food myths debunked

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    Mar 24, 2009 8:17 PM GMT

    To all the gym rats out there aiming for the perfect body, here are some scientific studies to help you along. What I've learned from both 2 years of medical school and recent research is that a 'perfect body' does not necessarily translate into 'perfect health'. It baffles me how even health conscious people fall prey to ideas that have no basis in respected scientific literature. Here we go....


    1. The amount of protein you consume is directly proportional to the amount of muscle built after workouts. In reality....
    Two separate sports medicine journals have found that although up 35% of your nutritional intake should be protein, any more than that may not translate to positive muscle growth. Richard Kreiger at U. of Memphis has gone on record as saying that consuming additional protein does not promote muscle growth, in fact, it could have adverse effects on the kidneys. Furthermore, all the protein we need for muscle growth is easily obtained through out diet, making protein supplements negligible. The main effect protein supplements seem to have is the 'placebo effect'. Physiologically, they may do little or nothing. Those claim benefit from them are just ignoring the idea that the immense caloric intake of these supplements is bound to make them gain weight.


    2. 6 small meals are better throughout the day than just 3. In reality...
    While this one is technically correct, most people actually increase the portions of the 6 meals, rendering their effect counterproductive. Human beings are evolutionarily conditioned to eat larger potions. Besides, no study has ever conclusively studied how 'mini' these small meals should be; leading to overeating among those who seek to gain/lose weight.


    3. Eating at night causes you to store more fat.
    In reality.... it doesnt matter at what time you eat, as long as you consume lesser calories than your average daily need (in order to lose weight). Eating during diurnal hours IS better though, because of the habits associated with it, not because of the value of the time of day itself.


    4. Salt increases blood pressure. This one's so common even some MDs promote the taboo of 'no salt'. In reality..... High blood pressure is causes by a narrowing of the arteries, which is in turn driven by cholesterol. Salt does not figure anywhere in the causation of hypertension. A person with normal blood pressure will NEVER develop high blood pressure despite of their intake of salt. HOWEVER, salt does exacerbate high blood pressure if such a condition is already present. In other words, it doesn't cause it, but it makes it worse. More precisely, it's not salt itself, but the reduced balance between salt and potassium. Regular blood pressure can still be restored by the eating of high potassium foods like bananas, broccoli, and beans.

    5. Fresh fruit is better than dried fruit.
    In reality... fresh fruit and dried fruit have the same nutritional value. Dried fruit is just fresh fruit with water taken out of it. That's it, no water, everything else is the same. The only difference is that the higher water content of fresh fruit makes more filling, so you're likely to eat less afterwards.


    6. Celery has negative calories. In reality...the science is split on this one. The American Journal of Medicine, and the New England Journal of Medicine both count it as false. While the Journal of Nutritional Science says it's true. It simply depends on the individuals digestive process. The stuff is disgusting anyway, I'd stay away from it.


    7. Bodybuilders usually are perfect specimens of manhood with above average health. In reality......though the final study is yet to be published, Emory University is conducting a pilot study on the subject, preliminary results show that competitive bodybuilders have a wide range of muscular disorders and cardiac problems associated with prolonged muscular atrophy, all which translated to an age expectancy of 5-6 years under the american average.


    Other myths include-

    -organic food is better for you..

    - 'fat free' food is also good for you.

    REFERENCES

    -American Journal of Medicine. Issue 24/.345
    -New England Journal of Medicine. June 23, April 10. 2007/345
    -The Lancet. December 2, 2006. no. 56/a78

    Also, if anyone finds contradictory evidence for any of this, WITH REFERENCES, please feel free to correct me.


    and finally, a rant on people who say 'I can eat anything I want and never get fat'. My response to that is simple. If 'anything you want' included crushed ice and a tictac of course you wont get weight. To anyone who claims that, I'd give all of my money if they can eat 10,000 calories a day for a month and not gain any weight.
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    Mar 24, 2009 8:39 PM GMT
    Thanks for posting. It seems that no matter how many times science indicates we are over consuming protein, people refuse to believe it.

    The protein myth is probably the most over used one on this site.

    I remember discussing this with my Dr. and I was having the hardest time reconciling what I had been told at my gym by a trainer versus what my physician was telling me.

    Even still, people will cling to the 1 or 1.5 grams of protein for every lb of your ideal weight as if it has any scientific footing.

    Any diet meeting basic nutritional guidelines will promote growth, not just one high in protein.


  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Mar 24, 2009 8:41 PM GMT
    Shouldn't your meals add up to the same calorie count based on your goal?

