There are countless nutrition myths in the health industry. The unfortunate truth is that once a theory becomes "accepted as scientific evidence," it becomes rewritten until it is accepted as undisputed truth. However, some of these theories may not stand the test of time. Governmental organizations aren't likely to make a public announcement stating, "In light of new evidence, we must regretfully inform you that what we have advocated as healthy food is actually unhealthy."
I will attempt to reveal eight nutrition myths that may not only surprise you, but may allow you incorporate the facts into your life to make more informed decisions towards a healthier lifestyle.
Myth #1: Eggs cause cardiovascular disease.
Fact #1: Contrary to popular belief, when consumed by healthy individuals, eggs do not contribute to cardiovascular disease. Eggs contribute to satiety and can help with weight loss. A note to pregnant mothers: eggs are a great source of choline, which is crucial for proper brain development of the unborn child.
Myth #2: You need to eat every three hours to speed up your metabolism.
Fact #2: Increasing meal frequency does not contribute to weight loss. This is a highly-acclaimed myth, but the evidence doesn't back up the claim. There is no need to worry if you've gone more than two to three hours without protein -- you will not lose any muscle and your metabolism should not slow down.
Myth #3: Eating carbohydrates after 6pm can cause you to gain weight.
Fact #3: 80 to 90 percent of my carbohydrate consumption takes place after 6 p.m. This is because eating after 6 p.m. produced greater weight loss when carbohydrates were consumed at night. Hunger scores were lower and greater improvements in fasting glucose, average daily insulin concentrations and homeostasis model assessments for insulin resistance, such as HOMA (IR), T-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels, were observed in comparison to controls.
In layman's terms, body composition and virtually all blood work could improve if you consume your carbohydrates at night.
Myth #4: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Fact #4: Intermittent fasting (fasting for 16 hours per day) has many benefits. Some of the major benefits include increasing longevity, lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and decreasing your chances of acquiring age-related brain diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. It could also lead to a greater output of human growth hormone, which can help you retain lean muscle mass.
Myth #5: All saturated fats are bad for you.
Fact #5: Short-chain fatty acids from grass-fed butter and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil provide a variety of heath benefits. Short-chain fatty acids help repair the digestive system, which is linked to alleviating depression and anxiety, as well as boosting your immune system. When olive oil was replaced with MCT oil, subjects lost more weight.
In addition to thesee benefits, multiple studies have shown that saturated fats do not cause cardiovascular disease.
Myth #6: Creatine is a body-building supplement that causes kidney impairment.
Fact #6: Creatine is recommended as a supplement to people trying to add muscle, as well as to seniors. Creatine has neuroprotective effects and is currently being studied as an adjunctive treatment to Parkinson's disease. More importantly, it is also safe for older patients. Creatine supplementation does not cause renal impairment in older patients. I recommend consuming five grams per day pre-workout.
Myth #7: Consuming protein is bad for your kidneys.
Fact #7: In healthy individuals, high protein intake does not lead to poor kidney function. The key is not to make an extreme increase in protein intake -- doubling protein intake led to renal impairment in rats. My advice would be to gradually increase your protein intake to one gram per pound to maintain and build lean muscle mass.
Myth #8: Eating flax seeds is like eating fish oil.
The benefits of fish oil come from the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The EPA and DHA contained within fish oil provide cardiovascular benefits while the ALA (alpha linoleic acid) in flax does not. The conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is approximately 5 percent, and is not enough to justify its use as a substitute for fish and fish-oil products.
You have read eight common nutrition myths and facts that may contradict previous information. I sincerely hope these myths can be taken into consideration while striving for better health. If there are any nutrition myths you would like to add or discuss, please leave a comment.
I have used different resources in writing this article, including the following:
1) Zazpe I, et al. Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in the SUN Project. Eur J Clin Nutr. (2011)
2) Hu FB, et al. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. (1999)
3) Scrafford CG, et al. Egg consumption and CHD and stroke mortality: a prospective study of US adults. Public Health Nutr. (2011)
4) Nakamura Y, et al. Egg consumption, serum total cholesterol concentrations and coronary heart disease incidence: Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study. Br J Nutr. (2006)
5) Djoussé L, Gaziano JM. Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the Physicians' Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. (2008)
6) Qureshi AI, et al. Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Med Sci Monit. (2007)
7) Njike V, et al. Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults--effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk. Nutr J. (2010)
8) Ratliff J, et al. Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutr Res. (2010)
9) Pearce KL, Clifton PM, Noakes M. Egg consumption as part of an energy-restricted high-protein diet improves blood lipid and blood glucose profiles in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Br J Nutr. (2011)
10) Vander Wal JS, et al. Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects. J Am Coll Nutr. (2005)
11) Vander Wal JS, et al. Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. Int J Obes (Lond). (2008)
12) Wong, Julia M.; de Souza, Russell; Kendall, Cyril W.; Emam, Azadeh; Jenkins, David J. (2006). "Colonic Health: Fermentation and Short Chain Fatty Acids". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 40 (3): 235-243.
13) Oakefield AP, et al. A diet with 35% of energy from protein leads to kidney damage in female Sprague-Dawley rats. Br J Nutr. (2011)
14) Aparicio VA, et al. Effects of high-whey-protein intake and resistance training on renal, bone and metabolic parameters in rats. Br J Nutr. (2011)
15) Wang C, et al. n-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. (2006)
16) Gerster H. Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3). Int J Vitam Nutr Res. (1998)
17) Brenna JT. Efficiency of conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to long chain n-3 fatty acids in man. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. (2002)
For more by Dr Mike Hart, click here.
For more on diet and nutrition, click here.