From Celery Juice To A Slice Of Bread: We Ask The Expert To Clear Up Health Facts Vs Fads

Megan Roantree is myth-busting those wellness trends we often fall for

It seems like every week, there is a new superfood, or miracle cure when it comes to weight loss, health and wellness. While some of the claims may have merit, others are nothing more than a baseless myth, and then there are the ones that are actually dangerous. Maeve Hanan, dietitian at Orla Walsh Nutrition, helps break through the bullshit to ensure you don’t waste your time, or worse, damage your body.

Fad? Drinking Celery Juice is good for you

Fact: “As with any vegetable juice, celery juice contains fluid and a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But it’s usually better to eat the whole vegetable rather than juicing it; as the juice doesn’t contain fibre. One of the most worrying parts of the celery juice trend is the way it is being promoted by some as a cure for serious diseases, which can be an extremely dangerous message as this may sway somebody away from a potentially life-saving medical treatment. There isn’t any good evidence to show that celery juice can cure any diseases in humans. So celery is a healthy food to include in a balanced diet (as are all types of vegetables), but celery juice certainly isn’t a miracle cure.”

Fad? Cayenne Pepper boosts metabolism and reduces hunger

Fact: “This can increase the heart rate a little bit, which may increase metabolic rate slightly for some people. But this effect seems to be very small and is likely to vary a lot from person to person. For example, one study found that using cayenne pepper supplements for a month increased participant’s metabolic rate by about 50 calories per day – which is a very small increase – the same amount of calories as one apple. “

Fad? We should cut bread from our diet

Fact: “For those who don’t have coeliac disease, an allergy to wheat or a sensitivity to the gluten or fructans which are found in bread, then there is no need to cut it out altogether. Some people benefit from reducing their portions of bread or focusing on putting healthier fillings in sandwiches. But overall bread isn’t bad for us, and wholegrain bread is a good source of fibre. Look for a brand which has >6g of fibre per 100g on the label.”


Fad? A shot of apple cider vinegar every day is good for weight loss

Fact: “There is some evidence that apple cider vinegar might boost weight loss, but most of the studies related to fat loss have been carried out in animals so they can’t be directly applied to us. So it’s fine to include this in your diet if you like it as a dressing, but there isn’t enough evidence to say that we should be consuming this regularly to improve weight loss or overall health.”

Fad? Cutting out sugar is good for you

Fact: “Most people in Ireland consume more ‘free sugar’ than the recommended amount. Free sugars are those which are found in table sugar, sugary drinks, sweets, biscuits, honey and syrups (including rice syrup, agave syrup etc). But we also get naturally occurring sugars in foods like fruit, dairy, bread and potatoes, which don’t count towards our daily sugar intake because this type of sugar is bound up with important nutrients. So a fully ‘sugar-free’ diet isn’t healthy as it cuts out nutritious food like fruit, dairy and starchy carbohydrates, but reducing our intake of ‘free sugars’ is a good idea for many people. Although even the ‘free sugars’ don’t need to be completely avoided, as nothing needs to be off-limits in a healthy diet unless you are allergic to it.”

Fad? Swapping meals for juices/smoothies is good for weight loss

Fact: “Certain meal replacement plans can help to kickstart weight loss in some cases, and some people find them to be convenient. Although you should seek support from a dietitian if you are considering trying a very low-calorie plan (which contains less than 800 calories per day), as this can be risky to try on your own. Although most meal replacement shakes are quite nutritionally balanced, they are often low in fibre and don’t contain all of the antioxidants which are found in real food. They also can’t match the ‘whole food effect’ – which is the extra benefit that we get from food as compared with supplements which contain the same nutrients. For example, eating oily fish (which is high in omega-3) is better for our heart health as compared with taking an omega-3 supplement. This is thought to be related to the structure of food, and how different nutrients within food interact with each other. And of course, there is the enjoyment factor and satisfaction which comes from eating real food, which can play an important role in our overall wellbeing and happiness.”

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