Common Myths And Facts About Nutrition

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Nutrition - what's right and what's not

Nutrition is defined as "the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth". In other words, it is the food we need to lead a healthy life. But, amidst the plethora of do's and don'ts and the ever-changing opinions of nutritionists, there are a few ideas that are just not true.

With the changing trends, and with the influx of western food, our food habits have undergone a tremendous change. No longer is home cooked simple food enough. We crave for the butter, cheese and flavour of burgers, pizzas and highly flavorful junk food which momentarily satisfy our senses and taste buds, but leave us craving for more!

Our lifestyles have also undergone a lot of changes . Children lead a more sedentary life, thanks to their books and video games apart from their studies. An outdoor sport which involves physical activity is pursued by a few. But a lot of time is spent on social activities that provide a lot of exercise to the mouth and less to the remaining body. The working class also have sedentary jobs. With more and more women working, they too end up with lesser physical activity.

All these changes in the way we eat and the way we lead our lives is increasing the number of lifestyle related diseases like Obesity, Blood Pressure and Diabetes.

Dieting is the only game where you win when you lose!

Karl Lagerfeld

Most of the times, we enter into "diets" to control our weights. But, very few succeed because we focus on reducing food and in turn calories. While calories are a measure of the energy provided by the food we consume, nutrition is the health benefit provided by the food. If you do not consume the right kind of food, then there could be other health related problems even though you may lose some weight.

In the world where opinions about what we should eat and shouldn't, here is a list of myths that affect what we eat.

List of myths that affect what we eat:


Food Item Myth Fact Solution
Kale Kale is the king of greens A research done in 2014 at William Paterson University in New Jersey have listed 41 "powerhouse fruits and vegetables" which are ranked by the amount of 17 critical nutrients contained in them. Kale was ranked 15th, 10 places below Spinach, proving that it is just another important green vegetable that is good to have. All greens are good. Don’t focus on only one.
Fish has Omega-3 fatty acids There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which is found in seafood
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) also found in seafood
- α-linolenic acid (ALA) is plant based and found in foods like flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil
For optimal health, all the three types of omega-3 are required.
Bread Brown Bread is healthier than white bread Brown bread gets its colour from coffee or edible colour which is added to the same dough that is used for making white bread!!! So, the amount of sugar and maida contained is the same in both colours of bread. Eat bread which is made of "100% whole wheat".  
Cake is a feel good food The psychological high that is got from eating food like a cake is a result of the publicity promoting such kind of food as feel good foods. Eating fatty and sweet food does not make you feel good. In fact, it makes you feel guilty and unhappy because of its effect on your waistline. Eat cake in moderation. A sugar rush may make you feel good, but be prudent about the calorie impact! Remember, food does not solve mental or emotional problems.
Eggs Egg yolks increase blood cholesterol and therefore can cause heart attacks! Only 25% of the cholesterol in our blood comes from the food we eat. The remaining 75% is manufactured by the liver when we eat food which has a high content of saturated fats. Eggs and especially egg yolks have a very low saturated fat content. Eggs also contain unsaturated fats, B vitamins, minerals and folate which help to negate the effect of the cholesterol contained in its yolk. one egg per day does not adversely affect triglyceride levels and serum lipoprotein cholesterol.
Protein Proteins help to build muscles While this is true, a diet which only has proteins is not good for you. Adequate amounts of protein help to build muscles when they are taken along with a healthy diet which also contains adequate calories and strength training.
Nutrition Bars Nutrition Bars are a good replacement for regular food Commercially produced nutrition bars contain non-natural/ artificial/ synthetic ingredients like sweeteners, flavours and chemicals. Sucralose is chlorine bleached sugar and was used as a pesticide. Sugar alcohols can come in the form of erythritol or maltitol. These are derived from GMO corn and can result in allergic reactions and digestive problems  Avoid nutritional bars or try homemade chikki.
Suji/ Bombay Rawa/ Semolina Semolina is nutritious Though semolina is coarsely broken rice grain, it is usually made from the rice grains that are broken when rice is refined. As refined rice does not have much nutritious value, the same applies for semolina.  
Extra-virgin Olive oil Extra-virgin olive oil loses its nutrients when heated Extra-virgin olive oil is a very heat stable oil. But, it has a very low smoking point. As a result, it can easily burn and thereby release harmful compounds. Extra-virgin olive has a nice fruity flavour which is best enjoyed raw. Use it to dress your salads or for your pickles
Honey is less fattening than sugar Honey is a natural sweetener, compared to sugar. But, like sugar, it has a high glycemic index and in fact, contains more calories than sugar. There are 65 calories in 1 tablespoon of honey while 1 tablespoon of sugar has only 45 calories Sugar should always accompany nutrients. Avoid added or extra sugar.
Ghee Ghee increases Cholesterol Ghee has 32% MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) which does not lower HDL (the good cholesterol). Use ghee in the place of sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil and cottonseed oil as they contain PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid)
Apples are rich in Iron There are other foods which are better sources of iron When you eat Apples remember that they contain other nutrients and not just Iron.
Bananas are rich in Iron There are other foods which are better sources of iron When you eat Bananas remember that they contain other nutrients and not just Iron.
Sugar Sugar-free diet will prevent diabetes Diabetes is the genetic disorder which is magnified because of bad lifestyle which includes a high-calorie diet coupled with physical inactivity and overweight. A bad diet can include excess protein, fat or starch in addition to sugar. Plan a healthy diet which contains a judicious amount of sugar, proteins, fats and carbohydrates apart from adequate calories and strength training.
Nuts Overeating nuts increases Cholesterol Various studies have shown that nuts help lower cholesterol levels and have other health benefits Eat a recommended amount of nuts every day
Margarine is healthier than butter Margarine is made from vegetable oils, but it can have trans-fats, which are bad for you. Buy margarine which does not have trans-fats
Frozen food Frozen food does not have as much nutrition as fresh food New methods of freezing food, ensure that the nutrition, vitamins and minerals are preserved as the fruits and vegetables are frozen immediately after they are plucked. Check for preservatives and added sugar before buying frozen food

To maintain a healthy body one should try to arrive at

  1. A personal food plan where all the nutrition required by the body is taken care of
  2. A physical activity schedule that includes cardio activity as well as exercise for all the muscles in the body
  3. A daily plan for consumption of water and fluids

Given this, if the difference between the calories ingested is more than the calories you burn, then even if you are eating healthy food, you will end up fat.

Take Care of yourself. Stay updated of women healthcare and get answers to all your queries, ask a gynecologist, of your choice, while sitting at home, download LAIMA.

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