Is fat the enemy? Is snacking a bad habit? With summer on its way, many people are looking at new diets to lose weight for bathing suit season.
It is always a good choice to look at what diets or trends might make you healthier in the long run instead of merely losing weigh at the moment.
To support you on your road to health, let’s focus on five common myths that may be holding you back from realizing your health goals!
Myth #1: All Carbohydrates Are Bad
Carbohydrates supply our bodies with fuel and without them, we wouldn’t have sufficient energy to carry on most of our daily activities.
Remember that not all carbohydrates are created equal.
White flour and added sugars can create spikes in our blood sugar and insulin levels.
Over time this can lead to an increased risk for chronic disease like diabetes.
Most refined carbohydrates lack adequate fiber, minerals, and nutrients as well.
So which carbs should you choose?
To ensure that you are getting the right nutrient profile, go for 100 percent whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, wild rice, whole grain crackers, and whole grain breads.
Also, try to exercise at least 30 minutes each day, to enable your body to effectively utilize that fuel.
Myth #2: Always Eat Low Fat
Fat is a vital nutrient that enables vitamin absorption, protects our cell membranes, cushions our organs, provides luster to hair, skin, and nails, and makes our food taste delicious.
Excluding fat from our diet would increase risk for vitamin deficiencies and make many of our meals quite boring!
What you should avoid is fat that will increase your cholesterol and risk for heart disease, like trans fats (partially hydrogenated fat).
Consuming too many saturated fats found in animal products may also spike cholesterol levels.
Try to choose heart-healthy fats whenever possible, such as those found in avocados, oily fish, nuts, seeds, organic coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and some vegetable oils. Instead of frying foods, use healthier cooking methods and bake, roast, steam, poach, or sauté your foods.
Myth #3: Snacks Are Unhealthy
When we use the word “snack,” it may conjure up images of sweet and salty treats.
However, snacks can be incorporated into your diet, as long as you choose foods that benefit your health.
Sometimes running all day long without sufficient fuel can cause your blood sugar to plummet, making you want to reach for some salty chips or a sugar-laden cookie.
Instead, keep your body fueled throughout the day with more nutritious and satisfying options like low fat unsweetened yogurt and an ounce of nuts or seeds, hummus and carrots, or fresh fruit with almond butter.
Make sure to keep snack portions small and don’t go longer than three to four hours without eating.
This can help you stay on track with your healthy eating plan and prevent nighttime munchies.
Myth #4: Gluten Free Is Always Healthier
A gluten-free diet is certainly important for those with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity.
You may speak with your physician to have your blood tested for specific antibodies if you suspect you have a genetic predisposition to celiac or are gluten-sensitive.
Most individuals who remove gluten from their diet also remove a lot of processed and refined foods, which can result in increased energy and weight loss.
Keep in mind however, that many gluten-free products lack sufficient iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and fiber.
Also, many gluten-free foods aren’t fortified with vitamins and minerals, so be sure to get adequate nutrients in your diet if you decide to try a gluten-free diet.
Myth #5: Only Strenuous Exercise Improves Heart Health
You don’t need to be a gym buff or spend an hour on the treadmill to reap heart healthy benefits.
If you don’t have time for longer workouts, even a 15-minute walk is better than doing nothing at all.
Many people think of exercise as only a weight-loss tool, but regular physical activity has multiple other benefits.
Research strongly supports that being active can help to manage and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Only 150 minutes of exercise each week can decrease the risk of death from heart disease.
Remember that you can break this down into 10–15 minute increments.
Exercise also enhances your mental and physical well-being and can boost your immune health.
In addition to cardiovascular exercises like biking, swimming, dancing, and walking, it is important to include resistance and core training to increase strength and functionality.
Those with heart disease should aim to get three to four days of cardiovascular exercise to start and gradually progress to four to six days.
Always be sure to speak with your physician before embarking on any exercise program, if you have or are at risk for heart disease.
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected] To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com.