There’s no shortage of health myths out there – from exercising myths to the right food to eat or what will kill you if you use it.
We’ve compiled X burning health questions and myths to answer or debunk. So don’t fret or wring your hands – we have you covered.
Health Myth #1 – Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease
In 2002 the Food & Nutrition Board issued the following – which contributed to this myth –
“Saturated fats and dietary cholesterol have no known beneficial role in preventing chronic disease and are not required at any level in the diet.”
In addition, the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine recommends adults to get 45–65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 20-35 percent from fat, and 10-35 percent from protein.
This fat to carb ratio will result in a heightened risk of chronic disease.
The truth is that most people will benefit from 50-70 percent healthful fats in their diet. And mind you this is for optimal health.
The reality is that you need very few if any, carbohydrates to maintain good health. Fat is much denser and consumes a much smaller portion of your meal plate.
So where did this myth come from?
Believe it or not, this myth sprang from an unproven hypothesis in the mid-1950s and has been affecting the health of Americans for more than 40 years.
Contrary to what has been put forth, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide the building blocks for cell membranes. They also supply a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances, which your body needs to function optimally.
Saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources also act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, mineral absorption, as well as a ton of other biological functions.
Check out this article on saturated fats for more information.
Health Myth #2 – If You Eat Fat You Get Fat
Here is the truth – eating fat will not make you fat!
The primary cause of excess weight and all the chronic diseases associated with it is the consumption of too much sugar.
Sugar in the form of fructose is especially bad but consumption of all sorts of grains, which rapidly convert to sugar in your body is equally as bad.
A lot of the blame falls on the low-fat craze which replaced saturated fat with trans-fat and sugar.
Health Myth #3: Artificial Sweeteners are Safe Sugar-Replacements Helping Promote Weight Loss
Here is an incredible irony – studies on the use of artificial sweeteners show that those who use artificial sweeteners actually gain more weight than those who consume caloric sweeteners.
Studies have also suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners can be harmful to diabetics looking to avoid sugar.
Additional data gathered from the 25-year long San Antonio Heart Study in 2005 showed that drinking diet soft drinks increased the likelihood of serious weight gain, far more so than regular soda.
There are also a number of other health-damaging effects of artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Health Myth #4: Your Body Doesn’t Differentiate Between Sugar and Fructose
Fructose is perhaps the greatest individual threat to your health. And many people consuming a lot of processed foods aren’t aware of it.
Studies are now suggesting that excess fructose, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), causes obesity and chronic and lethal disease.
Excessive consumption of fructose appears to be a leading cause of poor health and even early death.
Health Myth # 5 – Soy Is Healthy
Thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline a reproductive disorder, and infertility.
Unfermented soy has even been linked to cancer and heart disease.
In addition, 90 percent of American soy crops are genetically modified, which carries its own set of health risks.
Health Myth # 6: Eggs Contain Unhealthy Cholesterol
Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat and they do not have a detrimental impact on cholesterol levels.
Numerous nutritional studies have dispelled this myth including one conducted by the Yale Prevention Research Center published in 2010 which showed that egg consumption did not have a negative effect on endothelial function. It also showed that consumption of eggs did not cause a spike in cholesterol levels.
Health Myth # 7: Everyone Should Eat Whole Grains
The truth here is that all grain -including whole-grain and organic varieties – can elevate your insulin levels, which in turn increases your risk of disease.
In addition whole grains also contain gluten. Many people are sensitive to gluten and may also be allergic to it.
Health Myth # 8: Milk Is Good For You
Pasteurized milk contains growth hormones and antibiotics and once milk has been pasteurized its physical structure is changed. This change can actually cause allergies and immune problems.
Important enzymes like lactase are destroyed during the pasteurization process. This is what causes many people to not be able to digest milk.
Additionally, Vitamins such as A, C, B6, and B12 are diminished during pasteurization and fragile milk proteins altered into unnatural amino acid configurations that can actually worsen your health.
Raw milk contains beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, vitamins, and enzymes.
Health Myth # 9: Genetically Modified Foods Are The Same As Conventional Foods
There is a great deal of lobbying but companies like Monsanto to get you to buy into the myth that genetically engineered foods are safe.
What the ultimate effect of this food remains to be seen but there is growing evidence to suggest that increased disease, infertility and birth defects may top the lists of detrimental health effects.
Health Myth # 10: Lunch Meats Are Healthy And Nourishing
Guess what – most if not all processed meat products contain dangerous compounds.
These compounds include:
- Heterocyclic amines (HCAs): a potent carcinogen
- Sodium nitrite: a commonly used preservative and antimicrobial agent
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). AGEs build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
The World Cancer Research Fund stated in a publically funded review that processed meats increase your risk of cancer and that no amount of processed meat is safe for consumption
Health Myth # 11 “Junk” Food Is Always Forbidden
These types of foods can be part of a healthy eating plan. There is no reason not to enjoy these types of foods occasionally. The key is knowing how to stay in control of your cravings and eating these foods sensibly.
