Diet Myths Uncovered

We’ve heard them all! The Dos & Don’ts of weight management & healthy eating but what is fact & false?  The nutrition misinformation out there is endless and misleading which often leads to unnecessary restrictions & nutritional imbalances.  Common myths are usually created out of incorrect conclusions drawn from poor research studies or when certain studies get quoted out of context.  They appear to offer quick fixes and answers minus the scientific evidence!

Hence, as an accredited health professional, it is important to raise awareness about widespread diet myths that may be causing more harm than good or are just simply a waste of energy, money and time!

 Myth 1: Breads, Rice & Pasta are fattening.

Fact: One of the most popular dietary myths of all time, and the answer is NO! Breads, rice & pasta are carbohydrates, where in controlled and moderate portions, can never be a factor for your weight gain. Think about your toppings, sauces and fillings! A toasted double cheese and bacon sandwich, a creamy pasta dish with extra cheese & risotto with a creamy mushroom sauce; these are the culprits which add the extra calories to your dish! Alternatives would be a wholegrain turkey & light cream cheese sandwich, pasta Bolognese with added vegetables and a vegetarian risotto with low fat cooking cream. Small portions of such dishes can be included as part of a healthy weight management plan.

Myth 2: Commercial ‘ Allergy & Food Intolerance’ Testing can identify a whole range of foods you could be allergic or intolerant to.

Fact:  A large number of so called intolerance or allergy tests have inundated the healthcare scene with their false claims of diagnosing an allergy or intolerance. First of all, contrary to the practice of some medical, alternative and natural therapy clinics, THERE ARE NO BLOOD TESTS THAT RELIABLY IDENTIFY FOOD INTOLERANCES! These tests are usually very expensive and often indicate a very long list of trigger foods to be avoided.  Unfortunately, the only way to identify a food intolerance is to undergo an “ELIMINATION DIET” under the supervision of an accredited dietitian. This diet is a very bland, low chemical diet that is followed for a minimum of three weeks. Subsequently, each suspected food or chemical is introduced and challenged one at a time. If symptoms reoccur after a food is challenged, then is likely that the substance introduced was responsible for triggering the symptoms.

Now the way to “diagnose” a food allergy is by using skin prick tests or blood tests for allergen specific IgE (RAST) which will help your doctor confirm which allergens you are sensitive to. It is important to note that allergy test results cannot be used on their own and must be considered together with your medical history.

From experience, the most common unorthodox tests of allergy & intolerance testing are those that are based on IgG food antibody testing. IgG antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to exposure to external triggers, like pollens, foods or insect venom. IgG antibodies to food are commonly detectable in healthy adult patients and children, whether food-related symptoms are present or not. There is no credible evidence that measuring IgG antibodies is useful for diagnosing food allergy or intolerance, nor that IgG antibodies cause symptoms. Despite studies showing the uselessness of this technique, it continues to be promoted.

 If you do choose to get tested for an allergy – don’t be afraid to ask the practitioner these questions:

*Is there scientific evidence that it works? Has such evidence been published?

*How much does it cost?               *Why doesn’t my own doctor suggest this type of treatment?

*What are the qualifications of the practitioner recommending the treatment?

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) is the peak professional body of Clinical Immunologists and Allergists in Australia and New Zealand. The ASCIA website is an excellent resource for knowing more about allergies & diagnosis.

Myth 3: Cellulite bashing diets exist!

Fact: No they don’t! An extremely important note to make is that in the medical world, there is no such thing as cellulite! It is a non medical term or expression that describes pockets of fat that are trapped under the skin and held in place by bands of connective tissue. Hence, cellulite is just normal body fat where no low carb, cellulite fighting diet can get rid of it. Losing fat throughout your body happens with a good exercise plan alongside a low fat, wholegrain rich, nutrient balanced diet!

Myth 4: Mega-doses of “super foods” are a cure to certain diseases, such as in the myth: Antioxidants in food can be a cure for cancer.

Fact: The term “super foods” has been given to foods that have shown to provide beneficial properties for our health in growing research. Such foods include, vitamin C containing foods, chia seeds, quinoa, blueberries, green tea and the list goes on! Fact is, no specific food can act as a cure to illness. Including such foods as part of a healthy and well balanced diet is a way to lower your risk of developing certain diseases. Therefore, including such foods should be seen as a way to promote good health and to prevent illness and not as a ‘cure’.

 Myth 5: Eggs are a no no if you have high cholesterol.

Fact: The myth that you shouldn’t eat eggs if you have high cholesterol has been around for a very long time. It was believed that the cholesterol from foods such as in egg yolk was directly related to blood cholesterol levels. However, your total intake of saturated fats (i.e. animal fats including coconut and palm oil) have a greater impact on your cholesterol levels.  Therefore, it comes down to a bigger picture of looking at the type of fat in your diet and how much of it you consume. Multiple studies have shown that consuming eggs is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease or high blood cholesterol. You can still enjoy 3 eggs per week if you have high cholesterol  including the yolk but watch out for the sausages and bacon!

So now that a few myths have been debunked, always remember to question what you hear or read before being a victim of misinformation. Who wrote this?  Are they an accredited health professional? Where is the evidence? Simple questions that you should always ask if you come across a new ‘superfood’, wonder diet or anything related to health and nutrition!

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