables, herbs and fruits do contain chemicals that can help your body in many ways, such as fighting infections and decreasing inflammation, but they do not affect liver function. Some herbs like milk thistle can affect the liver in a way which improves detoxification but this is the exception, not the rule.
Plants can help you lose weight by increasing fiber and improving insulin sensitivity but they do not cause weight loss by releasing “toxins” from fat cells. The primary organ of detoxification is the liver, and foods do not speed up or amplify the detoxification process within this complex organ.
Carbohydrates are bad for you! The low-carb craze is still around, and many people, athletes and food-makers are lining up for the latest in low-carb eating. Please let me set the record straight regarding carbohydrates. Carbohydrates affect people in different ways depending upon their individual metabolism, the type of carbohydrate eaten, the amounts consumed and the foods eaten in combination.
For example, some people should not eat bread products and white rice because they are carbohydrate-intolerant and these foods cause large increases in blood sugar and insulin. These folks are better off eating vegetables, legumes and whole grain foods like oatmeal and quinoa. These types of carbohydrates are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients.
The simple sugars and empty calories found in soda, snack foods, cereals, granola bars, confectionary and baked goods generally make them a poor food choice, but diet should not be about denial. These foods can be consumed by some people in modest quantities without any health regrets.
Gluten-free is the way to go. Yes gluten-free is a new buzzword in nutrition circles. Everything is being labelled gluten-free even though there may never have been any gluten in a product to begin with.
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat and oats; it contains an amino acid known as glaidin. A small percentage of people, about five percent) can’t digest this amino acid because they have an enzyme deficiency. When this occurs, they can develop a condition known as gluten enteropathy. The treatment is the withdrawal of gluten from the diet. Gluten typically is found in breads, bagels, desserts, baked goods and as fillings for gravies and sauces.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the withdrawal of gluten from the human diet in general has any clinical value except to satisfy the trend of going gluten-free.
Klein, S., “8 Things Nutrition Experts Wish You Would Stop Saying About Food,” Huffington Post website, June 23, 2014; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/