Blink and you’ll miss it. Every few months there appears to be some health guru telling us about the latest superfood or healthy eating trend. You may have heard that dairy is the devil or that raw food is the ultimate in healthy eating. With so much conflicting information available to us online I thought I would take this opportunity to debunk some of the latest health myths.
Eating raw food is better for you
Advocates of a raw food only diet claim that raw food is better for you as the heat from cooking destroys vital nutrients. Whilst overcooking vegetables can certainly diminish the nutrient content and the heat from cooking can destroy natural enzymes present in food, eating all your food raw is not always a healthier option.
Some vegetables are actually better for us when they are lightly cooked as the heat can deactivate certain harmful compounds. For example tomatoes are better to eat cooked, so is spinach and kale as their nutrient content becomes more bio available (easier to absorb). Cooking cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower may also help to deactivate harmful thyroid disruptive compounds that they contain.
Low fat food is healthier
So many diet plans advocate low fat foods for weight loss, even diet food companies promote calorie counting and reduced fat foods as the secret to losing weight. Low fat processed diet foods are often full of artificial chemicals which can play havoc with our hormones and liver (which will also hinder fat loss) plus by removing the fat content from food, sugar is often used to replace the taste we lose from the fat.
By eating low fat food our bodies miss out on important fat soluble vitamins leaving us malnourished. Fat helps us to feel full so if we eat low fat foods we feel less satiated and always wanting more. This leads to food cravings, hunger hormone imbalance and binge eating because your body is starving for nutrients. Ditch the processed low fat foods and start eating real fresh foods. Fat is not the enemy.
Plant milk (e.g. Almond and Soy) is better than cow’s milk
Many plant milks are full of artificial additives, loaded with sweeteners and contain allergy promoting thickeners such as Carrageen gum. Pick your plant milks with caution as they could be doing you more harm than good. Some people do not tolerate dairy well and would be better to drink plant based milks but the key is to choose minimally processed milks that do not contain the nasty additives.
Whole organic cow’s milk is the least processed and contains slightly less natural sugars and more natural fat soluble nutrients than the skimmed variety. Milk is a good source of vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorous, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin B-12.
Carbs are the enemy
There has been so much negative press about carbohydrates, they have been deemed as the nemesis for all those wanting to stay slim. Not all carbs are bad and eating carbs will not suddenly make you fat, the secret is to know which carbs are the healthy carbs to eat.
Complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes are essential for good health. Not only do they provide us with energy, they contain essential nutrients such as B vitamins and natural folate that we need to keep our cells and brain healthy. Avoiding highly refined carbohydrates such as white bread, processed breakfast cereals and pasta on a regular basis is advisable as these contain minimal nutritional value and can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause energy slumps and when eaten in excess can contribute to weight gain.
Drink lots of green smoothies to help you lose weight
Eating your greens is certainly good for you as they are jammed packed full of health promoting nutrients which also help to alkalinise and detoxify the body however drinking copious amounts of green smoothies can produce side effects.
As the liquefied greens have a detoxifying effect they can produce nausea and diarrhoea in some people when drunk a couple of times or more a day and they may be hard to process for those with poor digestion. Adding raw greens such as kale to smoothies everyday may affect the thyroid gland and should be avoided particularly by those with underactive thyroid conditions as this can hinder weight loss rather than promote it.