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Five Myths About Nutrition

Five myths about nutrition

 

Modern nutrition is a relatively new science and one that can feel uniquely personal. Each of us makes multiple food choices daily, and our beliefs about nourishment are often shaped more by popular culture than by science. We are especially vulnerable to food evangelists — particularly at the beginning of a new year, when we’re bombarded with messages about health and diet goals. Americans spend billions of dollars annually in search of the next weight loss miracle. The following are common nutrition myths that form the cornerstones of this lucrative market.

 

Myth No. 1

Sugar is addictive.

 

Though people have used terms like “chocoholic” since the 1960s, language about food addiction has intensified in recent decades. Food Addicts Anonymous lists sugar, along with flour and wheat, as addictive in nature. People have written in the New York Times, Fast Company and elsewhere to raise the alarm about sugar as uniquely habit-forming. Multiple companies sell supplements to help people “detox” from sugar.

 

According to proponents of this model, sugar activates the pleasure center of the brain, releasing chemicals like dopamine, much like alcohol or illicit drugs do. But behaviors like smiling and hugging also affect those neural pathways, and we don’t consider them addictive. If sucrose were addictive, plain sugar eaten by the spoonful would elicit the same emotional response as a cupcake shared with your kids — but most of us would agree that those are very different eating experiences.

 

A 2016 literature review in the European Journal of Nutrition found “little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans.” Ironically, the idea of sugar addiction can, in and of itself, perpetuate the myth. People who believe that a food is addictive, and restrict their diet as a result, may experience increased thoughts about off-limits foods, according to a study by psychologists at the University of Liverpool. Such cravings further reinforce the belief in the food’s addictive properties.

 

Myth No. 2

Processed foods are unhealthy.


Can timing your meals help you lose weight? What about living on a paleo or gluten-free diet? Here's what science says. (The Washington Post)

 

Social media influencers, wellness corporations and celebrities tell us to avoid all processed foods, since they are supposedly less nutritious. If we eliminate them, the website Eat This, Not That claims that we can slow down aging, have less cellulite and even have better bowel movements.

 

Broadly speaking, humans have been “processing” food for centuries, by grinding and curing meat and cooking meals, among other activities. So let’s refine this myth (pun intended) to the notion that processed food became unhealthy at the onset of agricultural industrialization, in the late 19th century. 

 

Even so, we shouldn’t demonize this huge category, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as including all food that has undergone any changes to its natural state, from washing to preserving to packaging. That includes not only products such as microwaveable meals but also white rice (which is mechanically processed and a staple food for more than half the world’s population).

 

Modern food processing includes a range of methods — canning, grain-husk removal, fermentation and freezing — that can preserve nutrients. Frozen produce can be more nutrient-dense than those same items sold fresh in the grocery store. Another way to process food is to fortify it:

 

Pregnant women benefit from the folate, which can help prevent neural tube defects, that the Food and Drug Administration mandates in enriched grain products. The vitamin D added to foods such as milk and tofu helps many of us during the winter months when the sun doesn’t hit our skin. Salt enhanced with iodine is often our primary source of this essential nutrient.

 

And if the canning jar and lid shortage during this pandemic is any sign, many folks seem to have discovered that processing their food themselves can have emotional benefits.

 

Myth No. 3

You need to drink eight cups of water daily.

 

In 1945, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board estimated that the average man needed 2,500 calories each day and would therefore need 2.5 liters of water daily (though the group also noted that most of that water would come from prepared foods). From there, the notion of an eight-cup daily requirement got applied to the general population. The myth has found staying power in messaging from groups sponsored by bottled-water companies, such as Hydration for Health and Nestlé Waters, which backed studies aiming to show that people were not hydrating enough.

 

A literature review published by the American Physiological Society found no scientific evidence for the eight-cups-a-day recommendation. Many factors can influence an individual’s hydration needs, including climate, physical activity, sweat rate, body weight and hormones. “No single formula fits everyone,” confirms the Mayo Clinic. Some body cues can help us gauge our fluid needs, such as urine color and sweat rate — and it’s worth noting that when we feel thirsty, we’re often mildly dehydrated. Don’t gulp down glasses of water at a time, though: Taking sips throughout the day can lead to better absorption.

 

Myth No. 4

Cooking destroys nutrients in your food.

 

One fad diet dictates that raw foods, in their “natural state,” have more nutritional value. Advocates recommend that people not consume any foods prepared at temperatures higher than 118 degrees. “The most fragile of enzymes start to die off at that 42C/115F degree mark,” claims one blogger. Cooking supposedly “denatures” those enzymes and “destroys” vitamins, minerals and proteins. (Proponents rarely detail which enzymes, specifically, are more prevalent in raw food or note that the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs may destroy these mysterious enzymes by digesting them.)

