As a nutrition expert, I come across myths every single day. But there are a few that I want to bust once and for all. So let’s look at some of the worst nutrition myths I’ve come across in my work.
Juice fasts and detoxes are healthy
These are fad diets at their worst! When done correctly, short fasts and intermittent fasts can be beneficial. But restricting yourself to juices or detox supplements for days on end is more detrimental than healthy.
One of the silliest parts about longer detoxes are that most of them have little to no protein in them. But what many people don’t realise is that in order to detoxify, the liver needs protein! It uses amino acids from protein to detoxify different toxins.
A well-designed cleanse will last only a couple of days, and will be nutritionally balanced to ensure that your body is getting everything it needs to support the liver and digestive system. What it won’t have is heaps of high sugar juices or supplements that make you rush to the toilet!
Too much protein hurts the kidneys
If I hear this one more time, I’m going to cry. The truth is, too much protein can hurt the kidneys – if it’s significantly over evidence-based recommendations AND the kidneys are already diseased or damaged.
In a healthy, everyday person, 1.3g of protein per kg is supported to be safe and satiating. For someone building muscle or in an active job, it could be safer in even higher amounts. I recommend that everyone starts with 25g of protein in each meal, and include it in snacks when possible as well.
Coconut oil is a miracle superfood
For some reason, the health fad world decided that coconut oil could cure everything. But the truth is – coconut oil isn’t your saviour. Nor is it the devil.
The facts are these: coconut oil is a form of saturated fat. It’s very energy-dense, at 9 calories per gram. So if you’re having small amounts, that’s ok. But if you slather everything in coconut oil and go into a calorie surplus, you’re going to pack on weight still!
I use coconut oil as my baking oil. But until research shows me more benefits, I’m going to stick to extra virgin olive oil as my go-to oil of choice for general use.
If I go gluten-free, I’ll lose weight
Let me tell you – this is not a guaranteed outcome! At the end of the day, refined foods are refined foods.
To create gluten-free alternative products, food scientists have to add more additives and preservatives. They’ll also have to add flavour with extra sugar or salt a lot of the time. Often, gluten-free foods are higher GI as well. This adds up to more junk and more weight over time.
I do have some clients that find a gluten-free approach soothes their digestive system. But what I recommend to them is to remove the gluten, and add in a healthy option. For example, they might use a lettuce leaf instead of a wrap, or portobello mushrooms to replace the bun in a burger. This boosts up the nutrient content.
All preservatives are bad for me
Anyone who follows me knows that I don’t like preservatives in foods! But what I often don’t explain is that not all preservatives are bad.
Some are natural preservatives that are perfectly safe to consume. For example, vitamins such as vitamin C and E are used as preservatives. Vinegar and lemon juice (citric acid) are some other common preservatives.
But just like anything, natural doesn’t mean healthy when it comes to preservatives. Sugar, salt and alcohol are some of the natural preservatives that aren’t the healthiest choices, particularly in large amounts.
Do you want to live your healthiest life – without any of the fads or myths? Make sure you check out The Real Lifestyle Collective, where we talk everything nutrition, wellness and lifestyle. Learn more here.