LAKE OCONEE — Health news always seems to make headlines. One study says, “Eat this.” Another study says, “Avoid that.” With so much conflicting information, it’s hard to separate truth from fiction. So what’s a health-conscious person to do? Here’s a list of the four most common health myths – and the truth behind headlines.
- Antioxidant-rich foods dramatically reduce free radicals and protect the body from damage. While antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, blackberries, green tea, broccoli and pistachios can help, their effect on free radicals is not as significant as you might expect. These foods contain direct free radicals that fight free radicals at a ratio of 1:1, meaning one antioxidant takes out one free radical. Unfortunately, the average human being produces 130, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000 free radicals daily! New research is now exploring ways to turn on the body’s own enzymes to release "indirect free radicals", which are proving to be more effective in fighting free radical damage.
- Foods rich in saturated fat are bad for your health, make you fat, damage your heart, and cause high cholesterol. Many low-fat food items contain high levels of processed salt, refined carbohydrates and excess sugar. While trans fats should be removed from diet, healthy saturated fats like grass-fed butter, meats and cheese, as well as coconut and palm oils, are crucial for maintaining healthy cells, healthy organs and a healthy body. These fats also increase satiety, ensuring that we don’t overeat carbs, which leads to weight gain. Diets that are balanced and have an emphasis on good fats that feed the brain and provide the right nutrients make healthy people. Oils like olive oil and flax seed oil are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have actually been shown to reduce cholesterol.
- Vegetarian diets are healthy and skinny people are on them. Many people who claim to be vegetarian are actually “carbatarians” -- people who eat mostly, or only, carbs. This is not a well-balanced, healthy diet. Vegetarians have to put a lot of thought into the foods they eat to get enough protein-rich foods in their diet daily. It is not an easy diet, if done correctly. Meat is not an unhealthy food. A person who eats no meat, but a diet rich in French fries, white rice, and breads will not be skinny or healthy and is not a true vegetarian.
- You can lose weight by drinking diet drinks. Diet drinks contain harmful chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats. New research has shown that the sugary, calorie-free chemicals added to replace the sugar also make consumers crave carbs and sugary foods even more. That means these consumers tend to eat even more unhealthy foods in larger quantities, thereby gaining more weight. Diet drinks have also been linked to the increase in fibromyalgia diagnoses in recent years. Sugar is best done in its natural form in moderation, and diet drinks are best avoided. Stevia is a great natural, calorie-free substitute.
Dr. Haley Lance can be reached at Pathways to Healing, (706) 454-2040.