Sunday, August 5, 2007

Food Myths: Does bread make you fat? Does eating late at night makes you fat?

"Over the years, there have been many myths about foods, what’s in them, and what they can or cannot do for you..."

Does gelatin really make your nails stronger? Does bread make you fat? Over the years, there have been many myths about foods, what’s in them, and what they can or cannot do for you. Let's separate fact from fiction for several popular food myths.

Myth #1: If you eat late at night, food turns into fat quicker and you gain weight.

Actually, it doesn’t matter what time of day you eat. Weight gain is caused by consuming more calories than you burn on an average day. Calories seem to have the same effect on the body no matter what time of day you eat them; however if you eat late at night you may feel that food sits in your stomach and you wake up feeling full -- and fat.

Myth #2: Eating gelatin strengthens your nails.

I wish it was that easy! Your fingernails are made of dead protein cells. They get their strength from sulfur which is a part of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), but consuming gelatin won't strengthen your nails.

Myth #3: Taking a vitamin protects against the negative effects of drinking and smoking.

Vitamin and mineral supplements may provide nutrients you need, but they don't prevent the damage that smoking or heavy drinking can cause. Taking a multi-vitamin won't reverse the long-term effects of leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Only by reversing the lifestyle can you halt or reverse negative effects.

Myth #4: Fresh fruits and vegetables have a lot more nutrients than canned.

There is little difference in the nutrient content of canned and fresh vegetables and fruits. Most canned produce is processed at its peak. If produce is stored improperly (or for too long) the nutritional quality may be affected. Often you'll find that

Myth #5: Coffee helps you sober up after a night of drinking.

Caffeine causes you to feel more awake, but it won’t make you sober. The alcohol you've consumed would still show up on a blood test. The level of alcohol in your system stays the same whether you drink coffee or not. Only time can decrease the level of alcohol circulating in your body. In a healthy individual, your liver cleanses your body of alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour. One drink is defined as one 12-ounce bottle of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or a mixed drink with about 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

Myth #6: Eating lots of bread, rice and potatoes (carbs) makes you fat.

No food is truly fattening. Breads, rice, and potatoes are not high-calorie by themselves. An average slice of bread has about 70 calories. A 1/3 cup serving of rice has 80 calories and a medium potato (about the size of your computer mouse) contains about 88 calories. These foods have a bad reputation due to the traditional high-fat toppings that go with each.

One tablespoon of butter or margarine on your bread contains about 100 extra calories. The sour cream on your potato contains 30 additional calories for each tablespoon. Breads, rice and potatoes are carbohydrates which contain 4 calories per gram (CPG) while fat yields a whopping 9 CPG. So, something that is higher in fat is naturally higher in calories. If calorie intake is higher than the amount you burn, you gain weight. It doesn’t matter if these calories are coming from carbohydrates, fats or proteins.

Myth #7: If something is organic, it's much healthier than non-organic alternatives.

Organic foods are usually grown using natural forms of pesticides and insecticides. Conventional methods of agriculture use products that are carefully regulated to ensure their safety. So, either way, the nutritional content of organically grown foods has basically the same nutrient content compared to those that are not grown this way.

Myth #8: Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs.

The color of an egg's shell is determined by the breed of hen. It does not indicate any difference in nutritional value -- they are equal.

Myth #9: Fasting cleanses the body of toxins.

Believe it or not, you may come into contact with, even consume, toxins nearly every day. Depending on where you live, there can be toxins in the air you breathe. Your body has a built-in detoxification system: Your kidneys and liver. Fasting doesn't cleanse the body -- generally it tends to cause the body to go into "starvation defense" mode and hold on to as much fat as possible.

Myth #10: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

People who have diabetes cannot process sugar the way the body normally does. However, diabetes is most often caused by a combination of genes with diabetic tendencies, an unhealthy body weight, illness, and older age -- not by consuming too many sweets. Sugar by itself does not cause diabetes -- Diabetes is a complex disease that requires a certain set of variables that encourage onset.

Myth #11: To build muscle, you should eat more proteins like meat, chicken, fish or protein supplements.

Only consistent training with weight-bearing exercise builds muscle. Eating more protein in the form of meats or supplements makes no difference -- your body handles it the same. Athletes need about 1/2 to 3/4 of a gram of protein for each pound of body weight daily. Consuming more than that only leads to extra calories and more body fat.

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