Still trying to figure out what’s okay to eat? We oftentimes get so much information coming at us that it is hard to separate fact from fiction. Here is a pretty good list by Dr. Josh Axe that will take the lid off the lies we have been told about our most basic and necessary need – FOOD. Take a moment to read and then let us know what you think.
Every week there seems to be a new nutrition topic covered in the media; new fads, new solutions for weight loss, and new foods that are “bad” for you. Many of the claims are often discredited, upon further research, yet their impact on dietary choices remains.
That is the case with several of the long-standing nutrition lies examined below. Studies from the 1950s and 1960s changed the way we ate, the foods we ate, and the amount we ate. All of this has had a detrimental effect on our health.
Nutrition lies in the media are common; studies subsidized by pharmaceutical companies, food manufacturers, and food associations are often tilted to make the public believe that one food is healthier than another to spur sales and increase visibility.
That is why I wanted to take this opportunity to give you the facts, based on true medical research, to debunk common nutrition misconceptions. Here is what I consider the top 11 largest nutrition lies circulating today.
LIE #1. You Must Eat Whole Grain
When low-fat diets (discussed more below) became all the rage, an increase of whole grains was supported. According to the USDA, as of 2000, Americans were consuming nearly 200 pounds of grain per year, up 45% in 30 years.
In fact, the amount of wheat flour, corn products, and rice has all dramatically increased.(1) All in the same time frame that autoimmune diseases, Type 2 diabetes, cancers, and cardiovascular disease rates have increased.
But, we have been told for decades to eat more whole grains, right? Yes, we have, and this is why it makes my list for largest nutrition lies.
TRUTH: Whole grains are not nutrient dense, and actually can harm your metabolism.
The gluten, found in most grains, causes inflammation in the body, leading to many chronic diseases and conditions including allergies, arthritis, cognitive decline, Celiac, Crohn’s, Fibromyalgia, GERD, Guillan-Barre, Lupus, certain types of cancer, and so many more.(2,3)
The naturally occurring starches in whole grains cause surges in insulin levels because it is quickly turned into sugar during digestion. This fluctuation in insulin levels can be detrimental for individuals with diabetes, but also cause those without diabetes to experience dramatic swings in energy and concentration.
In addition, fluctuating blood glucose levels are associated with obesity and eveninfertility as the spike of insulin in the body affects other hormonal balances leading tometabolic diseases.(4)
But what about the nutrition of whole grains?
Well actually the phytic acid in whole grains binds to essential minerals in the intestine, and actually keeps them from properly absorbing in your system. This can result osteoporosis as minerals affected include calcium, zinc, copper, magnesium, and iron.
What about fiber?
There are so many better solutions for fiber than whole grains, many of the best sources are actually vegetables! As you look at your daily plate it so important to make sure that you are getting lots of fiber-rich vegetables that not only have the fiber but are loaded with antioxidants!
SOLUTION: Eat Sprouted Grains & Healthy Fiber Rich Foods
As you can see, whole grains really are not that good for you. Fortunately, there is a host of great tasting, and nutrient dense foods that are easily substituted into your diet. Remember, not all carbohydrates are bad, in fact we need them in our diet.
Lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, artichokes, avocados, eggplant, berries, melons, and quinoa are all nutrient dense, and support healthy metabolic function and replace the fiber in whole grains.
And remember, if you want to occasionally indulge in whole grains, choose sprouted or fermented grains so you can absorb all the nutrition they contain.
Calcium supplements don’t typically help with those eating a diet rich in phytic acid, because the calcium is still being blocked from absorbing.
Phytic acid is found in the outer covering (or bran) of whole grains, seeds, and nuts.
Sprouting the grains helps to break it down, and make it easier to digest, and helps to increase the rate of absorption of key nutrients.
LIE #2: Vegetarian Diets are the Healthie
While vegetables certainly are very good for you, the truth is most vegetarian diets focus on large proportions of whole grains, cereals, & not as many fruits and vegetables. Plus, it tends to be a diet rich in carbohydrates, and relatively low in protein and healthy saturated fats.
