Busting 7 common nutrition myths
It is almost impossible nowadays to sort through the hoards of nutrition advice floating around the internet. Go keto! Go vegan! Cut carbs! Who do you listen to?
When I go to a family gathering and overhear, "I'm not eating carbs, I'm trying to lose weight!" I wonder how some of these nutrition myths came about.
Myth 1. You have to cut carbs to lose weight.
Carbs are beneficial for you, as they provide energy. Your body does not function properly without carbohydrates! The reason people get confused about carbs is because it is refined carbohydrates that you should stay away from, while whole carbohydrates are actually very healthy. Refined carbohydrates are white grains such as pasta and bread. Better carbohydrates are honey and root vegetables.
Our body does have the ability to create glucose on its' own, but when under stress, it isn't really ideal. Having enough carbohydrate intake is supportive of the liver. Carbohydrate consumption is important for blood sugar, adrenals, thyroid, digestive health & the immune system.
Myth 2. Sugar is terrible for you
Your cells literally run on glucose, which is what sugar breaks down into. Yes, eating cake and candy all day is absolutely not good for anybody, but your body will thrive with in-season fruit, honey and the occasional dessert.
The more stressed out you are - the more sugar (fuel) that you need! Your thyroid, liver, skin, hair follicles and gut ALL need sugar to function.
Without supportive fuel (like sugar) our skin will suffer.
Low blood sugar -> adrenaline and cortisol
Adrenaline and cortisol -> release stored PUFAs
PUFAs -> insulin resistance
Insulin resistance -> inflammation, thyroid dysfunction, blood sugar issues, metabolic suppression
All of these things cause aging, and can be mitigated by proper sugar intake.
Myth 3. The sun should be avoided
Science, the media, and mom's have convinced many people to fear sunlight, suggesting that it is a cause for cancer, skin aging, and more. However; truth be told, sunlight in proper amounts is incredibly healthy. Nothing improves one’s mood and appearance quite like a day out in the sun at the beach and the nice glow that accompanies it!
Sunscreen, as the name suggests, blocks out some of the beneficial parts of sunlight, such as UV-light rays and vitamin D3. Sunscreen is full of toxic oils that damage the skin when exposed to sunlight. This is due to the fact that the oils aren't stable, and oxidize easily. Oils that oxidize on the sun are frying the skin, and can cause pigmentation, lipofuscin (which are age spots), and wrinkling. There are healthier and effective alternatives to the use of toxic commercial sunscreen. There are also things that you can do to mitigate sunburns through diet. One is taking Vitamin E supplement, as it is shown to reduce free radical damage. Another way to reduce sunburn is to consume less PUFAs (nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, margarine. PUFAs also cause the body to oxidize when exposed to the sun, among numerous other health issues they are responsible for. When I go into the sun for a long time, I personally take either an oral vitamin E supplement, or put it on topically. I find that I never burn anymore since reducing my PUFA intake.
Myth 4. Salt is "bad"
Salt is not only essential for helping to restore blood volume, but also for retaining magnesium and regulating blood sugar. Salt gets a bad rep - it is said to cause hypertension. In reality though, salt restriction may cause hypertension and decrease blood flow in the body. Without salt, your body would be unable to hold onto any minerals, and you would be fatigued and anxious. Consuming an adrenal cocktail (orange juice, cream of tartar, salt, and collagen), is one of the most hydrating and nourishing things that you can drink!
Myth 5. You should never snack or eat before bed
Having a small snack of protein and fat before bed is actually really healthy, especially for women. Do you ever find yourself waking up in the middle of the night (around 2-3 am)? This means that your body is hungry and needs more fuel during the day. When our liver is burdened, then it may not be able to regulate blood sugar. This may cause waking up in the night with hunger pangs. A bedtime snack will help you sleep easier. A great snack before bedtime is ice cream, or a piece of cheese with a drizzle of raw honey.
Myth 6. Fasting is the healthiest thing one can do
There is SO much hype around fasting, yet there haven't been any long-term studies done on women for fasting. Women need fuel more frequently, and do best eating every 3-4 hours. When you sleep - this is a natural fast! Your body is already regenerating from the time you have your last meal at night to the time you eat breakfast, this is generally already 13-15 hours.
Did you know that a healthy liver stores up enough sugar to last you about 8 hours? Not providing enough fuel for your body will have negative consequences. When we go long periods without eating, we force the body to break itself down for fuel using stress hormones.
"Fasting increases the concentrations of free fatty acids in our blood because when glucose isn’t available for oxidation (during fasting or low carb eating), the metabolism shifts toward fat oxidation (lipolysis). In lipolysis the pituitary signals the adrenals to release adrenaline, to liberate fat cells into the blood. These fat cells partly become fatty acids and since they can’t be turned into glycogen and only certain tissues can use them for energy, they end up circulating freely in the blood. Free fatty acids are known to contribute to stress by further impairing sugar metabolism, damaging insulin receptors and increasing estrogen. So fasting increases stress hormones, estrogen, AND lowers metabolism and thyroid." - Quote from Noelle Kovary (@noellekovary) on Instagram.
Myth 7. Being vegan is optimal for health
A vegetarian diet is associated with higher rates of allergies, cancer, and mental illness, as well as a poorer quality of life compared to carnivorous diets, according to a new study.
Not to mention the fact that 3/4 of vegetarians go back to eating meat after being vegetarian. The decline begins with lack of energy, premature aging, digestive issues, weak teeth and/or hair, and also mental decline; anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues associated with the lack of nutrients that a vegan diet provides.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are often high in oxalates, grains, and vegetable oils. All of these having significant negative impacts on health long-term.
I personally suffered from debilitating cramps, hair loss, dull skin, and a tooth chip before I realized that I couldn't eat that way any longer.
There are nutritionally dense foods you can consume without needing to restrict or "diet". Generally speaking, the food trends that are currently being talked about tend to pass, and aren't worth buying into.
Real health comes from living holistically. The most important things are eating real food, getting quality sleep, having healthy relationships, and getting adequate sunlight and exercise. If you don't have the foundations down, you won't get very far.