26 March 2015

5 "Healthy" Food and Supplement Myths

First of all, I'm no expert, so I'm leaving it up to the experts on this one. All 
statements are based on research as well as personal accounts. I created this list 
as a way to open up and expand upon what we have been "fed" to believe and help 
us think in a new light about what we've been told. Science and research is forever
 changing, so who knows what we will discover in the future. As it stands, here are 
 5 "Healthy" Food and Supplements that very well can be determined as Myths...

Myth 1: Melatonin boosts mood, regulates sleep and weight

Although it is true for some that their sleep-wake cycles can benefit from the addition of melatonin, there can be side effects that negate the actual purpose of it. For instance, some people will find their sleep distrupted from taking melatonin. Waking in the middle of the night, restless sleep and feeling groggy in the morning are all examples. Some individuals can become depressed and even gain weight as a consequence of this supplement. 

Melatonin acts as a hormone in the body and can actually shut off the body's feedback loop. What this means is the "hypothalamus-pituitary connection becomes dysfunctional. When communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary, the master hormone regulation center in the body, becomes comprimised, it leads to many other hormone imbalances"

Because it is a stress hormone you get an initial release of cortisol and will feel sleepy. It's the negative side effect of this cycle that can cause a host of negative side effects. I can equate this to waking up hungover, it can be a similar kind of feeling. Too much of this stress hormone will produce imbalances so its best to try another option when it comes to sleep.

MarksDailyApple.com wrote a great article about the dangers of taking melatonin which you can read about here

Myth 2: Fried foods are bad for you

Have your burger and eat your fries too! Well sort of...It turns out that eating moderate amounts of fried foods isn't bad for you and can even be beneficial. Some people find that small amounts of fried foods help them feel satiated and better able to stick to a healthy diet plan. 

According to Time Magazine, "Surprisingly, the evidence typing fried foods to health problems is mixed. While some research has linked fried foods to obesity, heart attacks, and diabetes, a recent long-term study of more than 40,000 Spanish adults found that those who are the most fried foods had no greater risk of heart disease or premature death. Another study, this one in obese women, even found a beneficial effect of fried foods on insulin levels".

The key is to chose the right oils for frying and switching to pure forms of sunflower oil and especially extra-virgin olive oil. And the amount played a key role too. General rule for frying: the less oil the better. Bottom line is you don't have to cut out fried foods altogether and moderation of their use will not impact your health negatively.

NyTimes.com has some great healthy frying tips and recipes that are good for you here

Myth 3: Diet pills work to help you lose weight

Sure, some people have taken diet pills and lost weight, mainly through a healthy diet and exercise in addition to the stimulating properties like caffeine in many diet products. But did you know that some people can actually gain weight taking diet supplements? Yes, and here is why...

Water weight- So at first you make take pills and shed a bunch of water weight stored in your tissues. The after effect is that the water comes back and works as a rebound of weight loss. Soon your clothes feel tight again and the cycle of wanting to go back on the pills because "they seemed to work" begins

Increased Appetite- If you've ever consumed too much caffeine you may have noticed you had ravenous cravings. Sure, this isn't always the case but for many they find they get even hungrier when taking diet pills than they did without them. Our adrenal glands can become over-stressed by the high stimulating ingredients that our bodies start to store weight to heal and protect our bodies. The exact opposite of what you want from a pill!

Muscle Loss- So let's say you've been able to cut calories by taking a diet pill and you've been losing weight. What's so bad about that? Well is it fat you are losing or is it muscle. When the body consumes too few calories it begins to look at muscle tissue for food versus fat. Hence, you're in starvation mode and the last thing the body will do is give up life-preserving fat because it doesn't want you to, well, die. 

Basically skip the diet pills, skip the gimmics and quick fixes. There are some great natural appetite suppresing herbs and spices out there that you can safely use. For instance, cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar levels, cayenne pepper increases thermogenesis, and green tea is great for boosting the metabolism, increasing mental alertness, and can aid in motivation. Fish oil, calcium, vitamin D, among others, are also showing to be great in aiding weight loss (primarily fat). Eat right (fresh and balanced), eat in moderation, and move often. That's all you need (plus time) to help you lose the extra weight you're carrying.

