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As I wrote about in my post about the trouble with nutritional science, there’s a lot of misinformation around nutrition. Through years of biomedical research, nutrition studies, and personal experience, I’ve become an expert at spotting food falsehoods and I’m debunking a dozen of the most common misconceptions about when, what, and how to eat.
Thanks to food companies wanting to push cereal consumption, most of us have been brainwashed into thinking that we can’t function without breakfast. While this might be true for people with impaired glucose regulation, the rest of us don’t have to worry about skipping breakfast. We might even thrive not eating first thing in the morning!
A lot of people feel guilty about drinking coffee, but this shouldn’t be the case. Only your genes can tell you if coffee is doing you any favours or not.
Nope. It’s been proven that eggs don’t contribute to high cholesterol.
We can thank Gwyneth Paltrow and many other wellness influencers for the idea that detoxing or cleansing regularly is healthy. This practice isn’t backed up by science and so-called detox plans are often expensive and hard to follow.
Time-restricted eating, which aligns your eating and fasting cycles with your circadian rhythm, is a more sustainable alternative. There’s a lot less marketing behind time-restricted eating because it’s practically impossible to make money off people simply limiting their eating to an 8- to 12-hour window and fasting during the remaining 12 to 16 hours.
There’s a lot of misinformation about eating meat, but, when sourced and prepared properly, meat is incredibly nutrient dense and eating it can have great health benefits. It is wise, however, to stay away from factory-farmed and heavily processed meats.
Part of the cancer scare around meat is how it’s prepared. Some cooking methods, like grilling and charring, create toxic and pro-aging compounds in meat—and it’s the same with vegetables. French fries and potato chips, for example, contain high levels of acrylamide, a human carcinogenic compound. But a boiled potato doesn’t have any acrylamide.
How you cook matters. Opt for low and slow methods. Use acidic marinades, such as lemon juice or vinegar—or even wine and beer!—to offset the formation of these toxic compounds.
Again, there’s a genetic basis behind how much salt is best for your body. Appropriate salt consumption levels vary quite a lot from person to person.
There’s no blanket rule around avoiding carbohydrates. There’s a genetic basis for how well you metabolise carbs and, of course, the type of carbs fuelling your diet has a huge impact.
There are some claims that raising the alkalinity of your body reduces disease and helps you lose weight, but nothing you eat is going to substantially change the pH of your blood. Following an alkaline diet can change the pH of your urine, but that doesn’t translate to increased health.
This is a great initiative and it’s wonderful if it encourages you to be active, but the ‘10,000’ number was plucked out of the air by a marketing team, not determined by scientists.
Your blood type should not impact your nutrition choices. Given that genetic analysis and blood work can help you optimise your health, it’s understandable to think this is based in science—but we’re all too unique to have just four blood type groups determine our nutritional requirements.
This craze was started by a celebrity psychic with no nutritional training. Enough said.
How much water you need in a day depends on your diet, activity level, and bowel movements. There’s no accurate research behind the magic ‘8-a-day’ measurement.
And let’s bust a bonus myth…
It’s no surprise this fallacy comes from companies selling snack food.
Our digestive systems need time for maintenance and repair, which is impossible if we’re always eating! A good analogy is an average home office day: you have work and chores and things to get done, but people are constantly ringing the doorbell with deliveries. Instead of working, you spend most of your time receiving packages and figuring out where to put them all. That’s what snacking does to your body. Your good gut bacteria deserve some well-earned rest!
Digestion is also a major source of collateral inflammation. Each time we eat, our gut becomes transiently leaky (it’s called intestinal permeability), which sounds alarming, but is totally normal and allows our body to absorb nutrients. This leaking causes small amounts of gut bacteria to end up in our bloodstream, which switches on a transient inflammatory response. The more often you eat, the more often this transient inflammatory response is turned on, and the larger the inflammatory burden on your body. Some of the damage can be offset by incorporating important nutrients into your meals, but staying away from grazing has a positive impact on your immunity.
Having busted some of the most egregious myths around food, I look forward to sharing the truth behind nutrition with you! One of the fundamental pillars is that your uniqueness is the key to optimising your health and, at Rivr, we work with you to take the guesswork out of finding your ideal nutritional strategy.
You can’t optimize what you can’t measure and our functional lab tests allow us to analyze an individualized panel of important health and longevity biomarkers in your blood. Together with a robust DNA analysis, we help you make informed decisions about your health—and implement sustainable changes to reach your goals.
If you are interested in scientific nutritional counselling, we will gladly assist you as objective advisors. It is important to us to give you an understanding of the scope of the treatment. In a non-binding consultation, we will discuss the possibilities and approaches with you. This discussion provides you with a solid basis for deciding in principle for or against a treatment.