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The Biggest Nutrition Myth Ever

See our privacy policy. This article is about a nutrition myth from over 20 years ago that is still confusing nutrition experts. This webpage with nutrition articles was created November 1, 2008. Mark Hyman, MD, editor in chief of the medical journal Alternatives in Health and Medicine says (page 66 Bottom Line Yearbook 2008), "Eat the complex carbohydrates-- vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. These tend to have low glycemic loads, which means they are absorbed slowly and don't raise blood sugar quickly, so you feel full longer. Refined carbs, such as white flour, rice and pasta, along with sugary foods, make your blood sugar spike so you will feel hungry sooner."

Andrew L Rubman, N.D., is associate professor of clinical medicine. Richard A Anderson, PhD, is a research scientist at Human Nutrition Research Center. Their article in the Bottom Line Health News (2008) says "Curb your simple carbs. Cut back on high sugar and refined foods which include bread, pasta, bagels, crackers, white rice, cookies, candy and soda."

Webmd.com says (October 2008) "Get energy by eating complex carbohydrates (whole wheat pasta, brown or wild rice, whole-grain breads) and limit simple carbohydrates (regular soft drinks, sugar, sweets)."

Are you confused by the above? It is like saying that the president of the United States in October 2008 is George W Bush and the vice president is Donald Duck (a cartoon character). Is this true or not? In the first paragraph, fruit is not a complex carbohydrate, but is a simple carbohydrate. Then this medical doctor says to avoid rice and pasta, but they are complex carbohydrates. He says refined carbs but there are refined grains, not refined carbs (see below). Note that this nutritionist/MD, Dr. Hyman, is one of the most brilliant MDs around and I am a fan of his. He is sometimes on PBS TV.

In the second paragraph this naturopathic physician and nutrition research scientist say that bread, pasta and rice [by default this means white rice] are simple carbs. They are complex carbs. But they are right about soda being a simple carb.

Webmd.com gets a million visitors a day! They say to limit the junk food simple carbohydrates, but fruit is a simple carbohydrate and they do not mention it. So do they want you to limit it, since it is a simple carbohydrate? Under the complex carbohydrates they do not mention the unhealthy ones like pasta, rice and bread. So should you eat them since they are complex carbohydrates?

This is like saying that you should associate with black people since they are good like Rev. Martin Luther King and avoid white people since they are bad like Adolf Hitler. The above is nonsense. They should say that you should associate with good people and avoid bad people. The fact is that simple or complex does not matter, just like the color of one's skin does not matter.

Do you see the analogy [resemblance (similarity) in some particulars between things other-wise unlike]? There are good and bad black people, and good and bad white people. There is no reason to mention skin color or simple or complex. Please note that all the college textbooks on nutrition that I have seen, have this right about simple and complex carbohydrates.

The following has made this much more complex and confusing for people. Besides having complex carbohydrates (starches) or carbs and simple carbohydrates (sugars), you also have whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat (not whole rice and brown wheat) and the refined grains like wheat and rice. The whole grains are better for health since they still have the bran and germ that contains most of the nutrition and fiber. The refined grains do not have the above parts of the grain, but is left with one part (of the 3 parts) called the endosperm. Health food stores sell wheat bran and wheat germ.

They also divide the sugars into monosaccharides and disaccharides. This is like a single (mono) and a double (di) sugar. Now what if you were not familiar with these animals? There are men and women, roosters and chickens, and lions and lionesses. Then you may get them confused and say that the men mate (have sex) with the lionesses, the roosters mate with the women, and the lions mate with the chickens.

This has happened with the above. Search the internet now and look at all the references to simple sugars and complex sugars even though they do not exist. If they did exist then a simple sugar would be a simple simple carbohydrate since a sugar is a simple carbohydrate. Also a complex sugar would be a complex simple carbohydrate. Then instead of whole and refined grains, you get refined carbohydrates or refined carbs and whole carbs. You can also then invent single carbs and double grains.

Here is where the confusion originated from. By the way, the reason people say "God bless you" when you sneeze is because people used to think that a sneeze was evil spirits trying to occupy your body. Back in the 1980s they were still just discovering the glycemic index where they could measure how fast the sugar went into you blood from certain foods.

