Nutrition Myths Busted Wide Open with The Institute for Optimum Nutrition
With so much discussion around nutrition, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Registered nutritional therapist Paula Werrett, from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION), debunks five common nutrition myths.
Myth 1: ‘Low fat’ or ‘fat free’ foods are better for you
Fats have been demonised for the last 30 or 40 years following research published in the 1980s that indicated saturated fat consumption and heart disease. More recent evidence, however, has shown that an ultra-low fat diet may be even more dangerous than a diet high in fats. Interestingly, a diet too high in carbs (rather than fat) can lead to increased levels of fats in our blood and increased levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. Rather than avoid fats, stick to a diet rich in healthy fats (such as oily fish, flaxseeds and seed oils, nuts and avocado) with some saturated fats and minimal levels of the unhealthy trans fats.
Myth 2: Carbs are bad for you
Although carbs often get a bad press, they are a valuable energy source to run the body, and even on fashionable ketogenic diet, carbs are not eliminated completely. When thinking about carbs, pay attention to the types you eat. The real villains are refined carbs such as processed foods containing sugar or white flour, as well as white rice or pasta. These foods can de-stabilise our blood sugar and are often described as empty calories because they lack important vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Instead, wholefoods such as brown rice, quinoa, pulses, fruits and vegetables provide many nutrients, fibre and slow-release energy. These make a healthy contribution to your diet when eaten in appropriate quantities
Myth 3: Gluten-free foods are healthier
Gluten-free diets have become quite fashionable over the last decade and this has led to an increasingly broad range of ‘free from’ foods appearing on supermarket shelves. If you have a specific health issue that improves with a gluten-free diet then eating a well-balanced gluten-free diet is likely to be beneficial. Beyond this, however, there is no evidence that going gluten-free is healthier for the population as a whole.
Switching to a diet of ‘free-from foods’ may actually be disadvantageous in many cases, because many of the gluten-free alternatives are highly refined and devoid of important nutrients such as B-vitamins, calcium, zinc, copper, iron and vitamins, K, E and D.
Myth 4: All smoothies and juices are healthy
Fruit juice or smoothies can offer an alternative and delicious way to increase your consumption of fruit. But whilst freshly made juices and smoothies, which contain the pulp from the fruit, may provide similar nutrients to eating whole fruits, the juices and smoothies purchased in shops often lose many of their nutrients during the production process.
The soluble fibre is also destroyed, which has a negative impact on blood sugar and makes it easier to drink too much in one sitting. Other unhealthy ingredients are often added, such as sugar in the form of pre-sweetened juices and preservatives. Finally, the natural vitamins and minerals in fruit (such as vitamin C) reduce once fruit is prepared, meaning that fruit drinks may be lower in these important nutrients than in their whole form.
Myth 5: You shouldn’t skip breakfast
The old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is no longer borne out by recent evidence which shows that health can be improved by increasing the gap in between meals, and opting for an extended overnight fast.
This intermittent fasting has been shown to improve many aspects of health and ageing, including blood sugar control, cellular repair, hormone regulation and more. However, ultimately it is personal and about finding what works for you – you might be someone who needs to eat at more regular intervals.
Ready to take the next step with nutrition? For details about free nutrition tips, ION clinic and qualifications visit: www.ion.ac.uk/ThriveNutrition
The Institute for Optimum Nutrition has been providing nutrition training for over 35 years. For further information visit www.ion.ac.uk/ThriveNutrition or call 020 8614 7800