BUSTED: Twelve popular nutrition myths

Updated on Sep 06, 2012 11:10 AM IST

There are many myths we tend to believe from hearsay. Here are some of the most surprising revelations for health buffs on world nutrition week. Make sure you don't fall for these:

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Hindustan Times | ByDebasmita Ghosh, New Delhi

There are many myths we tend to believe from hearsay. Here are some of the most surprising revelations for health buffs on world nutrition week. Make sure you don't fall for these:

Myth: If you exercise, you can eat as much as you want
Fact: The fact is much more complex as the burnout rate is different from person to person based on the metabolism rate. “Not only exercise even mental activity burnout rate differs. An excuse to eat more or eat whatever you want under the pretext of exercising can be counter productive,” says Dr Prashar.

Myth: Fast once a week to cleanse toxins from your body
Fact: Periodic fasting habits may lead to deficiency in vital nutrients. Fasting is also not healthy for the liver. “If you have a healthy liver, you need not take extra measures to cleanse toxins from your body. Our body is able to detoxify automatically if the liver is healthy,”says Neelanjana Singh, chief nutritionist, PSRI

FruitsMyth: Eating eggs daily raises cholesterol

Fact: If you have normal cholesterol levels and are eating a balanced diet, you can safely eat one egg a day, say doctors. "If you have a high cholesterol level, ask your doctor for advice if you want to include eggs in your diet," Dr Cheenu Prashar, senior dietician, Max Hospital.

Myth: Have multi-vitamin supplements daily
Fact: You don’t need to depend on any artificially-induced supplement if you include fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as moderate amounts of low-fat dairy in your daily diet, say health experts. “The lesser you depend on pills the better,” says Dr Aftab Ahmed of Apollo Hospital.

Myth: Have 8-10 glasses of water daily
Fact: There is no need to measure your water intake, go by your thirst, say doctors. “Sometimes having too much water can lead to water intoxication and hyponatremia and electrolyte imbalance. If your urine is not dark in colour then you are having adequate water and don’t need to overdrink it,” says Dr Singh.

Myth: Have protein supplements to build muscle mass
Fact: Supplements are only necessary when medically prescribed. “In fact optimum protein requirement can easily come from a good and balanced diet. Supplements often lead to excess protein, which gets stored in the body as fat. Body has to work overtime to get rid of this, which may be difficult,” says Dr Prashar.

WineMyth: All alcohol is harmful

Fact: Not really. Moderate alcohol consumption is not harmful, especially if you go for the right spirits, say doctors. One can safely go for beer as it contains very little alcohol. Also, red wine, which contains antioxidants is considered good for health. "Red wine dilates the blood vessels, so 30ml daily is recommended for heart patient," says nutritionist Shipra Shaklani Mishra, Fortis La Femme.

Myth: Sugar-free cola is safer than regular colas

Fact: Both the drinks contain harmful fizz and chemicals including phosphoric acid which can lead to bone thinning. "The only difference is that instead of sugar, diet colas contain an artificial sweetner called aspartame, which is equally harmful if taken in excess," says Dr Singh.

Myth: Raw-food is better than cooked food
Fact: Raw food may give better fibre and enzymes but may also be a host to many harmful bacteria and viruses if exposed for a longer period or not properly cleaned. “It’s a myth that cooking destroys all nutrients. Healthy cooking methods such as steaming, roasting, pressure cooking may be quite beneficial. In fact, optimum cooking improves digestibility,” says Dr Prashar.

Myth: All brown breads are healthy
Fact: Multigrain and whole wheat breads are certainly good but only if you actually get your hands on them. Most brown breads available in super markets are not made of 100% whole grains. They are made of the regular refined flour (maida) with dyes that give them the deceiving appearance of whole grain.

Myth: Microwave cooking is unhealthy
Fact: Till date there are no studies to indicate that microwave cooking harms food items, say health experts. “These waves have been proven to be completely safe. Infact microwave cooking, if done properly can actually preserve nutrients to a great extent,” says Dr Singh.

Myth: Eating potato makes you fat
Fact: Potatoes are a source of carbohydrate and not fat. Only when had in excess do the carbs transform into fat, so the belief that a potato-free diet will help you lose weight is a myth. “One should not avoid potatoes as it’s a good source of carbohydrates, which are important for energy. Cutting carbs may make you feel weak and lethargic,” says Dr Mishra.

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