Never in human history have there been so many myths about nutrition!
The internet is both a help and a hindrance in this. You can search for lady bug and get almost everything ever written about it. The genus, where you find them, mating habits. You also get a lot of crazy information about horoscope, people nicknamed Lady Bug, and even emoticons.
It can be overwhelming, to say the least.
The same is true of health, diets, and the best food for your body. Every time you turn around, there’s a new superfood, a new “miracle” supplement, a new research study.
Today, more than ever, it’s critical to separate the facts and the myths about nutrition. You need some basics, a few foods that really make a difference in your health right now as well as to oldest age.
What Does the Science Say?
All of it boils down to science. Some foods have the evidence to back up their claims. Others seem more like a person made a shake and felt amazing so conclude a specific ingredient is working miracles on the cellular level.
Calling something a “superfood” can be misleading. It’s supposed to be confined to foods that act as nutritional powerhouses. Packed with more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than most other foods.
Think of it like this: you have half a cup of blueberries and half a cup of pears.
Ounce for ounce, you’re going to get a lot more nutrition in the berries. They have more helpful flavonoids (such as anthocyanin) and nutrients that have been studied extensively by researchers around the world. They’re just as healthy fresh or frozen, meaning they’re available year-round. They’ve been shown to lower your risk of major diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Now, I love pears and they’re a great addition to your healthy eating plan. They’ve got excellent fiber, vitamins, and not too many calories. Ounce for ounce, they can’t compete nutritionally with the blueberry.
This is where it can get confusing but it’s important. This is a common myth about nutrition that is causing more harm than good!
Pears and blueberries aren’t supposed to be in competition. The human body does best when provided with variety in food. Lots of different foods that keep things interesting, feed your cells prime fuel with multiple materials, and give you plenty of energy.The human body does best when provided with variety in food. Keep your food diverse! #MythsAboutNutritionClick To Tweet
Too Much of a Good Thing
Over my years as a health writer, I’ve come across a lot of strange things.
I read about a man recently who fell so in love with the healthy attributes of bananas that it’s practically all he eats now besides some spinach. I’m not kidding! He consumes about 150 bananas a week. Bananas are healthy but your cells require so much more than they (even 150 of them) can provide. He takes a few supplements but his daily carb intake (not to mention an overwhelming amount of dietary potassium) is estimated to be over 500 grams.
For those who follow a plant-based diet, diversity is even more critical to health.
I’ve seen similar stories about every diet you can imagine, fasting far too often, and consuming bizarre amounts of a particular food someone heard increased fertility or made them smarter.
There’s such a thing as too much of something – even something considered good for you. That’s true about sleep, exercise, supplements, hydration, and food.
Separating Facts from Myths about Nutrition
The only way to truly figure out the truth about all of it – superfoods, diets, and what’s best for your body in particular – is to do the research.
If the “facts” about a food seem too good to be true, dig deeper.
There are some amazing sites out there who walk the line between “holistic” food facts you’ll see on every blog and “conventional” medicine that shrinks from food therapies. Two of my favorites are Medical News Today and Healthline because they take you right to the studies and have really embraced valid information about “nutraceuticals” in the past couple of years.
Never trust information that leans too far to either side.
If they say, “Food doesn’t matter in fighting disease,” I know they’re either not reading current scientific research or they’re being stubborn. Every organization on the planet recognizes that diet is a huge part of health.Every organization on the planet recognizes that diet is a huge part of health. You should too! #MythsAboutNutritionClick To Tweet
On the flip side, if they say, “Adding acai berries to your diet will prevent cancer,” then I immediately become suspicious.
To be clear: a diet filled with diverse healthy foods will lower your risk developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and all the rest. That same diet does not prevent or cure disease. It can help you. It can make you stronger so your body (and treatments) can fight…but that’s all.
Any site that implies otherwise is feeding into myths about nutrition. It’s dangerous and irresponsible. Both sides of the health world are guilty of it.
Mainstream medicine may recognize the debilitating nature of chronic stress (and inflammation) but they don’t believe that a specific diet or meditation can have a positive influence.
Conversely, the alternative and holistic side can take natural therapies too far. I’ve even seen sites tell you to dump your doctor and get off the “deadly” pharmaceuticals.
Some pharmaceuticals are deadly (and side effects for many of them are no joke), but some prescriptions are probably keeping you alive. Talk to your doctor, be honest, and ask questions.
If you talk about the benefits of coconut oil or how energized you feel after adding cacao to your morning shake, sometimes, you feel like a hippie straight out of the 1970s but that’s okay.
Do your research. Get the facts. In the meantime, keep it simple.
7 Common Sense Health Tips Everyone Needs
- Eat a diverse diet that includes a little of everything (protein, carbs, and healthy fats).
- Drink more water – even if you have to infuse it with fruit or mint.
- Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night (8 is better).
- Even 15 minutes of low-impact exercise daily can make a huge difference.
- Get most of your nutrition through diet (supplement as needed).
- Small changes each day add up to major life alterations at the end of one year.
- If something sounds too good to be true – it probably is (do more research).
If you’re not eating very healthy right now, consider taking a good multi-vitamin or making yourself a morning shake with lots of good stuff in it. Your body will thank you for the help while you figure things out.
Nutrition myths and facts aren’t always easy to separate but try not to get discouraged. There are some good sites, good products, and good people out there ready to help.Nutrition myths and facts aren’t easy to separate but don't get discouraged. Find reputable sites and go from there.Click To Tweet
LD, M. (2017). Blueberries: Health benefits, facts, and research. Medical News Today.
‘Raw vegan’ defies expert advice to live on 150 bananas a week and lots of spinach | Metro News. (2017). Metro.co.uk.