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7 diet myths and why they’re bollocks, part two.

July 17, 2012

Right.

Where were we?

Health-myth-busting!

(If you’d like to read part one, click here.)

Myth #5. The skin on vegetables is where it’s at. All the nutrition lies therein, and we should force down the fibrous bits with a watery smile.

Welcome to another instalment of ‘sometimes yo mama was wrong!’. Otherwise known as Am I still too old to be spanked for back-chat? To cut a potentially long, tedious explanation short, some vegetables actually contain concentrated toxins in their outer layers. When you think about it, it makes a great deal of sense that tubers should employ mechanisms of self-defence, seeing as they aren’t too well-equipped to sprint away from predators on tiny sprouted limbs. Potato skin for example, contains glycoalkaloids – a kind of natural toxin that can induce gastrointestinal distress and systemic ill-effects. Parsnips contain furocoumarins, mostly concentrated in the peel, which can also induce vomiting and photosensitivity.

(source)

Another question to ask is where is my produce coming from? Is it organic? The peel of non-organic, sprayed-to-billyo vegetables will house the highest degree of pesticides and chemicals, and it is therefore better to discard.

Don’t get me wrong, there are an array of fruits and vegetables that grant serious benefits through their chunky outer layer; and leaving the skin intact can also aid nutrient retention whilst cooking. Other compounds that may be toxic in large doses could potentially confer anti-cancer advantages in smaller ones – even phytic acid, the endlessly damned compound in grains, has been associated with cancer-prevention and effectiveness in clinical trials (source).

The point? Don’t take the ‘skin is always superior’ message at face value – peel your potatoes & other root veggies, be wary of conventionally grown produce and retain an inquisitive open-mindedness, acknowledging in every health rule & myth, there are shades of glycoalkoloid grey.

Myth #6. Go nuts on nuts, the healthiest of all the bird-seed-like hippie foods.

Nuts. I have a love-hate relationship with these crunchy little devils. They’re magically addictive, with a fatty, crispy, crack-like quality that keeps my hand fishing in the jar, independent of reason. What I don’t appreciate is their high likelihood of rancidity; largely made up of polyunsaturated fats, they oxidize readily (especially when in clear plastic bags under the fluorescent barrage of supermarket lighting), can throw out our Omega 3:6 ratio (high in pro-inflammatory Omega-6’s) and may be implicated in diseases of modern civilisation which, people like Ray Peat suggest, are caused by an over-abundance of PUFA’s in the diet.

(source)

Another negative, is their propensity to meddle with the gastrointestinal tracts of susceptible individuals. Nuts are, by virtue of their high anti-nutrient content, starchiness and saponins, primed to punch holes in our gut. Why they’re so aggressive and antagonistic to those folk who just want to love them, we don’t know. But it’s best to soak them overnight in water if you do want to persevere in order to break some of these compounds down – putting them in the nutty, naughty corner works quite well to diffuse any remaining hostility.

If you can’t part with your beloved treat, try eating macadamias. They have a unique fatty acid profile (less polyunsaturates and more monounsaturates) and house less anti-nutrient, gut-burning chemical bombs. They’re Australian made to boot, so show some Aussie pride and chew on our national nut!

Myth #7. The perfect diet is within reach.

This is where I undermine my own Naturopathic authority; my favourite part! For all I sprout about this food and that food being detrimental, beneficial and every possible geeky variation in between, there is ultimately no perfect nutritional plan that will propel us to dietary godliness. We are all unique arrangements of atoms, tissues and energy and will respond to food with all the subtleties one would expect from such infinite diversity. What we ingest is just one small brush-stroke in the bigger mural of life – our happiness, relationships, attitude, activity and environment will all impact enormously on our general wellbeing.

From what I’ve learned, it is essential to continually question what we are told to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the arena of health, for not only is it someone else’s truth, it is also really flippin’ annoying to be pushed around.

With that, I wish everyone non-toxic potatoes, deftly-prepared nuts, and a heaping dose of nutritional whimsy for their Tuesday morning.

Let me know what you think of the ‘health myths’ I’ve proposed, and always keep the feedback coming!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 12:16 pm

    Love it!! So glad you addressed the nut issue – nasty little PUFA bombs yet the darlings of health conscious individuals (did I just spy a dash of RP in your nut arguements?!). And couldn’t agree more with the last point – I have to say I’ve started to relax and embrace the fact that our diets don’t have to be ‘perfect’, in fact maybe they shouldn’t be! ps I forgot to comment on your last post but super excited for you, congrats on finishing and really keen to hear what you’ll be up to next! Xx

    • Catie permalink*
      July 17, 2012 12:34 pm

      Ha, Peat may have infiltrated. Can I pick & choose my favoured arguments!?
      Up with relaxation! I feel my most zen looking down the barrel of a jar of macadamia butter. 80/20 right?

      • July 17, 2012 2:11 pm

        And I feel my most relaxed with a gelato in one hand and a spoon in the other. 80/20 for sure (Peat would say that’s well and truly in the 80 though!). Speaking of which, pity you’ve just finished because Gelato Messina is opening just near college! Would love to catch up and hear of your grand plans now that you’re done.

  2. Mike permalink
    July 17, 2012 8:14 pm

    Two gelatos in both hands and no spoon…

    Actually I have recently read about ‘blue zones’ (like Okinawa, a town in California, a place in southern Italy, etc.) on Earth where people live longer. It looks like their diets are naturally/traditionally balanced, including the right ratio of omega-3-6 fatty acids. At the same time, I think the lifestyle and traditions contribute more to their health than the diets.

  3. July 18, 2012 2:53 pm

    I love your ideas Cate – this is so true about nuts. Oh the irony of all those paleo files, downing buckets of almonds when they are potentially just as ‘bad’ as grains…

    …as always, listening to your body is the only true solution.
    Also curious as to how you managed to digest Ray Peat’s articles…from what I gather I need to get me an OJ Juicer and a bucket of ice cream!

    • Catie permalink*
      July 18, 2012 3:17 pm

      Ray bloody Peat! Serious maldigestion issues there – cannot get my head around him! Was having a nice discussion with a brainiac friend re. his theories the other day, and it actually seemed quite compelling, albeit flying in the face of all we think we know about low-carb, low-sugar diets. Like his work on PUFAs. Not sold entirely, but definitely need to give him some more mental real estate. Any thoughts?

  4. July 19, 2012 8:48 am

    Thanks!

    Will do.

    x

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