    I eat 5 meals a day and my calorie count is right around the 2000 to 2250 mark per day.
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    Mar 24, 2009 10:03 PM GMT
    collegeswimmr said(Listed as myth) 4. Salt increases blood pressure.

    HOWEVER, salt does exacerbate high blood pressure if such a condition is already present.

    Do you see how these two statements are inconsistent? If the myth had been stated as "Salt causes high blood pressure" it might be accurate to call it a myth. But salt really does increase high blood pressure if it's a condition you're already dealing with.
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    Mar 24, 2009 10:10 PM GMT
    You could also add the myth about drinking lots of water. The supposed benefits of doing this for weight loss has no basis in science. When was the last time someone died of dehydration in a gym? Or on a marathon for that matter? All that glugging is a waste of time.

    http://www.health24.com/news/DietFood_News_Feed/1-3420,45866.asp
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    Mar 24, 2009 10:17 PM GMT
    collegeswimmr said
    Other myths include-

    -organic food is better for you.

    What's the myth here?
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    Mar 24, 2009 11:38 PM GMT
    Caslon9000 said
    collegeswimmr said
    Other myths include-

    -organic food is better for you.

    What's the myth here?


    I meant they're bad for you in the sense that they are inferior to genetically modified foods, allow me to explain.


    Well there are many many reasons why 'organic' food is not better for you than the so called 'genetically engineered food'. Allow me to illustrate with an anecdote recently printed in the American Journal of Medicine....


    The rural Chinese have been growing organic rice for millenia now -that is, without chemical pesticides, etc- As a result, the chinese population has had a myriad of diseases associated with vitamin A and vitamin K defficiencies. i.e. protracted fusion of the epiphysis in the bone plates, swollen gums, nosebleeds, and disorders of the hepatic (liver) systems. Most importantly, the vitamin A defficiencies often lead to blindness. Chinese researchers managed to create a strain of rice rich in Vitamins A, B, C and K. As a result, much of the maladies were eradicated in the agricultural rural areas of China that adopted the new strain of rice.

    You'd be surprised about how many 'organic' foods don't have the nutritional content needed to keep up with our current caloric needs. In addition, a report published by the FDA showed that organically grown foods have at least 1/3 more pesticide residues than their genetically modified counterparts; because the latter are precisely modified to fight off pests and therefore need less chemicals for growth.

    Source: Baker, Brian; Charles M. Benbrook, Edward Groth III, and Karen Lutz Benbrook. "Pesticide residues in conventional, IPM-grown and organic foods: Insights from three U.S. data sets.". Food Additives and Contaminants 19 (5): 427–446. http://www.consumersunion.org
    /food/organicsumm.htm. Retrieved on 2007-01-28.)

    The FDA also states that the cost and yield of organic crops makes them non-viable alternatives to genetically modified crops. In essence, with the growing problem of world hunger, organic foods fail to meet the challenge because the same acre of cultivable land produces about 54% less than genetically modified food.

    The Mayo Clinic, in addition, points that although organic foods are easier on the environment, the cost-benefit analysis lies largely in favor of genetically modified crops.
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    Mar 24, 2009 11:43 PM GMT
    Global_Citizen said
    collegeswimmr said(Listed as myth) 4. Salt increases blood pressure.

    HOWEVER, salt does exacerbate high blood pressure if such a condition is already present.

    Do you see how these two statements are inconsistent? If the myth had been stated as "Salt causes high blood pressure" it might be accurate to call it a myth. But salt really does increase high blood pressure if it's a condition you're already dealing with.



    Read what I said carefully, high salt intake alone WILL NOT create high blood pressure on a healthy individual.

    On those that already have hypertension, it is the sodium/potassium imbalance that makes the high blood pressure worse. For these individuals, a healthy balance can be restored if they increase their potassium intake.

    Many studies have been done on this subject. Doctors recommend lower sodium for hypertensive individuals because it's easier than recommending the patient consume foods high in potassium. A good doctor will actually recommend both.

    It's all about homeostasis....the need of the body to achieve healthy balance.
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    Mar 24, 2009 11:52 PM GMT
    collegeswimmr saidThe FDA also states that the cost and yield of organic crops makes them non-viable alternatives to genetically modified crops. In essence, with the growing problem of world hunger, organic foods fail to meet the challenge because the same acre of cultivable land produces about 54% less than genetically modified food.

    The Mayo Clinic, in addition, points that although organic foods are easier on the environment, the cost-benefit analysis lies largely in favor of genetically modified crops.


    I think you need to distinguish between "genetically modified" and "organic." The term organic is used so loosely these days.

