5 Nutrition Myths You Totally Thought Were True (But Aren’t)

Step away from the green juice

5 Nutrition Myths You Totally Thought Were True (But Aren't)

by Rosie Norman |
Published on

Your colleague at work fills her gallon-sized jug of green detox goo every morning and forces herself to finish it by the end of the day, and your sister gleefully munches on gluten-free biscuits (10 whole packets per week), but are they actually doing themselves any good? Nutritionist Rosie Norman tells us, if you’re thinking of adopting some of their healthier habits, then read on to separate fact from fiction.

Myth 1: Juicing is an effective way to lose weight

Yes, you will probably lose weight on a juice diet. However, it’s not sustainable. When your diet of blended vegetables and fruit finally finishes, the juicing companies don’t mention what happens when you go back to eating normally again (which you will).

Since juice diets tend to be lower in calories than you require to physiologically function, your body reacts by slowing down its metabolism. When normal eating resumes, your body will be burning less calories than it was before, which can lead to weight gain and make further weight loss even harder. Counterproductive much?

A juice diet, importantly, doesn’t teach you how to eat to lose or maintain weight, so you are likely to go back to doing whatever it was that made you overweight in the first place. If you can’t follow the diet you’re following for the rest of your life, forget it!

Myth 2: Everyone should go gluten-free

With more gluten-free products cropping up in supermarkets, it’s easy to think their benefits might stretch beyond the audience for whom they’re intended. Paradoxically, however, many people who reach for these specialist products don’t have coeliac disease or a diagnosed gluten intolerance.

Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits, but the many wholegrains that contain gluten – such as bulgur, farro, rye and spelt – do. They’re rich in an array of vitamins and minerals and fibre. Unless people are careful, a gluten-free diet can therefore lack these vital nutrients.

Furthermore, many of the gluten-free foods found in the supermarket are expensive and highly processed, made with refined flour and sugar. Junk food with gluten-free on the label is still junk food, so unless you have a diagnosed medical condition, save your money and stick with a normal healthy diet with a variety of whole foods.

Myth 3: Natural always means better

The word ‘natural’ invokes visions of green vegetables and fresh berries. However, this word is poorly defined in the food industry and often used as a marketing slogan. Some manufacturers use this word to make you believe a food is more healthy when in fact it is high in calories, fat or sugar. Some cereal bars or sweets, for example, are sold as natural because they contain agave nectar or honey. But, to the body, any added sugar is sugar, no matter the source. So be wary of packaged foods touting to be ‘natural’ and perhaps opt to snack on some fresh fruit or nuts instead.

Myth 4: Sugar is toxic and should be eliminated

Anything can be toxic in certain situations, even water and oxygen! What’s important is the dose and context. The World Health Organisation currently recommends we limit our added sugar intake to 10 per cent of our daily calories. This is about 50g or 12tsp per day.

Though it’s generally a good idea to cut down on added sugar, many of the studies done linking this to disease have been carried out on rodents, feeding them the equivalent of about 500g sugar. This is far more sugar than an average person would ever consume, about 16 Mars bars per day, so our current 60g per day intake is unlikely to do us much damage! Instead of vilifying a single ingredient, it’s much better to look at our diet as a whole.

Myth 5: The detox diet’ll help to remove nasty toxins from my body

A detox diet is said to be a dietary regimen involving a change in eating habits with an attempt to remove toxins from the body. Though these diets are popular, they’re not scientifically proven. We have our own inbuilt ‘detox’ system – the kidneys and liver, which effectively filter and eliminate most ingested toxins. Whatever detox companies claim, there is no evidence to suggest that eating a particular food or following a certain diet improves the efficiency of this system.

The benefits from a detox diet may actually come from avoiding smoking, drinking and highly processed foods that have fats and added sugar, which is bound to give your body less work to do. Make small, manageable and healthy changes to your diet for the long-term instead of following any temporary expensive and faddy regimes.

Follow Rosie on Twitter @GlutenFreeRosie

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us