Wednesday, May 13, 2015
3 Nutrition Practices I Wish Would Disappear
As a sports dietitian, I spend a good amount of time dispelling myths created by the media, movie stars or the like. Whether it is some supplement that promises toned abs and gigantic muscles or some method of eating that is SURE to result in 20 pounds of weight loss in a week, the media is never short of ways to play to the emotions of those desperate for a solution. But of all of the practices I despise, hare are a few that top the list.
By far the one of the most irritating practices that continues to be encouraged is detoxing. By detoxing, I mean using a product (shakes, pills, powders, etc.) or elixir (think lemon juice and chili powder, for example) to "clean out" the gut from months or even years of food byproduct build-up or toxins spread throughout the body. This entire practice is based on a fallacy, as digestive by-product does not build up in the gut, so there is no need to clean out anything. Plus, the body rids itself of toxins very well on its own using the liver without the need for additional help. What most of these products do is irritate the lining of the intestines, resulting in diarrhea...which makes the user feel like he/she has achieved something. Want to detox? Regularly focus on eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water to keep the body and intestines working properly - no products required.
2. Going gluten-free
....for no reason. While I agree that some individuals absolutely need to be on a gluten-free diet for a diagnosed allergy to gluten (called celiac disease), that is a VERY small percentage of the population. What I am referring to instead is going on a gluten-free diet "just because".....for weight loss....for enhanced performance....because "gluten is killing us all"....or anything along those lines. Going gluten-free can result in higher overall calorie intake (leading to weight gain) and lower nutrient intake (because of the vitamins and minerals not being eating in wheat products). There is no solid research showing any performance or health benefit to going gluten-free without a medical reason to. Besides, most of the individuals I see doing this aren't 100% gluten-free because they just don't realize how much food actually contains gluten. So, make your life a heck of a lot easier and give up the fight against gluten.
3. Fixing a bad diet with supplements
Aside from those with a diagnosed vitamin or mineral deficiency, I often see clients using supplements like an insurance policy: they take a multivitamin just in case they miss something during the day...then they are covered in the vitamin and mineral department. However, taking a supplement doesn't make up for the crap you just put into your body all day. It doesn't clear your system of too much saturated fat, added sugar or sodium. It doesn't act like whole fruits and vegetables, giving you all of the same health benefits. Scientists cannot put everything into that little pill that nature puts into fruits and vegetables (and that goes for freeze-dried fruit/veggie supplement products too!). So instead of heading to the vitamin aisle, start on the perimeter of the grocery store by purchasing fresh, whole foods to get your vitamins and minerals: that's the type of insurance policy I would trust.