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It goes by the name food, and it has incurred many changes over the centuries. Now that many types of food are processed, many people have their own beliefs about healthy nutrition and what is not. Diets nowadays are marketed, and people are in constant search for the best diet. In America, people spend a fortune yearly to find an effective diet to lose weight. It seems like an endless path. In this article, we will discuss five common beliefs about food that turned out to be myths.
Nowadays, wherever you go on social media, you will find bloggers and social media influencers advising about nutrition, and they usually encourage people to get around processed food. Apparently, that is because processed food is less nutritious. They claim that food loses certain nutrients in the process. In other words, it is no longer organic. This in itself is a myth that came into existence with agricultural industrialization in the beginning of the 90s. It is worth mentioning that people have always processed their food somehow or another since ever, for example, through grinding meat, boiling rice, and all kind of cooking. Therefore, we shouldn’t look at this category as unhealthy food, just as how social media influencers describe it.
The U.S Department of agriculture broadly defines processed food as any food that has undergone a process that has changed its natural state. If we follow this, we will end up eating only cauliflowers and cucumbers right out of the field. According to this definition, even washing the food and packaging, it makes it fall under the category of processed food that should be avoided.
Processed food doesn’t have a good reputation based on what has been said above. There are many ways to process food, some of which actually add to the food’s nutritional value in question. Common methods of food processing are grain-husk removal, canning, freezing, fermentation, and fortification. Commonly fortified foods are cereals and cereal-based products, milk and dairy products, fats and oils, accessory food items, and tea and other beverages. During winter, we don’t get enough sunlight; therefore, it is recommended that we add Vitamin D to milk or other products to enrich them and make up for the Vitamin D shortage. A CNN Digital News editor wrote in a report on October 7th: “The increase in the number of people cooking and trying recipes during the pandemic has led to a surge in canning because experienced canners are doing it more and novices want to give it a try” (Grey, 2020).
Sugar, along with other substances such as flour and wheat, are considered addictive. People have expressed their opinion about sugar on multiple occasions. They have written in the New York Times and elsewhere about the danger of sugar. Food companies are also following this trend by claiming to produce supplements that help purify the body of a toxin—Sugar.
As indicated by advocates of this approach, sugar initiates the brain’s delight center, delivering synthetic compounds like dopamine, much like liquor or illegal medications do. However, practices like grinning and embracing likewise influence those neural pathways, but we don’t think of them as addictive. Supposedly, if sucrose were addictive, we would receive the same pleasure and reaction while eating plain sugar by the spoonful as in eating a cupcake. But most of us would conceive of these all together as different eating experiences.
An extensive report about nutrition was published in The European Journal of Nutrition (EJN) in 2016. It suggests that the claim about the addictiveness of sugar has a thin ground of evidence. Moreover, psychologists at the University of Liverpool point out that the fear we have about the harmful effects of certain foods say sugar, may promote myths about these kinds of food.
Hydration is crucial to our overall health, and frequent dehydration can lead to electrolyte imbalance and kidney failure in extreme cases. Back in 1945, the U.S. Food and Nutrition board made a recommendation that a person should drink an average of two cups of water a day based on the average need of calories needed per day. The board estimated that an individual required 2,500 calories daily. This notion reached the general public, and bottled-water companies supported some studies in order to show that people were not drinking enough water. This contributed to the growth of the eight-cups-of-water-daily myth.
Later on, a paper by the American Psychological Society revealed that there was no empirical evidence for the abovementioned recommendation. People have different body shapes, sizes, and health conditions, and they engage in different activities. People who engage in physical activities that require a lot of movement and energy tend to sweat a lot. Therefore, they need more water. So, there is no size-fits-all water-dinking amount. When we are dehydrated, we are able to know that from the color of our urine and other indicators. Furthermore, when we feel thirsty, it means we are dehydrated. However, it is better not to drink too much water once in a while but drink in small amounts multiple times throughout the day.
Fad diets are trendy today. A lot of people have the discipline to follow strictive diets in which they eat small amounts of food or strange combinations of food. One fad diet claims that cooking food destroys its nutrients. That’s why foods should be eaten raw in their natural states. It recommends that people avoid eating food cooked at high temperatures. However, advocates of this diet do not specify which nutrients are destroyed by cooking. They also forget to mention the debate of whether some nutrients might be destroyed by the hydrochloric acid in the stomach regardless of whether the food is cooked or not.
Some nutrients are better absorbed when cooked. Instances of Food that contain these nutrients are beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and grains. However, not all cooking methods have the same effect on the food being cooked. Steaming is better than water boiling. The latter may reduce vitamin C and thiamin in food. Steaming and stir-frying are good cooking methods to reduce nutrients loss.
Not all beliefs about a healthy diet are true. People tend to make their own rules or follow existing ones to stop themselves from eating. For example, there is a popular rule—No eating after dark. It is claimed that this routine helps one lose weight or at least not get more weight; in other words, eating at night leads to gaining weight. Oprah Winfrey wrote in the Oprah Magazine that she didn’t consume any food after 7:30 P.M.
People’s work and sleep schedules differ. Some work in the morning; others work in the evening or late at night. Therefore, setting a cut-off point for food consumption does not work for everyone. The human body keeps using energy when one is still awake after 7:30 p.m. Research shows that snacking before bed is beneficial for muscle recovery after a workout. All in all, what seemed to be facts are not entirely true after all, and there is no one-size-fits-all eating plan or cut-off point. Many factors govern people’s needs as to what and when they should eat.