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5 Misleading Half-truths about Food

Half-truth # 1. You have to drink 8 Glasses of water per day.

Is there scientific backing of the much touted statement that we have to drink 8 glasses of water in a day?. It is not clear where this dictum originated. Water is good for health and we should drink sufficient water to get proper hydration but 8 glasses is too much.

Weight watchers support 8 glasses rule by claiming that people mistake thirst for hunger, which causes them to eat when they are really just thirsty. They also allege that drinking water suppresses appetite.

According to Heinz Valtin, a retired professor of physiology from Dartmouth Medical School who specialized in kidney research and spent 45 years studying the biological system that keeps the water in our bodies in balance, the answer is NO.

Truth: Drink 8 glasses of water per day is just another urban myth.

Bottom line: Drink sufficient water to keep body hydrated. But there is no reason to feel guilty if at the end of the day you miss the 8 glasses.

Lie #2. Microwaving food destroys nutrients

Unfounded claim: Microwave oven kills nutrients.

Truth: The level of nutrients retained in food after cooking depends on the amount of heat (temperature) applied, amount of water used and the length of cooking.

Cooking foods, especially vegetables, at high temperatures (high heat), in large amounts of water for long periods of time destroy nutrients irrespective of the cooking method.

Most foods especially vegetables, retain higher level of nutrients when heated in a microwave oven in comparison to cooking using conventional methods such as gas cooker, charcoal, fire wood or electric cookers. Generally,  microwave oven heats food quickly over a very short period of time compared to the other cooking methods. This makes residence time of food in a microwave oven very short to lead to high losses of nutrients.

Bottom line: Microwave ovens heat food by heating the water present in the food. Therefore, does not destroy the nutrients.

Lie #3. ‘Five seconds rule’-If food drops on the floor and is picked within five seconds germs do not have sufficient time to transfer to the food.

The five seconds rule is used all over the world, some cultures use ‘three-seconds’ while others use ‘seven seconds’. This rule is strictly observed if the dropped food is a delicacy or is in limited supply. Kids use it when a candy or sweets slip accidentally and drop on the floor.

Is it really true that germs cannot transfer to dropped food within five seconds?

Many scientific studies have been carried out to prove the validity of this myth with all of them agreeing that food picks germs. The more the contaminated the surface, the more the germs the food picks.

Truth: Unfortunately, five seconds rule is a myth.

Bottom line: Dropped food is contaminated unless the surface is virtually germs free.

Half truth #4. Brown bread is always better than white bread

You have heard it all, brown bread is healthier than white bread. As an obvious thing, brown bread is brown in colour, while white bread is white. But is it true that all brown breads are better the white breads? This is one question that bothers every health conscious person.

Truth: It is important to understand that not all ‘brown breads’ are real brown breads. Some bread manufacturers are adding colourings and caramel to the dough used for making bread so that the final product looks brown. The brown bread with added colourings and caramel does not offer the health benefits derived from real brown bread.

A real brown bread is healthier than white bread because the wheat flour used to make brown bread is less processed compared to wheat flour used for making white bread.

During the processing of the wheat flour for making brown bread; the bran and germ in the wheat grain are not removed. The bran is the part of wheat grain that is rich in fibre, while germ is the inner part of wheat grain which is packed with nutrients, Vitamins B and E as well as phytochemicals. On the other hand the bran and germ are removed from wheat grain when processing flour for making white bread.

The simplest way to know real brown bread is checking the label. All authentic brown bread should show that they are manufactured with whole grain/meal and not enriched wheat flour.

Bottom line: Real brown bread is better than white bread.

Lie #5. Microwave causes radiation to food

The opponents of use of microwave oven argue that it causes radiation and other negative issues to the warmed food.

Truth: Food either warmed, reheated or thawed in a microwave oven is safe.  Microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves called micro-waves. These micro-waves warm food by causing the water molecules in the food to rotate. When the water  molecules rotate at very high speed, they rub against each other generating heat. The generated heat conducts through food causing it to heat up.

Bottom line: According to World Health Organisation (WHO) microwave energy does not cause any ionisation or radiation to food.

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