Social media is full of misinformation. More often than not, posts relating to health and nutrition are largely void of any solid research. A mixture of this and certain industries pushing particular food groups due to profitable interest, creates an incredibly confusing and misleading picture on what is truly beneficial for health. Here is a list of some of the most common nutrition mistakes.
1. Assuming organic is healthy
This is a big one. As much as I 100% support the organic movement and highly encourage people to switch their fresh fruits and vegetables to a form less modified and sprayed, not all organic foods are healthy.
This mostly applies to packaged organic foods. Some organic chocolates have no less fructose or grams of sugar than any other source, they just contain organic raw sugar. Whilst this sugar is plant based and has had less chemical sprays, it is still sugar. Your body will still recognise it for what it is and the metabolic reactions that occur remain the same.
I’ve also seen organic fruit juices which have 30g of sugar per one little plastic bottle. In terms of your bodies response to this food, this is not much better than drinking a coca-cola as there is no fibre to minimise the effect of this ‘food’ in either drinks.
Highly processed foods can also still be organic. It is best to reduce highly processed foods, even if they are slammed with claims saying they are organic and healthy. Chances are, they are not.
I would also much prefer to buy local and fresh produce that is not certified organic over American organic certified food, but that's just me.
2. Avoiding fat
In the beginning, when we all thought avoiding fat was benefiting our health, even then the scientific evidence was fairly weak. In a nutshell, there was research hypothesising that eating saturated fat leads to heart disease. The American Heart Association took this hypothesis on board and from this day forward, butter, eggs, meat, and other fats contributed to heart disease and a low-fat diet was the way to go.
The problem is, the research didn't consider factors such as refined carbohydrate intake. Some research has also shown opposite results, but it was too late. Manufacturer's and industry jumped on board and started marketing products to be ‘low-fat’. As a result of every single product being marketed low fat, the general understanding was that any food containing fat was problematic.
First of all, the evidence quite clearly tells us that low fat diets actually contribute to ill-health, not prevent it. It has been found that people lacking fat in their diet are more likely to develop diabetes, cardiovascular complications, weight gain, hormone complications and decreased brain and other vital organ function.
Secondly, our brains are more than two-thirds fat. Our brain cell membranes are made of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), so it’s quite simply required for our cognitive abilities.
Thirdly, many vitamins and minerals require fat to metabolise and absorb.
The right fats actually help our bodies to metabolise foods, balance our hormones, support energy production, lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body, which is one of the main causes of disease. The key is to source the right fat. Not all fats are created equal in nutritional status and they all have different chemical structures. Omega-3 fats have actually been found to contribute to weight loss, amongst being anti-inflammatory and promoting healthy bacteria in the gut. An example of some very healthy omega 3 fats include extra virgin olive oil, grass fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and fatty fish such as salmon and trout. These foods literally feed our brain what it needs to function, as well as many other chemical reactions in our body.
3. Sugar replacements like agave
Sugar replacements like agave are not a healthier choice. A plant based sugar alternative sounded really good when it was pushed as a healthier option, but I think we forgot that sugar, which comes from cane sugar, is plant based too. ACTUALLY, agave nectar is much higher in fructose than regular cane sugar. Fructose can only be metabolised by the liver in small amounts, so when it’s overloaded, it starts turning this sugar into fat. This opens the doors to many metabolic problems and diseases. This ‘healthy’ plant based sugar, which is 85% fructose (35% more than regular cane sugar) is actually one of the unhealthiest sugars. I'm not saying don't eat it. I'm just saying be aware that it's not a healthier alternative.
4. Processed protein powders
I’m not sure when or why we started obsessing on consuming synthetic white powders for health support, but all I know is that plants and animals provide an abundance of proper and nutritive sources of protein that are recognisable by the human body. This is because we have the enzymes and cells to utilise them. Many (not all, there is a wide range of FOOD based protein powders) synthetic protein powders contain high amounts of added sugar, toxic oils, synthetic sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives and food colourings.
READ YOUR PROTEIN POWDER LABELS. If it does not contain REAL FOOD that you would find in your cupboard, then make sure it doesn’t end up in there. Just remember, whole foods provide all the protein we need. Powders will never do what real food will do.
In saying that, there are plenty of great protein powders and they are all processed to a degree. The idea is to ensure that the ingredients have come from whole foods. And if you don't really need the protein powder (there are medical and dietary requirements that may need them) and you are just taking it because your personal trainer told you it's good for you, just eat real food instead. You'll be able to save for a holiday to Mexico.