Debunking diet myths


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By Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS

“The diet pills and weight-control aids may even be downright dangerous.”

Myth: It’s all in the genes. There’s no need to diet.
Fact: This is 2016 and we know better. While heredity plays a vital role in our body’s metabolism, the environmental factors are equally, and in some cases, more important than our genetic make-up. So, it is not totally hopeless for those who are overweight or sickness-prone. Done properly under a well-established scientific regimen, dieting, living a healthy lifestyle, could do wonders with health and longevity.

Myth: I can eat all I want, since I am young.
Fact: Hardening of the artery, a major cause of hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attack and stroke, starts to develop in young children as early as 5 years of age, or even earlier. Eating a lot of foods high in fats and cholesterol (like eggs, dairy products, red meats (pork, beef, etc) and foods made of these will lead to hypercholesterolemia and/or hypertriglyceridemia that thicken blood and cause plaques (calcium deposits) on the inner walls of the arteries all over our body. This will reduce the caliber (inner diameter) of the artery and eventually clogs up and deprive tissues and organs (heart, brain, kidneys, etc) of the much needed blood, oxygen and nutrition.

Myth: Heart attack and stroke happen only to old people.
Fact: Statistics show that heart attack and stroke, and even sudden cardiac death could happen to men and women younger than 30. The youngest patient I did heart bypass on was a 28-year-old female, who had high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

Myth: High cholesterol/triglycerides are genetic.
Fact: Actually, only one and 500 people who have familial hypercholesterolemia-are familial or hereditary (inherited from their parents). While that particular individual has the “excuse” to have high levels of cholesterol, the 499 of us do not. And since many of us have hypercholesterolemia, it only means we are abusing our body and our health. This is from the high fat, high cholesterol food we shove down our food pipe.

Myth: Major diseases are part of our fate, our destiny.
Fact: This is untrue and a misguided way of thinking. This hopeless acceptance is unhealthy in itself, and contrary to the mountains of scientific data and proofs we have today, to show that heart attack and stroke, and even high blood pressure and diabetes, are preventable illnesses.

Myth: Not eating carbohydrate is healthy
Fact: While totally eliminating carbohydrates (rice, bread, pop beverages, cakes, candies, ice cream, desserts, etc) will lead to weight loss, and this is good if you are overweight, but it is not the healthiest way of controlling weight. Our body needs some carbohydrates, about 100 grams a day. It is when we eat this in excess that is bad, not only for our weight but for our heart, etc. The right way is to minimize or avoid refined carbohydrates that are nothing but sugar (like the list of food items listed above). Instead, it is best to eat healthy carbs from whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. And brown (red) rice and oat meal are healthier to eat than white rice and flour bread. These six healthy carbs can also minimize the risk of colon cancer, besides heart attack and stroke.

Myth: Diet foods on the market are safe for weight control.
Fact: Most diet foods being marketed are not really necessary for weight control. Some of them may even be downright dangerous, with side effects, etc. Not to mention the fact that they are as much as 200% more costly than regular food items. Many of them have trans fat and sugar that are not healthy. The best, safest, and cheapest a way to control your weight is by controlling the amount of food (calories) and quality of food you eat. Weigh daily, and adjust the amount of food intake until your desired weight is achieved. Daily exercises will help a lot, not only for weight control, but for maintaining a health body and mind.

Myth: All fats are the same
Fact: Like not all carbohydrates are the same as pointed out above, not all fats are the same. Healthy fats are monosaturated fats (found in olive oil, nuts, avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (in safflower-canola-oils, soybean, vegetables). They help ward off cardiovascular diseases, besides weight control, when used in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle practices (proper diet, no smoking, daily exercises, minimizing alcohol, managing stress and relaxation). Saturated fats (red meats, eggs, etc) and Trans fat (as shown on the labels of many food products), on the other hand, are bad for us, and have been linked to cancer. Simply replacing as little as 30 calories of carbs a day with the same amount of trans fats practically doubled the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, replacing the same ratio of carbohydrates with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats reduced the risk of heart disease by as much as 30% to 40%. While the link of red meat to cardiovascular illnesses has been questioned lately for lack of definite causative effect, the link of eating red meat to cancer is still very strong.

Myth: Diet drugs, herbals, weight-control juices are safe.
Fact: Besides being ineffective in the long run, diet pills, potion, herbals, shakes, special juices, patches, liniments sold all over the country are outright dangerous and some have resulted in damaged kidney and liver, heart failures, and deaths. To diet safely, one does not need any of those so-called aids listed above. Controlled-calorie frozen food packages are safer, like Lean Cuisine and others, but why go to that expense when you can cut your own calories, and eat healthy foods, at home. “Diet” teas or juices are a scam; they do not work if an obese persons continues to eat as much as before and do not exercise daily. The healthy way to lose excess weight, to ward off diseases, and boost our immune system is by eating healthy foods burned.and controlling the amount of calories we consume in every meal, doing daily exercises, abstinence from tobacco, severe moderation in alcohol consumption, and doing R&R regularly.

To maintain a certain weight level, caloric intake must be equal to calories burned. To lose excess weight, eat less and exercise more. The principle involved is like preventing fluid overflow of an open tank with a faucet filled with water to the brim, the amount poured into it must be equal to the amount that goes out of the faucet. And the type of fluid you pour into the tank (toxic or not) will also determine the damaging corrosion and deterioration rate on the tank. Yes, the natural, common sense, old fashioned way is the healthiest and safest way. And a lot lesser expensive also.

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