With no shortage of conflicting diet advice in the market - made worse with access to the internet - many of these perceived truths may be harmless, but some will lead you down the path of ill health.
Myth #1- Gluten-free bread is a healthy alternative
According to Desi Horsman, Clinical Nutritionist, Wellness Specialist and Speaker, avoiding gluten is vital for those that have intolerance to it, and for people with gut health problems like crohn's and coeliac disease. “Gluten in essence should be kept in moderation because by nature it is inflammatory and all chronic illnesses have a big inflammatory component. This has led to the rise in popularity of gluten-free products like bread and crackers”, says Horsmam.
So the notion is that if gluten is unhealthy then gluten-free is healthy. “But when we have a careful look at the ingredients in gluten-free products we see that many (not all) are nothing more than another highly refined carb product, with processed vegetable oils (which also have an inflammatory effect), in addition to various additives and fillers to get bread-like texture and to improve taste”, adds Horsman. Gluten free bread is not healthy if the ingredients are made up of a combination of refined starches and fillers with a low protein and nutrition content.
Myth #2 – Low fat foods help in weight loss
This myth comes from the misconception that fat makes you fat when in fact it’s sugar that makes you fat. The right kinds of fats are good for your heart, skin, hormones, cholesterol and aid in weight loss. Horsman asserts that “When the fat is removed from a food it’s replaced with sodium and some form of sugar to make it palatable (since the fat is actually the tasty bit), and chemical fillers like emulsifiers to give it a thicker consistency. All these substitute ingredients are linked to weight gain. “Low fat foods are processed foods that are likely to have a high calorie content because of all the added ingredients which leads to weight gain and ultimately ill health.”
Myth #3- 100% fruit juice is the best way to get your daily servings of fruit.
Since fruits are packed with nutrients it is perceived that its juice will have the same benefits but in essence, whole fruit is very different to a glass of juice. Once all the fibre has been removed juice becomes highly concentrated in sugar which causes insulin spikes. “Unless freshly squeezed, juices are nothing more than processed sugar water with little nutrient value and added risk of diabetes,'' says Horsman.
The bottom line is we’re all different, with different tastes, lifestyles, dietary preferences and genetic makeup and what works for one person will not work for another. As scientific research continues to evolve and we are left feeling confused, it’s best to keep an open mind and be willing to challenge deep beliefs. There are certain foundational rules that will never change - eat seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables and whole foods that are not processed; avoid refined carbs and read the ingredient labels, at all times avoiding sugar, chemicals and trans fats. Use healthy cooking methods and add a dash of common sense and you will find what works for you.