A lot of what passes for science is just "conventional wisdom" repeated over and over until it is accepted as fact. That especially holds true in the nutrition field.
The science/dogma seems to fall into two categories--extremes, really: the food Police who believe that anything less than organic, macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan pureness passing ones lips is heresy (food is the sacrament, worshipping mother earth, the religion) and then the other extreme for whom the notion of "garbage in, garbage out" is a silly notion chortled about over three bacon double cheeseburgers and a case of beer. The first group believes that perfect eating creates a perfect "temple" and will extend life indefinitely. The second group believes that "when their ticket is up, it's up" and live nutritionally fatalistic lives.
When my husband and I go to nutrition seminars, we are surrounded with Nutrition Nazis intent on expunging "bad food" from patient's diets. These morally superior, and I find, generally insufferable people have put off more people on living a healthier life than saved people from certain health disaster. And, they are generally wrong.
So what are some of the classic health myths?
- Fat is bad. No, it's not. Bad fat is bad. Unbalanced fat is bad. All these skinny women trying to get pregnant (for a very public example Courtney Cox) but either can't or repeatedly miscarry, often do not eat enough fat, and the fat they eat isn't good fat. Fat is necessary to keep the endocrine system humming. If you have zip sex drive, most likely, you're lacking precursors to good hormones. If you can't get pregnant and are not HPV positive, most likely you need fat help. Butter, olive oil, fish oils, and, animal fat, all have the stuff needed for hormone creation. So eat them--in moderations.
- Tums is a good source of calcium. Uh, no it's not. Neither is most calcium you buy--calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is what you scrape out of sea shells and off the sides of mountains. It is rock and it does not digest well. I know, shockingly obvious. Calcium Lactate and Calcium Citrate Malate, on the other hand are exceedingly absorbable. Remember this rule: it is not what you eat, it's what you absorb.
- Perfect nutrition equals health. Ha! If only! You can eat great, but if the stomach environment is off-kilter, you won't absorb any nutrition. In fact, that is how stomach stapling and gastric bands work--they don't allow absorbtion. The upside with the surgery, you lose weight. The downside, you can die because you're so malnourished. Now without the surgery, a messed up stomach can cause you to gain weight--you are eating a lot but absorbing no nutrients. The body registers you as starving and asks for more food. You eat more non-nutritive junk and you're always hungry and eventually you get fat.