Food myths abound. Every week there is some new food myth to contend with either on television, via Internet news, on magazine covers, or on popular afternoon talk shows. We have the safest and most abundant food supply on the planet, yet it seems that some people are dead set on demonizing it.
“Sugar is toxic”
“Red meat causes heart attacks”
“Avoid Pink Slime”
“Carbs make you fat”
All of the above statements are false or misleading. Human nutrition is complicated (and rat study results can’t be applied to humans). Furthermore, many studies are preliminary, or simply flawed on a number of counts.
Here’s an example (sugar seems to be the new hit-ingredient). This recent study showed that fructose creates more visceral fat than glucose. Okay, this may be true based on how fructose was delivered in this study; but what isn’t apparent is that we don’t consume pure fructose like the fructose-only-sweetened-liquids they used on subjects in the lab. It’s simply not available in this manner in our food supply. So how can we draw such serious conclusions (such as “Sugar is toxic”) about our actual diets? Often the sound bytes are taken out of context, and there’s much more to the study than presented.
Don’t get me wrong. Research is important to allow science to move forward, but there are many aspects of a research study that need to be considered when drawing conclusions. For instance – How were subjects exposed to the diet or substance? Were other aspects of the diet controlled, such as total calories? Were physical activity and other aspects of human behavior taken into consideration? What was the previous medical history, or the genetic tendencies of the subjects? How can the results be applied to real people?
Many studies report on the food or ingredient itself. During my undergraduate food and nutrition studies many years ago, I had a food science professor who announced: “Food, is chemistry”. This resonated with me, and I was fascinated by the truth in this simple statement. Carbohydrates are composed of carbohydrate, hydrogen and oxygen. Protein contains nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur, and sometimes phosphorus. These are simple facts of chemistry.
Yet many folks get worried when they see “chemicals” on the ingredient label of their food. In some cases, there may be some room for concern – you do want to eat fresh, whole, food as often as you can, but is there a need to ban all convenience or packaged foods from your diet? Many of the “chemicals” used are elements naturally present, are safe, and they often serve an important purpose (such as preventing browning, adding moisture, or extending shelf-life).
Rust Never Sleeps
There’s a lot to learn about food and nutrition! I am constantly reading peer-reviewed journals to stay up to date on current science and theory. It takes more than a few studies to convince me. Studies bear repeating and data must be evaluated over time. It’s whether changes in dietary intake and behavior produce long-term results over the passage of time that matters.
The manner and frequency in which nutrition research results are presented in mass media spurred the formation of this blog. My goal here is to deliver “the other side of the story” (which often includes the source of actual studies), as food, nutrition, and diet news hits mass media. I want you to Chew the Facts©, so you can avoid eliminating foods or beverages unnecessarily. The advice here is intended for healthy people, helping you reduce your risk for disease, but balance things out, and enjoy a healthy diet (if you are dealing with a specific disease, you should consult your physician, and request an individual consultation with a local registered dietitian).
Stay tuned as I bust-a-myth – about your favorite food – and help you understand how to decipher the information, so you can choose a healthy diet that you enjoy!
I’m a registered, licensed dietitian and nutritionist, happily married, and a mom of three sons.
I have a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and after over 25 years of working in a variety of professional settings (hospital, outpatient counseling centers, public health research, teaching, freelance writing, long term care), I realized that writing is my passion. Descending from a family who battled weight control and has a history of heart disease, these topics have often been my focus over the years. When my colleague, Meri Raffetto, asked me to co-author a calorie reference book with her in 2009, I enthusiastically said “Sure!” Sharing my nutrition and health guidance in book form seemed to be a natural progression after fifteen years of writing a (weekly, now monthly) newspaper column (my guess is that I’ve written over 600 columns for the paper). I’ve co-authored five books in the popular For Dummies® series.
I also truly enjoy helping folks figure out how to eat well for better health, while enjoying foods they love. I’m not an “all-or-none” sort; I’m realistic about eating and I enjoy healthy foods along with treats. I understand that you have personal food preferences, whether they are for carrots or cupcakes, and want you to know that it’s possible to find a balance for good health. As a licensed provider for reallivingnutrition.com, I also bring this sensibility to the coaching I provide for interactive online weight-loss and wellness programs.
I am not the food police.
I’ve always relied on science and research before making recommendations or coming to rash conclusions….and this fact-finding mission is what birthed this blog. I’m also not a bikini model. My mission is to enjoy good health, and help others reach that goal, while also enjoying good food. I don’t ban any foods from the household (Are you kidding? With teenagers?). We eat good-for-you fruits, veggies, grains, cheese, milk, and lean meats, with occasional junky higher fat choices, fried foods, and sweets. Of course, it’s all balanced out by working regular physical activity into our daily lives.
If you are confused about food and nutrition information you read, consider the source. Registered dietitian-nutritionists (RDN) are reliable sources of information.
• You can find food and nutrition information from RDNs wherever you look: on TV, online, in magazines and books.
• To find an RDN near you, go to the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics website at www.eatright.org.
DISCLAIMER from Rosanne Rust/Chew the Facts©: Scientific information is constantly evolving, so as I evaluate new studies, I may still reference older ones. My thoughts and opinions are my own. When I represent a company as a paid consultant, I will be transparent in that representation. The material presented on this website, and any information linked from it, is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Chewthefacts© is not responsible for any action you may take as a result of reading the material presented here. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat a health condition without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
I’ve made the pledge with RDs4Disclosure!