Health Myth # 12: “Natural” Foods Are The Only Types Of Foods You Should Eat
Unfortunately, there is no regulation on the use of the term “natural”. So you will find it used on cereal boxes to soda to packages of meat.
Because anyone can use it – and will use it falsely – you’re better off ignoring the word on any package and taking the time to read through the ingredients and nutrition information.
In this case, natural does not necessarily mean healthy.
Health Myth #13 If You Want Omega-3s You Should Eat Flax
Flax is a great source of fiber but isn’t the best source of omega-3s around.
While there are several types of omega-3 fats, they are not all created equal. Some are more potent than others.
The omega-3s found in plants like flax is known as the ALA type. The other types known as EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna.
These latter types of Omega-3s are the ones that provide many of the benefits you read about.
Flax by itself is not nearly enough.
Health Myth #14 If You Exercise Regularly You Can Eat Anything
If you think you can indulge in a super high-in-fat treat after hitting the gym, think again!
In order to “make up” for an order of large fries, you’d need to swim laps for an hour.
What about burning off a piece of pepperoni pizza? How about jogging for 30 minutes at a medium pace.
If all about balancing physical activity with calorie intake.
Health Myth #15 There Is No Eating Late At Night
Before swearing off anything after 8 PM consider your schedule and lifestyle.
Health Myth #16 8 Cups Of Water Each Day Is A Must
Listen, it isn’t always about the numbers or quantity. Stop worrying! Instead, listen to your body!
Everyone is different and some people may need more than 8 cups and others may need less.
There are also many foods like fruits and vegetables that contribute to overall fluid needs.
Keep in mind that juice, soda, and even coffee count as well.
Health Myth #17: You Should Always Buy Organic Food
There’s no reason to go crazy and spend your hard-earned money on every organic food that you find.
The Environment Working Group’s list of the most contaminated produce can help you make an educated decision on how and where to spend your money on organic food.
You can also eat locally-grown foods as many local farmers cannot afford the costs of being certified organic but follow the same practices.
Health Myth #18: Multivitamins Are A Must Every Day
Do not take supplements blindly – always do your research.
One of the most common supplements that are commonly thought of as a must is a multivitamin.
You need to make sure you are looking at everything about the multivitamin. They can be harmful.
Look for how much of each vitamin is present, does the multivitamin contain herbs too and will it interact with other medications or supplements you take.
Health Myth #19 Wheat And Whole Wheat Bread Are The Same Things
All “wheat” is not the same.
You should look for “100% whole wheat” on the label. This will ensure you get the healthier parts of the whole grain.
Wheat bread contains much less fiber than 100% whole wheat bread.
Always – with every food really – read the label.
Health Myth #20 You Can’t Indulge In Your Favorite Foods If You Are On A Healthy Eating Plan
Surprise! You CAN eat healthily and still enjoy your favorite foods.
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Here are some top health questions and answers
Health Questions #1 – Do potatoes, corn, beans, and green peas factor into your daily vegetable quota?
Sorry, the above are starches and these don’t cut it as veggies.
You need to add vegetables to your daily meals and the more variety in the color you add, the better the variety of vitamins and minerals.
Think of veggies like red bell peppers, yellow squash, purple eggplant, green beans and orange pumpkin.
Health Question #2 – Why am I exhausted even though I eat well and sleep for 7 – 8 hours?
Sounds like you are right on track but for one thing – you aren’t hydrating well. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, nausea, headache, and dry skin.
Make sure you drink enough water and other healthy fluids, like coconut water.
A good way to spot check your hydration is to check your pee. If it’s darker than pale yellow, you need more fluids.
Health Question #3 – If I cut out rice will I lose weight?
Here is a good way to lose weight – move more and eat less.
As you may have guessed, the bottom line is calories. If you take in more than you burn, you gain weight.
Omitting rice may help but it’s not going to be the only thing you need to do. It would be a good idea to keep a food diary for a week to find those sneaky calories that are hiding in your diet.
Health Question #4 – If I eat a big breakfast can I skip other meals?
There is an old saw that goes something like this – ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper’
While that may have been good advice when King Arthur was around, our lifestyles have become much more sedentary since there were dragons and castles.
It’s just not a good thing for eating a large breakfast if you are going to be parked at your desk for eight hours.
Instead, spread your calorie intake through the day. You risk acidity if you have large gaps between meals.
Health Question #5 – Should I eat every 2 – 3 hours even if I’m not hungry?
This may seem odd but if you wait until you are hungry, you will eat more than you should be eating.
