We live in the “Age of Information.”
The entire wealth of human knowledge is literally at our fingertips.
Anything you could ever want to know is just a tap or click away.
And yet it blows my mind that there are still so many uninformed people out there.
While this applies to all subjects, nutritional science is a field in which the propagation of misinformation seems to have gone rampant – almost like a Donald Trump campaign rally.
Everyone has a different opinion on what to eat (or not), and unfortunately for the rest of us, most of these opinions are not based on any facts or credible evidence.
This leads me to the topic of this post.
These are “The Top 5 Nutritional Myths” that are not only flat out wrong, but are preventing many of you out there from achieving the results you want and work so hard to accomplish.
Once you read through them I encourage you all to not just take my word for it, but to do your own research and decide for yourself if my opinions carry any weight.
1. Saturated Fat And Cholesterol Are Bad For You
This myth has been debunked by numerous studies in the past few years, yet people continue to perpetuate it.
Back in the 1950’s, scientist Ancel keys hypothesized that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol was the direct cause of cardiovascular disease.
He performed his now famous “Seven Country Study,” which appeared to show that serum cholesterol was directly related to coronary heart disease mortality at both the population and individual level.
Unfortunately, Mr. Keys forgot to mention that his study actually involved 22 countries; and that he “cherry picked” information that matched his hypothesis while throwing out the rest.
He neglected to mention countries like Holland and Norway, where fat consumption is high and heart disease is low; or countries like Chile, who have a high heart disease rate, but consume very little fat.
This study changed the course of nutritional guidelines in the United States for over thirty years, and unfortunately, people have suffered and continue to do so because of it.
2. You Should Avoid All Carbohydrates
I remember eating a salad at work one day with a few beets in it and someone asking,
“Aren’t you concerned about all that sugar?”
From 3 slices of beet?
We as human beings tend to paint with broad strokes.
It’s our way of trying to simplify very complex topics to fit our own narrow way of thinking.
If fat is now good, then carbs must be bad, right?
There is nothing inherently wrong with carbohydrates.
As a matter of fact, we need them if we want to function and perform our best.
The amount of carbohydrates you consume, however, is directly correlated with your body fat percentage and your activity level.
If you are overweight and don’t exercise much, you probably don’t need many calories coming in the form of carbohydrates.
Now, if you are lean and exercise regularly, you’ll want to consume more calories in the form of carbohydrate so that you feel and perform your best.
Be honest with yourself and decide how many carbs you really need in your diet.
No matter what your goals are, though, vegetables and fruits should always be major part of any diet.
3. Meat Is Bad For You
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve dealt with that equate giving up meat to a healthy diet.
Processed protein shakes with artificial sweeteners and chemicals?
“Sure, why not?”
But something that humans have been eating and thriving on for over 2 million years?
“Oh, no; my yoga instructor told me that it’s bad for you.”
We can thank the “China Study,” by author T. Colin Campbell, for this one.
The “China Study” gathered data on 367 variables, across sixty five counties and 6,500 adults.
Even though there was over 8,000 statistically significant associations, Campbell was still able to come to one single unifying conclusion:
“People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. . . . People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.”
Remember what I said about painting with broad strokes?
Mr. Campbell, like Mr. Keys before him, chose to cherry pick data and leave out many important points that contradicted his hypothesis.
For instance, he conveniently fails to mention the county of Tuoli, in China:
The people in Tuoli ate 45% of their diet as fat, twice as much as the average American in daily protein, and rarely ate vegetables or other plant foods.
Yet according to the “China Study” data, they were extremely healthy with low rates of cancer and heart disease.
In fact, this population was even healthier than many of the counties that were nearly vegan.
The study’s biggest flaw, in my opinion, was that it failed to make the distinction between processed and unprocessed food.
A piece of fried chicken from KFC was viewed, and recorded, exactly the same as a piece of wild caught fish or grass fed beef.
It didn’t matter if someone drank a milkshake from McDonald’s, or a glass of raw milk from their own farm.
Meat was meat was meat was bad.
Simple, easy to communicate, but deeply flawed, nonetheless.
Could the results, maybe, have been skewed by the large amounts of sugar and processed vegetable oils in many of the foods that the population consumed?
I believe so.
Now, please don’t get me wrong.
Do I think that our society relies too much on animal products and not enough on plant based nutrition?
Are conventional farming methods disgusting and inhumane?
But this does not take away from the fact that human beings evolved eating meat; and that the vast majority of folks feel better, look better, and perform better when there is some organically sourced animal products present in their diet.
For more of my thoughts on protein intake and the sustainability of meat consumption, click here.
4. Whole Grains Are Healthy
Long story short: they’re not.
Humans have been evolving for about 2.5 million years.
We domesticated grains about 10,000 years ago.
That’s about .004 of a percent of our time on this planet.
We spent the vast majority of our time hunting and gathering; and our diet consisted mostly of meat, vegetables, starchy tubers, nuts, seeds, and small amounts of fruit.
This is what our body recognizes as food and what our genetic makeup thrives on.
We simply haven’t had enough time to adapt to a diet consisting mostly of whole grains and grain products.
Hence why the majority of our modern population is either overweight or obese, despite all of the experts’ advocacy of a “low fat diet made up of whole grains” for the last thirty plus years.
5. Milk “Does A Body Good”
Unless you are six months old and breast feeding, then no, it really doesn’t.
I wrote an entire post on the negatives of consuming grains and conventional dairy products.
You can check that out, here.
Most things in life, including nutrition, are extremely complex.
Socrates said it best,
“The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.”
I don’t claim to have all the answers.
I’ve learned, however, that I should take everything I hear with a grain of salt, and I do my own research before I make up my mind.
I encourage you all to do the same.
Take your health seriously.
Investigate these topics for yourself, and at the end of the day make a decision based upon what you think is best for YOU.
Don’t just take my word for it, or anyone else’s for that matter!
After all, we are living in “The Age of Information.”
Take advantage of it.