3 Popular Nutrition Beliefs That Are Complete Myths

Nutritional guidelines are garbage. 

Sorry to upset you, but between lobbyists in the agriculture industry, bad research, skewed results, and outdated science, some really poor eating choices have been recommended. 

Then, popular diets (like Atkins, Keto, Vegan, and Mediterranean) each suggest drastically different dieting advice. 

Over the years, and in the midst of all the menu mayhem, you’ve most likely heard these three big claims: 

  1. Sodium is bad
  2. Animal products are bad
  3. Carbohydrates are bad

But is there any truth to these allegations? 

Below, we’ll take a close and critical look at these claims to see if they’re simply click-bait.

The Myth: Sodium is bad

Dieticians, health care workers, and the FDA have declared war on sodium—a mineral that is naturally found in many healthy foods like celery, beets, and salmon. 

Your body needs sodium to work properly. It’s only when we consume too much sodium that we see issues like increased blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke—which together kill more Americans each year than any other cause. 

The science behind how excess salt contributes to health issues, like inflammation, is very complex. To sum up, salt collects in our cells, which triggers an increase in two highly inflammatory immune cells. Imbalances in these two cell types have been connected with autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and some cancers. 

Do we have the wrong guy in prison? 

Here’s the catch: processed food delivers as much as 75 percent of the sodium we ingest today. Most of our sodium intake comes from foods like pizza, deli meats, bagged snacks, and processed cheeses. 

Before you reach for the low sodium sauces, let’s put our think-for-ourselves caps on real quick. These two foods have the same amount of sodium (50mg):

  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • A family-size bag of Utz no-salt-added potato chips

Do you think our bodies will respond similarly to these two foods because their sodium content is the same? The mineral blamed for our heart problems happens to be loaded into the least healthy foods of our day. Perhaps our target should shift from sodium to the extremely unhealthy processed foods that frequently contain the most sodium. 

The Truth: It’s nearly impossible to consume too much sodium while eating a healthy, whole food diet, like The Paleo Diet. Unless otherwise advised by your doctor, don’t ditch sodium. Instead, ditch the processed foods that are loaded with all sorts of harmful ingredients and stick with clean, healing whole foods. 

The Myth: Animal is bad

From our early ancestors, healthy indigenous, and traditional cultures, to today, animal foods have been crucial to maintaining robust health. 

While there are no essential foods, there are essential nutrients only found in animal foods. Plant-based diets are virtually devoid of B12, calcium, iron, zinc, the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA, and fat-soluble vitamins like A and D. 

So, are animal products causing heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues? Or are they necessary for our health and wellness? 

Not all meat is made equal.

Animal products differ drastically. If you think for a moment, you’ll agree that no two animal products are the same. 

For example, processed meats, like bacon, sausage, and deli meats, can be more toxic to our bodies than other animal products, like wild-caught salmon. Even pork alone can fall into less healthy and more healthy categories. Wild boar meat is drastically different nutritionally than domestic pork you buy at the grocery store. 

Some animals are pumped full of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics before they end up on your table. Other farms raise free-range cattle where they can graze on fresh grass. 

The Truth: Nutritionally speaking, all animal products can’t be lumped together. Pick the proper protein. Don’t pitch all animal products into the garbage pail. 

The Myth: Carbohydrates are bad

Carbs are controversial, but they’re also a critical part of a healthy diet. Like protein and fats, carbohydrates are a macronutrient—one of the three main sources our bodies use for energy. 

Carbohydrates fall into two categories: simple and complex. Simple carbs are easy for our bodies to break down. They’re found in foods like refined sugar, refined flours, processed foods, and soft drinks. Complex carbs are higher in nutrients like fiber, are digested slowly, and are found in foods like beans, oats, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. 

Carbs aren’t bad. Bad carbs are bad. 

If carbs are crucial, why are they criticized? Like sodium and animal products, carbs deserve a closer look. 

Because carbohydrates are found in such a diverse array of foods, some extremely unhealthy and some extremely healthy, claims about carbs as a whole tend to be off the mark. 

Cutting both simple and complex carbs completely can result in nutrient deficiencies. Healthy carbs, like veggies, fruit, and legumes, help your body fight inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

The Truth: If you want to improve your health and weight loss efforts, decrease your intake of unhealthy carbs, like sugar, refined flours, and processed foods. For more energy and better digestion, enjoy the proper quantities of healthy carbs, like whole grains, sweet potatoes, and pulses. 

Question the Claims

Nutrition is simple. But myths that creep into our minds make nutrition seem so much harder and more overwhelming than it really is. 

This week, ditch the myths and practice these three mindsets: 

  • Focus on Adding vs. Taking Away: Be a yes-man! Fill your daily diet with healthy, healing, whole foods so there’s less room for junk food. 

  • Learn What Works for You: Today, you learned that sodium, animal products, and carbohydrates are diverse and nutritionally complex. So are we! One diet can’t work for everyone. Your age, gender, physical needs, and lifestyle will dictate what foods make you feel vibrant and which ones shut you down. 

  • Differentiate Between “Bad,” “Ok,” and “Best:” Perfection isn’t sustainable, especially when it comes to our health and diet. Aim for the best foods as often as you can. Accept the “ok” foods. Identify the foods that are outright bad for your health and allow for them on occasion. 

If you want to skip the myths and get the facts about simple nutrition for weight loss, you’re perfect for the LEAN program—where all foods fit. Jump into our next session today! For more practical tips and tricks on healthy living and weight loss, sign up for my weekly newsletter here

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