Diet Mythbusters!

Diet Mythbusters!

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The internet can be both your best friend and worst enemy when it comes to finding information about food. If you have a rheumatic disease such as osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis or rheumatoid arthritis then this can be even trickier! I appreciate that you can ask Dr Google pretty much anything and get hundreds of answers, instantly! But therein lies our problem. After reading a few articles or watching a few videos, you might find yourself asking

  • Who do I trust?
  • Why are there so many conflicting messages?
  • Which information actually applies to me and what Im looking for?

Pretty woman presenting a cloud of healthy nutritional vegetables concept

Especially when it comes to food, I completely understand how confusing all the answers can be! So in my blog today, I’d like to start by tackling 4 different nutrition myths which you might have come across in your search.

Myth 1: Fresh fruit and veggies are always better than frozen

Fresh fruit and veg might not be as fresh as you think. Unless you are buying your fruit and veg directly from the farm or a farmer’s market, it could’ve been sitting in transport and storage for weeks or months before you actually eat it. You might be wondering how the produce can be sitting in storage for so long without going rotten? It’s actually quite easy to achieve by manipulating the storage environment. Techniques such as removing ethylene gas during storage, modifying the humidity of the room, and increasing nitrogen concentrations can all work to slow down or stop ripening completely.

Even though the ripening process is slowed or stopped, micro-nutrients and antioxidants can still degrade; especially the more volatile micro-nutrients such as vitamin C. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t buy fruit and veg unless it’s from a farmer’s market or frozen. But what this does highlight is that frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh, contrary to popular belief. So choose whatever is more convenient for you – I love having frozen fruit and veg stashed in the freezer for a quick smoothie base, or 5 minute stir-fry after a long day at work.

Myth 2: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

We’ve all heard about the link between skipping breakfast and having a larger waistline or slower metabolism. I personally think this information is quite outdated, as there are so many other factors that come into play here. If skipping breakfast causes you to be ravenously hungry and overeat at lunch, then yes, there is potential for such a behaviour to be linked to having a larger waistline. However, if you’re not hungry until lunchtime and force yourself to eat something because you’ve heard that breakfast is a necessity, this may actually add extra calories to your day that weren’t necessarily needed.

Bottom line: personal preference is a critical factor. There are a couple of caveats though – those who have diabetes or are insulin resistant and need consistent portions of carbohydrate to keep blood sugar levels steady, and kids who need lots of energy to get through a school day.

Myth 3: Sea salt is healthier than table salt

Table salt contains approximately 2 300mg sodium per teaspoon, and sea salt contains roughly 2 300mg sodium per teaspoon – there is absolutely no difference in the sodium content between the two! The difference lies in the types of minerals each contains. Sea salt contains small amounts of magnesium and iron. However, to get any nutritional benefit from sea salt, a large amount would need to be consumed each day (and that’s not great for your blood pressure!). On the other hand, everyday table salt is fortified with iodine to prevent developmental and intellectual disabilities caused by iodine deficiency. If your diet lacks iodine, opt for the regular table salt. If not, take your pick!

Myth 4: It is important to fast or detox for a few days or weeks a year so that your body can get rid of toxins

What most people don’t realise is that our bodies have their own system to remove “toxins” – the liver, kidneys and spleen! A truly toxic substance (like a heavy metal) would require emergency medical attention, and cannot be rectified with a juice fast or diet. When you hear talk of “removing toxins”, it usually (incorrectly) refers to the unhealthy environment created by months or years of poor eating. Starving your body of the nutrients it needs to keep your liver, kidneys and spleen functioning optimally isn’t going to have any positive effect on restoring a healthy environment. Rather than depriving your body, you should be filling up on nutrient rich fruits, veggies, whole-grains, nuts and seeds for an abundant intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Be especially aware of detox teas and powders. There have been some cases of pretty severe side effects like kidney or liver damage with very high doses!

So, there you have it – 4 nutrition myths, busted!

If you enjoyed these mythbusters, why don’t you check out some of our other blogs here [insert link]? Or if you still have some questions that you are hanging to have answered, give us a call so that we can book you in with one of our mythbusting dietitians.

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