I LOVE the LIVESTRONG blog, by Adam Bornstein, so this is one of MANY useful articles I will be sharing from him! Enjoy!
5 Surprising Health Myths!
by Adam Bornstein.
Consider the following the statements. Can you identify which ones are false and which are true?
There are so many health myths out there !
The latest research indicates a diet high in saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease.
Eating late at night makes you more likely to store fat.
Eating multiple meals (4-6) speeds your metabolism more than eating fewer meals (2-3).
Egg yolks are bad for your cholesterol.
A high-sodium diet is one of the biggest problems in the American diet.
Now some of the answers might seem pretty obvious. If that’s the case, I’m happy. I want people to be informed and knowledgeable about their health. But when I shared this quiz with a panel of hundreds of adults, on average, they responded correctly to only one question. (For the record, my wife scored better than the average, but she still got a couple questions wrong) So it might surprise you to know that the answer to each question is FALSE. You read that right. A quick overview would show you that:
1. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition combined the results of 21 previous studies and found that a diet higher in saturated fat was not linked to a higher risk of heart disease or stroke. That’s not to say saturated fat can’t be dangerous, but it also goes to show that the overall sentiment of the last 30 years to limit red meat and dairy was both overblown and inaccurate. Studies aren’t everything. And one study in isolation isn’t necessarily reliable. But 21 studies is a pretty good analysis to assess the impact. And when you consider the numerous benefits of other research on people who follow high protein/fat diets, it becomes easier to rest assured that fat (and saturated fat, specifically) is not the enemy.
2. When you find a study that shows that late night eating—in a calorie controlled environment—makes you fat, please let me know. Here’s what you really need to know about your body: It does not work on a 24-hour cycle. If you eat 2,000 calories in the morning and eat the same 2,000 calories at night, your body will process it the same way. In fact, when Israeli researchers compared people who at their biggest meal at breakfast to those who at their biggest meal after 8 pm, they discovered that the late-night eaters lost more weight and more body fat. What’s more, a study conducted by the USDA found similar findings: That people who ate most of their calories after 7 pm had more muscle and less fat. That’s not to say that you have to eat late at night. It just proves that the timing of your meals isn’t as important as you might have thought.
3. The myth about multiple meals started in the early 90s. That’s when everyone began to move away from three square meals a day, and begin grazing on smaller snacks and meals. In theory, the concept was great, except for the part where an entire nation has become fatter over the last 20 years.
When you eat, your body burns calories. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). Every type of food (protein, carbs, fats) has a different TEF, with protein being the most “metabolic” food you can eat. However, the frequency of meals does NOT influence your metabolism, as shown in this study. Again, the point is NOT to say that eating 5 or 6 meals a day is bad. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s a strategy I used for more than 10 years. But, personal preference is different than scientific fact. The best diet is the one that fits into your schedule and helps you stay consistent, whether it’s 3 meals, 6 meals, or 250 mini-bites spread throughout the day. And the only “flaw” with the grazing method is that the size of our snacks have increased more than 200 calories during the last 30 years. So if that’s your preference, just make sure to watch your serving size.
4. I could go on about this for days, but let me reiterate for the 985th time: Eggs are not bad for you, and the yolk will not skyrocket your cholesterol. There’s so much research that disproves the theory, that I could fill this entire article with links. In fact, not only has research shown no link between egg yolks causing cholesterol or heart problems, but researchers in Thailand found that eggs actually improve your HDL (the good cholesterol). When it comes to eggs, the only thing you really need to keep an eye on is the fat content and how it fits into your daily goals. (And yes, fat is fine. But too much of any nutrient is not good for you. So go egg crazy, but then cut back on the other sources of fat in your diet)
5. Did you know that sodium is an electrolyte? You know, the same good stuff that helps you hydrate when you’re sick or exhausted. We need salt in our diet to help maintain our natural blood pressure levels from dropping to low. Which is just another way of saying the war against salt has been overblown—and that’s probably an understatement. There’s a lot of salt in most people’s diet, but it’s not causing much damage. The only people who really need to worry about how much sodium they consume are those with very high blood pressure, and even then, you can still improve your health without a sodium adjustment. (eating more potassium can help counter the effect). The bottom line is simple: In people with healthy blood pressure—even those who eat much more salt then recommended—there’s not need to make a dramatic change. In fact, some research even indicates that cutting out all sodium can lead you susceptible to other help problems.
The point of the quiz wasn’t to make you feel uninformed. I was hoping for you to see that the need to stay updated on changes in the world of fitness and nutrition is essential to your own personal journey. I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t answer most of these correctly until I read more, spoke to the experts, and made sure that I had a better understanding of fitness and nutrition. Even then, I’m bound to make mistakes or misinterpret the facts. And when that happens, I’ll correct my errors and work harder to find the correct answers.
That’s the beauty of health: The landscape is ever-changing, and we’re always discovering new foods to eat, better ways to exercise, and more effective techniques to take care of our bodies. It’s why I’m signed up for a lifelong commitment to hunt, analyze, and share the tips you need to live the life you want.
Remember, your health is what you make. No amount of research could ever dictate all of the personal choices you make. And sometimes, research is just that: Information that occurs in a vacuum to help us question certain truths. But making informed decisions, and knowing why you take certain actions, is the foundation of any successful plan. So I encourage you to commit to your health in your own way. You don’t have to be an expert to live a better life. You just need to give your body the time and information it deserves.