 

Cooking with heat, or “thermal processing,” actually improves the bioavailability of many nutrients and phytochemicals, such as the lycopene in tomatoes. Foods including sweet potatoes, dry beans, grains and rhubarb also have nutrients that are better absorbed and digested when cooked. Different methods of cooking can have different effects on overall nutrient density: Boiling vegetables can reduce their water-soluble vitamins, such as thiamin and vitamin C, but steaming, baking and stir-frying can minimize this loss.

 

Myth No. 5

Don't eat after 7 p.m.

 

When people are trying to lose weight, they often invent or adopt rules to keep them from eating — and a common one is to not eat after dark, or to have a cutoff time for eating. As a result, many have internalized the idea that consuming food after a specific hour leads to weight gain and ill health. Writing in O, the Oprah Magazine in 2003, Oprah Winfrey described how she didn’t eat after 7:30 p.m. — “not even a grape.” Under the headline “Why Not to Eat After 7 p.m.,” the website Livestrong.com claims that people should not eat “beyond the traditional dinner hour.”

 

Some research shows that people who consume most of their daily calories in the evening tend to choose less nutrient-rich foods (and drink more alcohol), but that doesn’t make nighttime eating inherently unhealthy. While it’s true that our circadian rhythms directly affect our digestive activity, as biologist Lawrence Scheving detailed in the journal Gastroenterology, those individual patterns rarely sync up with the time on a clock. For some people, 7 p.m. might be an hour before they go to bed; others will stay awake for six more hours. In fact, imposing arbitrary time restrictions on eating can have negative effects on health. Since the body continues to use energy overnight, the drops in blood sugar associated with forgoing food can disturb sleep patterns. Meanwhile, some research has shown that pre-sleep snacking might have benefits: Scientists in the Netherlands found that having a bite before bed can improve muscle recovery after exercise training.

 

Five myths about nutrition 


If you routinely express intolerance, please consider the definition of "bigotry".
Honored Social Butterfly

I basically eat the same as I did as a kid. We had a 2 acre garden with everything under the sun in it, even okra (LOL). For supper w most always had two to three vegetables, some kind of complex carbohydrate and a modest portion of poultry, fish, lean pork, or beef. Fruits, berries and even vegetables mostly for snacks. Some kind of sandwich and fruits for lunch. Breakfast was most always oatmeal or cream of wheat with two eggs, bacon or home made breakfast sausage. I love a BLT, oatmeal with apple chunks, walnuts and blueberries, and a couple of eggs. We never had much sugars and I still don't. I do eat some sweets but not even once every couple of weeks, a little is plenty for me.

 

I pretty much stuck to this all my life. It must have worked because when I had to get a stem cell transplant for Multiple Myeloma in 2012, the oncologist told me I was the healthiest person he had ever had to give a transplant to at 59 years old. I had a second transplant in 2017 and maintained good health through all of that, still no sugar, heart, blood pressure problems.  But then, maybe genes do make a difference? I am very grateful for the good health that I still have today. I do think that being active and getting exercise is also a key to good health. I see people struggle dieting an my heart goes out to them.


All Man learns from History is that Man learns nothing from history
Bronze Conversationalist

   Oh wait, we now  have a billionaire who now says the if everyone would just have a healthy diet, we would not need healthcare.    The billionaire - owner of Whole Foods - one of the most expensive market ( at least in TX).    In my burg of nearly 2M their stores only exist in the more expensive parts of town.   hmmmm

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/04/whole-foods-ceo-john-mackey-best-solution-is-not-to-need-health-care...

Honored Social Butterfly

Do you think he's wrong?  I agree with him, though it wasn't artfully stated or reported.  Can Americans eat more healthy?  Yep.  Is most of our healthcare dollars spent on those who don't eat healthy?  YEP!  If we ate more healthy, would we be more healthy AND reduce healthcare expenses?  YEP! YEP!

 

Is it expensive to eat healthy?  YEP!  Can this guy help to make it less expensive? Probably!  The truth isn't always popular.


If you routinely express intolerance, please consider the definition of "bigotry".
Bronze Conversationalist

@Centristsin2010 , I 100% agree with you about increased healthful food consumption equals lower healthcare expenses.  Wouldn't that be awesome!  But,  healthful eating doesn't have to be expensive.  Especially if you frequently eat meatless meals. I do like my eggs, yogurt and cheese.  By substituting beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains ( quinoa is a complete protein ), along with lots of fruits and veggies, and cut out most process foods, Americans don't have to spend a fortune on nutrition.  I do try to buy organic produce if they are on the "dirty dozen", so there is some cost there.  Eating out less would be a huge savings. Also by eating whole natural foods, we would be ingesting more fiber to fill us up.

