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The no-fad diet: nutritional experts debunk common food myths

4 min read
AUTHOR: Ross Carver-Carter
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Between social media, dieting books and nutritional blogs, there are so many food myths circulating around that it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. To complicate matters, we are constantly hit with contradictory information about the same ingredients.

Curated from the Food Matters Live podcast, the following episodes tackle common nutritional myths around everything from pregnancy and intermittent fasting to ketogenic diets. Each episode features a qualified professional to help you uncover the facts behind the fads. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Busting the myths about pregnancy nutrition

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Nutritional myths are rife, nowhere more so than when it comes to pregnancy. Social media only fuels the spread of nutritional misinformation, making it harder for mothers to know what to eat for the health of themselves and their unborn child. Pregnant women have unique requirements compared to the general population also, and as always, these nutritional needs differ from one person to another.

To help clear up the science in this area, The Food Matters Live Podcast welcomes Hannah Love, a paediatric nurse, nutritional therapist, parenting and sleep expert. Drawing on over 25 years of experience, Hannah offers evidence-based nutritional principles for pregnant mothers and debunks some of the most harmful myths surrounding pregnancy nutrition.

Tackling the myths around ketogenic diets

The ketogenic diet is the latest nutrition craze, promising quick weight loss, better blood glucose control and lower cholesterol levels. What’s more, it has the added attraction of appearing to be based on some scientific theory.

Research shows that under proper medical supervision, a low-carb diet can be an effective intervention for children with drug-resistant epilepsy as well as those with type-2 diabetes.

But is the keto diet all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to weight loss and could there be harmful side-effects to limiting carbohydrates, a key macronutrient?

Joining us to explore the science and bust the myths is Sophie Medlin, the London Chair of the British Dietetic Association. In this informative episode, she breaks down what a typical keto meal plan might look like, explains how ketosis works, and shares why she believes the diet is proving so popular.

Along the way, Medlin explores the potential risks to gut health from following a low-carbohydrate eating plan, the impact the diet can have on our relationship to food, and investigates concerns about the lack of evidence for its long-term effects.

Intermittent fasting: separating nutritional fact from fiction

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Intermittent fasting is a growing nutrition trend, popularised by Dr. Michael Mosley in his book The Fast Diet. The book promotes a 5:2 eating plan, whereby someone eats their normal diet for 5 days a week and then fasts on the remaining 2 days.

There is some research to suggest that fasting may reduce blood pressure, increase microbiome diversity and aid weight loss, although the findings aren’t unanimous.

James Betts, professor of metabolic physiology at the University of Bath, published a study looking at the effects of fasting and lower energy intake in lean people. The results?

“Ultimately, fasting did result in weight loss in our experiment, so it is true to say that it was an effective approach in that regard… However, we can confidently say it was not better than standard dieting in achieving that outcome and there were no other benefits specific to fasting within the context of our study.”

In light of these findings, Food Matters Live invited Professor James onto the podcast to explore the implications of his research, particularly what it means for our understanding of intermittent fasting as a weight loss tool.

Tim Spector: ‘Food is not a religion, the rules keep changing’

When it comes to nutrition and the gut microbiome, there is no bigger name than Dr. Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, honorary consultant physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, and one of the top 100 most-cited scientists in the world.

Spector’s groundbreaking Twin UK Studies revealed the role of gut bacteria in determining our responses to food, revolutionising nutrition and accelerating the rise of precision diets.

In 2015 he wrote a bestselling book, The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, exposing the most prevalent myths and pseudo-science surrounding faddish diets.

A few years later, along came “Spoon-Fed” – a book claiming to expose the bad science behind many government diet recommendations.

In this thought-provoking episode, the Food Matters Live Podcast sits down with Dr. Spector to discuss his new book, Food For Life: the New Science of Eating Well, the culmination of over a decade of research.

Stay up to date with the latest trends, research developments and innovation across nutrition in the Inspiring Nutrition Guide, a brand new publication from Food Matters Live.

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