April 21, 2024

Nine common health myths busted

SOCIAL media use has helped the spread of questionable health advice.

Anyone can share views without fact-checking or scrutiny, leaving even the most health-aware among us confused.

Social media has left many health conscious people confused about their dietCredit: Shutterstock
NHS doctor Idrees Mughal has been calling out misinformed health advice on his TikTok

NHS doctor Idrees Mughal (Dr Idz) began calling out creators of such videos on his TikTok feed and instead provided scientific evidence to his 1.8 million followers.

Now he has written a book to bust myths and provide health tips that really work.

In this exclusive, Dr Idz sets us straight.

  • Saturated Facts by Dr Idrees Mughal is out March 14th
Saturated Facts by Dr Idrees Mughal is out in March

Myth: Carbs are bad

Cutting out carbs completely is not a wise ideaCredit: Getty

THE ketogenic diet is a very low-carb plan designed to put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where it burns body fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

It is used for weight loss and to manage conditions including type 2 diabetes and drug-resistant epilepsy.

However, going keto for any prolonged period can affect your liver and cardiometabolic health.

A study found that people on lower-carb diets had a 22 per cent higher risk of earlier death.

MYTH: Eating meat is best

Minimally processed plant-based proteins are typically better than animal proteinsCredit: Getty

SOME argue that only meat and other animal sources have complete proteins, as they contain all nine essential amino acids.

But with the exception of fatty fish and low-fat dairy products, minimally processed plant-based proteins are typically better for health than animal proteins.

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The vegan diet can be done effectively if packed with minimally processed, whole-plant foods.

Watch out, though, for nutritional deficiencies, such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium and Omega-3 fatty acids.

MYTH: Med-diet is overhyped

The only downside to the Mediterranean diet is the priceCredit: Getty

THE Mediterranean diet – loaded with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – has repeatedly demonstrated heart-healthy results, as well as being an effective aid for weight loss.

Olive oil is the main source of fat, cheese and yoghurt is consumed in low to moderate amounts, fish and poultry are eaten a few times a week, and red meat infrequently and in small amounts.

The only downside?

It is expensive.

MYTH: Trust detox diets

Detox diets are likely to be unregulated if not an outright scamCredit: Alamy

BEFORE it was co-opted in the recent wellness craze, the word “detox” was reserved for medical treatments to rid the body of dangerous, often life-threatening levels of alcohol, drugs or poisons.

Detox diets or products are likely to be unregulated if not an outright scam, and potentially very dangerous.

The body is well equipped to dispose of potentially harmful compounds by itself, and in cases where toxins can cause illness, that cannot be undone with a pill or juice cleanse.

MYTH: Your fault you are fat

There are many causes of obesityCredit: Getty

SOCIETY’S obsession with particular body types has led to a harmful diet culture and widespread weight stigma.

Assumptions about obese people include that they are lazy and weak-willed.

But there are many causes of obesity, such as psychological triggers, genetics and where you live, and it is wrong to solely blame an individual for it.

Things you are in control of include doing at least 150 minutes’ moderate-intensity exercise per week and eating five a day.

MYTH: Eating late is fine

Eating late at night can damage your healthCredit: Getty

THE timing of our food consumption plays a compelling role in health and wellbeing.

The body struggles to metabolise nutrients at night.

Harmful effects include poorer glucose tolerance, reduced ability to metabolise fats, and an increase in cortisol levels and LDL “bad cholesterol”.

Those who habitually eat at night are seen in observational studies to have an increased risk of cardiometabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

So try to avoid large meals a few hours before bed.

MYTH: Gluten is best avoided

Avoiding gluten without a medical need to can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseaseCredit: Getty

IN the UK, it is estimated that 8million people follow a gluten-free diet, yet the majority do not have coeliac disease.

There is limited evidence that the consumption of gluten causes inflammation.

In fact, avoiding gluten without a medical need to can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, nutrient deficiencies and inflammation.

Not to mention it can hurt your bank account – gluten-free foods are on average 242 per cent more expensive.

MYTH: Probiotics miracle fix

Most people will obtain a negligible difference in their gut health from probioticsCredit: Alamy

PROBIOTICS are not particularly useful for most healthy people.

Most will obtain a negligible difference in their gut health from probiotics.

However, if you are suffering from IBS or post-infectious diarrhoea, certain probiotic products may provide some help depending on the strain.

If you want to see certain improvements in gut health and function, swap the pills for fermented foods such as yoghurt, milk, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, kefir and a variety of cheeses.

MYTH: Sugar inflammation

Increasing intake of sugar does not independently cause inflammationCredit: Alamy

INFLAMMATION has become a buzzword and sugar is often targeted.

Increasing intake of sugar (those added to foods rather than occurring naturally) does not independently cause inflammation.

However, it can contribute to an increase in systemic inflammation when accompanied by other pro-inflammatory habits such as consuming foods high in calories, sugar and fat, and fried foods.

Focusing on sugars in more nutrient-rich foods is always a good idea.

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