The more time goes by, the more science proves how we've actually lived in a lie with following our diet plans that were earlier deemed to be the best option for your health.
Every year, some new evidence pops out that makes us thing: “boy, will that diet go to my what-was-I-thinking pile!” Some health trends are hard to get rid of since they simply sound so logical (we're looking at you, Atkins).
Luckily, by 2020, we've gathered so much new knowledge that we can all start the new year with better, healthier habits. Though, who knows – perhaps by 2030 we'll be thinking again how silly we were.
Here are some of the most prominent health myths that many people still strongly believe.
1. Myth: Your body can't detox itself
Detox diets and juice cleansers could easily be called the last decade's biggest health craze. All it people did it. All of the Insta-fabulous people did it. And that probably made you consider doing it yourself too. After all, it does sound logical, doesn't it?
Actually, your body is completely capable of detoxing itself and doesn't need your help, especially if that help means barely consuming any nutrients at all. Our kidneys and liver are responsible for flushing toxins out of our system and unless you have a disease that hinders their work, you really don't need to go on a detox diet.
It might even make things worse since you might flush out necessary vitamins and make your body vulnerable.
2. Myth: Fat is bad for you
Similarly how carbs have been shunned, fats have been called out as the culprits behind major health issues, starting from weight gain and ending with cardiac disease. This has lead people to banish fat from their diet completely or opting for low-fat options.
However, as recent years have proven, low-fat options can actually be even worse for you. And what's more, popular high-fat diets like the ketogenic diet have found their place in many people's daily life for a very good reason. As researches accumulate, there's more and more evidence that the actual culprit behind many health issues is sugar, not fat. Sugar has even been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight gain, and even kidney disease.
Fats can be good for you, especially “healthy” fats like the ones found in nuts. As with any diet, you should maintain a balance between all nutrients, not banish one nutrient group.
3. Myth: You can live on the carnivore diet
At the same time when veganism has become increasingly more popular, another extremity has risen: the carnivore diet. People who follow the carnivore diet can't eat anything else besides animal products – that means no grains and no plants at all. Basically, it's the complete opposite of veganism.
As much as the carnivore diet could make sense, the fact is that human bodies need fiber which is not found in animal products. Fiber plays a crucial role for us, acting similarly to a train conductor that transports toxins out of your system and keeps you a regular visitor at the bathroom.
There's also a mass of evidence regarding the benefits of the Mediterranean diet which has been titled as one of the healthiest diets and also includes a great number of plants.
On top of everything, people on the carnivore diet tend to lack in many vitamins such as vitamin C or vitamin A which are found plentifully in plants. There's really no reason to ditch plants from your life.
4. Myth: You need to drink 8 glasses of water every single day
Water is, no doubt, one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. After all, our bodies are 60 percent water. Dehydration can also be very severe and cause numerous issues. Due to all of this, we've constantly heard suggestions to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to keep our bodies nicely hydrated.
However, many people mix up the difference between liquids and water. You don't actually need to drink that much water since we also get water from the food we eat. Also, water intake is actually quite personal, depending a lot on the weather, your body composition, and many other factors. For that reason, drinking 8 glasses of water might be okay for some, but not for others.
Instead of forcing yourself to drink a certain amount of water every day, listen to your body more.
5. Myth: You need to take multivitamins daily
Ever since we're children, we hear how we need to take multivitamin supplements every single day in order to be healthy. And even more, we hear all the time how everyone should include vitamins in their diet, just in case.
The usefulness of supplements has received a huge question mark thanks to several studies that have shown that vitamin supplements are actually unnecessary for most people. Our bodies can't absorb the vitamins from supplements as well as it can from real food, meaning that you're kind of consuming useless pills. Nothing can substitute real food that includes tens of other micronutrients that you can't find from a pill.
Unless you're suffering from a specific health condition that hinders your body's ability to absorb vitamins from food, you most likely don't need supplements.
6. Myth: You need to eat small meals every couple of hours
Oh boy, is this one old and tired advice! At some point, almost every doctor suggested eating small meals frequently as a way to boost metabolism and lose weight more easily.
During recent years, intermittent fasting has debunked that myth. Most commonly, people who are following intermittent fasting principle don't eat for 16 hours and only eat two meals within an 8-hour time frame. Following a regimen like this has proven to help your gut, prevent inflammation and even have positive effects for diabetes prevention. This has lead many, including health professionals, to rethink the frequent snacking concept.
Do we really need to eat that frequently? It's time to doubt those tired so-called truths.
7. Myth: Calories are all created equally
As many of us believed in the last decade, all we need for successful weight management is to count calories. Calories in, calories out – that's what mattered. Or at least, that's what we thought.
However, things are not always as simple as they seem. During recent years, a new term called nutrient density has popped into prominence. Nutrient-dense foods contain many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals but are usually low in calories, meaning you get more nutrients per calory.
If you eat foods that are low in nutrient density, you'll most likely go hungry very quickly as they simply don't contain that much for your body to break down. For example, there's a big difference in whether you eat a plate full of fries or a plate full of chicken salad. First will, most likely, contain twice the calories as the second while chicken salad will leave you more fulfilled than a bunch of fries.
8. Myth: BMI is enough to establish whether you're healthy or not
For years, we took BMI (body mass index) as the holy grail of health. Many of us know the BMI calculation better than most of the math equations taught in high school. According to BMI, we can calculate whether we're in a healthy weight or not if we divide our height with our weight.
This calculation is clearly too simplistic and doesn't take into account many important factors like body fat or muscle mass. As we all know, muscle weighs more than fat which means that athletic people, for example, have higher BMI though they're in perfect shape.
It's time to understand that BMI is not an adequate measure of health and even more, you shouldn't base your health only on weight. There are more important factors, such as mental health.
9. Myth: The more protein you consume, the better for your health
One of the most popular health crazes of the last decade is the rise of protein as the most popular nutrient. Popular among fitness fans, protein consumption has become more of a trend thing than a health question. And quicker than you realize, you're probably pouring protein powder on every meal.
Overconsuming protein can actually have severe adverse effects, ranging from dehydration and weight gain to kidney damage and heart disease. As all nutrients, everything needs to be in balance – don't overdo with protein.