By Alex Winfield
There are countless sources of information providing health and nutrition tips. Many online articles spread misinformation regarding nutrition which is often untrue resulting in several myths on this topic. Below we provide 7 popular myths about nutrition and the truth behind them.
MYTH: Eating after a certain time causes you to gain weight.
FACT: What matters most is how much you eat, what you eat, and how much physical activity you get throughout the day. You should still limit your intake of high-calorie foods close to bedtime since these foods can cause digestion and sleep issues which can result in unhealthy eating habits the next day.
MYTH: You should cut carbs to lose weight.
FACT: Carbohydrates, or carbs, are an important part of your diet. Carbs are your body’s main source of energy production. There are different forms of carbs, simple and complex. Simple carbs are found in foods that are not generally nutritious such as chips, soda, candy, and other sweets. Complex carbs are more nutrient-dense and found in healthier sources, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans. Reducing your consumption of simple carbs and eating complex carbs can help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you feeling full longer and providing nutrients that help regulate your body.
MYTH: Fats are bad for you.
FACT: Your body relies on fats for energy, vitamin absorption, heart, and brain health among many other functions. Some fats are healthier than others. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthy fats that can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, avocados, and almonds where polyunsaturated fat can be found in flaxseed, fatty fish, and tofu. Unhealthy fats include trans fat and saturated fat. Sources higher in saturated fat include whole-fat dairy products, red meat, and chicken skin and should be consumed in moderation. Trans fats, however, are considered harmful to your health and are found in processed foods such as chips, pastries, and cookies, margaine, and other fried foods. TIP! Read the ingredients on food labels for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil as these are hidden trans fats.
MYTH: Gluten-free foods are healthier.
FACT: If you do not have Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity, gluten-free foods are not healthier for you. A gluten-free diet is not intended to be a weight-loss diet, instead, it’s supposed to help those with these conditions. Avoiding gluten can potentially limit your fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
MYTH: Salt is bad for you.
FACT: Consuming an excess of sodium can lead to high blood pressure and kidney damage, but salt (sodium) is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps water balance, and is necessary for our muscles and nerves to function, including our heart and brain. Like many other things, it is the excess consumption of salt that can lead to health hazards.
MYTH: Dietary supplements are necessary to be healthy.
FACT: Most individuals should be able to get all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients through eating a balanced and healthy diet. Instead of taking supplements to gain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need, you should consume a variety of healthy, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy proteins. Dietary supplements should only be taken at a doctor’s suggestion if a deficiency is found and cannot be helped through diet alone.
MYTH: Weight-loss products and supplements labeled as "natural" are safe and effective.
FACT: There is no guarantee that these products are safe or effective. These products are not always approved or vetted by the FDA or USDA, and a product being “natural” does not indicate if it has any health benefits. Consult your doctor before trying a supplement or “herbal” remedy since these claims are not generally backed by science and research. Remember, there is no “quick fix” for weight loss.
It’s often hard to discern between what is true and false with many claims on the internet. Keep yourself informed by researching what you see and reaching out to healthcare professionals with any questions you may have. We hope you stay healthy, happy, and well-informed!