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Popular False Myths in Health

If you're on the look-out for what to eat and what to avoid, you've probably been given some advice from colleagues, friends and family members that sounds reliable. If you're taking it super seriously, you might have even looked up diet tips on blogs or online forums. We've all been lent some genius expertise, which by all means, sound pretty obvious and credible. Well...after you read the following facts (backed up by scientific research) you'll realize just how gullible you might have been to believe these common food myths.

 

 

 

1. "Eating fatty food makes you fat."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

This is a wide-spread misconception, which leads dieting individuals to substitute their seemingly fatty intake with portions of greens. In reality, consuming fatty food does not mean you will become fat, or that the fat will be trapped in your body. Balance is the key. Even though some fats are considered 'worse' than others, excess intake of any kind of food in general may lead to weight gain, including carbohydrates and protein. Here's what Dr. Carly Stewart (medical expert at Money Crashers) states about the matter:

 

Eating fatty foods does not make you fat. Fat in moderation is a necessary part of any healthy and balanced diet. Putting on more weight in the form of fat is a result of energy imbalance. You will gain weight if you take in more calories than you burn. Fat is a concentrated source of calories, but it is not necessary to eliminate fat from your diet completely.

 

Bottom line: Fat won't make you fat, unless you eat too much of it. So go ahead and fill your plate with varied foods, and put your mind at rest. All you need to do is maintain a healthy balance.

Learn more about fat in our article: Did you know: What is fat?

2. "Eating carbs makes you fat."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

Ok, we've debunked the 'fat makes you fat' myth. But what about carbohydrates? Are these tempting donuts, for instance, to blame for our flabby stomachs? 

First of all, carbohydrates aren't only sugar, they also come in forms of starch and fiber. This means that when people say they'll eliminate carbs from their diet, they're also including fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, grains, seeds and legumes, all of which are super vital for our body. So, what's the right thing to do? This is what Dr. Stewart recommends:

 

It is a good idea to limit the number of carbs you eat in the form of sugar because sugar is low in nutritional value and high in calories. However, if you eliminate carbs completely, you will miss out on healthy food such as whole grain breads and wheat pastas. You will only gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn.

 

Bottom line: Eliminating carbs entirely from your diet is wrong. They will only make you fat if you have a poor diet or lack of exerciseSome carbs are less healthy than others, such as sugary and processed foods, but this does not mean you should remove them from your diet. Again, keeping a reasonable balance is a must, alongside regular exercise.

Learn more about carbs in our article: How Carbs, Not Fat, are Making You Fatter

3. "Gluten-free food is healthier."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

Being gluten-intolerant means you may need to cut down on your intake of quite a number of produce, including bread, pasta, cereal, beer, pastries, etc. Of course, there are gluten-free alternatives to these, which lately have not only been used by people who suffer from this  intolerance , but also by people who believe this myth. Just as some people find they feel better when eating gluten-free products, these products are not always a healthy option since they are often made with refined starches. Here's what Dr. Stewart suggests:

 

Gluten-free foods are only healthier for you if you are allergic to gluten. If you aren't, eating a gluten-free diet restricts the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals you are able to consume. A variety of foods that are high in whole grains (such as foods containing wheat, rye, or barley) also contain gluten, and these foods are an essential part of a healthy diet. Most people have no trouble digesting gluten. 

 

Bottom line: Only unless you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, there's absolutely nothing wrong in consuming it. Don't miss out on nutrients you are able to tolerate just because you were carried away with one of the gluten myths. Go ahead and enjoy your beer, without needing to worry - and as always, don't forget: balance.

Learn more about gluten in our article: What the Heck is Gluten?

4. "Everyone needs to defecate daily."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

You might have grown concerned when hearing people say that they're able to defecate twice a day, and asked yourself - how is that even possible? If you're not as efficient as them, does that mean you have something wrong? Well, these people have been honest enough with you and yes, many might need more frequent use of the toilet than others. But this doesn't mean there's something wrong with your body. According to Dr. Stewart, everyone has different schedules:

 

No single bowel movement schedule is right for everyone. However, staying hydrated, eating foods high in fiber, and being active will help ensure that your schedule is regular and you do not become backed up. 