TRUTH: Vegetarians Can Struggle with Vitamin B-12 Deficiency & Be Missing Key Nutrition for Health!
Vegetarians that eat dairy or other animal products may get some Vitamin B-12 in their diet, but not enough. Their diet is also lacking the much needed healthy fats and minerals from the bones and meats of animals, that can help cell function and brain function.
And vegans, who do not eat any animal products, are even more prone to Vitamin B12 deficiency, at an alarming rate. In fact, some studies show that over 90% of vegans are deficient in this essential nutrient.(5)
Only animal-based proteins contain the essential amino acids and B-12 necessary to thrive. These nutrients are associated with bone health, muscle mass, healthy hormonal levels (including testosterone), cognitive function, emotional stability, hypothyroidism, and fatigue.
Symptoms of a B-12 deficiency read like a case study in today’s average American wellness: low energy, infertility, depression, poor memory, digestive issues, leaky gut, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.
According to a recent study from researchers at Alexianer Krefeld GmbH in Germany, Vitamin B-12 deficiency increases with age, and dementia can manifest. Fortunately, researchers of this study believe that the most symptoms of the deficiency can be reversed, if caught early.(6)
Another problem with a typical vegetarian or vegan diet, is the high percentage of soyconsumed. Phytoestrogens in soy mimics estrogen, and high levels have been associated with the increased risk in certain types of cancer.
Endocrine Disruptors, such as chemicals, preservatives or high phytoestrogen foods (such as those in soy and soy products) throws hormones out of balance and potentially leads to endometriosis, infertility, cancer of the breast, prostate, and ovaries, as wells as Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, and osteoporosis. Soy is not your friend, and the fact that it is considered healthy in many circles, is another nutrition lie.
SOLUTION: Add Responsible Sources of Meat, Fish and Grass-Fed or Fermented Dairy to Your Diet
My Healing Foods Diet is rich with a balance of healthy proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. A central part is organic, grass-fed beef, lamb, bison, and free-range poultry.
This diet helps to decrease inflammation, alkalizes the body to make it less hospitable to some types of cancer, stabilizes blood glucose levels, eliminates toxins in the body, and provides an optimum balance of nutrients.
If you are vegetarian, I recommend having some animal products such as ghee, butter, fermented kefir, eggs, and include as many sources of Vitamin B as possible
LIE #3: Saturated Fat is Bad
Over 50 years, saturated fat was demonized by one study and health professionals across the world jumped onto the bandwagon to do away with saturated fat. This is quite possibly the most disturbing nutrition lie in the media. The result, a diet richer in carbohydrates and grains, and the introduction of unhealthy fats.
However, today a reanalysis of the original study found the study excluded data from 16 countries, because the data did not fit with the researchers hypothesis. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated 21 medical studies to determine if a reduction in saturated fat improved cardiovascular health.
The study included nearly 350,000 subjects. The result? There is no evidence that saturated fat is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, or coronary heart disease.(7)
TRUTH: Saturated Fats are Good for You! And Critical to your Body’s Function!
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils have replaced saturated oils in the standard Western diet.
The rise in popularity of these oils is directly related to the low-fat diet craze, but also the dramatic increase in heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes we see now.
Vegetable oils including corn, peanut, soybean or canola oil should be avoided, and replaced with healthy oils including coconut oil, ghee, sesame oil, grass-fed butter, and olive oil.
Colorectal cancer is often associated with diets high in saturated fats. However, that is simply not true. The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial studied postmenopausal women for more than 8 years, and found that a low-fat diet did not reduce the risk for colorectal cancer.(8)
In addition, a study of nearly 50,000 postmenopausal women found that a low-fat diet did not result in a significant reduction in breast cancer risk.(9)
SOLUTION: Incorporate Healthy Saturated Fats Into Your Diet
Coconut Oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. This extremely versatile once vilified oil is a medium-chain fatty acid that is easily digested, and packed with anti-microbial properties, including lauric acid. Unlike other healthy fats, coconut oil is resistant to heat damage.