Eating wholesome, balanced meals and snacks every 2 – 3 hours helps keep your metabolism high – a key factor to losing the fat. It will also keep blood sugar levels stable, and energy levels high.
Health Question #6 – Is there a reason why we are told to eat banana, chikoo, and mango in moderation?
These fruits – among others – contain more sugar than some other fruits – this makes the serving sizes smaller for these fruits because they contain more calories.
For instance, half a medium-sized mango or half a banana have the same calories as a tennis-ball-size apple.
Health Question #7 – What else besides eating spicy or oily foods causes acidity?
What causes acidity is irregular eating patterns – more so than a particular type of food.
If your stomach remains empty because of large gaps between meals or snacks, the acid in your stomach has nothing to digest.
As you can surmise this creates an acidic environment in the stomach otherwise known as acidity. And the best way to prevent acidity is to eat small meals/snacks every 2 – 3 hours.
Be sure to also drink enough water to help digestion and avoid drinking excess tea or coffee.
Health Question #7 – Can I get enough protein from beans and lentils alone?
Beans and lentils are good sources of protein and you eat a vegetarian diet you can get protein from other sources as well.
These sources include –
- Light tofu
- Low-fat or skim milk
Health Question #8 – Can I take a calcium supplement instead of drinking milk?
While taking a calcium citrate or calcium carbonate supplement is okay, your body is better at absorbing minerals from foods.
If you don’t like milk, there are other sources of calcium such as broccoli, spinach, sardines, and fortified soy milk.
Health Question #9 – Can cook with oil or vegetable-fat margarine instead of butter?
Absolutely you can use vegetable-fat margarine for cooking.
An increased intake of saturated fat from or something similar to palm oils will increase risk of heart disease along with a high-fat diet
Different types of cooking oils are fine to use in a small amount in conjunction with a low-fat meal plan to reduce the risk of heart disease. The general rule is two teaspoons of oil per day per person.
Health Question #10 – Can I cook food in extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point so it should not be used for cooking but rather used in a raw form on salads.
When oil smokes, it no longer remains healthy and becomes potentially carcinogenic.
Health Question # 11 – Which is the healthiest cooking oil?
With the exception of palm oils, all oils are healthy when used in small amounts.
It is best to use a variety of oils for cooking—rice bran oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, groundnut oil and to keep changing your oil every month.
Changing your oil will ensure that you get heart-healthy fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—in your diet.
Health Question # 12 – Should I eat something right after exercise?
As per research, consuming a combination of carbohydrates like fruit, fruit juice, or a sports drink and a protein supplement like whey powder within 20 minutes of your workout allows for best utilization of the protein by your body.
Drinking a whey protein supplement could help increase your stamina, strength, and endurance as proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue.
Health Question # 13 – Are biscuits and green tea good snack options?
Green tea is a great source of antioxidants. You can drink up to two cups a day if you have to drink it.
Liquids move out of your system faster than solids and this will leave you hungry again sooner.
The calories from biscuits add up fast if you snack on them because they are a starch. Go for the whole wheat, oat, or multi-grain biscuits.
Fruits, nuts, and seeds in small amounts or low-fat cheese are better-snacking options.
Health Question # 14 – What are healthy on the go snack options?
When possible eat “home food. You can plan ahead and keep at least five small snacks in your office making sure they are a good mix of protein and carbs.
The protein keeps you feeling full and the carbohydrates are brain energy.
Some examples might be half a natural peanut butter sandwich made with one slice of whole wheat bread, low-fat yogurt and half a cup of fruit such as strawberries or peaches.
Health Question #15 – After eating a meal should I drink water?
It is best to drink water 30 minutes before or after a meal. Drinking room temperature water or warm water aids digestion.
Health Question #16 – What’s a good midnight snack suggestion?
Foods with protein are best for midnight snacks. An example might be a cup of skim milk.
Health Question #17 – What foods have fiber to help reduce cholesterol levels?
To get some fiber in your diet you can try the following –
- One tbsp psyllium husk in one glass warm water before sleep
- Ground flaxseed added to pancake batter
- Oatmeal great for breakfast after a workout
- About ¾ cup whole wheat bran flakes cereal with 1/3 cup of milk for breakfast
- A bowl of beans and veggie salad with dinner provides a great amount of fiber
Drink lots of water – fiber needs water to work!
Health Question # 18 Does peanut butter have too much fat?
While peanut butter is mostly fats, the majority are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
If you consume peanut butter in small amounts, it can be an excellent source of fiber.
Peanut butter also supplies vitamin B3 (niacin) which helps your body pull energy out of foods. Peanut butter also contains folate, which helps to form hemoglobin and also many trace minerals.
Be careful though as one serving of peanut butter is half a tablespoon!
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Health Myths and Health Questions
So there you have it twenty health myths dispelled and some common health questions asked and answered.
Here is your healthy and happy lifestyle!