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7 Myths About Nutrition That Are Not True: Breakfast, Water, Salt, Lactose and Our “Chubby-Skinny” Figure

Every day new trends in nutrition appear. Whether they say that you shouldn’t drink milk, or eat eggs, or bread.

Are the products we are familiar with since childhood really that harmful? Is chubbiness a sign of poor health?

We decided to figure out the myths that are taking over our food.

Myth 1: Skinny people are healthy, fat people are sick

Our health and the canons of beauty and fashion are not always interconnected. Previously, a very fat woman was considered beautiful, but now the standard is a skinny model on the cover of the magazine. Sometimes extremely thin.

For measuring whether the person is healthy or overweight people often using body mass index (BMI): the kilograms should be divided by the square of height (in square meters).

woman using body tape measure while measuring her waist

For example, the body mass index for a person who weighs 65 kg at a height of 170 cm: 65 / 1.72 = 22.5. This is normal weight. If the BMI is less than 18.5, then the person’s body weight is insufficient for it.

The range from 18.5 to 24.9 – indicates that the human body weight is normal.

25.0-29.9 – indicates the presence of excess weight.

Over 30 is a sign of obesity.

These are approximate values, as it is still important to consider, for example, age and gender. Currently, we increasingly see girls whose BMI is literally on the verge of underweight as ‘picture perfect’. And people take that as a benchmark. In fact, a person may have a healthy weight, excellent physical condition, but not look like a slender model.

We all know that being overweight has a lot of risks: a higher probability of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and so on. However, insufficient body weight threatens us a lot. In particular, problems with fertility, bone fragility, and a weak immune system.

Like obesity, underweight is associated with an increased risk of death.

Myth 2: To lose weight you just need to eat less

Genetics is often mentioned when discussing body weight. And it really matters. But the weight of adopted children resembles the weight of their biological parents, although they eat like a foster family. Genetics provides 70% of weight variability. Genes define a certain range of body weight. And getting out of this range for a long time is very problematic.

Here it is worth returning to the point about the body mass index: for some people, the slenderness of the model can be worth their health. 

If you want to advise a person with a full physique to eat less – do not rush. First, a person may have a completely normal body weight, and you see them as ‘fat’ only due to the peculiarities of modern standards.

Second, this person can eat healthy food and consume a normal amount of calories, and with these words, we only develop complexes in him and increase the risk of eating disorders.

Don’t do that.

Myth 3: Breakfast is the most important meal

Yes and no.

Breakfast is really important for children and adolescents. They have not yet established gluconeogenesis (metabolic pathway of glucose formation from non-sugar compounds) and are very hungry without breakfast, so they may slow down, lose attention or fuss.

For other people, everything depends on biorhythms and health. If a person belongs to the so-called evening chronotype (owl), then they may not have an appetite in the morning, and in this case, they shouldn’t force themselves to eat.

person eating food

Myth 4: There are foods that can speed up metabolism

There are many publications that some foods can speed up our metabolism. For example, it is advised to eat citrus and use spices.

But this is a myth. Of course, a healthy diet is important. It is good for the intestines, does not retain excess fluid, and generally affects weight loss. But to speed up your metabolism, you need to move more. It is important to have more muscle tissue, which even at rest, when we are not moving, expends energy. Weight is an energy balance. Either you eat less or you move more.

Mayo Clinic experts explain that the rate of our metabolism is influenced by a number of factors:

The complexion of our body. The more muscles a person has, the more calories he burns even at rest.

Sex. Men tend to lose more calories than women because they have more muscle tissue.

Age. With age, muscle tissue becomes smaller, so the speed of our metabolism slows down.

And genetics, lifestyle, quality of sleep, etc. have a great influence.

So, if you want to speed up your metabolism, then think about a gym membership.

Myth 5: Sugar and salt are poison

Everything is a poison and everything is a medicine, it’s a matter of dosage.

If we talk about salt, then its excess and its exclusion from the diet can be dangerous. Salt is the main source of sodium, writes the World Health Organization. Both large amounts of salt – more than 5 grams per day, and small – less than 3.5 grams per day can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

The WHO now records excessive salt consumption in the world – up to 9-12 grams per day. The reason for this is that a lot of salt is found in semi-finished products such as sausages or hamburgers.

What about sugar?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. It is found in the fruits we eat, and few argue about their benefits. But the WHO strongly recommends reducing the amount of so-called “free sugars”, namely monosaccharides (glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose, table sugar). These sugars are added in large quantities to snacks, sweets, store juices, and more. And they are a common cause of, for example, obesity and tooth decay.

At the same time, there are no data that would indicate that the sugar contained in fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk can have a bad effect on our health.

According to the WHO recommendation, sugars should not exceed 5% of our diet. So, for example, you consume 2,000 calories a day, so 100 calories should be for sugar. That’s about 6 teaspoons of sugar a day.

clear drinking glass beside pen and paper

Myth 6: You need to drink a lot of water

The recommendation to drink 2.5 liters of water appeared in 1945.

That’s 8 glasses of water a day!

And often even doctors, for example, specify that soup, tea, juice – do not count.

No, that’s not true. Everything counts. For some reason, everyone has forgotten a very important part of the 1945 recommendation: most of the liquid we need is already in the products we eat.

Also, our need for fluids is influenced by a number of factors – from exercise to medical indicators.

Water is really the best choice if you want to drink. It has no calories and best quenches thirst. However, as one randomized and controlled clinical study showed, if we are talking purely about hydration, then tea is not much different in this case from water.

So, if you want to drink – it is better to drink water. But if you drank a lot of tea or juice during the day – do not force yourself with an additional 2.5 liters of water.

Myth 7: Low-fat food is healthy

A low-fat diet was popular in the United States in the 1970s. The purpose of the diet was quite useful: to encourage people to consume less harmful saturated fats and reduce the risk of certain diseases.

But everything went wrong.

According to Christopher Gardner, a nutritionist at Stanford University, recommendations for consuming low-fat foods have led food manufacturers to realize that a lower amount of fat means less flavor, which means fewer sales. As a result, they made up for it with high sugar and refined grains. And sold these products as “healthy”.

It is also important to know that not all fats are harmful, and we desperately need unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts, and polyunsaturated fats are found in salmon, mackerel, sunflower seeds, and more.