Debunking common nutrition myths

Common myths about dietitians debunked

Should I avoid all dairy products if I am lactose intolerant?

Lactose is a carbohydrate that is naturally found in cow’s milk. People who are lactose intolerant are unable to break lactose down into its single constituents (glucose and galactose) because they lack lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose. However, even those with a lactase deficiency are able to tolerate small amounts of lactose without any symptoms. In fact, those with lactose intolerance may even be able to tolerate yoghurt, as the naturally present bacteria may assist with the breakdown of lactose. In addition, cream cheese and cottage cheese contain only a small amount of lactose and seem to be generally well tolerated. Butter, cream and yellow cheese also contain negligible amounts of lactose and can, therefore, be enjoyed by everyone, even those who are lactose intolerant.

Will carbohydrates make me fat?

Contrary to popular opinion, carbohydrates are not to be feared. In fact, they are our body’s preferred energy source. The brain alone uses 130 grams of carbohydrate every day. Carbohydrates are found in bread, rice, pasta, whole grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, milk and yoghurt. You should absolutely be regularly including these foods in your daily diet, just be mindful of your portion sizes. However, beware of the unhealthy carbohydrates. Aim to limit confectionary, soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes and pastries, sweet biscuits and chocolate as much as possible. The evidence illustrates that if we exceed our daily energy requirements, we will gain weight irrespective of whether that excess energy comes from fat, protein, alcohol or carbohydrates. Moderation is the key – nothing new there.

What is gluten and should I avoid it?

I get asked this question A LOT. The makers of South Park recently addressed this issue, and in their ‘wisdom’ they concluded that consuming gluten would make various body parts fall off! But you don’t believe them, right? The truth is that gluten need not be avoided unless you have coeliac disease – an auto-immune disease in which the ingestion of gluten elicits an immune reaction. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley. People without coeliac disease have consumed these foods that are rich in gluten, for centuries and survived with all their limbs and appendages intact. There is little evidence to suggest that it should be avoided by anyone without coeliac disease.

What is permeate and is it safe?

Permeate is the collective term for the lactose, vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in milk. It is simply a by-product of milk manufacturing. Dairy farmers add permeate to milk to ensure that the protein and fat content of milk remain consistent. That’s because two different cows will produce nutritionally different milk. So next time you pick up a carton of milk you can be guaranteed that it will be nutritionally identical to the same brand of bottled milk you purchased the time before. And it’s absolutely safe! Pretty clever, right?

How many eggs can I eat per week?

According to the National Heart Foundation everyone, including people with diabetes or heart disease, who follows a healthy balanced diet low in saturated fat (the nasty stuff that affects blood cholesterol levels), can eat up to six eggs per week without increasing their risk of heart disease. Just be sure to make that side serve of bacon an ‘every now and then’ treat.

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