It’s really difficult to navigate all the dietary advice out there — it seems like just about every day we hear of a new food we should and shouldn’t be eating! So we thought it was time to call in the experts and dispel some common nutritional myths.
1. Can acidic food or drinks alter the body’s pH balance?
The human body’s acid-base balance is regulated by several complicated mechanisms, including our kidney and respiratory functions.
Food, drinks and certain supplements can affect the acidity and alkalinity of our urine, but that’s where it ends. You can’t change the pH of your gut or prevent certain diseases like cancer by eating more or less acidic food. In fact, the pH of our stomach acid is between 1.5 and 3.5 — and it’s a good thing we can’t make it less acidic because then otherwise we wouldn’t be able to digest our food!
2. Taking diet pills, fat burners, metabolism boosters for weight loss
We know — taking a tablet every day seems far easier than changing our eating habits and fitting in exercise a few times a week. We tend to focus on the results without considering the possible effects these tablets may have on our health.
A lot of these products contain ingredients that haven’t been scientifically proven or are a concoction of herbal remedies which again haven’t been studied in that specific combination — at the best you’re probably wasting your money, at the worst you could be harming your health. Some tablets have extremely high levels of caffeine or don’ even contain the ingredients listed at all!
Rather consult with a healthcare practioner to properly understand the possible negative side-effects of using diet pills and supplements — never mind the impact of taking these so-called weight loss solutions long term.
It might be more difficult in the beginning, but changing your diet and habits will have better and more long-term effects on your health.
3. Lemon juice, vinegar and hot water in the morning helps you lose weight
Although this combination contains hardly any calories and increases your overall water intake, this morning drink has not been shown to aid weight loss.
It’s not all bad news though — this combination does contain antioxidants and trace micro-nutrients that can stimulate immune support, digestion enzymes and result in slight improvements in the functioning of our bodies.
4. Energy bars or protein bars are good for weight loss
Rushing from home to school and work and back again (while somehow getting kids to activities in-between) is hectic! And a lot of us don’t have time to prepare nutritionally balanced meals every day.
Quick meal replacement bars or snacks may seem like the solution, but beware! A lot of them are often high in sugar and fats and relying on them to replace meals often is not advised.
5. Carbohydrates after 6pm cause fat storage
This myth is just not true, as our guts secrete enzymes to break down carbohydrates whenever carbohydrate containing foods are consumed — whatever time of the day.
For most of us, dinner is the largest meal of the day, and it’s when we eat most of our carbs and calories. This means that these calories are often not ‘burnt’ or used by our bodies before bedtime.
Instead of avoiding carbs after 6pm, adjust your meal portions throughout the day and aim to eat fewer calories at dinner time.
6. Healthy food is more expensive
When we’re at the shops, it might seem like healthy food and fresh produce may be more expensive when we compare them to conveniently prepared foods, ready-meals or even processed foods.
But that price tag doesn’t take into account the negative side effects of eating calorie dense, processed meals too often. The cost of buying healthy food pales in comparison to the much higher medical costs people with things like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure have to pay!
Plus, healthy eating can be cost effective — it just takes some planning. Especially if you choose fresh produce that is sourced locally and in season and buy fresh veggies that aren’t already prepared for cooking.
7. Carbs make you fat
Eating carbohydrates won’t make you fat, but eating too many carbs (or too much fat or protein) will result in weight gain.Rather focus on the type of carbohydrates, as well as the amount you’re eating, if you want to lose weight or maintain a certain weight.
Dietitians recommend choosing wholegrain, complex carbohydrates and starch-based vegetables like butternut or sweet potato instead of highly refined processed carbohydrates.
8. Drinking skinny or detox tea
The claim that these ‘teas’ will help us lose weight, burn calories, boost our metabolisms, suppress our appetites or even increase our energy levels, is unfortunately more often than not, not based on significant scientific research and there is limited evidence to support these claims.
Also, some of the ingredients of these teas, are sometimes made of herbal laxatives that may increase the risk of certain gastric complications!
Often, people who drink these teas lose weight because they’re eating fewer calories (because they’re drinking more water to fill up their stomachs, creating a sense of ‘fullness’ and reducing overall appetite).
If you read the labels, most of these products state that drinking these teas should be combined with a healthy diet and of course exercise to result in weight loss.
9. The human body can’t digest gluten
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye.
Gluten-free products are widely available in stores and a lot of people choose to follow gluten-free diets to feel healthier, or are eating gluten-free foods to help with weight loss. Unfortunately, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence available and many people have misguided perceptions of gluten.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can eat a gluten-free cake guilt free, as the cake probably contains just as many calories as a slice of regular cake. Sometimes gluten-free products often contain higher amounts of sugar and salt to make the products taste better.
Patients medically diagnosed and suffering from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity as well as people diagnosed with certain medical conditions, like Hashimotos disease, are advised to follow a gluten-free diet and should definitely visit a registered dietitian for advice and nutritional guidance.
10. Skipping meals may increase your rate of weight loss
Skipping meals will certainly reduce your overall calorie intake (to reduce weight), but it may in the end lead to an increased risk of being overweight.
Scientific evidence and several studies published in medical psychology journals, show that skipping meals can make you feel hungrier and could potentially lead you to eating more than you normally would at your next meal!