2Living by the well-known health rules often promise to reward us with extra years, and so many of us go on a health pilgrimage vigilantly counting each calorie we eat, keeping our bottles filled and plates green, and completing it with weekly cleansing rituals.

Are these necessarily true? Here we highlight some myths about common food and eating habits.

1. Chewing calcium supplements

Most women include calcium tablets in their health regime, with hopes of maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis. However, researchers from John Hopkins Medicine found that although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears to be protective, taking calcium in the form of supplements may be associated with increased risk of plaque build-up in the arteries. It will be better off to get the calcium from dairy products, sardines, salmon and dark leafy greens.

2. Popping multivitamins daily

A colourful spread of vitamin pills every day may not promise you better health but instead, it may backfire. Steven Hausman, former research scientist from the National Institute of Health in America said, “The best source of vitamins and other nutrients should be foods, which contain trace elements and fibre that supplements don't have.”

3. Leaving out the egg yolk

The concern about unhealthy blood cholesterol has made many shun the yellow in the egg and focus on the whites. A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut found that participants who were given an additional 640mg of cholesterol through egg yolks recorded significantly higher plasma levels of HDL than those who avoided the yolks.

4. Juicing

With much media hype, juice diets are in and most people do not realise they could be consuming more sugar than necessary. "Juicing has an undeserved health halo. Sure, you can drink your vitamins and minerals but you also get a lot of sugar. The worst aspect of juicing is that it strips fruits and vegetables of their fibre, which mediates blood sugar response, contributes to satiety, and promotes bowel regularity. Just eat the produce,” said Emily Braaten, a registered dietitian in Washington.

5. Gulping 8 glasses of water a day

Does the golden rule of 8 glasses hold water? Dehydration brings along risks of constipation and kidney failure but drinking more than our body needs can pose health risks like hyponatremia which can trigger fatigue, headache and nausea, and in some cases, death. “The eight-by-8-ounce rule can potentially lead to diluting the kidneys and impair kidney function,” said Dr Joseph Stubbs, an American physician.

6. Drinking bottled water

Many plastic bottles contain BPA (bisphenol A), and scientists believe there is a link between BPA consumption and health issues like cancer, hyperactivity, obesity, and reproductive impairment. Glass may be a safer choice if a water filter is not an option.

7. Doing detox cleanses

Detoxifying tablets claim to unclog toxins in the body. This ritual supersedes doctors’ call for wholesome meals and regular exercise.

“The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak,” said Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University.

8. Clearing bowels every day

Alongside the claims of detoxification is that if we are not clearing our bowels every day, we are in trouble.

“True, there are some people who will have a bowel movement each day, but everyone is a little different. What's normal for one person is not normal for another. I tell my patients it's more important to know what's normal for your body and only worry if it changes significantly," said Cedrek McFadden, a clinical assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Carolina.

9. Following low-fat fads

In a culture that glorifies the slim and slender, the proliferation of low-fat foods is evident. But research shows that eating low-fat foods actually leads to consuming 25% to 44% more calories and possibly sugar than the regular versions.

10. Binging on breakfast bars

Not everything that is made of whole grains makes a healthy treat as most granola and protein bars are rich in calories and sugar. Opt for a high-protein snack instead.

11. Going small on meals

Though claims have been made that eating smaller and more frequent meals help your metabolism, recent research suggests otherwise. Scientists from Purdue University put participants on a low-calorie, high-protein diet, and found that those who ate six smaller meals felt hungrier than those served with three larger ones. Interestingly, the group with small meals did not lose weight. MIMS

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