Unravelling the Truth: Debunking Common Nutrition Myths

So much information, such little time!
In today's information age, it's easy to get lost amidst the sea of conflicting nutrition advice. So we've asked our expert doctors to debunk the nutrition myths they've seen circulating on social media!

From fad diets to miracle supplements, we are bombarded with myths and misconceptions about what constitutes a healthy diet. It’s time to separate fact from fiction and debunk some of the most prevalent nutrition myths that may be holding you back from achieving your health goals.

Myth 1: Carbohydrates are the Enemy

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap, but the truth is that they are an essential part of a balanced diet. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide our bodies with long-lasting energy, fibre, and vital nutrients.

Our head doctor, Dr Enam Abood, who supports many patients with their weight management wants us to get specific when we talk about carbs – “It’s the refined and processed carbohydrates like white bread and sugary snacks that should be limited, not all carbs.”

Myth 2: Intermittent fasting works for everyone

We are not all wired the same. If you have metabolic syndrome or not, your genetic makeup, your starting point, and many other factors can influence whether or not something like intermittent fasting will work for you. For some people, this shuts down their metabolism and others feel full of energy. Some people find intermittent fasting means less energy for exercise.

For others, working out fast is their favourite thing. You have to find what works for you and listen to your body – there is no one size fits all.

Myth 3: Fat-Free Foods Are Always Better

While it’s true that reducing saturated and trans fats is important for heart health, not all fats are bad and in fact, the demonising of fat we now know was led in the US by the sugar industry. Good fats are wonderful and vital. Our bodies need healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, oily fish, nuts, and olive oil, to function properly.

Healthy fats provide essential fatty acids, aid nutrient absorption, and promote satiety. Beware also of processed diet foods claiming to be “low fat” because they are nearly always higher in sugar.

Dr Abood noted, “Sugar is the only thing to avoid in general – a little bit occasionally is fine but it should not form a part of your daily diet. Even fruit with high sugar content such as bananas, grapes and mangoes should be eaten in moderation.”

Myth 4: Detox Diets Cleanse Your Body

Detox diets or cleanses often promise to rid your body of toxins and kick-start weight loss. However, our bodies already have a natural detoxification system in place – our liver and kidneys. Instead of following extreme detox diets, focus on consuming a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, which support your body’s natural detoxification processes.

Dr Abood advised focusing instead on reducing foods that cause inflammation instead of “detoxing” – “There are common foods and items that cause inflammation in the body such as salt and sugar. If you are lactose intolerant or fructose intolerant, dairy and fruit will also cause inflammation. Most processed foods, shop-bought sandwiches and lunch items, crisps, white bread and so on cause inflammation. So if you want to feel better, I recommend eating clean and stripping your diet of inflammation-causing foods and drinking plenty of water.”

Myth 5: Supplements Can Replace a Healthy Diet

While supplements can be beneficial in certain cases, they should not be seen as a replacement for a well-rounded diet. Whole foods provide a wide array of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fibre, that work synergistically to nourish our bodies. Supplements should only be used when necessary and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Myth 6: All Calories Are Created Equal

It’s time to move away from the notion that all calories have the same impact on our bodies. While calorie intake does play a role in weight management, the source of those calories matters too. For example, 100 calories from a piece of fruit will have a different effect on our bodies compared to 100 calories from a sugary soda. Focus on nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals alongside calories.

Dr Abood says there is one key secret –  “My key piece of advice for anyone struggling to manage their weight or get on top of their nutrition is avoiding ’empty calories’ – these are calories that offer no nutritional value, whether alcohol, soda, sweets, crisps, biscuits, white bread and so on. Every calorie you take in should give you a form of good nutrition, whether protein, good fat, vitamins and minerals or complex carbs.

Nutrition myths can mislead us and prevent us from making informed choices about our diets. By debunking these misconceptions, we can embrace a healthier and more balanced approach to nutrition. A well-rounded diet that includes a variety of whole foods, and good fats, and avoids “empty calories” is the key to achieving optimal health and well-being.

If you’d like a consultation with Dr Enam Abood about your nutrition or weight management goals, get in touch with the clinic today.

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