Debunking Some Common Food Myths

Bananas are very helpful if your stools are little on the loose side but they will not make you constipated if you are normal. The banana effect on diarrhea is readily observable at times and this is probably where the constipation myth originates. Bananas, especially the greener ones are higher in resistant starch and lower, proportionately speaking in fiber. The former, as the name suggests is slower to digest and it is this that gives it the ‘drying’ effect. Relatively small quantities of fibrous, digestible stuff and relatively large amounts of bulky textured starch that takes longer to break down in one’s colon and ‘soaks up’ any excess liquid.

Foods that make us constipated are those which actually slow the bowels contractions. Perhaps what you replace bananas with in your diet such as high fiber fruit and nuts are the things that actually cause problems.

‘White can be beautiful but mostly it’s not’, is the line from the Melanie song that supports the myth that brown sugar is somehow better for you than white. Certainly whole wheat bread is richer in food value than white flour bread and brown rice is measurably more efficacious for the body than white. But brown sugar, sometimes called ‘natural sugar in the raw’ is no more healthy than white.

It is a favorite trick of marketing to suggest the myth that it is ‘more natural’ but it is no less refined and definitely no healthier. Both sugars have the same amount of calories per ounce. Many people too think that brown sugar has more vitamins and minerals but to be frank, if you are relying on sugar as a source of vitamins you will have far more serious health problems.

Raw fruit and vegetables are no easier to digest than cooked ones. The opposite of this myth is true, cooked veg is much more likely to be quickly ingested than washed raw. It is commonly held that enzymes in raw vegetables make them easily digested, but enzymes are simply proteins of various shapes that act to aid chemical reactions, such as the breaking down of food.

A large number of different enzymes are generated within the gastrointestinal tract, beginning with saliva, also in the stomach, the pancreas and the small intestine. For enzymes to do the job the PH level needs to be optimum and even some other compounds, called co-factors have to be in place to trigger reactions. It all comes together at the time food is passing through. A healthy body does all of this automatically and just enough to meet our nutritional needs. Only fiber is indigestible. The enzymes in fruit and veg are superfluous to the digestion process and simply become part of process.

There is another myth that people with diverticulosis cannot eat popcorn or any other form of seed or nut. It is easy to see where this idea came from because diverticulosis is the development of ‘pouches’ along the inner wall of the colon that becomes infected. Hard particles from seeds etc. could become lodged in the pouches to cause infection. Time after time research has disproved this hypothesis, but sufferers continue to shun these great sources of necessary fibre.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

2 thoughts on “Debunking Some Common Food Myths

  • October 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    As an Accredited Practising Dietitian and university lecturer for 33 years, I found this article to be accurate. Not often that I read credible nutrition information online. Suggest to the previous commentator that if you feel there is an inaccuracy then make a specific comment on the inaccuracy rather than broad derogatory comment.

  • October 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I agree with some of the sentiment here, but given the lack of knowledge of basic biochemistry this article is a little meaningless. Sorry, maybe check out a little info about enzymes and what ingestion actually means.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *