Eat For Health: Commonly Held Nutritional Beliefs and The Truths Behind Them

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

Frequent small meals aid weight control.
  • FALSE: Frequent eating has been shown to lead to more calories consumed at the end of the week. In addition, in scientific studies, reduced meal frequency increases the lifespan of both rodents and monkeys, even when the calories consumed each week were the same in the group fed more frequently and the group fed less frequently.1 The body needs time between meals to finish digesting, because when digestion has ended the body can more effectively detoxify and promote cellular repair. To maximize health, it is not favorable to be constantly eating and digesting food.
Being overweight is due to poor genetics.
  • FALSE: Genetics do play a role in obesity, and people whose parents are obese have a ten-fold increased risk of being obese. However, there are many people with obese parents who are slender and healthy. It is the combination of food choices, inactivity and genetics that determines obesity.2 Excellent nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will overwhelm genetics and allow even those with a genetic hindrance to achieve a healthy weight.
Milk builds and strengthens bones.
  • FALSE: Medical studies confirm that drinking cow’s milk does not lead to stronger bones. In a comprehensive review of all studies of dairy intake and bone strength in 2000, researchers concluded, “the body of scientific evidence appears inadequate to support a recommendation for daily intake of dairy foods to promote bone health in the general US population.”3 Having strong bones is about much more than just calcium. We require vigorous exercise, adequate Vitamin D, and a diet rich in many micronutrients.
Heart disease and dementia are the consequence of aging.
  • FALSE: Interestingly, heart disease as a major cause of disability and death is a recent phenomenon in human history. Heart disease has identifiable causes, and populations whose lifestyle practices do not create these causes do not have heart disease. Cultures around the world eating a healthy, vegetable-rich diet have no recorded heart disease, including hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese.4 The same diets that are high in animal fats and low in vitamins, minerals, fruits, and green vegetables, also have been shown to be related to the incidence of dementia.5
1. Mattson MP, Wan R. Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. J Nutr Biochem. 2005;16(3):129-137.

2. Bouchard C. The causes of obesity: advances in molecular biology but stagnation on the genetic front. Diabetologia 1996;39(12):1532-1533.

3. Weinsier RL, Krumdieck CL. Dairy foods and bone health: examination of the evidence. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72:681–689.

4. Sinnett PF, Whyte HM. Epidemiological studies in total highland population, Tukisenta, New Guinea. Cardiovascular disease and relevant clinical, electrocardiography, radiological and biochemical findings. J Chron Diseases 1973;26:265. Campbell TC, Parpia B, Chen J. Diet, lifestyle and the etiology of coronary artery disease: The Cornell China Study. Am J Card 1998;82(10B):18T-21T. Miller K. Lipid values in Kalahari Bushman. Arch Intern Med 1968;121:414. Breslow JL. Cardiovascular disease myths and facts. Cleve Clin J Med. 1998;65(6):286-287.

5. Commenges D, Scotet V, Renaud S, et al. Intake of flavonoids and risk of dementia. Eur J Epidemiol. 2000;16(4):357-363. Otsuka M, Yamaguchi K, Ueki A. Similarities and differences between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia from the viewpoint of nutrition. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2002;977:155-161. Nash DT, Fillit H. Cardiovascular disease risk factors and cognitive impairment. Am J Cardiol. 2006;97(8):1262-1265.
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cori - September 27, 2008 11:03 PM

The obesity epidemic can be charted to the availability of super-sized high fructose corn syrup-sweetened drinks.

See Liquid Candy, the report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Encourage children to quench their thirst with water. The sugar content and insulin response to juice is just as bad.

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