Truth About Food Myths 

 Originally Written: March 3, 2014

By  Hanna Trafford

food mythsDid you hear the one about calcium causing heart disease? Or the one that says that wheat makes you fat or that sea salt is healthier than table salt?

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to believe. I like to “research” stuff – I constantly look for valuable information and try to share with everyone in a simple, easy to understand manner. Here are a few “myths” I decided to look into:

1. Colon Cleansing Gets the Body Rid of Toxins:

This went from “absolutely true” to “unnecessary and potentially dangerous” and it did fall out of favor in the early 20th century. Then it re-surfaced few decades ago, despite the fact that it had no proven merit. The body does clean itself 24 hours a day, seven days a week via kidneys, liver, colon, sweat and breath vapour. And there are no credible studies that would show that it is possible to cleanse the body of food additives, pesticide residues, caffeine or any pollutants. Better way to deal with toxins? Eat better and eat clean: cut out processed foods, such as white bread, deli meats, fast food and candy – stick to vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and fish.

2. Soy Causes Beast Cancer:

This myth comes from the fact that soy contains plant estrogen. And since estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer is stimulated by estrogen, soy was labeled to be the stimulator of breast cancer. This has now been disproved. All studies that were conducted by health experts from 2009-2011 show that soy was not associated with increase in deaths of breast cancer patients.It actually showed almost opposite: since estrogen from soy takes the place of human estrogen in the body and it is weaker than human estrogen, there is less stimulation of breast cancer with soy in the diet than without it. So – including soy in your diet is a good idea.

3. Wheat Makes You Fat:

Some of this no doubt came out because of certain diet books that blames wheat for obesity and host of other medical conditions. People who eat lot of refined wheat flour (in food like white bread and pastries) will gain weight. If they cut out the refined foods and eat more balanced diet, they will loose weight. It really is that simple. There are not any scientific studies that support wheat as a reason for obesity problems or support what-free diet for weight loss. Weight loss comes from physical activity and reducing calories. Replace refined wheat with whole grains and you will feel full and eat less.

4. Calcium Causes Heart Disease:

For decades, doctors prescribed calcium supplements to prevent and treat osteoporosis, because it is so important for bone health. But a collection of studies conducted in 2010 showed that taking more than 1000 milligrams of calcium a day was in fact associated with increased heart attack risk. The reason: excess calcium may possibly harden and block your arteries. But – that fact does not hold truth if you get the mineral from calcium rich foods, such as milk, yogurt and fortified soy beverages. Low doses of calcium – no more than 300 milligrams are considered only if getting enough calcium from food is a struggle.

5. You Need Eight Cups of Water Daily:

We all know that hydration is crucial to good health – especially during summer months. But drinking 8 cups of water may not be right for everyone. Water requirements depends on your environment, activity level and general heath status. You will need to drink more of you are active, live in the high altitude or when it is humid outside. Studies show that adequate fluid intake is 13 cups a day for men and 9 cups of fluid intake for women. Those numbers are for all fluids – not just water. Every beverage counts, as does food intake. Food actually contributed to about 20-25 percent of your daily fluid intake. But since it is not possible to measure the fluid levels in everything you eat and drinks, focus on the colour of your urine instead. You should hydrate yourself so you don’t feel thirsty and your urine should be consistently pale yellow.

6. Fasting After 7:30 pm Will Help You Loose Weight:

Oh yes – you can thank Oprah for this one! It was stressed repeatedly on her show in 1992 by her trainer Bob Greene. She did follow his advice and we all know – she did loose a lots of weight. However – this strategy alone does not hold much merit (and Oprah did gain her weight back). Again – simple statement hold true:”If you eat too much, you will gain weight” So – don’t go more than four hours between meals and snacks during the day . That way, you won’t come home hungry and eat all evening until bedtime. And if your dinner doesn’t fill you up, have sensible snacks sch as fruits, yogurt or cereal with milk. And also — avoid eating while you are distracted – such as while watching TV!

7. Removing Gluten From Your Diet Will Make You Loose Weight:

It was the much publicized diagnosis or frequent celiac disease that made us more aware of gluten. But many people do mistakenly think that gluten-free diet is meant for weight loss. The fact is that Gluten-Free diets are designed for people who suffer from celiac disease and those with nonceliac gluten sensitivity. For those, gluten-containing foods made with wheat, rye or barley lead to a host of symptoms including anemia, gastrointestinal problems and skin rashes. If you don’ suffer from this disease, gluten poses no problem. Consider the fact, that whole grain wheat, barley and rye are nutritional powerhouses – they provide  good sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, fibre and antioxidants – all of which are helpful for healthy living and disease prevention. Also consider that gluten-free products are often higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts.

8. Frozen Vegetables and Fruits are Less Nutritious Than Fresh:

We are bombarded every day with advice to eat less packaged and processed foods – and that makes people shy away from frozen produce. In this case, the only processing is washing, chopping and freezing – and that is good for vegetables and fruits. Studies show that fresh fruits and vegetables usually lose nutrients more rapidly than frozen ones.Frozen vegetables are quick-frozen within hours after picking, locking in nutrients, When buying frozen produce, be sure to read labels and choose products that contain no added sugar, fat or salt.

9. Sea Salt is Healthier than Table Salt:

Since sea salt is minimally processed, it is mistakenly labelled as being the healthier option. Both salts contain the same amount of sodium. Chefs like sea salt because it adds crunchy texture and strong flavor and it contains tiny traces of minerals. But – the sodium content makes it equally harmful to your health if you consume it in excess. THe mineral content is so minimal that it will not positively impact your health.

10. Eating Too Much Sugar Causes Diabetes:

This is an oversimplification of facts. People who have diabetes are advised to cut back on sugar so this may be why sugar has been labelled as the cause of the disease. The cause of diabetes is lot more complex. Some risk factors include obesity, inactivity and family history of the disease. People with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also at risk. While you will not get diabetes from eating sugar, limiting sweets is a good idea for everyone. Choosing whole grains instead of refined grains, planning regular balanced meals and drinking water as main beverage are always good ideas.


Hope you have enjoyed this information – please send me your comments and experiences – your input is always welcomed and very much appreciated!


Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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