While we’re all for jumping on the healthy eating bandwagon, we also know just how important it is to read the latest nutrition advice with a critical eye, especially if it hasn’t come from a health professional or reputable website.
Sometimes it can be tough to differentiate between credible information and all that “fake news,” so we’re here to debunk some of the worst nutrition myths we’ve recently read online.
“Health” advice to be wary of:
- In order for a food to be “super,” it has to be exotic… and super expensive. (More like trendy?!) Remember, that cauliflower has long held superfood status. And an apple a day keeps the doctor away. You get the picture, right? There are a ton of healthy, inexpensive options in your own backyard. So you don’t have to break the bank in the name of good health.
- Natural sugars are better for you than refined sugars. Here’s the thing: When it comes to sugar—refined or not—our bodies metabolize them in pretty much the same way. In plain language, all sources of sugar (except fruit) are hard on us. So while agave nectar, for example, may be touted as a “healthy alternative” due to its low Glycemic Index (linked to glucose), unlike plain old white sugar, agave nectar is made up of 85% fructose, whose harmful effects outweigh glucose.
- All yogourt is high in probiotics and great for your gut. A 2017 study revealed that probiotic yogourts don’t contain enough good bacteria to benefit your digestive health. Not only that, but low-fat yogourts tend to be high in sugar—which actually promotes unhealthy bacteria in your gut (see #9 in this article). While there are definitely health benefits to eating plain, high-fat yogourt, they aren’t scientifically linked to the now highly-marketed probiotic health as of yet. Read our blog on digestive health to learn more.
- Go gluten-free—even if you don’t have a gluten intolerance. If you’ve cut out gluten in the name of good health, you may want to reconsider. Not only do gluten-free products tend to be higher in sugar, a recent study tells us that if you’re not avoiding gluten out of necessity, you may actually be putting your health at risk. Why? Because you’re missing out on all those “heart healthy” whole grains.
- Detox regularly to lose weight. Have you heard the one about the fad diet that eventually results in gaining all the weight back again? Well, think of a detox like a crash diet. You’re doing the same thing to your body (tricking it into thinking it is being starved). Our bodies respond to calorie deprivation by gaining more weight in fear of future incidents of “starvation.” A juice cleanse can be good if you are looking to eliminate and/or target certain foods to detect a sensitivity to it. As a health professional, we do not recommend any detox or cleanse as a weight management tool – if you are regularly doing this; we invite you to chat with our Nutrition Concierge about more effective and healthier options to consider for weight loss or weight management.
- When it comes to nutrition labels, what you see is what you get. Sadly, the food industry allows for a lot of leeway in labelling to convince you that a food is healthy—when it is often anything but. Did you know that a product is only truly organic if it comes with the USDA organic seal? And even then, organic doesn’t necessarily equate healthy, so always check the ingredient list (and remember what we told you about natural sugars!). Vague terms like “flavours” or “spices” can make reading labels especially confusing, but the good news is that more transparent food labelling is currently being rolled out in Canada.
- All calories are created equal. These 10 chocolate bars have fewer calories than a medium avocado yet they are simply ’empty calories’. Calories that contain no other nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc.) or benefits. Need we say more?
When you come across health advice or claims or trends online, always remember to check the source. And speak with your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes—especially if the intended results seem too good to be true.
And remember: for thousands of years, people have been selling ‘miracle cures’ for belly fat loss, headaches, acne, etc. etc. Very few of these ‘cures’ have won anyone a Nobel Prize… for good reason!