Popular Nutrition Myths Busted

Popular Nutrition Myths Busted

1. Myth: Lactose intolerance and milk allergy are the same thing

Fact: Lactose intolerance is when there are gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal bloating and diarrhoea after having more lactose than the body has lactase enzyme to digest the lactose. Lactose is the sugar naturally present in milk. It requires the enzyme lactase to break the lactose into it’s two separate sugar molecules galactose and glucose. When this digestion is incomplete some of the lactose passes to the large intestines rather than being absorbed in the small intestines. This can cause water being drawn into the large intestine causing loose bowel movements. The lactose can also be fermented by the bacteria producing gas that can cause the bloated feeling. People with lactose intolerance have different tolerance levels of lactose. Milk has higher levels of lactose than cheese or yoghurt.

Some milk products such as Rokeby Farms Protein Smoothie have the lactase enzyme added to them, breaking down the lactose for you, making them low in lactose and suitable for most people with lactose intolerance to drink.

Milk allergy is an immune system response often to the protein in milk. The body produces antibodies and inflammation. This can be quite a serious response in some people. Milk allergy is more common in children than adults. [1] Cow’s milk allergy should be diagnosed properly by an allergist.

2. Myth: Low fat means healthy

Fact: It is the overall nutrient content of a food and meal that is important and the type of fat that matters. A glass of soft drink or handful of lollies are low in fat, but they are hardly considered to be health foods as they are very high in sugar with little nutritional value!

Unsaturated fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found mostly in plant foods are what we want to eat most of and saturated fat less of, particularly for our heart health, but even then, it is not that simple. The unsaturated fat found in whole foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olives are considered to be fat good for our health, whilst some unsaturated fats in blended, processed vegetable oils and fats used in commercially produced cakes and biscuits are generally not good fat for our health.

Saturated fat found in whole foods such as yoghurt, cheese and milk that we used to think would raise our cholesterol we have now learnt is unlikely to do so. People with heart disease the Heart Foundation [2] suggest choose reduce fat milk. Look at foods as a whole package, not just a nutrient in isolation.

3. Myth: Gluten free is a healthier option

This must be one of the most annoying myths.

Fact: Gluten free does not mean healthy. Gluten free simply means exactly what it says, the food does not contain the protein gluten, found in wheat, oats, rye and some other grains. If you have coeliac disease [3], then you should follow a gluten free diet as eating gluten will cause an allergic reaction and generally is associated with gut inflammation and pain. Some other people may have a gluten intolerance and may benefit from eating less gluten, however for most people this is not necessary. A gluten free biscuit is still a biscuit with sugar, poor quality fat and usually a white highly processed grain, it is not nutritionally superior to a gluten containing biscuit. All our fruits, vegetables, fish, meat (not processed meats if they have had flour or breadcrumbs added), milk, nuts and seeds are gluten free naturally.

4. Myth: Cheese gives you nightmares

Fact: Cheese does not cause nightmares. In fact milk which cheese is made from has a small amount of animal research to suggest that it might aid sleeping due to the amino acid tryptophan that it contains. Tryptophan is involved in production of sleep inducing hormones. It may be that [4] drinking a glass of milk as part of a relaxing bedtime routine might be what improves the quality of sleep most.

5. Myth: A low carb diet is the best way to lose weight

Fact: There are many ways to reduce body and it is very individual. Reducing carbohydrate can help with weight reduction but it can be difficult to maintain as it removes (or reduces severely) many nourishing food groups such as fruit, potatoes, sweet potato, dairy, rice, bread, pasta, quinoa and even most legumes. Modifying a carbohydrate intake and choosing mostly wholegrains, along with the recommended 2 serves of fresh fruit and 3 serves of dairy foods or alternatives is a more balanced approach. If we follow the recommended 5 servings of vegetables per day, then we are less likely to over eat on carbohydrates or any food in general as we fill up on vegetables. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating [5] shows a good range of foods to eat daily including a balance of fats, carbohydrate and protein. Reducing your ultra-processed, high refined carbohydrate intake may be a good place to look at lowering carbohydrate intake but not from nourishing wholefoods.

Be sure to get your nutrition information from a trained health professional such as an Accredited Practising Dietitian. After all you wouldn’t take your car to a dentist to fix, or the other way around so why source your nutrition health information from celebrities or other people who are not qualified? Sort out fact from fiction as your health is your wealth!


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