We’ve all been there. Feeling the will to live slowly drain away as your Mum tells you she won’t be buying you that McFlurry, because if you eat too much sugar you’ll get diabetes. But science tells us all that emotional turmoil was for nothing, because it isn’t solely the intake of too much sugar that will make you contract type II diabetes. This myth stems from the fact that being overweight is a contributing factor to the cause of type II diabetes, and so many people have come to associate that roll-up you wanted for school lunches with the disease.
However, type II diabetes is actually caused by a whole lot of different factors, such as your physical health, i.e. whether you’re overweight, your calorie intake, your glucose levels (which is where the sugar element of the myth comes in), and your genetic background. There are even studies to back this up, showing that within a group of approximately 39,000 women, the ladies who ate the most amount of sugar did not have a higher risk of getting diabetes. It is actually when a person’s blood sugar levels have risen so high that their body cannot respond to insulin that they contract diabetes. But to stop this, you can’t simply just stop eating sugar. You have to maintain a balanced diet, and even then you may still be at risk if you have a familial history of getting the disease.
However, even the myth that people who have type II diabetes can no longer eat sugar is wrong. When you have diabetes, you need to control your total carbohydrate intake in order to maintain your health levels, so you are still able to eat lollies, you just have to closely monitor how much you have. So at the end of the day, the myth is untrue. Eating too much sugar will not give you diabetes. But, in order to remain at a healthy weight, and therefore lower your chances of getting the disease, it’s probably best to not eat the entire tub of ice cream in one go, no matter how hard Ben and Jerry’s calls to you.
It’s not as good for you as you think. In news that will surely be devastating to gym junkies and hipsters everywhere, sushi actually doesn’t offer you all that much in terms of nutrition. Most white rice rolls of sushi are bound together with a combination of sauces, sugar and vinegar so that is doesn’t all drop out onto your keyboard when you’re eating lunch at your desk. It’s this combination, however, that makes it more unhealthy for you, as there is commonly a low rice to fish ratio.
Where a good amount of fish is generally considered to be at 140g per serve, there is often only 5g put into your tuna and avocado roll. There is also the slight risk that eating too many portions of sushi will expose you to unhealthy mercury levels, which is why pregnant women are advised against eating it. So when you’re out at your next sushi train gathering, try to stick with brown rice rolls, as they are more nutritional than white rice. Also, as heartbreaking as the news is, head away from the tempura sections, the batter and the fried method of cooking are dragging your healthy lunch option down. Another thing that may be difficult for some people to read is to lay off the soy sauce; it’s high sodium content means that it will contribute way too much salt to your diet.
Luckily it’s not all doom and gloom, sushi is still a passable option, and there are many other things you can try off the menu in order to keep it healthy. Try pairing wasabi or ginger with your California roll; the wasabi has antibacterial properties that can help ward off food poisoning, whilst the ginger will clear your sinuses. And when you’re choosing fish, don’t go past mackerel. It’s a high protein fish that is often low in mercury levels.
For many a year now, carbs have been public enemy #1 when it comes to losing weight and staying healthy, but the negative effects of carbs have been blown way out of proportion. Dr Harvey-Berino from the department of nutrition and food sciences from the University of Vermont blows a giant hole in the myth by stating that nothing about carbohydrates will make you fat- eating calories in excess will. This means that all those times you stopped yourself from gorging on that piece of bread or plate of spaghetti, you needn’t have.
It is poor quality carbohydrates and fats that are high in calories that make you put on that extra weight, and so what’s important in your diet is not to cut out carbs but to monitor what types of calories make up your daily intake. For example, eating food which is high in trans fat content is not a good idea, as it makes your cholesterol high and raises the chance of you suffering heart failure. Whereas saturated fats, or generally products made from animals, whilst if you eat too much can damage cholesterol levels, in moderation can reduce your risk of diabetes.
What you really want to consume a healthy amount of is moderated fats and polyunsaturated fats- found in products like walnuts, fish, tofu, almonds and extra virgin olive oil. So the truth is, carbohydrates should NOT be removed from your diet, when consumed carefully and in moderation they are essential to your overall health. Instead to drop that weight you should be looking at your overall calorie consumption.
But what is the difference between calories and carbs?
Calories comes from either fat, protein or carbohydrates, and are essential for the human body to function. So really, a calorie is a measurement of the amount of energy in food. Whereas a carbohydrate is a chemical compound often found in foods. So now that you know the truth, you no longer have to stress over your all-carb diet from Taco Bell.
There has been a long running rumour that alcohol kills your brain cells- mainly perpetuated by parents trying to keep their teens away from sculling Cruisers when they’re not home. It’s clear to see how the myth began- alcohol makes many people act like they’re out of their tree, making it easy to formulate the opinion that one drop of Jack Daniels can melt your brain. Couple this with the fact that younger brains have not been fully developed, and you get the rumour that drinking when you’re underage is the reason why we can’t have nice things.
Many studies, however, have found that alcohol doesn’t kill your brain cells- it simply reduces communication between neurons, which is the reason why drunk people suffer from impairment. In other words, drinking causes you to think climbing a tree is the best idea, not the reason why you’re not a neuroscientist. In most cases of drinking, symptoms of drunkenness are temporary, and in fact drinking in moderation can increase your cognitive function.
The truth behind the myth lies in the fact that heavy drinking over a long period of time does have negative effects. Alcoholism and heavy drinking can lead to brain damage and the long-term destruction of brain function, as well as brain atrophy. As there are still studies being conducted into the affect alcohol has on brain cell production, the key with drinking is to do it legally and in moderation.
How important is breakfast really?
We’ve heard it all before. You skip breakfast and you’re done for the day. You may as well eat a tub of butter and drink only Mountain Dew because nothing else you do is going to counteract the fact that you skipped breakfast. But how true is this really?
Scientists and nutritionists place the importance of breakfast on the fact that it supposedly kicks starts your metabolism in the morning, after it went on hibernation during your sleep. Breakfast also replenishes the levels of glucose in your body, providing you heaps of energy for the day ahead. According to the Better Health Vic website, lack of breakfast makes children heavier, slower and much more tired.
But recent reports state that many of the studies on the importance of breakfast have shown no cause-and-effect results, it’s all purely observed. This means that the positive effects observed in breakfast eaters may actually not have anything to do with the bit of toast they’re crunching, and more to do with the fact that they won a genetic lottery.
So which is it? Breakfast can either reduce your chances of heart failure and lower cholesterol, or simply just be another meal. It all boils down to the person. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not, don’t. And if you really want to lower your risk of heart failure by eating in the morning- then you’re going to have to skip the fun stuff. You’ll be better off choking back some wholegrain Bran Plus.