As the vendor with the most accurate information about nutrition, we try to attack nutritional misinformation head-on. The added advantage of our Q&A format is that we can identify the biggest myths by looking at the number of incorrect answers to our questions. Here is our debunking of the five biggest myths in nutrition.
1. Gluten is fine for most (not all) of us
What you are about to read here doesn’t apply to everyone. If you have celiac disease, certainly cut out every iota of gluten. (A doctor can test you for celiac.)
Additionally, about 10% of us experience “heightened gluten sensitivity.” If you think you might be in that 10%, eat a couple of slices of pizza. Nothing screams gluten like pizza dough. If you feel fine, digestively, after that, you don’t have heightened gluten sensitivity.
Otherwise, the enduring myths about gluten need some serious correcting. To begin with, eliminating gluten won’t help you lose weight. The opposite may possibly be the case.
Products sold as “gluten-free” either never had gluten in the first place (like soda) or they are replacing the gluten with something that is worse, like added sugar.
The downsides of eliminating gluten if you don’t need to:
You may pay more for gluten-free
Packaged gluten-free versions often contain more sugar, salt or fat to improve the taste
You are missing out on some of the yummiest things on the planet
2. Avoiding vitamin deficiencies may be hazardous to your health.
How can that be?
Some of us don’t get the Recommended Daily Allowance of various vitamins and minerals. For instance, if you live in a cloudy climate and don’t get out much or consume fortified dairy, you may be Vitamin D-deficient. (You are also much more likely to get told you have a Vitamin D deficiency than actually have one of any clinical significance.)
And heavy drinkers lose out on B vitamins and some others. Pregnant women should take folic acid and possibly iron (the latter under a doctor’s supervision due to toxicity concerns).
Certainly there are other situations too, but most people do not have a clinically significant vitamin or mineral deficiency. And if you think you might, there are plenty of inexpensive multivitamin/multimineral supplements.
So where does this section header come from? How can we harm ourselves?
Easy: many if not most packaged products that scream about their vitamins are full of added sugar. This is true of many packaged cereals and virtually every “juice drink” that brags about being “high in Vitamin C.” SPOILER ALERT: You do not have a Vitamin C deficiency. Ironically, the more junk food you eat and (especially) drink, the more Vitamin C you probably get.
The exact statistics aren’t kept, of course, but it’s likely that for every American with a clinically significant vitamin deficiency, there are about 10,000 with concerning levels of Hemoglobin A1c.
3. The one nutrient we are deficient in never gets talked about
We have this as a question in every on-site trivia contest we do, and of course in the standard Quizzify curriculum. And yet even though we give the hint that “the recommended allowance is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women,” very few people guess right. The hint is a bit subtle, but vitamins and minerals are measured in milligrams. Only macronutrients – protein, fat, carbs – are measured in grams.