LiveStrong.com really gets into the specifics of this reversal effect of diet pills here 

Myth 4: A vegan diet keeps you healthy

Ok so first of all, I have nothing against vegan diets. In fact I was vegan for many years before transitioning back. This myth is mainly focused on long term effects and the uniqueness of each persons body. So if you're vegan, keep doing what you do because you're no doubt eating healthy nutrient-rich foods. The following information is not only interesting but can help those who are struggling with eating vegan or find their health is not heading in the healthy direction they thought it would be.

The main worry of a vegan diet is with the proper balance and adequate amount of nutrients it can provide. B12 especially, generally found in meats, is lacking in a vegan diet. This can be supplemented through B12 shots or vitamins. Basically taking a multitude of vitamins is important to ensure you're getting your daily requirements needed for proper functioning. The main nutrient, fish oil (omega 3's- DHA and EPA) are hard to consume through vegan sources. Just eating a vegan diet and allowing for fish oil would have a hugely positive impact on one's health. But its understoon that fish oil is not vegan and therefore some would have a problem with it.

You won't necessariliy lose weight eating vegan although a short-term vegan cleanse will. The problem is again focused on the long term. If you are lacking nutrients you will find yourself feeling tired, and feeling rundown and with less energy will not help you lose weight. If you eat too much soy you need to get your thyoid levels checked because so many vegans report having a sluggish, underactive thyroid as a result of a high soy diet. And it can also be harder to build muscle, so the right protein supplements and powders may be necessary if looking to increase muscle mass. 

It has been said that no cultures have ever thrived by subsisting off of animal-free diets. It can be a tricky balance staying vegan and staying optimally healthy over the long term. I'm going to leave this myth at that because I know some vegans who are doing fairly well. They still have their struggles and have to carefully balance out their diet and replenish with added supplements to maintain their health. Is it worth it? Probably not. But I'm not to judge and to each their own :)

If you want to read more about thinking twice before going vegan, check this article out here

Myth 5: High cholesterol causes heart disease

I'm sure by now we've all heard that eggs are good for you and won't cause you to have cholesterol issues. But did you know that a study was done to show that elderly people with high cholesterol lived longer than those with low cholesterol, on cholesterol lowering drugs? Yes. 

"The relative risk of non-cardiac death was 2.27 times higher in the low cholesterol group than in the controls (95% CI: 1.49-3.45), whereas the risk of cardiac death was the same in both groups relative risk 1.09; 95% CI: 0.76-1.56). The most frequent cause of non-cardiac death associated with low total cholesterol was cancer. These results in patients with coronary heart disease add weight to previous studies associating low total cholesterol with an increased risk of non-cardiac death." - See more here

Not all cholesterol is bad for you. Some is completely necessary, called good cholesterol, for the brain and body. HDL "think healthy" and LDL "think lousy". According to the American Heart AssociationLDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result. Another condition called peripheral artery disease can develop when plaque buildup narrows an artery supplying blood to the legs. HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. Experts believe HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body. One-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by HDL. A healthy level of HDL cholesterol may also protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL cholesterol  have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

So what can you take away from this information? Eat more healthy fats and reduce the amounts of unhealthy fats in your diet. Your doctors advice is the most important but any doctor would agree with this. Generally, its not needed to stress over cholesterol. So eat your eggs and you'll be fine ;)


Gingi said... [reply]

Great post, and super informative!! I'm fairly well versed in most of those points, though the fried food one was news to me!! haha.. thanks for stopping by my blog, keep in touch, yeah?! ^_^ - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi said... [reply]

Great post, and super informative!! I'm fairly well versed in most of those points, though the fried food one was news to me!! haha.. thanks for stopping by my blog, keep in touch, yeah?! ^_^ - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Unknown said... [reply]

Great article babe, you did an excellent job writing it.

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