There is a quote by American fitness and nutrition expert Jack LaLanne, that states “Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you've got a kingdom.

A lot has already been written and said about the importance of exercise. However, there are a lot of misconceptions around nutrition. 

While it has become easy to obtain information from sources like the internet, television, and newspapers, it can be misleading and confusing. 

National Nutrition Week is celebrated each year to raise awareness in the general public about the importance of nutrition and to encourage everyone to adopt a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. 

On the commemoration of National Nutrition Week between 1st and 7th September, let's talk about nutrition. 

Nutrition is the study of the nutrients in food, how your body uses them, and the relationship between food and health. Read on to find out what nutritionists advise about 7 widely-held misconceptions on nutrition. 

1. Skipping meals is not healthy.

You may feel that skipping meals is a great idea if you want to lose weight. On the contrary, it’s the opposite. 

When you skip a meal, your body goes into starvation mode and starts accumulating more fat cells to provide energy later on. This prevents weight loss even with a calorie deficit. 

Skipping meals can result in tiredness and missing out on essential nutrients. Also, there are high chances that you will overeat during the next meal, leading to weight gain. 

So, remember that skipping meals is not healthy. Instead, eat a well-balanced diet with all nutrients in moderation.

2. Fad diets are a waste of time and energy.

As the name suggests, fad diets are diets that become popular for a short time, just like fashion trends or fads. However, their claims are unreasonable and not backed by nutritional science. 

Anyone can be lured into following fad diets as they promise to give you miraculous results in a very short span. However, these diets do more harm to your body than good. 

While you may be able to lose weight quickly, it is important to analyse the possible long-term consequences of following such diets. 

Some of these diets involve eliminating foods that contain nutrients necessary for your body and permitting foods in quantities larger than what is recommended. 

Thus, they may be detrimental to your overall health and make you weak. Let go of fad diets and eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods in moderate portions.

3. Saying no to fruits is a bad idea.

You may be worried about gaining weight if you eat fruits as they are high in sugar. All fruits have natural sources of sugar in them, namely fructose and glucose. 

However, fruits are also a storehouse of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and water, and thus are great for your health. 

The body metabolises fruit sugar differently from processed or added sugars. Fruits also have far less sugar than most artificially sweetened snacks, and thus satisfy your cravings while providing valuable nutrients and fewer calories. 

There is no evidence to suggest that fruits are harmful to your health. Also, remember that whole fruits are healthier than processed fruits and juices. 

4. Not everyone needs to go off gluten. 

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If you are gluten intolerant (or suffer from celiac disease), your body will not be able to process gluten, which can lead to health problems. 

However, lately, it has become a trend to go on a gluten-free diet as people believe it promotes weight loss and boosts energy. This is not true. There are no significant weight-loss benefits from going gluten-free. 

You need to avoid gluten only if you are suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Gluten-containing whole grains are powerhouses of fibre, B complex vitamins, selenium, magnesium, and proteins. Hence, a person with no gluten complications can safely consume gluten.

5. Carbohydrates are a necessity for your body. 

Carbohydrates (known simply as carbs) are the macronutrients your body uses in the largest amount. Your body converts carbs into glucose to give you the energy to function. They are of two types - complex carbs and simple carbs. 

Complex carbs are found in whole grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes. Your body takes a longer time to digest these and they are less likely to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. 

Simple carbs are made up of easy-to-digest sugars, some of which occur naturally in fruits, honey, milk, etc. Refined or processed sugars are also added to foods like candies, jam, baked goods, soda, etc. These are absorbed quickly and can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.

To stay healthy, you need to:

  • Limit the intake of simple carbs and accommodate sources of complex carbs in your diet. Avoiding carbs completely can lead to adverse effects as your body may not get adequate energy. 
  • Choose complex carb sources that also have fibre, vitamins and minerals and eat foods that have added sugars in moderation. 

6. Fats are not your enemy.

As the understanding of food and nutrition has developed, it has become clear that a small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. 

Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which your body cannot make. It also has other vital functions in your body. 

Just like carbohydrates, it is important to differentiate between the kinds of fat that are good and bad for your health. The main types of fat found in food are saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and trans fats

Saturated and trans fats are known to increase the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries and lead to heart problems and other diseases. Unsaturated fatty acids are good for your heart, skin, and hair. 

As part of a healthy diet, you should:

  • Limit your intake of foods and drinks high in saturated and trans fats (hydrogenated vegetable oil, palm oil, fatty cuts of meat and meat products, butter, cheese etc.).
  • Include more foods with unsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish etc).

7. Do not rely on detox diets.

Detoxification is the new nutrition buzzword. Though there are different types of detox diets, they usually involve a period of fasting followed by a diet of raw vegetables, fruit, fruit juices, and water. 

Diets dependent on fruits and veggies lack energy sources and essential nutrients. These diets may result in low energy, low blood sugar, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and lightheadedness.

There is no evidence that detox diets remove toxins from the body. Your liver and kidneys can detoxify your body for you. Remember that such diets are not long-term solutions for good health. 

Eat a healthy and balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and sources of healthy fats and proteins.

Following a healthy lifestyle is not difficult if the basic principles of nutrition are followed. 

Do your research and always look for scientifically validated claims. If you are looking for nutritional advice, visit a professionally trained nutritionist. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.