What’s fact and fiction when it comes to your food?
We spoke to Galleria’s Naturopathic Nutritionist, Beth Spriggs, to uncover some myths surrounding our everyday foods that we need to STOP believing! Even if you are shocked to learn the truth, Beth says not to worry. It’s often the simplest changes to our diet that can make the biggest difference to our health. So let’s count these 5 food myths down (and out!).
MYTH 5: EATING LOW FAT IS GOOD FOR YOU
This myth makes a nutritionist’s blood boil! According to Beth it’s a common trap to assume that food labeled ‘low fat’ is better for you or will help you lose weight. Check out the ingredients list on low fat products and often they have much more sugar and the same or even more calories than the full fat option. Manufacturers have to replace the fat removed with additives, sugar and salt to get an acceptable taste and texture. Beth also warns that choosing low fat products can mean you miss out on the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are essential for brain and nerve health. So stick with the original, most natural version of your foods.
MYTH 4: EGGS CAUSE HIGH CHOLESTEROL
We owe the humble egg an apology. This myth is an outdated throw-back to the 80’s when cholesterol-fuelled foods were blamed for heart disease. The fact is that the type of cholesterol in eggs is not the ‘bad’ type and so has minimal effect on our blood cholesterol levels and heart risk. It is instead the saturated and trans fat foods we need to limit including fatty meats, dairy products, butter, palm oils and processed foods. Beth says eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can have, as they are perfectly proportioned in good proteins and good fats including omega-3. So feel free to enjoy your eggs, even up to 6 or 7 a week.
MYTH 3: NATURAL SUGAR IS BETTER THAN WHITE SUGAR
Many people think the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit (and juice) are different and much healthier than common, refined white sugar. Think again! As Beth explains, the body sees sugar as sugar: it doesn’t distinguish the source. Both fruit sugar and sugar crystals are made up of the same components: fructose and glucose. Beth warns sugar is toxic in high doses and is really only needed for people who burn a lot of energy. Sugar excess is stored in the body as fat, and can increase the risk of diabetes. Generally, you should look at limiting your sugar intake from all food sources, even the natural ones.
MYTH 2: DAIRY IS BEST FOR STRONG BONES
Traditionally we have been told to drink our milk and eat our cheese as we need the calcium for strong, healthy bones. Yet in Beth’s experience, many people don’t realise that you can also get the key nutrients for bone health from sources other than dairy. Foods also rich in bone-strengthening calcium include sardines, canned salmon, almonds, certain seeds, kale, broccoli, some beans and pulses. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium and comes mainly from sunlight, some oily fish and fortified (or boosted) foods. Also important for bone health is Vitamin K found in dark leafy greens and magnesium in nuts, oats and potatoes. So consider a wider variety of foods to provide the nutrients needed for a healthy skeleton.
MYTH 1: BREAD IS AN ESSENTIAL DAILY FOOD
We hit a nerve here! Most nutritionists now agree that bread is not actually a necessary part of our daily diet and should only be a ‘sometimes’ food. Beth considers most bread a ‘dead’ or inert, processed food that just takes up space, like pasta, rather than ‘alive’ or fresh, whole foods like fruit and vegetables. When you do eat bread your best choice is a very dark rye or breads with activated sprouted grains, which still contain a lot of fibre and vitamins.
Put simply, Beth’s professional philosophy to food is everything in moderation and everyone is an individual. She recommends looking at your plate and asking what your food choices are offering you in terms of nutrients. The key is finding the right combination of foods to suit your body.
For personalised nutritional guidance, speak to Naturopathic Nutritionist Beth Spriggs, who is available for consultations every Friday at Galleria SER by appointment. Beth Spriggs, BHSc A D Nut A D Nat.