When it comes to our diet, the advice given by the ‘experts’ could not be more confusing. Remember when everyone thought that chocolate gave you spots? Then years later the scientists did a u-turn.
We’ve been left not able to decipher the good from the bad.
Now it’s time to sort the science from the silly.
High protein diet causes kidney disease
Research does show that for those who already have chronic kidney disease, eating lots of protein can be harmful, and for those people low protein diets are recommended. But that doesn’t mean a high protein diet causes kidney disease.
While it’s true that high protein diets cause changes in kidney function, these changes could be seen as the kidneys just doing their job.For example one research paper describes ‘hyperfiltration’ (one of the changes that occurs), as a normal adaptive response to more protein in the date, and not something that leads to kidney disease.
Carbohydrates make you fat
Most people think that cutting out the carbs will help them lose weight. There’s no doubt that eating loads of sugary, refined carbohydrate rich foods such as white bread and pasta can lead to health problems including weight gain. But if you cut out the ‘good carb’ foods like whole grains and beans, you’re missing out on vital nutrients and fiber.
Red meat can cause cancer
As usual in the science community, there have been conflicting results on this one. But what does seem apparent is that the way you cook red meat can have certain health effects.
This one originates in 1986, where researchers found that rats that were fed heterocyclic amines (compounds generated from overcooking meat on a high heat) had an increased chance of developing cancer. This may depend on the way meat is cooked, because overheating can form carcinogens- but this isn’t exclusive to meat.This doesn’t mean you need to stop the cheese burger treats, just try not to overcook them and cut any burnt bits off.
Eggs break your heart
It’s widely thought that eggs are bad for you because they’re high in dietary cholesterol.
However, studies from the Royal College have medicine have found that dietary cholesterol is not linked to blood cholesterol or heart problems. For most people, the cholesterol absorbed through food doesn’t have a significant impact on blood cholesterol; our bodies simply compensate by producing less cholesterol naturally.
While eggs do contain some saturated fat, this is no worse for you than the butter on your toast.
Salt causes high blood pressure
The current RDA is based on a report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food ( COMA). In the 1994 report, the nation’s diet was reviewed and it concluded that UK citizens consume too much salt and as such recommended that adults should cut their intake to 6g a day. The justification for this reform was based entirely on evidence that linked salt consumption to blood pressure. Since then, the guidelines have not been reviewed, failing to take into account that salt is an essential mineral for fluid balance, blood pressure management and the nervous system. That’s over 20 years!
Research has suggested that too little can lead to heart problems, that there’s a lack of evidence to form a national policy and that there’s very little benefit to reducing consumption beyond a certain point.
As always, the key is balance while we wait for a full review of the scientific research.