21 Health And Nutrition Myths Backed By Science

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health and nutrition myths

Do you believe a very low-calorie diet can help you in rapid weight loss? Do you think health supplements are necessary? What if these are just nutrition myths? 

Not all the health and nutrition information that we grab from social media or online magazines or any platform is reliable and trustworthy. In order to make healthy dietary choices, you should know about the common nutrition myths.

Here’re 20 Nutrition Myths To Help You Make Right Dietary Choices:

1. Skinny People Are Healthier

This is one of the biggest nutrition myths! I’m not skinny but I’m healthy. Multiple factors including medical conditions like cancer, type 2 diabetes are contributing to the obesity crisis. On the other hand, obesity also increases the risk of certain types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and more. 

To maintain the ideal body weight and fat percentage, all you need is an active lifestyle and a healthy diet. There are a lot of skinny people with different sorts of health issues. If being skinny is your goal, please know there is no guarantee that you will be disease-free.

2. ‘Calories In, Calories Out’ Is The Mantra To Weight Loss

There are various factors playing a role in weight loss or gain. It includes metabolic adaptations, hormonal imbalances, family history and genes, sleep, age, gender, use of certain medications, lifestyle, family habits, and culture. 

So, simply restricting yourself to a low-calorie diet will not help you shed weight. Else, everyone would have followed the “calories in, calories out” and there would be no obesity epidemic. Isn’t it? This is one of the biggest nutrition myths that you need to put to rest!

The nutrient value of the food is equally important as the caloric value of the food. This explains how nutritionists and dietitians emphasize a balanced diet for health and well-being. 

Related: What Causes Food Cravings And How To Stop Them

3. Non-Nutritive Sweeteners Are Healthy

This is another antiquated belief that can take a toll on your health! The demand for non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) is increasing by leaps and bounds. Because more people believe that consuming food low in calories,  carbs, and sugar can lower the risk of diseases. 

Studies show that excess intake of NNS is also associated with negative health outcomes like damage to gut bacteria, which can trigger glucose intolerance in healthy individuals, and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Another study says the use of NNS is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. However, there is limited research in this area So, consult your doctor before adding NNS to your diet. 

4. Macronutrient Ratio Matters More Than Diet Quality 

Not really! That’s not going to help you in your weight loss endeavors. Sure, the macronutrient ratio is beneficial for health, but the quality of your food matters most. Eating a diet rich in whole and unprocessed food will keep you healthier long-term. 

According to studies, protein shakes and highly processed food are rich in macronutrients. However, they impact metabolic health, vitality, and the risk of disease.

5. Eating Small, Frequent Meals Is Good For Optimal Health

This is one of the popular nutritional myths across the world. People believe this strategy will improve metabolism and aid in weight loss. If you are healthy and energetic, you can follow your regular meal pattern. Those with specific health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome may need to eat small, frequent meals for optimal health. 

Related: 8 Questions To Ask Before Going On A Diet

6. Probiotics Are Healthy 

There are various nutrition myths about probiotics such as -all yogurts are probiotics, all the probiotics function in the same manner, and so on. Researchers say that not everyone can benefit from probiotics, even if they are popularised as healthy dietary supplements. 

Sometimes the use of probiotics can lead to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, which results in stomach upsets. Probiotic supplements can change your gut microbiota, especially when your digestive system is resistant to probiotic colonization or if you are on a course of antibiotics. 

Consulting a nutritionist or dietitian is recommended for personalized probiotic treatment. And be sure if a particular probiotic can offer you therapeutic benefits depending on your health condition. 

7. Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

For many of us including me it is impossible to start the day without a stomach-filling breakfast. Breakfast is my energy boost. Skipping breakfast is not a good idea for children and teens who need more energy and nutrients than adults to start a healthy day. Scientists say that’s not the same for all adults!  People with health conditions like pregnancy, heart disease are likely to face adverse health outcomes if they skip breakfast. 

For people practicing intermittent fasting, skipping breakfast or consuming later in the day may help lower calorie intake and consequently decrease the risk of obesity and its comorbidities. Other health benefits are reductions in inflammatory markers and maintaining blood-sugar control. The window of fasting 14-16 hours can be achieved even if one takes regular breakfast and the last meal earlier.

People who eat breakfast daily and consume more calories earlier in the day (rather than at night) and reduce their meal frequency may enjoy health benefits like weight loss, and decreased inflammation. 

In short, there are both health advantages and disadvantages of skipping breakfast. To skip breakfast or not – it’s up to you to make a choice considering your diet and health needs. 

8. Weight Loss Is Easy

That’s not easy for everyone! Sure, you need an intense workout, hard work, patience, and consistent efforts to lose weight. But, as discussed above a host of factors like metabolism and genetics regulate weight loss. There are people gaining weight despite following a strict fat-burning gym routine or popping diet pills. 

Don’t be lured by rapid weight loss videos by influencers on social media or supplement companies. Do you know there are side effects associated with regular intake of weight loss supplements? Diet pills can cause flushed skin, restlessness, unusually fast heartbeat, and even death. 

The healthiest approach for overweight people is to collaborate with a certified and registered nutritionist and health coach. They will design a personalized diet and activity plan for you that will give you desired results. 

Related: The 3 Most Popular Sleeping Positions And Their Health Impacts

9. Tracking Calories And Macros Is Necessary For Weight Loss

A lot of people are participating in this food tracking game monitoring every food item that is going down their throat. Studies show you gain nothing with such calorie obsession but disordered eating tendencies

10. Calcium Supplements Are Necessary For Bone Health 

Calcium supplements may keep your skeletal system healthy and prevent the risk of osteoporosis. However, recent studies have shown that calcium pills can increase the risk of heart diseases. You can meet your body’s calcium needs by adding yogurt, beans, and other natural sources of calcium to your diet.

