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Are Superfoods Really That Super?

Many of us swallow the latest food fad whole ­without thinking.

Step forward nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker, who has written a book debunking many myths about grub. Here is her take on current ideas such as the importance of breakfast and why most superfoods aren’t that super…

 

Bread – or more specifically gluten – is bad for you

The trend for avoiding gluten has led to wild claims, unsupported by medical evidence, and has hit public health due to the effect on our intake of nutrients ­conventionally consumed in wheat products. Unless you have a gluten intolerance/medical condition then gluten in moderation has no negative impact on the body.

 

You should cut all carbs to lose weight

You will see dramatic weight loss but your body is losing its glucose energy store, not fat. That is unsustainable. ­Carbohydrate is the body’s main source of energy for physical activity and is needed by the brain. Extremely low carb ­diets can lead to headaches and fatigue and, again, you are likely to regain the weight you lost. Always ­include whole­grain foods in your diet, they are an ­important source of ­vitamins, minerals and fibre.

 

Breakfast is the most ­important meal of the day

The “don’t skip breakfast” ­message is part of government advice on eating well and stay healthy. In the first half of the last ­century, breakfast would have been important for manual ­labourers but with the growth in office work the need for a large breakfast is less necessary since we burn fewer calories.

 

Magic of superfoods

There is no agreed s­cientific or legal definition of a superfood or definitive ­scientific proof they will make you live ­longer, more beautiful or ­protect you from illness. The ­notion that some foods are more super than ­others is a nonsense. It is like claiming some ­letter of the alphabet are more important than others. We need a range of foods to nourish our bodies and keep them healthy.

 

All cals are not created equal

Differences in the energy lost during metabolism and ­fermentation can influence the weight-loss effects of our diets. More energy is used to fuel ­metabolism of protein. Some of the energy in ­carbohydrates is lost through the production of gas. This may explain why weight loss is greater on a high-protein, high- fibre diet compared with a different diet of equal calories.

 

Detox your body with juice

Detox juices have no valid health claim. There is no quick and easy remedy for weight loss or ­scientific evidence to support the idea that fruit and ­vegetable juices ­increase detoxing.

 

Milk is bad for you

Milk and dairy provide vital ­nutrients important for good health, including calcium, ­protein, iodine and vitamin B12. The protein in milk will keep you feeling satisfied and fuller for longer – just what a snack should do. Milk can naturally match pretty much any of meal-replacement shakes and post-workout drinks available.

 

Target weight loss

It is impossible to predict where weight will be lost, and ­patterns of weight loss vary greatly from one person to the next.

 

Eat fat, get fat

The success of any diet depends on how well people stick to it. This ­depends on more than just the amount of fat consumed. Different approaches will work for different ­people, especially in the long term.

 

Caffeine dehydrates you

The opposite is true. Tea or coffee can act as a low-calorie ­option for hydration.

 

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