Debunked Nutrition Fads Part 2
In continuation of last issue, the following are some more common nutrition fads teemed with inaccuracies.
5. “Always eat sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.” It is true, white potatoes are high glycemic, which means they can raise blood sugar quickly after ingestion. If a person is diabetic, this is more problematic. However, adding butter to the potato will slow the insulin down and lower the glycemic load. One medium potato contains almost 5 grams of fiber, loads of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and even some protein. White potatoes are also much richer in potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes contain slightly more calories than white potatoes per 100 grams. They also contain more fiber and vitamin A. Adding butter to either of these ensures insulin stability. In addition, sweet potatoes or yams can be juiced or blended in smoothies to get maximum nutrient benefits and it tastes delicious this way. Since these are root vegetables, I recommend purchasing organic.
6. “Calories eaten late at night will make you fat.” Here, the emphasis is on calories. True, it’s not a good idea to eat a heavy meal past 7:30PM because it will interfere with digestion. It’s not that eating late that will make one fat, it’s what the person is eating and why. However, a small healthy snack of protein such as nuts or yogurt may even help stabilize blood sugar or help a person sleep better. Most people who are “late-night bingers” are making poor dietary choices. They tend to under-eat during the day and then catch up in the evening when they’re too hungry to choose healthy foods. The bingers end up choosing chips, ice cream, and treats which are quick and easy, yet fat producing.
7. You must eat every 3 hours to keep up your metabolism. Well, yes and no.In many cultures the concept of “snacking” every 2-3 hours does not exist. Throughout human history, we got by perfectly well on 2-3 meals a day without experiencing blood sugar woes that were supposedly going to happen if we ever missed a meal or failed to eat every 2-3 hours. I don’t advocate eating every 2 hours, yet some people may need a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Remember, your body gets used to a routine. This became established when you were an infant feeding on your mother or being bottled fed. Feed a body every 2-3 hours, and it will EXPECT food every 2-3 hours. Most moms are familiar with that. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we start salivating when our snack time is approaching, because our body is used to it. I advocate most people would be better off eating three square meals a day, front-loading at breakfast, and foregoing morning snacks. Learn to eat a little more nutrient dense, fiber and healthy fat rich meals so you can last until the next meal, rather than relying on snacks to make it through the day. Many people’s definition of a healthy snack can be open to interpretation as well. A protein bar with an apple may sound like a healthy snack, but the bar itself may be loaded with chocolate and refined sugar, and low fiber. Or some are loaded with the wrong kind of fiber and then we end up with a different battle. A better snack would be celery sticks (quality carb) and hummus (quality protein). As for the metabolism increase with this regular snacking; it’s simply a myth. Your body composition and size will affect your metabolism, not necessarily how often you eat.3
8. Greek Yogurt is best. Again, it depends on the source.What originally began from a family tradition has now spread rampant in the yogurt aisles of countless grocery stores. Varieties of yogurt have increased over the years, but the Greek yogurt choice has dramatically increased recently. Similar to the soy market with soy in every conceivable food stuff, “Greek” yogurt has grabbed on to the idea and now we see just about every commercial brand of yogurt offering “Greek” as a choice.
Traditional Greek Yogurt has been around for 5,000 years in the Mediterranean regions. It is typically made with whole milk cow’s milk or goat’s milk and usually contains between 9%-10% milk fat as well as containing 5 live and active cultures (including Probiotics), rbst/rbgh (hormone and antibiotic) free milk, Kosher-Dairy, whereas typical whole milk varieties of yogurt found in your local grocer generally don’t exceed 3.5% milk fat and contain less probiotics, added hormones, and higher sugar content. The higher milk fat and straining process in Greek yogurt makes for a much smoother and creamier texture appeal that isn’t found in traditional yogurts.
Greek Gods All Natural Greek yogurt is one of the original Greek yogurts. This brand contains whole milk and no added sugar. Plain, whole milk, is what I recommend. Adding fruit to the yogurt yields less sugar than the processed ones with fruit.
Again, moderation, balance, and variety are the keys. Eat real food; food uncontaminated by hormones, antibiotics and destructive processing.Stay the course with sound nutrition and avoid the fads and trends that come and go with the seasons of life.
- Daniel, Kaayla PhD, CCN. The Whole Soy Story. New Trends Publishing, Inc. 2005
- Patenaude, Frederic. The Death of the Raw Food Diet.Tuesday Oct 15, 2013
- Hara, Takako. Hunger and Eating. www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/students/hunger.htm 1997
- Byrne, Jane.Full fat milk could be linked to low BMI.2009
- Andrew, Christine. Food Isn’t What It Used to Be. Westbow Press. 2013
- Billings, Tom. Troubleshooting: Avoiding and Overcoming Problems in Raw and Living-Foods Diets. Beyond Vegetarianism. 1997
- Sc Noonan, Bsc, MSc. Oxalate content of foods and its affect on humans. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999, 8(1): 64-74
- Weaver CM, Martin BR, Ebner JS, Krueger CA. Oxalic acid decreases calcium absorption in rats. Journal of Nutrition 1987, 117(11):1903-1906
- Osbourne, Peter. The Gluten Free Lie. Gluten Free Society, June 2013
- Schober, Tony. Six Reasons You Should Stop Using Protein Powder, 2013
- Richards, Byron J. 18 April 2013. “How Protein Helps Weight Loss” Accessed 10 July 2013.
- Layman, Donald K. 2004. Protein Quantity and Quality and Levels above the RDA Improves Adult Weight Loss. The Journal of American College Nutrition, Vol. 23, Supplement 6
- Curcio, Peter, RD. Dissecting Anti-Nutrients: A Closer Look at Saponins. www.breakmuscle.com
- Erdogan M. Thiocyanate overload and thyroid disease. Biofactors. 2003;19(3-4):107-11.
Christine Andrew, CNC, FMP is a certified nutrition consultant and a functional medicine practitioner. She operates a natural healthcare practice, Center for Holistic Health and Nutrition,at 348 Cernon St. SteA in Vacaville. She can be reached at www.individualizedwellness.net or www.christineandrew-cnc.com.
Other controversial, mostly anecdotal, and generally unproven health practices that in my opinion, get too much attention are the following:
- Drinking “alkaline” water
- Using organic ingredients when making junk food recipes (organic sugar vs. regular sugar in a pie, for example)
- Eating 100% raw
- Drinking wheatgrass juice, without changing the rest of your diet
- Eating 100% organic
- Doing yoga as your sole exercise when you could be improving other aspects of your fitness
- Ear candling
- Eating sweet potatoes or chips, but avoiding white potatoes or chips/ eating organic hotdogs but avoiding commercial hotdogs
- Seeking “wild” foods
These ideas get a lot of attention in the media and influence vulnerable people. They’re trendy. They’re captivating. But do they work? There’s certainly no very concrete proof that they will make a major difference in your health.
Can you do some of these things? Absolutely.
But in my opinion, it’s much better to focus on the big picture than get lost in a dozen theories that haven’t been really proven to work.