11. White Potatoes Are Unhealthy

White potatoes are considered to be the common cause of weight gain and obesity. But, they are loaded with fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and many other nutrients. Those on a healthy diet do add white potatoes because they are a nutritious carb choice. Eating roasted or baked white potatoes is healthier than fried ones. Consuming them with rice or pasta will give you a superior satiating effect 

12. High Cholesterol Foods Are Unhealthy

It is true that dietary cholesterol affects heart health. It is also a fact that only some people are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol because of genetic influence. A healthy diet includes nutrient-dense, cholesterol-rich foods like eggs and full-fat yogurt. And for many people, such a diet doesn’t cause weight gain or obesity. Having two eggs per day does not adversely affect the biomarkers associated with cardiovascular disease risk

13. High-Fat Foods Are Unhealthy 

Among nutrition myths, this is very popular and you will hear it often. The majority of people go for low-fat diets and tend to avoid high-fat food anticipating it will cause weight gain and damage the overall health. High-fat diets are just as effective — or even more so — than low-fat diets when it comes to encouraging weight loss. 

Studies show that low-fat diets increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and other health issues. Low-fat diets also increase insulin resistance and triglycerides levels, which are bad for heart health. 

Dietary fat is important for the body and as long as you provided it in the right quantity, there will be no health issues. What matters above all is your diet quality. A healthy diet ensures a healthy weight. 

Related: 10 Superfoods That Prevent The Growth Of Cancer

14. Carbs Make You Gain Weight 

Many people fear that carbs can cause weight gain and obesity. That’s true only when you are eating an excess amount of carb-rich food like cakes, white bread, and sweetened beverages. 

According to research, as long as you consume nutrient-dense carbs loaded with vitamins, fiber, and minerals in a moderate amount you will remain healthy. Studies showed that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of obesity and other health risks because this diet perfectly balances carbs, proteins, and fats. So, add healthy carbs to your diet and avoid overindulging in carb-dense food. 

15. Supplements Are A Waste Of Money 

Supplements are healthy as long as they are taken in the right form and in the right amount along with a healthy diet. People with specific medical conditions like diabetes and those taking antidiabetic medications or oral contraceptives can experience side effects due to supplements. 

However, people with type 2 diabetes are benefitted when supplemented with magnesium and B vitamins, which improve heart health, blood sugar, and complications associated with diabetes. Similarly, supplements are beneficial for people on restrictive diets, those above the age of 50, and pregnant/ breastfeeding mothers.

Related: The Top 7 Excuses To Avoid Exercise and How You Can Overcome Them

16. Low Fat And Diet Foods Are Healthy Alternatives 

People think products labeled as “diet,” “low fat,” and “fat-free” are helpful in weight loss. Research says these products are unhealthy because of added salt and sugar in them. It is healthier to consume unaltered higher fat alternatives like full-fat yogurt, cheese, and nut butter.

17. Following A Very Low Calorie Diet Is The Best Way To Lose Weight 

Although there is evidence that a very low-calorie diet helps in rapid weight loss, it makes long-term weight maintenance difficult. Consuming too few calories than what your body needs can lead to a reduction in metabolic rate, alteration in hunger hormones, and long-term health consequences. It’s better to put such nutrition myths to rest before it takes a toll on your health. 

18. Fiber Supplements Are Better Than High Fiber Foods 

Just like weight loss supplements, fiber supplements are also surrounded by nutrition myths. Fiber is important for controlling blood sugar and improving bowel movements. 

Fiber supplements are beneficial for people not getting enough dietary fiber. Still, they shouldn’t replace high-fiber real food like beans, vegetables, and fruit containing nutrients.  

19. All Smoothies And Juices Are Healthy 

This is one of the biggest nutrition myths among young adults who claim themselves to be health-conscious. Fresh juices and nutrient-rich smoothies made at home are healthy and can improve the level of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your body. However, it’s healthy as long as consumed in moderation. Ready-made packed juices and smoothies available at local stores contain added sugar, chemicals, and calories that can cause diabetes, tooth decay, blood sugar dysregulation, and other health problems. 

Related: 9 Signs of Nutritional Deficiencies In Kids

20.Eating Disorders Only Affect Women

Research says that eating disorders affect both women and men, but the prevalence is high in adolescent and young adult men who are gay or bisexual. The consequences present differently in men and women. There is a need for eating disorder treatments well-adapted to the male population. 

21. Gluten-Free Food Is Healthier

That’s true for people with celiac disease or those sensitive to gluten. But, if you are not sensitive to gluten and take gluten-free food, you are likely to miss vitamins, fiber, and minerals essential for your body.

Also remember, a gluten-free diet will not help you lose weight. To confirm whether you should eat gluten-free food or not visit your health care professional. 

Related: Top 10 Foods To Boost Your Brain Power & Health

The Bottom Line

It’s time to put all the above nutrition myths to rest! There are supplement companies trying to woo people with magic pills and ready-to-have diet foods and drinks for weight loss. Sometimes what research papers claim is not well circulated by the media leading to poor dietary choices. Whether it is weight loss or gain, it’s never going to be quick and effortless. There is no one-fit diet plan for all because health is influenced by myriad factors. And nutrition science is constantly changing. You need a nutritious and sustainable diet plan personalized to your health needs. 

For reliable information about health and nutrition, consult a certified, licensed nutritionist, dietitian, or health coach.

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21 Health And Nutrition Myths Backed By Science

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