    My issue with genetically modified foods is quite simple. It's not about the potential health risks (although I certainly wouldn't dismiss those entirely), but the fact that BIG BUSINESS wants us to eat nothing but genetically modified food. Why? Because businesses like Monsanto, etc. can patent and OWN the food. In my opinion, this is sick. If you want to genetically modify something, fine. But to patent FOOD and then demand royalty payments, etc. is nothing short of evil.

    But you bring up the most salient point of all: over-population. Personally, I'd rather support organic farmers. I'd rather know that my food hasn't been created in a lab and that it isn't covered with chemicals. Not everyone is as fortunate to be able to eat like this. That I understand. But the real issue is the fact that, all over the planet, people can't stop making babies they're unable to support or feed. So now, because they can't control themselves, I'm supposed to eat some Frankenfood? I don't think so!
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    Mar 24, 2009 11:56 PM GMT
    Thank you for posting the information and getting a dialog started on something that is beneficial to all of us. Everyone eats!!
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:05 AM GMT
    Thanks thats great!!
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:13 AM GMT
    collegeswimmr said
    Read what I said carefully, high salt intake alone WILL NOT create high blood pressure on a healthy individual.

    On those that already have hypertension, it is the sodium/potassium imbalance that makes the high blood pressure worse. For these individuals, a healthy balance can be restored if they increase their potassium intake.

    Many studies have been done on this subject. Doctors recommend lower sodium for hypertensive individuals because it's easier than recommending the patient consume foods high in potassium. A good doctor will actually recommend both.

    It's all about homeostasis....the need of the body to achieve healthy balance.

    You should read carefully what I said. I agreed with you. Sodium intake alone won't cause high blood pressure. That's exactly what I said.

    And I agree with you about the homeostasis. But the fact is, ingesting more sodium without ingesting more potassium will cause a rise in blood pressure.

    And let's put aside idealism... most people eat way too much sodium and probably not enough potassium. So it's irresponsible to advise that sodium doesn't contribute to high blood pressure. For most people, it actually does.

    This is an issue I'm dealing with myself at the moment. And by reducing my sodium intake and increasing my potassium intake, I've lowered my blood pressure to a range that is normal to low-normal, after being borderline high.
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:17 AM GMT
    collegeswimmr said
    To all the gym rats out there aiming for the perfect body, here are some scientific studies to help you along. What I've learned from both 2 years of medical school and recent research is that a 'perfect body' does not necessarily translate into 'perfect health'. It baffles me how even health conscious people fall prey to ideas that have no basis in respected scientific literature. Here we go....

    [...]

    Just curious.. Did you copy/paste from an article somewhere? Or is this a summary of some research you did? If it's an article, can you provide the URL?
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:25 AM GMT
    collegeswimmr said

    Other myths include-

    -organic food is better for you..

    - 'fat free' food is also good for you.




    I think you need to be clearer about the difference between organic/non-organic and genetically modified foods. It's a tricky spot to me muddled up in. GMOs most likely don't have ill-effects on health the way pesticides can. However, the decimation of native species and the people who become dependent on genetically modified crops can really mess with ecosystems and make entire societies dependent on companies with "copyrighted crops".

    Also, while fat-free isn't necessarily better (in fact it can be worse), hydrogenated fat-free or saturated fat-free can be better. "Fat" is a very broad term which can be used to describe anything from soaps to cooking oil to lard. Before making a blanket statement about fat-content in foods you need to clarify the types of fats you're talking about. Food manufacturers seem to have purposely kept people ignorant as to these differences in order to help them market anything (even water) as fat-free. It is up to people to look into what kinds of fats are in the food they are consuming and know which fats to avoid and which to eat.
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:33 AM GMT
    the protein one is correct,

    dried fruit one is not, many nutrients can only survive while water is present, allow them to dry out and some nutrient content is lost. They could still be present technically within the fruit or whatever, but would not be activated through digestion processes due too the loss of water, and wont give nutritional benefit.


    #4- MANY things can increase blood pressure, but yes salt does have an important impact on blood pressure. It can actually increase your resting blood pressure, because salt will lower the hematocrit levels and make the blood thicker, and to compensate, the body increases blood pressure to try to maintain cardiac output and getting the blood to the rest of the body. When this happens, aldosterone and anti-diuretic hormones are provoked which also affect blood pressure, and try to dilute the blood with water from intercellular fluids, which can dehydrate you (hence why salt dehydrates ppl). This also has another affect on the kidneys in the filtration process, but i have forgotten most of that stuff from class (i'll relearn it soon).

    Consistently having too much salt within one's diet can lead to an adapted production of aldosterone and thus causing an increase in resting blood pressure.
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:34 AM GMT
    skifan08 saidFood manufacturers seem to have purposely kept people ignorant as to these differences in order to help them market anything (even water) as fat-free.

