“It is easier to believe a lie that one has heard a thousand times than to believe a fact that no one has heard before.”
I am writing this with my tail between my legs, as I have fallen victim into believing almost every one of these myths. But, I think we all have at some point or another, as they have been repeated to us over and over again — we had no way of blocking this information out of our heads! Dr. Michael VanDerschelden sites multiple studies against each myth below.
MYTH #1: The Healthiest Diet is a LOW-FAT, HIGH CARB DIET with Lots of Grains
Numerous studies have been done on the Low-Fat, High-Carb diet. It has virtually NO effect on Body Weight, Coronary Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke or other Disease Risks over the long term. The Old Food pyramid tells you to eat mostly bread, grains, and rice, and to use fats sparingly. The reality is you should flip the pyramid upside down and eat mostly healthy fats and little grains and carbs.
MYTH #2: Restrict Your Salt In Order to Lower Blood Pressure and Prevent Heart Attack & Stroke
We are the only species on the planet that restricts sodium. What do you give horses on a hot day? A Salt block!
The studies have shown that there is “insufficient evidence to assess effects of reduced salt intake on mortality or cardiovascular events”. Despite modestly lowering Blood Pressure, reducing salt/sodium does NOT reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes or death. In fact, one study admits they need to do further studies to confirm whether restricting sodium may be HARMFUL for people with heart failure.
Additionally, in another study, the Risk for heart disease was 56 percent higher for the LOW-SALT group compared to the HIGH-SALT group. It concluded that the less salt you eat, the more likely you will die from heart disease.
Low Salt intake is linked to:
- Elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
- Heart Disease
- Heart Failure
- Insulin Resistance
- Type II Diabetes
- Bone Fractures
But, it isn’t just any salt. Table salt is 98% Sodium Chloride and 2% Man-Made Chemicals and Moisture Absorbents — YUCK! We are talking about real natural salt — Himalayan or Celtic salt which is 84% Sodium Chloride and 16% Healthy Minerals.
It is, in fact, the Fructose and Refined Carbs that cause Insulin Resistance, which in turn, raise the risk of all Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, Diabetes, and the other Chronic Metabolic Diseases. Fructose increases Uric Acid and Insulin Resistance which Increases Blood Pressure — NOT THE SODIUM.
MYTH #3: It Is Best to Eat Many Small Meals Throughout the Day to Increase Metabolism
Their theory is that if you are constantly eating throughout the day, you prevent what is called “Starvation Mode,” where your body holds on to every morsel of food and stores it as fat. In the study comparing eating 6 smaller meals throughout the day versus 1-2 larger meals, concluded that there is “no difference between nibbling and gorging.” Furthermore, there is no evidence that energy expenditure (metabolism) is altered by increasing meal frequency.
What if you introduce Intermittent Fasting? In other words, you squeeze your meals into a shorter period of time (4-6 hours a day) and fast during the rest of the day? Studies show that “Energy Expenditure INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY” during Fasting States. This doesn’t mean you are restricting caloric intake. It just means you are eating the same amount but within a shorter window of time.
Why do our bodies increase energy and metabolic rate after short to medium term fasting? Our ancestors needed that extra energy to go after their “Hunt” and bring the meat home. They would be out for a few days usually before killing their meal or gathering their food. However, if their hunt lasted longer than 2-3 days, their bodies needed to go into that survival mode of slowing the metabolism until they ensured they were going to have their next meal soon.
Does the Starvation mode exist? Yes. But it doesn’t occur until you have fasted for more than 72-96 hours after a meal, not just a few hours.
MYTH#4: Egg Yolks Should Be Avoided Because They Are High In Cholesterol, Which Drives Heart Disease
The yolks are where all of the nutrition is!
“Epidemiological data have clearly demonstrated that dietary cholesterol is NOT correlated with Increased risk for Coronary Heart Disease.” They have found that “70% of the population experiences a mild increase or no alterations in cholesterol in the blood when eating a meal of high amounts of dietary cholesterol”. The lack of connection between heart disease and egg intake could partially be explained by the fact that dietary cholesterol increases both LDL and HDL — but the ratio stays the same which is the important health marker.
And to take it further, the studies concluded that not only is there no risk in developing coronary heart disease by increasing their intake of cholesterol, but in contrast, they may have multiple beneficial effects by including Whole eggs in their diet. Despite eggs being high in cholesterol, they do not raise blood cholesterol or increase heart disease risk for the majority of people.
90 percent of cholesterol in the blood is made by the body and is needed for many bodily functions, including the manufacturing of hormones. It is not Fat and Dietary Cholesterol That Cause Heart Disease; It is Sugar, Gluten, and Excessive Carbohydrate Intake.
MYTH #5: Saturated Fat Raises LDL Cholesterol In the Blood, Increasing Risk of Heart Attacks
As stated above, the studies concluded “there were no clear effects of dietary fat changes on total mortality or cardiovascular mortality.” The notorious study done by Ancel Keys, called the “7 Country Study,” is what made everyone believe saturated fat caused heart disease; in reality the study included 22 countries but only 7 supported his hypothesis! So, he excluded most of the data that didn’t support his claim. When you look at the 22 countries, it concluded that SUGAR is what causes heart disease. And, furthermore, the evidence of the other 15 countries actually showed a correlation of lower heart disease connected to increased saturated fat intake.
In my upcoming post, Nutritional Myths PART 2, I will address:
- Whole Grains are a Health Food
- Coffee is Unhealthy
- All Calories Are Equal
- Sugar is Only Harmful Because it Supplies You With Empty Calories
- Refined Seed and Vegetable Oils (Soybean and Corn Oil) Lower Cholesterol and are healthy
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Sara Banta is a Stanford University Graduate with a Degree in Economics and Psychology, and a certified Natural Supplement Expert & Graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Sara is the Founder of Accelerated Health Products and host of the health & wellness podcast, Accelerated Health Radio.