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A naturopath busts 10 common health myths

Are raw veggies actually better for you than cooked ones? We get the answer to that and more!
October 13, 2021 9:39 a.m. EST

We polled our Instagram followers to see what people think about popular health myths, such as whether catching up on sleep on the weekend is a good idea and if too much coffee is bad for us. We then took those questions to naturopath Onlica Trejo to get the inside scoop. See below for Onlica's answers and watch the video above for more info!

Is soy bad for hormones?

Answer: No

Soy is unique in that it contains a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen or phytoestrogen, which is similar in function to human estrogen but with much weaker effects. Phytoestrogens compete with estradiol for the binding of estrogen receptor sites, thereby blocking stronger estrogens from binding there.

Studies may seem to present conflicting conclusions about soy; they show that it can cause either weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity, but it really depends on the study design and the population they’re studying (for pre-menopausal women who have much higher circulating levels or estrogen, soy may act like an anti-estrogen versus in post menopausal women who have no circulating estrogen, it may act more like an estrogen). Data on women of cultures/countries with high intake of soy phytoestrogens during their lifetime have a four to sixfold lower incidence of breast cancer, as well as lower incidence of endometrial cancer and endometriosis. Other studies have shown that intake of soy in breast cancer survivors (including estrogen-positive cancers) has been associated with reduced mortality and reduced recurrence. Soy must be avoided if on Tamoxifen. 

Do nightshade vegetables cause inflammation?

Answer: Soft no

Nightshades, which are antioxidant power-houses, contain extremely low doses of alkaloids—which at very large doses can be very dangerous. To date, there haven’t been any large-scale studies that suggest nightshades cause inflammation in healthy people.  Some arthritis patients report feeling better on an alkaloid-free diet. If you think they may be causing inflammation, remove them from your diet for a few weeks and see if your symptoms improve. If they don’t, there’s no reason to avoid them.

Are raw vegetables better for you than cooked ones? 

Answer: Not all 

Cooking vegetables boosts the concentration of some antioxidants, but it compromises others. Boiling and steaming may better preserve antioxidants such as the lycopene in tomatoes, beta carotene in carrots and indole in brassicas. Eat your veggies, no matter how they’re prepared—for a lot of people, cooked vegetables are easier to digest (and tastier!), which is the whole point.

Are cruciferous vegetables bad for your thyroid? 

Answer: No

Cruciferous vegetables are thought to interfere with how your thyroid uses/absorbs iodine and produces thyroid hormones, but you would have to consume an excessive and unrealistic amount of raw cruciferous vegetables to interfere with your thyroid, and be very low in iodine/selenium or live in an iodine-deficient area. Cooking them decreases their goitrogenic properties by two-thirds. A study found that consuming 5 oz per day of cooked Brussel sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function. 

Is sea salt better than table salt? 

Answer: No

The main difference between sea salt and table salt is their taste, texture and processing. Table salt is more processed (since it comes from salt mines), and is commonly fortified with iodine, which is important for thyroid health, and usually contains an additive to preven clumping. Sea salt comes from evaporated sea water and is minimally processed, so it may retain trace minerals. Nutritionally, sea salt and table salt contain comparable amounts of sodium by weight so it depends on what type you enjoy. Whatever you choose, just make sure it has added iodine!

Should you drink four litres of water every day? 

Answer: No

Did you know you lose water through your breath, sweating, urine and bowel movements? Plus, you get water from food and drinks (including caffeinated ones). General guidelines for water is about two litres a day, but your needs may depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live (ie. you may need more if you are exercising intensely, especially in a hot climate, are sick, or are pregnant/breastfeeding). The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is: about 3.7 liters of fluids for men and about 2.7 liters of fluids a day for women (with 20 per cent of them coming from food alone) Too much water is dangerous—it can dilute the sodium in your body and cause serious health problems such as confusion, seizures and coma. If you’re drinking enough water, your urine will be pale yellow or clear-ish. 

Can you take too many vitamins? 

Answer: Yes

The body can excrete excessive amounts of water-soluble vitamins (ie. Vitamin C, B’s), but it can retain fat-soluble Vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, K), which can be toxic. Side effects can range from mild ones like nausea, to diarrhea (ie. Vitamin C, magnesium) to more serious ones like difficulty walking, numbness (Vitamin B6), kidney stones (Vitamin D) to organ damage. People with certain health conditions, like kidney disease, may experience serious reactions even with small doses.

Should you catch up on sleep on the weekend? 

Answer: No

A recent study suggests that extending sleep on the weekend doesn’t seem to undo the impact on your health of short sleep during the week. The reality is that sleeping in on weekends is torture on your biology as it can confuse your body’s biological clock, making it even tougher to get good quality sleep (particularly in the first half of the week) and more difficult to wake up on weekdays.

Is pasture raised beef more nutritious? 

Answer: Maybe

According to recent research, grass fed beef may have:

  • Lower total fat content
  • More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • More omega-6 fatty acid (linolenic acid)
  • More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E and beta carotene
  • More saturated fat

The key is moderation. Less meat, more plants!

Is coffee bad for your health? 

Answer: No

Coffee drinkers are less likely to die from coronary heart disease, stroke, DM, kidney disease; develop heart failure or diabetes. Drinking coffee may lower your chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, may decrease your risk of colon cancer (by 26 per cent), uterine and liver cancer, and may also decrease your developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Moderation is key! The benefits in these studies were seen at one to two cups, with a maximum 400mg of caffeine per day. 

 

The information provided on the show is for general information purposes only. If you have a health problem, medical emergency, or a general health question, you should contact a physician or other qualified health care provider for consultation, diagnosis and/or treatment. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-diagnosis or treatment based on anything you have seen on the show.