Debunking 10 Common Nutrition Myths

If you believe that consuming rice in the evening leads to weight gain, you’re mistaken! Discover additional nutrition-related myths and their corresponding facts in this article.

10 Common Nutrition Myths Debunked!

Numerous myths surround nutrition and healthy eating, contributing to the abundance of misinformation on the internet. Distinguishing evidence-based information supported by original research can be challenging. What were once oral traditions are now propagated rapidly through social media, health blogs, and various other mediums. In this article, Dt. Naaznin Husein, Principal Coordinator of Nutrition and Dietetics at Esperer Nutrition, addresses ten major myths regarding nutrition and explains why these outdated beliefs should be dispelled.

Myth: Intermittent fasting is universally beneficial for everyone

Fact: Intermittent fasting typically involves consuming one or two meals per day or fasting for certain periods. However, when the body is deprived of regular meals, appetite hormones and hunger centers in the brain become hyperactive, often leading to overeating during fasting periods.

Individuals may experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, irritability, and constipation, depending on the duration of fasting. Additionally, it’s common for unhealthy eating habits to develop on non-fasting days. For people with diabetes, skipping meals or drastically reducing calorie intake can pose risks. Similarly, individuals taking medications for conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease may experience imbalances in sodium, potassium, and other minerals during prolonged fasting periods.

Myth: There is excessive confusion surrounding anti-inflammatory foods. What exactly qualifies as such

Fact: Natural anti-inflammatories refer to foods that can potentially decrease inflammation and swelling. Adjusting dietary habits can be beneficial for inflammatory conditions such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, coeliac disease, glomerulonephritis, hepatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Foods like berries, avocados, fatty fish, peppers, mushrooms, and grapes are often considered anti-inflammatory.

Myth: Rock salt is a superior choice compared to white salt

Myth: Rock salt is a superior choice compared to white salt

Fact: Rock salt, also known as sendha namak, is highly regarded in Ayurveda for its various benefits including aiding stomach issues, treating coughs and colds, and improving skin health. It contains trace minerals and lower sodium content compared to table salt. However, it is not fortified with iodine, so substituting table salt with rock salt may lead to iodine deficiency.

Myth: Consuming rice as an evening meal leads to weight gain

Fact: Rice is a fundamental component of Indian cuisine, and its impact on weight depends on factors like quantity and quality. Controlled consumption of brown rice can be beneficial due to its high fiber content, which promotes satiety and slows the release of glucose. Additionally, refrigerating rice increases its resistant starch content, leading to greater satiety, a lower glycemic index, and a slower release of glucose.

Myth: Sugar is the sole cause of diabetes

Fact: While it’s important for individuals with diabetes to monitor sugar and carbohydrate intake to manage blood sugar levels, sugar consumption alone does not cause the disease in non-diabetic individuals. The primary risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include genetics, a high-calorie diet, being overweight, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Myth: Spinach is an exceptionally rich source of iron

Fact: While spinach is often touted as a rich source of iron, it’s important to note that there are two types of iron found in food: heme iron from animal sources and non-heme iron from plant sources. Spinach contains non-heme iron, with approximately 1.14 mg per 100 grams. However, spinach also contains compounds that can bind to iron, reducing its absorption in the body. As a result, significant quantities of spinach would need to be consumed to effectively increase iron stores in the body.

Myth: Spinach is an exceptionally rich source of iron

Myth: Consuming a product labeled gluten-free equates to a healthy choice

Fact: While gluten-free has become a popular trend in nutrition, it’s not universally beneficial. Some individuals who adopt a gluten-free diet, even without celiac disease, report feeling better because they’ve eliminated processed foods from their diet. Opting for naturally gluten-free foods like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and millet can be a nutritious choice. However, gluten-free processed foods may not necessarily be healthy options.

Myth: Consuming carbohydrates leads to weight gain

Fact: There’s a common fear that consuming carbohydrates will contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. However, in reality, consuming a moderate amount of nutritious carbohydrates rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such as starchy root vegetables, grains, and legumes, can actually promote health rather than harm it. Complex carbohydrates provide satiety and promote a slow release of glucose, benefiting overall health.

Myth: Drinking eight glasses of water a day is the magic number

Fact: Similar to nutrients and calories, the daily requirement for hydration varies for each individual. Factors such as exercise level, activity level, and ambient temperature influence how much water is needed. Additionally, beverages like tea, coffee, soup, cucumbers, and most fruits also contribute to overall water intake. However, it’s important to be mindful of added sugars, caffeine, and sodium in these beverages.

Myth: Fruit juices are a healthy snack option

Fact: Whole fruits are a preferable option compared to fruit juices. Fruit juice often contains high levels of added sugars, and it takes several fruits to make just one glass of juice. Excessive sugar consumption is associated with increased risk of various chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Choosing whole fruits instead provides the added benefit of fiber, which promotes gut health.

While these nutrition myths may persist, educating oneself to distinguish between fact and fiction can contribute to adopting a nutritious and sustainable dietary pattern.