The truth behind controversial foods

Does anybody else notice that there is constantly new and contradictory health "science"? Like one week fats are bad then the next week they are good. One week bananas are part of a healthy diet, the next they apparently make you "fat"? How are we even meant to know what is true and what is not? Well let's dive into a few of the main controversial foods to find out more - with the answer at the end!


#1 Dairy




We all know what dairy is. It is produced from the milk of mammals - mainly from cows but also from goats and sheep. It comes in the form of milk, cheese, yogurt and other substances. It contains carbohydrates, protein, and fat - however most of the carbs are filtered out when making foods like milk and yogurt.


So why the controversy?



Dairy is a staple of many diets, but some people do not digest dairy well. This is called lactose intolerance and is caused from low levels of the lactase enzyme that is required to break it down. The fact that it comes from animals may also influence whether or not people choose to consume it. Dairy might help build strong bones, combat certain cancers and so on.


However for some, it can induce dietary distress, increase the risk of acne, raise the risk for certain cancers, and influence asthma and mucous levels. Some people are also concerned about additives, such as growth hormones.




#2 Sugar


Sugar is composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that usually gives a sweetness to food. Sugars are found naturally in things such as fruits, while some are added to things such as baked goods.


So why the controversy?



Because sugar has been added to so many foods and the human body is programmed wi seek out sweetness, people may eat more sugar than the body needs. Some people blame sugar for the obesity crisis, as well as the rise in diabetes. Some believe that added sugars have a greater effect on the body than natural sugars, while others believe all sugars are harmful. However, sugar does provide energy from a biochemical standpoint. Not to mention, it can make food taste good




#3 Soy



Soy is a popular ingredient derived from the soybean. It is a complete protein and is rich in calcium, iron, mag


nesium, fibre, and potassium. It is a great vegan/vegetarian substitute for meat and is super versatile.


So why the controversy?


While some forms of soy, like miso or tempeh, have minimal processing - others are highly processed - like imitation meats and cheese. The level of processing of certain soy products is one of the main reasons that it is a controversial food. Another consideration is that the soy crop (muc


h like corn and grains) is often genetically modified (GMO), but there is still much debate on whether this is harmful or not to us. In addition to the processing, soy contains a high level of isoflavones, a plant estrogen that works like a weaker human estrogen. While this may help reduce hot flashes and ward off breast and prostate cancers, there are also worries that it could actually cause cancer or thyroid problems. Studies are mixed on whether these benefits and issues occur. However, besides the isoflavones, soy has B vitamins, fiber, potassium, and magnesiu


m and is one of two types of complete plant proteins. This is the appeal for vegans and vegetarians who are looking to replace animal proteins in their diets.



#4 Gluten



Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that helps bind breads, pastas etc. It can also be used as a thickener and for flavour.


So why the controver


sy?


There are 3 conditions which require a gluten-free lifestyle: celiac disease, gluten intolerance/sensitivity, and wheat allergy. However, people who don’t experience these conditions may also feel the need to eliminate gluten. In fact, for some people, eliminating gluten actually addresses other health problems they may have, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For those who cut gluten due to intolerances or sensitivities, there may be significant gains in health. Since gluten sensitivity can present as diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain, eliminati


ng gluten helps eliminate these effects, increasing quality of life. There may be health drawbacks for people hoping to benefit from cutting gluten without being gluten intolerant. These include a lower intake of fiber, iron, zinc, and potassium, therefore increasing the risk for nutritional deficiencies. Since gluten-free products also tend to be more expensive, those who eat reduced gluten may spend more for less. In addition, a gluten-free diet may actually cause weight gain rather than weight loss, since gluten-free products tend to replace carbohydrates (which are four calories per gram) with fats (which are nine calories per gram).




#5 Carbs



Carbohydrates are made up of fibers and sugar. They give us usable energy, facilitate healthy digestion, and help support a healthy weight. They also enhance food flavor. There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates provide quick energy through sugars, while complex carbs slow digestion (through fiber) and take longer to be digested. Many carbohydrates are also refined. Refined carbs usually have the fiber removed during processing, which can cause blood sugar to increase quickly.


So why the controversy?


Carbohydrates have a bad reputation, which is reflected in many popular diets today. However, from a nutritional standpoint, not all carbs are created equal. Many diets suggest significantly reducing carbohydrates or eliminating them altogether, but this is often due to the prevalence of refined and highly processed carbohydrates, as well as carbs high in sugar. There are clear benefits to reducing the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet. For example, eating high amounts of sugar can increase the risk of diabetes, and eating excessive carbs may lead to potential weight gain, especially around the midsection. However, the amount of sugar in different carbohydrates varies drastically, and some carbs contain valuable nutrients. For example, whole grains offer micronutrients and fiber, as do other foods that many people don’t necessarily consider part of the “carbohydrate” category: fruits, vegetables, and legumes.



#6 Fats



Fats, also known as lipids, support proper brain development, provide cushioning and insulation to internal organs, and play a role in hormone synthesis. They help food taste better and keep us feeling fuller for longer periods of time.


So why the controversy?


When it comes to fats, the most common controversy is the ideal ratio in the diet. For a long time, low-fat diets were considered healthier than high-fat diets. One common belief was that consuming dietary fat would lead to weight gain, but this has flipped overall as higher-fat diets have gained popularity. Additionally, when fat is removed from a food product, it is generally replaced with sugar and chemicals. Another controversy relates to the types of fats. While trans fats are now generally recognized as unhealthy, and unsaturated fats are generally recognized as health supporting, the health value of saturated fats continues to be a topic of debate – and the research supports both sides. Still, most nutrition experts would suggest staying mindful of saturated fat intake overall. Fats are essential for hormone regulation, brain function, and vitamin absorption, and including adequate amounts of fat in the diet may increase fertility and regulate mood. This may be why more traditional diets include a variety of fats.



#7 Proteins



Proteins are considered the building blocks of life – our skin, bones, muscles, hair, nails, and cartilage are all made mainly of protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Twenty of these are found in the human body; eleven of them can be synthesized. The other nine need to come from sources outside the body – these are the essential amino acids. There are two types of protein: complete and incomplete. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids.


So why the controversy?


As with carbs and fats, the most common controversy with proteins is the ideal ratio in the diet. The recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, some experts believe that most people consume too much protein, while others believe that most people consume too little. Consuming too little or too much is linked with negative long-term health benefits, but research continues to explore what qualifies as “too little” or “too much.” Another controversy is the protein source. Whether soy, gluten, or animal-based proteins, people include or choose to avoid a wide variety of protein sources. For example, some people swear by Paleo diets, while others have been vegan for many years. People have strong feelings about their protein choices, whether they stem from health concerns, environmental considerations, personal beliefs, or all three. In addition, some people consume animal-based proteins because they’re complete proteins; most plant-based foods are incomplete proteins. However, eating a variety of plant proteins can provide all the essential amino acids



So what is the truth?


The truth is - that there really is no straight answer. It completely depends on each individual - their needs and how they react to each food. In the end you just have to find what is right for your body, what works best for you and what aligns with your core beliefs - and of course everything in moderation.


Thank you guys so much for reading! I hope you enjoy the new blogs - please send me any suggestions and feedback on instagram @juliapalmer.healthcoach or email juliapalmer@outlook.ie


I love hearing back from you guys, and a lot of this is new to me. Plus I want to be sharing content that you guys love!


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