    Really? Water is fat free? Awesome!!! </blonde>
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:39 AM GMT
    Global_Citizen said
    skifan08 saidFood manufacturers seem to have purposely kept people ignorant as to these differences in order to help them market anything (even water) as fat-free.

    Really? Water is fat free? Awesome!!!



    I know! I got so excited when I saw the fat free water at the supermarket! Now I can drink all the water I want and not have to worry about getting fat, just peeing a lot. icon_rolleyes.gif

    52980793_a4a667a6ef.jpg?v=0


    (This picture is not mine, by the way, just one that came up when I googled fat-free water. The brand I saw was different though. I don't recall which one it was).
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    Mar 25, 2009 12:42 AM GMT
    hahah well i think it would be interesting to see some non fat free water.. not that its possible but it'd be fun to see.
  • MikePhilPerez

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    Mar 25, 2009 12:49 AM GMT
    Does the OP're know what organic is?
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    Mar 25, 2009 2:57 AM GMT
    michae4 saidNot true. The drying process destroys much of the vitamin C. As for "better," dried fruit very often has added sugar and is laden with preservatives (partially in an attempt to save some of those nutrients), so, yes i would say that fresh is better.
    Not to nitpick, but disagreements with the OP, as he requested, should include viewable citation.
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    Mar 25, 2009 3:31 AM GMT
    Many of you have brought up excellent points, as such, I'll try to operationally define what I mean my organic vs. genetically modified food. Among the comments I'd like to personally address are:


    Southlakejock- I think you need to distinguish between "genetically modified" and "organic." The term organic is used so loosely these days.



    Organic foods are those produced according to legal standards set forth by the country that produces them. There's no universal international definition for the concept of 'organic food'. In the US the standards include little chemical pesticide usage, no genetic modification of the product, and FDA approval as 'certified organic', among others. The standards in England and Australia are similar, but with important differences. In Australia, for example, the labor involved in production must also be taken into account. The IFOAM, the agricultural governing body of Europe, peculiarly states that the ecological impact of the crop must be minimum in order for it to be considered organic. A keen eye will detect inconsistencies in these definitions, which is why, as you said, the term is used so loosely. Under the American standards, 'little chemical pesticide' can include anywhere from 1 barrel of pesticide per acre to 3 barrels. It's left to the farmer to make the choices.


    Michae4- Not true. The drying process destroys much of the vitamin C. As for "better," dried fruit very often has added sugar and is laden with preservatives (partially in an attempt to save some of those nutrients), so, yes i would say that fresh is better.


    This is wrong, Michae4. The process of drying actually increases the effective concentration of vitamins A, the B complexes, fibre, and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. In the past, dried fruit contained no Vitamin D and little vitamin C, but current preservation methods and additives have managed to incorporate these two in the final product. The additives you mention come mostly in the form of sulphurous compounds, which dissociate in the digestive system and expelled in urine, doing NO harm to the body. As for the added sugar, you should know that a dried plum, for example, has no more sugar content than a fresh one. The concentration APPEARS higher, but this is only because the mass of the final product is smaller (simple math). In any case, the sugars are also designed to quickly enter the bloodstream and be used for immediate energy demands, being almost completely spent in the process. The American Cancer Society recently published an article claiming that the consumption of dried fruit is a favorable alternative to fresh fruit in cancer prevention and disease management. And further research points to it being packed with antioxidants, which may decrease the effects of aging (see references)

    Zsocerstar- many nutrients can only survive while water is present, allow them to dry out and some nutrient content is lost. They could still be present technically within the fruit or whatever, but would not be activated through digestion processes due too the loss of water, and wont give nutritional benefit.


    This also also wrong, nutrients that can 'survive' in water can also exist in the absence of water, only in a different form. The best examples are aminoacids, which are found in a 'zwitterion' in bodily conditions (fluctuating between positive and negative charges depending on environment) but exclusively positive or negative outside the body, under the lab. Dehydration (the process of removing water) does not change the physical properties of nutrients irreversibly.

    Mikephilperez- Does the OP're know what organic is?

    The OP spent 4 years studying science, and will get an MD in October. The OP knows very well what organic foods are.



    Someone else posted a 'frankenfood' comment. What we fail to realize is that our food is always changing naturally, in response to the environment and external stressors...this process is called Evolution. What scientists are doing is speeding it up in a safe, environmentally conscious way. As evidence for this, to my knowledge, there's never been a single case of someone being 'poisoned' by genetically engineered foods (if you know of one, please let me know, and provide references). Furthermore, consider the limited resources of our planet, and that most organic foods take up to 37% more land to cultivate, while producing much smaller yields.

