By Patrick Namwambah
We have all come across various health stories in the gym or other health awareness groups that sound amazing yet they are inaccurate. It’s time to go through some of these misconceptions that folklore has passed down through ages and demystify them.
MYTH 1: Drinking eight glasses of water a day.
It is important to be well hydrated, but it’s weird to consistently take eight glasses of water on daily basis. Water is calorie-free and should be encouraged more instead of fizzy beverages. A good rule is to drink when you’re thirsty — you don’t need to count the glasses.
MYTH 2: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Apples are full of Vitamin C just like most fruits and you definitely need more that an apple to protect you from viruses and bacteria.
MYTH 3: Eating Carbs Makes You Fat.
Carbs-blaming is now a popular fad as the cause of obesity. For carbs to make one fat, they would need to work in concert with a poor diet and lack of exercise which makes those latter two more readily blamed. It’s important to limit the number of carbs you eat in the form of sugar because sugar is low in nutritional value and high in calories. We cannot eliminate carbs completely from our diet. You will only gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn. . Again, the truth comes down to striking a healthy balance.
MYTH 4: Natural sugar is better than processed sugar.
The biological effects of high-fructose corn syrup are essentially the same as those of honey. However, most synthetic sweeteners and other related products contain more sugar per serving, which means more calories. Therefore moderate consumption is key.
MYTH 5: Eating before drinking keeps you sober.
Eating before drinking only delays the alcohol absorption into the bloodstream. Eating a lot after drinking, however, won’t do much to help your hangover.
MYTH 6: Gluten-Free Foods Are Healthier.
Gluten is problematic for only those who are celiac or gluten sensitive. If you aren’t, eating a gluten-free diet restricts the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals you are able to consume. Most people have no trouble digesting gluten. However, eat it with balance in mind.
MYTH 7: Eating a lot of carrots gives you great night vision.
Carrots are loaded with Vitamin A which is good for the health of your eyes. But it takes more than a bunch of orange colored vegetables to have an eagle-eyed vision.
MYTH 8: Eating Fatty Food Makes You Fat.
Fat makes you fat, but what seems obvious often turns out to be wrong. Just because fat goes into our body doesn’t mean it stays there. Weight gain is a result of energy imbalance as a result of taking in more calories than you burn. We cannot eliminate fat from our diet completely. Weight gain will occur when ‘excess’ is consumed.
MYTH 9: It’s important to fast periodically, to cleanse toxins from your body.
Our bodies are elegantly designed to naturally remove toxins through the liver, kidneys and spleen. There isn’t any evidence that not eating—or consuming only juice—for any period of time makes them do their job any better.
MYTH 10: Organic food is pesticide-free and more nutritious.
Organic food isn’t free of pesticides. Most farmers who grow organic produce chemicals that are naturally derived. Eating organic food also doesn’t come with any nutritional benefits over non-organic food.
MYTH 11: Eating small meals during the day helps you control your weight better than eating fewer larger meals.
Having many mini-meals instead of fewer, larger ones, may rev up our metabolism into a higher gear and enable us burn a few more calories. However, the calorie difference is negligible. Snacking between meals may help some dieters to eat less when they finally sit down to dinner. Bottom line is to choose the eating pattern that works best for you.
MYTH 12: Everyone Needs to Poop Daily.
If you don’t make a bowel movement daily, it can seem like a problem when you compare yourself to those who take more frequent toilet breaks. No single bowel movement schedule is right for everyone. However, staying hydrated, eating foods high in fiber, and being active will help ensure that your schedule is regular. Make sure your stool appears healthy and that it doesn’t cause you discomfort. Beyond that, you don’t need to worry much about your pooping frequency.
MYTH 13: Your microwave can give you cancer and disrupt your pacemaker.
Microwave radiation won’t cause cancer, it just heats food up. Microwaves also won’t disrupt a pacemaker. However, your pacemaker may be disrupted by things like anti-theft systems, metal detectors, powerful refrigerator magnets, mobile phones, and even headphones.
MYTH 14: Yogurt will help put your digestive system back in order.
Yogurt is believed to aid digestion and slimming because of probiotics — the “good bacteria” living in the yogurt is good for our digestive tract. However, it’s not clear yet how the millions of bacteria already in our bodies work together, let alone when yogurt is added into the mix. The overall benefits of yoghurt are oversold and, most over-the counter yogurts are packed with sugar, which we do know contributes to obesity and other problems.
MYTH 15: Eggs are bad for your heart.
Eggs do contain a substantial amount of cholesterol in their yolks—about 211 milligrams (mg) per large egg. For most of us the cholesterol we eat—in eggs or any other food—doesn’t have a huge impact on raising our blood cholesterol. Focus should be on avoiding saturated and Trans fats, which have much greater impact on raising blood cholesterol.
MYTH 16: The Scale Is a Good Way to Help You Manage Your Fat Loss Progress.
Using the scale is not the best way to track the progress of a healthy diet and exercise. The scale treats both fat and muscle the same way – a pound of fat is the same as a pound of muscle. If you’re strengthening your muscles during your exercise regimen, you might actually see a small amount of weight gain rather than weight loss, which is not a bad thing. A better way to track the progress of diet and exercise is to monitor how you feel and how you look. Your local gym instructor should be able to help with measuring your percent body fat.
MYTH 17: Eating late at night makes you fat.
Calories are calories are calories, and it doesn’t matter what time you eat them. Focus should be on the total calories consumed.
The writer is the Proprietor of The Saints Health Club, located within The All Saints Cathedral Church Opposite Nairobi Serena Hotel.