 

Bottom line: As long as your stool is healthy, you needn't worry about how frequent you poop. This frequency might even depend on your food and water intake. Unless you're feeling any discomfort or are seriously constipated, you can put your mind at rest.

Learn more about digestion in our article: 14 Tips to Naturally Improve Your Digestive System

5. "The microwave kills nutrients in food."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

Most of us might be familiar with this myth, and with the microwave being so widely-used nowadays, it has also become quite a worry to families, especially because they've been told microwaves can kill nutrients in food. People might not have been completely wrong on this, but there's certainly nothing to worry about. Dr. Spencer Nadolsky (medical editor at Examine.com) elaborates on this:

 

Microwaving can kill some nutrients (sulforaphane from broccoli, for example) but this does not extend to all nutrients. Unfortunately, we need to look at this stuff on a case by case basis to see which foods you should microwave and which you cannot since there is no rhyme or reason to which compounds are damaged or inactivated. In general, microwaving is not a serious concern. 

 

Bottom line: There's no major reason to abandon your microwave. You might be more concerned about your microwave not heating meals evenly or not keeping your food in the desired texture, rather than it killing nutrients. After all, heating up broccoli in any way will cause it to lose its sulforaphane.

Image courtesy of Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Learn more about microwave in our article: 12 Home Hacks for Your Microwave
  

6. "You lose a pound of fat for every 3,500 calorie you burn."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

When dieting, some individuals tend to get very obsessed about their calorie intake and the exact amount of exercise they engage in, in parallel. This idea might have elements of truth, but the reality is that although we have various devices that can measure our calorie burn, none of these are precise. In fact, Dr.Nadolsky says: 

 

Unfortunately we do not have perfect equations right now, so while a pound of fat does have about 3,500kcal in it we tend to lose a pound of fat when our diets give us somewhere between a 2,000 and 5,000 caloric deficit. 

 

Apart from that, although he partly agrees with the statement, he emphasizes that this loss is not necessarily fat. We lose a substantial amount of water and other forms of tissue when we exercise. 

Bottom line: Do not rely on calorie counting to track your weight loss. It might give you a rough estimate, but it's not worth the time you spend to calculate and predict your loss by use of untrustworthy formulas. They might eventually lead you to disappointment.

Learn more about calories in our article: A Little About How We Eat Calories

7. "Spot training helps you burn fat in desired areas."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

Everyone has stubborn areas in their body that gain weight more easily than others, such as the stomach, legs or arms. People who have always wanted to target those areas in weight loss have tried 'spot training', but the fact that it's not effective might not be well received by these individuals. The reality is explained by Dr. Stewart:

 

Doing sit-ups (or another type of spot training) will strengthen the abdominal muscles, but will not burn fat specific to that area. Fat is burned or lost throughout the body on a more even basis, and is accomplished through aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. The pattern of fat gain or loss has more to do with each person’s unique body than it does with the type of aerobic exercise performed. 

 

Bottom line: Spot training won't help you eliminate fat from specific areas. However, this should in no way stop you from doing it. Muscle building makes you fit and it is still beneficial to burn fat in any part of your body.

Learn more about exercise in our article: Easy and Quick Home Exercises

8. "The scale is a good way to see your fat loss progress."
8 Common Health Myths You've Been Misled With All Your Life

So you've lost a pound or 2, and you're feeling satisfied. Your desired results are finally showing numeric proof on the scale - you're definitely burning enough fat! Wait - are you sure it's fat you're losing? The truth is, our body is made of much more than just fat. We all know it consists of a large quantity of water for starters, together with other materials, which can also be lost after exercise. Dr. Stewart explains further:

 

The scale treats both fat and muscle the same way – a pound of fat is the same as a pound of muscle. If you're strengthening your muscles during your exercise regimen, you might actually see a small amount of weight gain rather than weight loss, which is not a bad thing. A better way to track the progress of diet and exercise is to monitor how you feel and how you look. Your local fitness center may also be able to help with measuring your percent body fat. 

 

Bottom line: Using the scale is not the best way to track the progress of your diet. It may mislead you in both positive and negative ways - you may be interpreting muscle gain as fat gain, or water loss as fat loss. But either way, you will probably realize when you'd been burning your fat by the way you see yourself and feel.

Learn more about weight in our article: Scientific Tips for Losing Weight
 

 

H/T: Lifehacker.com

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