We’ve come a long way in debunking many health myths, but some still linger. It’s important to do your research and seek advice from a credentialed medical professional for anything related to your health.
It’s also crucial to separate science from myth, especially when it comes to your diet. Here are seven extremely common (but totally false) health myths.
Drinking eight glasses of water a day is good for you.
It’s true that water is one of the best beverages for you – it supports digestion, circulation, the creation of saliva, and maintains normal body temperature.
But the eight glasses-a-day recommendation doesn’t make sense to experts. It’s not based on scientific United States guidelines, and doesn’t account for the amount of water in other drinks.
The amount of water you need depends on your climate, how active you are, and even the medications you take. You should consult a credentialed nutritionist about your specific needs.
Fruit juices are good for you.
Fruit juices do provide vitamins and minerals, but they are also a source of sugar and calories. Too many liquid calories can lead to weight gain, which in turn can lead to other health problems.
Fruit and vegetable juices contain soluble fibre, which supports gut bacteria and helps with blood sugar regulation and digestion. However, if you choose to drink juice, it’s best not to exceed 1-2 cups per day.
Often, manufacturers describe juices as “from concentrate” or “not from concentrate”. The “not from concentrate” variety has undergone one extra step in the manufacturing process.
Carbohydrates are bad for you.
Carbohydrates are considered a good source of energy by many global health organizations. They can be found in a variety of foods, from whole fruits to starches like potatoes and vegetables.
Carbs aren’t all bad, but it’s important to read labels and choose nutrient-rich carbohydrates from whole foods that contain fiber, vitamins and minerals, and avoid those high in added sugars. A dietitian can help you determine how much carbs you should consume in a day.
Avoid ‘healthy’ sugars, such as those found in honey and molasses, because they don’t offer any more nutrients than refined sugar.
Egg whites are healthier than whole eggs.
For those who are trying to lose weight or control cholesterol, egg whites provide a lot of protein and fewer calories. But if you’re an active person, whole eggs may be healthier.
Egg yolks contain vitamin A, which improves eye health; lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help prevent cancer; folate; zinc; iron; and choline. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain function.
When researchers fed a group of people whole eggs and egg whites after resistance exercise, the eggs with the yolks were associated with greater muscle-protein synthesis than the egg whites alone.
Soy milk is good for you.
Soy milk is typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D, nutrients necessary for bone health. It also contains plant chemicals called isoflavones, such as genistein. Soy isoflavones have been shown to protect against bone loss in premenopausal women.
Soy milk is also low in saturated fat and provides plenty of heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3s. It may also help prevent heart disease because it is high in potassium and vitamin K. People with a history of hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast or ovarian, should consider soy milk because it has been linked to lower rates of recurrence and improved survival rates.
Fat-free foods are good for you.
While it’s true that fats can increase your risk for heart disease and high cholesterol, the belief that all fat is bad for you is false. Your body needs a small amount of healthy fats to produce hormones, cushion your organs and aid in the absorption of certain vitamins.
Many foods marketed as fat-free contain lots of sugar and other ingredients that add up to more calories than their full-fat versions. If you’re looking to cut back on fat, try choosing whole ingredients that are low in added sugar.
Vegans and vegetarians are deficient in protein.
Many people are concerned that vegetarians may not be getting enough protein. However, studies show that most vegetarians get more than enough protein.
Plant foods do not offer all of the amino acids needed for human protein needs, and the few that do are known as “incomplete proteins”. These include seitan (wheat), soybean products, quinoa and amaranth seeds.
Apples are good for you.
In addition, some vegans are deficient in iodine, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Fortunately, these can be addressed by adding fortified food or taking targeted supplements.
Apples are a rich source of pectin fiber and quercetin, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties. The fiber in apples may also reduce cancer risk, especially colon and lung.
Research shows that regular intake of apples lowers blood sugar and helps improve insulin resistance. It also protects against cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, and other chronic inflammation conditions. Apples also contain a bone-building phytonutrient called phloridzin and help prevent bone loss for women after menopause. They also strengthen the lungs by reducing airway irritation and wheezing.