Conventional wisdom as defined by https://www.merriam-webster.com/ as “the generally accepted belief, opinion, judgment, or prediction about a particular matter.”
For many things this can be great when passing on thoughts or information over the years or even through generations.
But at times conventional wisdom can also take on a life of its own and be wrong. Such as ideas like “the earth was flat” and “the earth is the centre of the universe” are good examples.
Conventional wisdom has also influenced what to eat and drink and how we should exercise to be healthy and well, which when we understand a little more is flawed in many ways.
Here are three myths that have been around for years which unfortunately aren’t are far from helping us to live a long and healthy life.
Myth 1 – Grains are good for you
Many of us, including myself, have lived by the low fat high carbohydrate approach to nutrition as promoted by conventional wisdom. Right in line with that infamous pyramid diagram that used to be plastered on the side of most cereal boxes.
I remember looking at that diagram every morning. No matter if I was tucking into a bowl of corn flakes or nutri grain or coco pops, it was there “guiding” me on what I should be eating each day.
But let’s just take a closer look –
For humans to live we need energy to function everyday and we can get this energy from a few different energy sources.
When we eat food, our body breaks it down into nutrients carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and fat.
Most of us live on a typical modern diet which is high in carbohydrates which include grains (eg bread, cereal, pasta, rice etc) fruit, fruit juice and processed food and a bit of sugar (eg soft drinks, ice cream etc) and has become the main source of energy for most people. The carbohydrates are converted to glucose which we use for energy. Our bodies are also able to make small amounts of other energy sources such as ketones.
Too much glucose in our system is toxic so our bodies work hard to remove the glucose quickly.
We burn a little bit as we move around, we store a small amount in our muscles and liver and the rest is converted and stored as fat.
When our bodies use this small amount of glucose to move around we start to feel tired, cranky and tend to have cravings for something sweet. This is our body telling us we need to eat more carbohydrates to replace the glucose we’ve just used for energy.
So we eat more carbohydrates which we burn a little bit as we move around, we store a small amount in our muscles and liver and the rest is stored as fat …and the cycle continues and goes on and on.
Unfortunately most of us living this way eat far more carbohydrates than our bodies can use which contributes to problems maintaining a healthy weight, which often leads to excessive weight problems and obesity.
A diet high in carbohydrates also contributes to many metabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes of which according to the Australian National Health Survey: First Results 2017-2018, 4.1% or 1 million people in Australia had Type 2 diabetes and there may be up to 500,000 people that have the condition but are undiagnosed.
Therefore grains are not good for you.
Myth 2 – Fat is bad for weight loss
We have been told for years that eating fat makes us fat, and I agree on the surface this sounds plausible.
And yes in fact eating fat with a high carbohydrate diet does make us fat. But fat is and has been our preferred fuel source for millions of years and only changed with the introduction of grains into our diet about 10,000 years ago.
The idea that fat is bad for weight loss is an oversimplified idea and doesn’t consider that there are good fats and bad fats.
There are actually no scientific studies to prove that a high fat diet on it’s own causes health issues such as heart disease.
Healthy fat is in fact an excellent energy source if you transform your body from being fueled mainly by carbohydrates (glucose) to fat for fuel. It’s long lasting, slow burning, helps you to feel full and readily available, no matter if it’s fat we’ve eaten, that is good fats from animals and plants such as butter, almonds and coconut products or fat that is stored on our body.
Research shows that eating processed fats like refined polyunsaturated vegetable and seed oils (such as canola, corn, soybean, sunflower oils) may in fact promote inflammation, aging and cancer.
Therefore fat is not bad for weight loss.
Myth 3 – Exercise is good for weight loss
The idea that we need to exercise to reduce weight and burn off calories, is something we have heard and lived by for years. However if you have tried this approach to maintain or lose weight, it’s hard if not impossible to achieve for lasting long term results.
Typically this only works for professional athletes who are constantly doing massive amounts of exercise and are burning an enormous amount of calories. But this is almost impossible for most of us and is highly stressful for us all.
The calories in calories out idea in theory makes sense, but can only really be achieved in a laboratory setting as there are so many different processes going on in and around our bodies.
A better approach is to look at calories in versus calories stored.
If you look at the food you eat, how you exercise, how you produce/store body fat and
then use this as energy, this is a much better approach to reducing weight and keeping it off for life.
Therefore exercise on its own is not good for long term weight loss.
Before you begin to head down a path guided by conventional wisdom to achieve long term health and wellness goals it may be worthwhile digging a little deeper to make sure that these views aren’t actually working against you.