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Busting myths about what goes in your mouth

Sarah Doan | Fulcrum Staff

We’re constantly bombarded with nutritional information from a bunch of different sources. Our parents told us to eat our carrots to maintain good eyesight. Magazines provide article upon article about the latest fads and trends. Food packaging itself makes suggestions about what to eat and what to avoid, with labels like “low-fat” and “sugar-free.”

Jodi Turner, a registered nutritionist who graduated in holistic nutrition and food science from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, spoke with the Fulcrum to confirm or refute commonly held notions about nutrition.

Myth: Only eat one egg a day: busted
Turner: I recommend no more than two eggs per day because they can contribute to cholesterol, which is already created by the body. Eggs provide good cholesterol, you just don’t want too much. The egg white is a good source of protein, whereas the yolk is where all the nutrition is.

Myth: Low-fat or low-carb diets are the way to go: busted
No. The body’s preferred energy sources are the unrefined carbs which can be found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. It’s the processed grains we want to avoid, like in pastas and pastries. A low-fat diet is discouraged, as many of the low-fat products on the shelves remove the fat and replace them with sugar. Not only that, but fat is needed to absorb certain vitamins like vitamin D. Generally, eating full fat is fine as long as it’s in moderation.

Myth: Eating several small meals throughout the day is best for your metabolism: busted, kinda
I normally recommend five meals a day depending on what [the client] is seeing me for. A regulated diet with three main meals and two smaller snacks to moderate the peaks and valleys of sugar in our blood throughout the day is ideal.

Myth: Organic is healthier: evidence pending
I prefer organic (although I find that the term is a little lost). Organic foods are cleaner and can be more nutritious because the soil the food was grown in is healthier. If you’re buying non-organic, cleaning the food is important because of pesticides.

Myth: A raw food diet is healthier than one that’s not: depends
You’re getting a lot more enzymes with the raw food because they’re not being cooked away, making food easier on digestion because we’re using those enzymes. If you’re eating raw food, though, you’re not eating other foods like meat and certain fish. As long as people do it properly and get many of the proteins and good fats from nuts, seeds, and olives, it can be healthy, just be careful. Raw foods can be beneficial, but many people have trouble digesting them, which can strain their bowels.

Myth: You shouldn’t eat an hour or two before bed: confirmed
When you’re sleeping, the body is at rest, so no matter how nutritious [the food you eat is], if energy is not burned it turns into fat. The food can also stay in the stomach for six hours when sleeping and can contribute to heartburn—especially in older people.

Myth: Sugary foods cause acne: busted
Sugar contributes to acne, but it may not be the main cause. Sometimes acne is a sign that [the person] needs a more well-balanced diet, but it’s not always the case.

Myth: Fish is brain food: depends
It depends on the kinds of fish. Wild-caught fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which feed the brain and are easy for the body to absorb. Farmed fish, though, is not fed seafood or seaweed—it’s not in its natural environment so it produces omega-6, which becomes inflammatory.

Myth: People will eventually reject foods they eat day-in and day-out over several years: confirmed
Yes, it’s all about expanding the diet and not limiting it. The pancreas is over-taxed, so the enzymes it produces can’t keep up and you become more sensitive to the food. [The reaction] won’t be anaphylactic, but an intolerance will take place in the gut which can cause some unpleasant bowel movements.

Myth: Carrots can improve your eyesight: busted
Carrots support good eyesight because they’re rich in vitamin A. Food won’t improve anything, though—it’s about supporting.