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Health Myths, Busted

Ahuvah Sofer

Which facts about dieting are credible? Which ones are borderline myths? And which are downright nonsense? A few complications simplified, and health myths busted

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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1. Eating Fat Makes You Fat

Sure, feast all day on junk food like fried chicken and potato chips, and you’re bound to see it on your waistline. The body has a hard time digesting these kinds of fats, which is why they tend to sit where we don’t want them to. But it’s important to differentiate between unhealthy fats, trans fat (manmade junk), and healthier fats, like coconut, olive, or almond oil.

“The body is a brilliant biomechanical engineer,” says holistic nutritionist, Malka Stern. “It knows how to use the fat it consumes.” Healthy fats are important for balancing hormones, curbing cravings (which, of course, lead to weight gain), and nourishing brain cells. “In fact, my clients who cut out all natural fats, such as milk fat, from their diets, ended up losing less weight, not more,” admits Malka. “Low-fat diets, diets where the food had the natural fats trimmed away, can lead to lack of satiation, hunger pangs, and cravings.”

So, instead of waging an all-out war on innocent fats, try cutting back on some of the less-healthy fats like canola oil, and the manufactured junk like margarine and shortening, and replacing them with healthier fat options, like coconut oil or olive oil.

2. Eating Carbs Is Bad for You

Are eating carbs really as bad as the champions of the zero-carb diet industry tell us? It’s not so simple. Most will admit that high-carb diets are not for the health conscientious. “Carbs made from sifted white flour, especially, are harder to digest, cause sugar spikes, and puts your insulin (the hormone that balances sugar levels in the blood) on overdrive. This can result in headaches, hormonal imbalances, and weight gain,” says health coach Faigy Fink.

 

But to drastically cut back on carbs while assuming you won’t be the worse for wear? The carbohydrate food group is actually one of three sources of nutrients and energy necessary for human survival. “Our carbs are our first aid,” says Malka. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a center for nutritional advice for teens, diets that are too low in carbs can be dangerous.

“The trending zero-carb diets can only offer short-term results,” says Faigy. “Cutting down too much on carbs can cause cravings, which leads to binge eating — something we want to avoid most.” Most importantly, moderation and variety are the keys to a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Can we find a happy medium between indulging in carbs and cutting them out entirely? If carbs are your go-to food, cut out some of the white-flour carbs and junk carbs like cake and cookies, and try replacing them with more easily digestible carbs such as starchy fruits and vegetables (like butternut squash and sweet potato), and whole-grain carbs. “For some, trimming the carbs on your plate, while increasing intake of healthy fats (like avocado) and protein can help curb your appetite and stimulate weight loss,” says Faigy. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 689)

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