Ghee is another healthy fat with a high smoke point, and packed with fat soluble vitamins A, D and E. Both ghee and coconut oil are actually associated with weight loss, as the energy from medium-chain fatty acids help to burn other fats in our system.
For raw applications, use olive oil, almond oil, or avocado oil. They are all terrific for adding nutrients, and great flavor.
LIE #4: Running is Healthy
The running craze started in the 1970s, around the same time as low-fat diets.
The problem is that running causes wear and tear on the bones, muscles, and can even damage the hormonal system. Intense and prolonged exercise actually releases free radicals into the body that contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries and oxidative stress.
This is according to Dr. James O’Keefe, the Director of Preventative Cardiology at Saint Luke’s Mid-American Heart Institute. High-intensity interval training improves fitness, without taking the long-term toll on muscular, skeletal and other systems in the body.(10)
Another recent study indicates that people who get either no exercise or high-mileage runners both tend to have shorter lifespans than moderate runners. 70% of the runners in the study reported running more than 20 miles per week.(11)
TRUTH: Everything in Moderation, and Exercise is Better in Bursts!
You’ve heard the saying everything in moderation, including moderation and this seems to be the case with running. If you enjoy running, do so at a lower intensity, at a lower pace, and for shorter period of times. If you decide to run, just keep it to jogging 2-3 times per week, at a slow pace for up to a maximum of 2-3 hours total.
Over-exercising can lead to serious health consequences, so exercise smart! Running great distances, at great intensity is not healthy, and one of the largest nutrition lies supported today.
SOLUTION: Replace Running with HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING
Exercise is still a vital part of staving of disease, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight. High Intensity Interval Training, or burst training, is a combination of short, high intensity bursts of exercise partnered with slow periods to allow the body to recover.
Burst Training is associated with greater fat burning, and it actually encourages your body to continue burning fat up to 48 hours after exercise is complete! If you love to run because you love to be outdoors, take up tennis, ski, walk or hike. The important thing during exercise is to listen to your body, stay hydrated, and allow your body to recover.
LIE #5: Too Much Protein is Hard on Kidneys and Liver
This nutrition lie seems to be a result of the high-protein diets popular a couple of decades ago. The myth is that high levels of protein in the diet contribute to decreased kidney and liver function, as well as osteoporosis. These claims are simplynot true.
While there is incidental evidence that individuals with kidney or liver disease may need to curb their protein intake, even researchers studying kidney disease state “The long-term effects of animal protein on normal kidney function are not known”.(12)
TRUTH: Proteins are Critical for Hormone Building, Cells and Bone Health
The truth is that protein contributes to every living cell and process in our body. Essential amino acids found in high-quality protein are associated with improved bone health, and a lower risk of fracture. The protein actually helps bone metabolism and improves calcium retention, and it is potentially dangerous to consume inadequate protein.(13)
The senior population that is at an increased risk for osteoporosis, falls, and broken bones are particularly in need of high-quality animal protein. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research indicates that animal protein does not adversely affect the skeletal system, as some have reported.
In fact, they found out that protein is essential in helping the body repair, and vital to preventing fatty buildup and damage to the liver.(14)
SOLUTION: Add Healthy Proteins into Your Diet
Adding in a healthy range of proteins into your diet is the key to health!
Wild Salmon is rich with Omega–3, vitamins D, B3, B5, B6, and B12, protein, and potassium. This nutrient-dense fish contributes to healthy bones and joints, supports healthy neurological function, improves heart health, and much more. Also try sardines, anchovies, and other wild-caught fish.
Stay away from conventional meats, and select only organic, grass-fed beef and lamb, and free-range organic chicken. Enjoy eggs, sprouted nuts, nut butters and seeds to take advantage of the fat and nutrition of these great protein sources.