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Honored Social Butterfly

Right you are, Christine H.....We're on the same page>  iF yOU Like yogurt, I'll plug a new product...we LOVE it and if you buy it in a 4 pack it's a little more cost-effective....REAL French yogurt called, Oui.....a young employee recommended it to me and called it, 'Ooey....' lol.  Worth a try if you haven't tried it yet.....it's the only yogurt the grandchildren will eat......😃


If you routinely express intolerance, please consider the definition of "bigotry".
Bronze Conversationalist

@Centristsin2010 , Thanks for the offer, But I recently found a yogurt that is 100% grass fed.  Trying to stay away from soy.

Bronze Conversationalist

You are what you Eat, People say what you mean and mean what you say 

Racquel Evans
Bronze Conversationalist

@RacquelE712599 , I love the "say what you mean and mean what you say." I think there is an interesting update to "You are what you eat."  It's, "you are what you eat eats."  Basically, if we eat meat from a "factory farm" we are eating a lot of corn, soy and probably all kinds of stuff we don't want to think about.  If we eat  meat from an organically run farm, with free range cows, then we can get 100% grass fed meat, yogurt and milk.   

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Recognized Social Butterfly

If "you are what you eat" were true, the only real people would be cannibals.

 

if  "you are what you eat eats" were true, the only real people would be cannibals who eat cannibals.

 

In either case, there would be increased instances of prion diseases, which is one reason that cannibalism is discouraged.  For example, cows fed other cows have a higher instance of mad cow disease.  That's why soylent green is a bad idea.

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Recognized Social Butterfly

Sea salt.  When it rains, it doesn't pour.

Bronze Conversationalist

@aruzinsky  Always love your posts!

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@Centristsin2010 

Good article, since we do need nutrition and liquids daily. And also could add in organic versus non organic, and taking supplements versus no supplements. 
And in our current political climate and current administration, in regards to FDA and USDA (edited), are they for us or against us...

what will the Biden administration find out has been going on within these Departments. 
Let’s hope that they are for us, and we have been dealt with honestly...

unfortunately, that is not the trump mode of operation!

Honored Social Butterfly

Indeed, william.  The best, cheapest and most effective health insurance is eating healthy.  We can all do it....just takes knowledge and practice.  Good info in that sim[ple article....


If you routinely express intolerance, please consider the definition of "bigotry".
Trusted Social Butterfly

sunluvngal:

After many years of trying different methods to maintain, I must say that the "myths"  listed in the article are in fact true.  For me, anyway.  I must add that every individual has to figure out what works for them.  I have and it has nothing to do with any of the many suggested ideas or recommendations that I have run across.

 

Good luck to all trying to keep their weight in check for whatever personal reason...👍

Never Look Down on Anybody...Unless You Are Helping Them Up. 🙂
Honored Social Butterfly

That is good to know since I usually break 1... 2... maybe 3... oh heck, who am I kidding, I usually break all of them! 😋

Honored Social Butterfly

Interesting!   I gotta say, after a week and a half of home baked cookies, though, I feel like I'm craving the sugar.   😵  Definitely went cold turkey yesterday.  

Bronze Conversationalist

   I suppose that not eating meat is the best thing that I did since retiring.   The amount of processes food that I consume is miniscule.   I agree with Manic - sugar certainly feels addictive.    When you avoid it for months and then consume 'cookies" , you feel different and IMO it does feel addictive and takes a week or so of abstinence to get your body back to feeling "normal".  

     But then, I am a vegetarian.   

Honored Social Butterfly

I am a pollo-pescatarian.  It has been so long since I ate red meat or pork, that sometimes I find the smell of it cooking nauseating, particularly bacon. 🤢  And I used to eat steak tartare and cannibal sandwiches!  

 

I am not a big sweets eater, but I do love my dark chocolate.  Mounds is a weakness.

Honored Social Butterfly


@MsStretch wrote:

I am a pollo-pescatarian.  It has been so long since I ate red meat or pork, that sometimes I find the smell of it cooking nauseating, particularly bacon. 🤢  And I used to eat steak tartare and cannibal sandwiches!  

 

I am not a big sweets eater, but I do love my dark chocolate.  Mounds is a weakness.


lol I love Almond Joy.  😉 

Honored Social Butterfly


@afisher123 wrote:

   I suppose that not eating meat is the best thing that I did since retiring.   The amount of processes food that I consume is miniscule.   I agree with Manic - sugar certainly feels addictive.    When you avoid it for months and then consume 'cookies" , you feel different and IMO it does feel addictive and takes a week or so of abstinence to get your body back to feeling "normal".  

     But then, I am a vegetarian.   


I agree. I feel more tired and hungrier faster. It might have messed with blood sugar levels and maybe that’s what I feel. It just feels like I want to eat more sugar. Sadly. But I’ve been good the past couple of days and feel better. 

I wish I could be vegetarian.  Good for you!  

 

I don’t eat much meat, honestly. But I love a good, homemade hamburger every so often. I’d be a big hypocrite if I tried to give up meat...sneaking something in here or there. 

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