Debunking food and diet myths

By Fitz-George

Sunday, March 18, 2018

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MORE and more, people are going insane with food myths, twisting their diets, health and minds with unnecessary and sometimes risky restrictions and ridiculous indulgences.

The problem is that there are several different types of food and fitness so-called facts circulating, and over the years I have realised that there are three categories:

1. The general public's beliefs: This is usually filled with half-truths;

2. Old concepts and common anecdotes: What wellness and health sectors tell us based on research that are both superficially conducted; and

3. Fully studied and researched, unbiased nutritional and fitness facts.

Because of the life and death importance of your own health and wellness, and the abundance of biased information everywhere, it is important to not just accept every bit of information thrown at us as fact. Here we will look at six common misconceptions about food.

Myth #1: Juicing is always healthy

When we juice fruits, the tendency is to remove the fibre which slows the absorption of sugar and reduces the spiking of insulin. To make it worse, all too often we will use more than one or even more than two fruits, doubling and tripling the sugar and calorie content.

It should be clear that if you are trying to control your weight, manage your sugar levels, or just avoid sugar-related illnesses, knocking back juices, smoothies and the likes isn't your best plan. Eat a fruit or two per day instead, and drink water.

Myth #2: Coconut oil is as healthy as olive oil or healthier than vegetable oil

A tablespoon of olive oil or vegetable oil has only roughly 1.9 gram of saturated fat, and more than 10 grams of healthy mono or polyunsaturated fats.

On the other hand, coconut oil has a crazy 12 grams of saturated fats and only one gram of healthy fat. Saturated fats, of course, have been linked to high cholesterol and the risk of type two diabetes. Use it in moderation.

Myth #3: Egg yolks are unhealthy

People have been avoiding egg yolks like the plague after it was assumed they were high in cholesterol and only the whites were safe. But a growing number of studies are showing that a moderate intake of egg yolks has no discernible effect on blood cholesterol levels if you do not already have high levels.

So, unless you have high cholesterol, the studies show that you can enjoy your one or two yolks per day. Plus, they are protein-packed and contain most of the nutrition of the egg.

Myth #4: A bowl full of granola is great for you

Granola certainly looks healthy and many people believe it is, pouring bowls of it every morning. Well, it turns out that pouring a bowl of granola is not your best bet for weight control.

Just one cup of granola contains up to 500 calories and 20 grams of sugar and, to top it off, most people pour 1.5-2 cups into a bowl. Moderation is key or find a different cereal with the same crunch and fibre but less sugar.

Myth #5: The horrors of gluten

Buy gluten-free bread, gluten-free cookies, gluten is bad. This gluten scare is building steadily and now manufacturers are jumping on board.

Gluten is a mixture of naturally occurring proteins stored in grain, and is found in oats, rye, barley, wheat etc. Gluten issues have been identified in a fraction of the population, specifically people with illnesses such as coeliac disease and mast cell activation syndrome.

So, if you are among the over 99 per cent of people who do not have coeliac disease or mast cell activation syndrome, or if you do not have a gluten allergy, gluten is not an issue at all.

Myth #6: Detox products are necessary for your health

If you have been recently poisoned, break out your first-aid manual, see if you need to swallow some activated charcoal and head to the emergency room. Otherwise, you certainly don't need a detox.

Detox products claim to clean the blood and clean our system of harmful toxins.

There is no research which supports these marketed detox products which are supposed to be detoxifying. Your body already has natural, built-in systems for detoxifying itself. At the head of these are our very own detoxifying organs — our kidneys and liver.

Our kidneys remove waste products from our blood and our liver processes and removes toxins from medication, alcohol, foods and so on. Just think twice about what you are putting into your body, forget the alcohol, eat your vegetables and fibre, and give your organs a chance to do their jobs.

Next week we'll look at myths surrounding sports drinks, multi-vitamins, brown sugar, margarine, as well as low-fat and sugar-free products.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at

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