Health myths: I call Bullsh!t

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You do not conduct surgery unless you are a qualified medical professional and you rarely represent someone in court until you have a legal degree but when it comes to food, weight loss and nutrition, as we all eat, many of us think we are quite the expert. And indeed, I always tell my clients that no one knows their own body better than they do BUT when it comes to scientific dietary advice being given to others, this really should be left to the experts. Over the past week I have collected some of the best health myths, pearls of wisdom, coming from the mouths of ex-journos, successful dieters and trainers which is simply wrong.

“Gluten, gluten is like poison for the body”

Hmmm, maybe if you have coeliac disease, but for the other 97% of the population, gluten is a component of wheat that we are well equipped to deal with. In fact, one would argue that many gluten free foods including the bread and biscuits are actually more processed than the non-gluten free varieties and hence do far worse things to our insulin levels and weight over time than a little grain based carbs ever will.

“Alcohol is fine; there is no sugar in alcohol”

Ok, where do you think the alcohol comes from? Alcohol is fermented carbohydrate and while some types of alcohol do not contain ‘sugar they do contain carbohydrate which are simply sugars in a different chemical form which will be eventually broken down into glucose in the bloodstream – and yes, this is why many people who drink much wine and beer are fat.

“Fructose, well fructose gets converted straight into fat by the liver”

Maybe you only read a couple of lines from a random biochemistry text book when you were “searching” for evidence to support your theory. Fructose only gets converted straight to fat in the liver IF a person’s intake of fructose is exceptionally high at any one particular meal. Furthermore, recent Australian data suggests that our intake of fructose is actually declining so again, no cred here. Maybe you mean processed carbs? Actually, who knows what you mean.

“Polyunsaturated fats cause cancer”

In case you had not realized it, no one knows exactly what causes cancer; this is why people are still getting it. You do not need a medical degree to have worked out that cancer is a complex beast, caused by a range of factors. There is no more evidence to show that polyunsaturated fats have a specific role in cancer growth or development than there is a range of other factors related to the development of different types of cancer. In fact, of all evidence available, the balance of fats in our diet is known to be related to our immune function and in Australia our intake of long chain polyunsaturated fats is actually low. In order to achieve an optimal balance we actually need to consume a little less monounsaturated fat from olive oil and avocado and more poly’s from soy/linseed products, walnuts and oily fish.

“As soon as you finish the glass of apple juice you have in the morning, the first mouthful has already been converted into fat in your bloodstream”

No, that is not right. As explained before, this will only happen when a certain level of fructose has been consumed in the diet overall.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s plain white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar or castor sugar; they are all exactly the same – all fructose.”

Wrong again – sugar; white, brown, raw is actually the chemical sucrose which is made up of one glucose molecule and one single fructose molecule. All the sugars will contain some fructose, as many foods do, but not only fructose, ever. It should also be said that different foods we eat including fruit contain different amounts of different sugar mixes. For example, an average sized banana will contain between 4-5g of glucose and 4-5g of fructose.

“Exercise is not important in weight loss”

I cannot believe that I have to explain this one. While calorie restriction will result in weight loss, one of the only things that will help the body burn calories more efficiently long term is to exercise. Admittedly there are many different kinds of exercise and some types (namely high intensity interval training and resistance training) are much more effective in achieving this
goal but to postulate that exercise is not necessary for weight loss is a ridiculous, socially irresponsible statement.

I am sure there will be more of these pearls of wisdom to come from those who are not qualified to be talking about nutrition, weight loss or biochemistry at any level so will update this blog as those pearls infiltrate our social media portals over the next few hours, days and weeks.



1 Comment

  • Matei says:

    Too bad the bad cranberry sauce from a can tatses so good. I remember that you thought as a kid that was the best part of Thanksgiving dinner and went for the cranberry sauce first. It’s great to know another option for healthier cranberry sauce. Will love having it and everything else that goes with it as you prepare it. Life is an adventure!!! xoxoxoxox

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