Friday, April 5, 2013

Nutrition Myths

I was sent this link which provides some very interesting insights into the silliness of much standard nutrition advice. Unfortunately these myths still persist and in a couple of these I can see that I had once entertained the same ideas.

1. Eggs Are Unhealthy

This claim was based on the fact that eggs are very high in saturated fat and cholesterol. I have read studies indicating what they assert here and they are correct: eggs are not bad because of high cholesterol and saturated fat, the studies I read indicated a beneficial effect from eating eggs. Eggs are a very rich nutrient source.

Most importantly and as asserted in the link eggs provide two critical nutrients that are fundamental to eye health: lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids localise to the retinas and are vital antioxidants for preserving eye health. While vegetables do contain these nutrients both lutein and zeaxanthin are much more readily absorbed from eggs, possibly because being fat soluble these nutrients are better absorbed with a good dose of fat in the meal.

2. Saturated Fat is Bad For You

I know about this but the strange thing is I'm still inclined to buy low fat milk even though I do not drink a lot of milk. It is as if decades of hearing this myth has fixated a belief in me that I find hard to shake.

Sometime ago a friend of mine sent me a fascinating study on this issue. Sorry, can't find the reference at this point but it goes like this:

A moderate amount of saturated fat did induce an increase in inflammation. Increased inflammation, at least in the short term, is not necessarily a bad thing. Inflammation is not only vital to attack pathogens but also in repair and maintenance processes. So the increased inflammatory markers seen in moderate saturated fat intake is not necessarily indicative of a pathological response. However the study also showed that a high intake of saturated fat kept the inflammation going for a longer period.

The above result touches on an idea I have been exploring for a while. That being our bodies can cope well with certain food intakes but there is a window of tolerance beyond which the body can no longer manage the more dangerous effects that can occur. So a very high saturated fat intake, or any fat intake(and yes, there are even studies showing that omega 3's can promote inflammatory markers, though by rather small amounts) can overwhelm the body's capacity to adequately metabolise these compounds. With the saturated fat issue mentioned above, it could be that the sustained levels of lipids in the bloodstream induce too many oxidation events on the fats and so make them dangerous, sustaining inflammation for unacceptably long periods.

I suggest that when consuming high fat meals it is a good idea to have some antioxidant rich foods at the same time.

The other striking issue about saturated fats is the claim I read that our hearts rely principally on saturated fats as an energy source.

3. Everybody Should be Eating Grains

Well this was just bunkum from the very beginning and there is some evidence to suggest that in the USA this claim was driven by corporate lobbying.

Get rid of the bread!

4. Eating a Lot of Protein is Bad For Your Bones and Kidneys.

A ketogenic diet, which requires high protein intake and very limited carbs, does appear beneficial for some epileptics and there is also evidence this diet is unfriendly to cancer cells because these cells typically cannot use ketones as a fuel source. Cancer cells love sugar, and carbs are readily converted to sugar.

If you want to lose weight quickly a high protein diet is a good idea. Nonetheless I do not think a high protein diet over the long term is a good idea, but then I think high anything diet over the long term is not a good idea. There is no optimal diet for each and everyone one of us. I wish that were true and it appears that many doctors and health gurus promote this view but it is wrong.

5. Low-Fat Foods Are Good For You

Low fat foods are a con job. As noted in the article, the artificial sweeteners introduced to provide taste to low fat foods are more dangerous than the replaced fats.

The other problem is as I mentioned above, to absorb fat soluble nutrients we need fat in the food. So when you buy that low fat milk fortified with Vitamin D, keep in mind that vitamin D is fat soluble!

6. You should Eat Many Small Meals Throughout The Day

This idea has been around for a long time and is bunkum. As noted in the article:
It is not natural for the human body to be constantly in the fed state. In nature, we used to fast from time to time and we didn’t eat nearly as often as we do today. When we don’t eat for a while, a cellular process called autophagy cleans waste products out of our cells. Fasting or not eating from time to time is good for you.

Autophagy is now being recognised as a key player in longevity. Eating all the time prevents autophagy. Only the other day a study asserted that "feeling hungry" is actually a good way to stave off dementia.

7. Carbs Should Be Your Biggest Source of Calories

As noted in the link it depends on your current state of health. Generally though we eat far too many carbohydrate rich foods. Get rid of the bread.

8. High Omega-6 Seed and Vegetable Oils Are Good For You

Vegetable oils are just plain bad. Olive oil is great, so is coconut oil. Cold pressed virgin is optimal.

The ratio of omega 3-6 in the modern diet is completely out of kilter. These two fats play an important role in regulating prostaglandin production, omega 3's promote anti-inflammatory prostaglandins while omega 6's promote inflammatory prostaglandins. Grains again, far too rich in omega 6. Once upon a time the red meats we ate were rich in omega 3's because the animals ate grass but in these days grain fed beef is the norm and this increases the omega 6 levels in our meat intake. Very bad.

9. Low-Carb Diets Are Dangerous

I wouldn't make this an over arching claim because I do think low carb diets are dangerous for some people. I will address this matter in the concluding remarks.

10. Sugar is Unhealthy Because it Contains “Empty” Calories

A little sugar here and there is fine but generally there is far too much sugar in modern diets. Get rid of it. Sugar should be a treat not a typical part of the diet.

11. High-Fat Foods Will Make You Fat

As noted in the link high fat diets can aid weight loss.

Concluding remarks

There is some very good advice in this link but there is one important point I wish to emphasize. There is no optimal diet for everyone, there is no wonder diet that we can all follow. Each of us must find a diet that suits our metabolism and lifestyle. That takes time. Learn to listen to your body, find out what works for you. Don't follow health gurus, follow your body. 

1 comment:

Nutrition Myth said...

We always rely on what other people done to lose weight and tried to use this method but we may not know that some of it are just only myths.