    As a final point, I am by no means saying you should forego fresh fruits or 'organic food' altogether. All I'm saying is that we should be better informed about the consequences of our actions, specially when it comes to what we eat. And not fall into every trend, hype, or fad the media 'feeds' us.


    References

    Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Article 17, p. 23
    University of Manchester, Shopping Trolley Report. pp. 112-145
    http://www.nasaa.com.au/steps1.html
    Council Regulation (EEC) N° 2092/91 of 24 June 1991 on organic production.
    http://www.cancerwise.org/september_2006/display.cfm?id=ac3b87d6-c654-4222-8cf1c90ec69371af&color=blue&method=displayfull&color=blue
    Feb. 24, 2005, article "Dried fruits: Excellent in Vitro and in Vivo Antioxidants" in Journal of the American College of Nutrition by Joe A. Vinson, Ligia Zubik, Pratima Bose, Najwa Samman and John Proch ]
    http://www.dietdetective.com/content/view/2336/159/
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    Mar 25, 2009 3:47 AM GMT
    collegeswimmr saidSomeone else posted a 'frankenfood' comment. What we fail to realize is that our food is always changing naturally, in response to the environment and external stressors...this process is called Evolution. What scientists are doing is speeding it up in a safe, environmentally conscious way. As evidence for this, to my knowledge, there's never been a single case of someone being 'poisoned' by genetically engineered foods (if you know of one, please let me know, and provide references). Furthermore, consider the limited resources of our planet, and that most organic foods take up to 37% more land to cultivate, while producing much smaller yields.


    I made the frankenfood comment. Food/crop evolution is one thing. But taking a gene from a fish and sticking it in a tomato has nothing to do with evolution! That's the kind of stuff that worries me. And while there's no evidence of someone being poisoned, there's also no evidence that this stuff is healthy over the LONG run.

    Simply put, we don't know. Look at how many drugs are put on the market only to be pulled off a few years later. We, as a species, are moving too fast. The public has become the guinea pig for everything from genetically modified foods to all manner of preservatives and chemicals to medicines to all sorts of wireless signals and radiation, etc.

    Something is going to give...and it won't be pretty when it happens. I think we're headed for a "Children of Men" scenario. How many kids are born autistic today versus 20 years ago? The numbers are staggering. Everyone seems to have some sort of mental condition requiring psychoactive drugs today, from depression to hyperactivity to anxiety to restless leg syndrome (sorry, couldnt resist).

    If this is our future, I'll pass and stick to my organic/unmodified food, avoid western medicine unless absolutely necessary, and try to minimize my exposure to all of the things big business tests on us every single day. We have a choice. We don't have to go along with this stuff.

    As for the crop yield, while you make a good point, the fact that people won't stop making babies they can't care for is NOT my problem and I shouldn't be subjected to frankenfoods because of that. Furthermore, as I said in my previous post, the fact that genetically modified foods can be patented and "owned" by a big ag company should scare the hell out of everyone. Look at how the drug companies rape the public today. And now, thanks to the foundation of greed upon which our country is built, big business can own food too. Sick.
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    Mar 25, 2009 3:52 AM GMT
    Read. Micheal. Pollan.
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    Mar 25, 2009 3:52 AM GMT
    collegeswimmr saidAs a final point, I am by no means saying you should forego fresh fruits or 'organic food' altogether. All I'm saying is that we should be better informed about the consequences of our actions, specially when it comes to what we eat. And no fall into every trend, hype, or fad the media tells us.


    Agreed. But where's the harm in eating organic? Even if organic food contains *some* pesticide, isn't a little better than a lot? Isn't a food that has evolved in nature a safer bet than one "helped" in a lab? The consequences of eating such foods are known.

    The long term consequences of eating genetically modified foods, however, are not known. I don't think such foods should be made unavailable. However, I think there need to be much stricter guidelines where "organic", etc. is concerned and any product containing genetically modified ingredients should require labeling.
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    Mar 25, 2009 3:55 AM GMT
    southlakejock-

    feel free to stick your head in the sand and ignore the world moving past you. It worked great for......well, no one. Most of the processes that generate genetically modified food are actually in the public domain, meaning no company 'owns' them. The increase in the number of autism cases is mainly due because we've broaden the definition to include more symptoms, not necessarily because the disease is running rampant out to get your children.

    also feel free to refuse western medicine, I'll feel free to ignore you as a patient, I'm sure there's a doctor out there who can treat chronic idiocy icon_smile.gif

    nah, you're a good man.