Diets, superfoods, different nutritional systems… The topic of food is overgrown with opinions and theories. Where is the truth, and where is the myth? Here are ten common misconceptions that have been debunked by new research.
Myth 1. Fractional meals work.
Frequent and smaller meals began to be associated with weight loss and a faster metabolism in the 1960s. Then, based on epidemiological studies, scientists came to the conclusion that there is an inverse relationship between the frequency of meals and weight. Experts have suggested that the more often a person eats, the slimmer he is. This myth has been debunked relatively recently.
In 1997, in The British Journal of Nutrition, French specialists from the Parisian Hôtel-Dieu clinic presented a review entitled “Meal frequency and energy balance.” In it, they noted that body weight is not regulated by the frequency of meals, but only by the ratio of energy expended to energy received. In other words, we lose weight only when we are in a negative energy balance, regardless of the number of meals.
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Myth 2. There are foods that cause weight gain or loss.
To change body weight, it is not what you eat that matters, but how much. Even eating exclusively healthy organic food grown by local farmers, but in excess, a person will gain weight. At the same time, you can lose weight on fast food alone, but observing a calorie deficit.
However, fast food has other drawbacks, and we do not recommend leaning on it in any case.
Myth 3. Fructose is healthier than glucose.
It was once fashionable to replace glucose with fructose under the pretext that it was supposedly more useful and not stored as fat. This is a myth: glucose and fructose are sisters, and if the calorie norm is exceeded, their excess will be stored by the body. The first option: excess carbohydrates will be oxidized in the first place, and fat will remain in its place. The second option: excess carbohydrates will turn into fat.
Myth 4. Taking vitamins is a must.
Life is a complicated thing, and constantly monitoring the intake of each of the 13 vitamins (and even minerals) in the right amount is an extra stress that you don’t need. The recommendations of scientists and experts about vitamins boil down to a simple conclusion – it is preferable to get them from food. A varied, healthy diet and plenty of sunshine are far better than a jar of multivitamin pills.
It is important to understand that the topic of vitamins is not fully understood by science. Different medical organizations give different recommendations for taking vitamins.
If you eat a varied diet and eat different foods, a lack of vitamins (as well as an overabundance) should not threaten you.
Myth 5. Salt is harmful
A separate layer of myths has been overgrown with sodium chloride (or ordinary salt), which zealous adherents of too “proper” nutrition are almost ready to anathematize (like sugar) just because salt retains water in the body. And supposedly for most healthy people, this is not healthy at all.
On the one hand, it is almost impossible to meet a salt deficiency even among those who do not salt their dishes at all – we still get most of the sodium intake from ordinary products, starting with bread and ending with almost any processed food.
The American Heart Association emphasizes that approximately 75% of salt we consume is not from the salt shaker, but in the form of processed food – fast food, processed sausages and meat products, canned food and most other products from the store. Even 100 g of ordinary bread can already contain about 1/3 of the daily sodium requirement.
However, in some cases, lack of salt can be dangerous. Sodium chloride is simply vital, for example, if you run a marathon or participate in a bicycle race. You sweat, and sodium and other electrolytes leave your body with sweat. If at a distance you drink ordinary water, and not isotonics with electrolytes (which, however, also do not always correct the situation), the sodium concentration in the blood decreases.
Hyponatremia is a condition in which the salt concentration in the body drops by more than 10% of normal. The norm is 150 mmol / l, but in this case, remembering this figure is not as important as understanding the essence – the loss of a large amount of salts by the body is dangerous. As a result of hyponatremia, consciousness begins to get confused in a person, convulsions occur, dizziness, and he may lose consciousness. Surely you have seen this in long-distance runners such as marathons or triathlons.
Myth 6. Cholesterol is your enemy.
Nothing is further from the truth than the myth that lowering cholesterol levels will prolong life and make us healthier. Not so long ago, the results of a ten-year study conducted in the Netherlands on 724 elderly people, whose average age was 89 years, were published. During the observation period, 642 participants died.
The research has produced amazing results. Each increase in total blood cholesterol by 39 units corresponded to a 15% reduction in the risk of mortality. The study found no difference in the risk of death from coronary heart disease between the high and low cholesterol groups, which in itself seems incredible when you consider the number of older people who take powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs. Mortality from other causes also had a clear association with low cholesterol levels. Among study participants with the highest levels of cholesterol, mortality from cancer and infections (as well as from other diseases) was much lower than in other groups, according to scientists.
Myth 7. Glucose is needed for brain function.
One of the most common myths is that the brain prefers to feed on glucose. Nothing like this! The brain can perfectly feed on fat, moreover, it is considered a superfuel for the brain.
Besides the fact that the human brain is more than 70% fat, this organic compound plays a key role in the regulation of the immune system. Simply put, omega-3s and monounsaturated (good) fats reduce inflammation, while altered hydrogenated fats, which are common in processed foods, increase it. In addition, fat is required for the absorption and transport of vitamins, in particular A, D, E and K. They do not dissolve in water and can only be absorbed in the small intestine in combination with fat.
Myth 8. The stomach is not the cause of headaches.
It doesn’t even occur to people that they increase their risk of headaches simply by increasing their waist circumference. Before age 55, waist circumference is a more accurate predictor of migraine in men and women than overall obesity. Only in the last couple of years have we been able to scientifically prove how strong this connection is. Researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia analyzed data from more than 22,000 study participants, which included a wealth of valuable information, from abdominal obesity (by waist circumference) and overall obesity (by body mass index) to data on the incidence of headaches and migraines. . The scientists determined that even after reducing overall obesity in men and women aged 20 to 55 – the age group in which migraines are most common – excess belly fat was accompanied by an increase in migraine pain. And women who carry extra fat around their waists are 30% more likely to suffer migraines than thin women.
The risk of headaches is increased by an increase in waist circumference. Source
The link between obesity and the risk of chronic headaches has been unequivocally demonstrated in many other studies. One particularly large study in 2006, involving more than 30,000 people, found that chronic daily headaches were 28% more common in the obese group than in the normal weight group. Those who were morbidly obese had a 74% higher risk of chronic daily headache.
Myth 9. Modern nutrition is diverse.
The microbial community in the gut had to adapt to changing human diets in different eras. Society has moved from hunting and gathering to farming and now to industrial food production. During this time, some types of bacteria disappeared from the intestines of people leading a modern lifestyle. The loss of microflora diversity is due to various factors. One of them is the lack of beneficial microbes transmitted through food. The second factor is the lack of vegetable dietary fiber in our food. For thousands of years, plants have nourished the heterogeneous microflora of people. Now they are much less in the diet, which is why bacteria suffer.
The average person in Europe or the United States has approximately 1,200 different types of bacteria in their intestines. It seems like a lot. But, for example, an American Indian living in Venezuela in the Amazon region has about 1600 of them – a whole third more. A variety of bacteria is also observed in representatives of other communities, whose lifestyle and diet are closer to the lifestyle and diet of ancient ancestors. Why? Modern technology has changed our diet (high-calorie foods are processed and produced on an industrial scale) and lifestyle (we disinfect rooms with antibacterial agents and overuse antibiotics), becoming a threat to intestinal bacteria. Finding food in the grocery store is to them the same as finding food in a hardware store for a person. Our habitual foods mean hunger for gut bacteria.
Myth 10. Yogurt should not be eaten by people who are lactose intolerant.
The oldest recorded use of fermented food dates back over 8,000 years, and almost every culture has fermented foods. During fermentation, bacteria begin the process of digesting food for us. One of the most famous fermented foods is yogurt. For its production, certain bacteria are added to milk, a rich source of the sugar lactose. Bacteria ferment lactic acid