So at that time almost every health expert was saying to eat complex carbohydrates and not eat simple carbohydrates. Let me clear up these terms. Complex carbohydrates are also called starches. Simple carbohydrates are also called sugars. This has nothing to do with if it is a refined food or a natural one. Grains are mostly starch, while fruits are mostly sugar. So fruit is a simple carbohydrate (sugar).

Vegetables are a mix of starch and sugar.  For example sweet vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers are actually fruits. But then there are the real starchy vegetables like potatoes that people do not eat raw.

Pasta and bread (wheat) are a refined grain and not a whole grain. They are starches. Candies are sugars. Whole wheat is a whole grain and a starch. Fruits are sugars. The theory was that since the body must break down starches into sugar before they can enter the blood, they must enter the blood more slowly. This means it is healthier for you and not fattening when it enters the blood at a slower rate.

But the glycemic index discovery showed that this theory was all wrong. The sugar in fruit, fructose, enters the blood slowly. So there is no difference if the food is a sugar or starch when it comes to health and losing weight. But it is like the sneeze. They are still holding on to the myth.

What does matter is natural foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good for health and help keep you thin. Man made foods like refined grains (bread, pasta, and donuts), candy and soda are fattening and wreak havoc with your health. See Health Related Articles for more on this.

Man made foods have added salt. Salt is fattening even though it has no calories (see home page on losing weight for explanation). Potatoes are healthy especially with added olive oil. They are one of the highest sources of potassium. Sweet potatoes have only half as much potassium. Put blackstrap molasses on top of sweet potatoes. A tablespoon of organic blackstrap molasses has 720 mg of potassium (non-organic has 360 mg).

But potato chips are unhealthy since the potatoes are fried and salted. It is now known that vegetable oils that are heated to high temperatures cause blindness in old age, called macular degeneration.

So all these experts and groups, like Weight Watchers and government groups were telling everyone a myth. But they never announced that they were completely wrong. So there should be no mention if something is a simple carb (sugar) or a complex carb (starch), unless you are in biology or nutrition class. It has nothing to do with anything practical. It is merely academic [having no practical or useful significance].

Now I knew that this was all wrong before they discovered the glycemic index. Here is how I knew. The body has to break down starches into sugars before it can enter the blood. But people have trouble eating the starch foods like rice, wheat flour or potatoes. They have to cook it first which changes it into a sugar. People do not eat uncooked rice, potatoes or wheat flour. I have a rule. All rules have exceptions, except some.

Here is an example of this myth in action. If this theory were correct then it would be better to eat an unripe fruit than a ripe fruit. So you should eat an unripe banana, while it is still a starch, instead of waiting for it to ripen and become a sugar. You can cook the unripe banana to make it into a sugar so that you can digest it. So you know that you should eat ripe fruit that are sweet and not unripe fruit.

Some fruits do not ripen so you can eat them anytime like apples, grapes and watermelon. Right after cantaloupe and honeydew ripen, they go bad. So the stores sell them weeks before they are ripe. You can wait for them to ripen. But they put them into fruit salads and they taste bad since they are not ripe. Then kids and adults say they do not like fruit.

So do not buy fruit salads with them. When honeydew is ripe, it tastes as sweet as honey. My grandfather would always say that. He owned a wholesale produce business and retired wealthy. He also would say that when the banana was extremely ripe, a little baby could eat it.

Thank you for reading this article, The Biggest Nutrition Myth Ever, on Nutrition Articles. May God Bless You even if you are not sneezing and do not have evil spirits trying to possess you.

Here is USA federal government information about the above from the National Library of Medicine (in exact quote). It is in Bethesda, Maryland and is the biggest library of medicine in the world. It is one of the National Institutes of Health which receives billions of dollars annually in federal funds. See www.nlm.nih.gov/MEDLINEPLUS/ency/article/002469.htm

Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex. The classification depends on the chemical structure of the particular food source and reflects how quickly the sugar is digested and absorbed. Simple carbohydrates have one (single) or two (double) sugars while complex carbohydrates have three or more.

[Note that the above has the myth after the word "reflects." At one time black people in the U.S. were property that could be bought and sold. The above is like saying that there are black and white people and the classification depends on the color of their skin (race) and reflects on whether they are good people or bad people.]

Examples of single sugars from foods include fructose (found in fruits) and galactose (found in milk products). Double sugars include lactose (found in dairy), maltose (found in certain vegetables and in beer), and sucrose (table sugar). Honey is also a double sugar, but unlike table sugar, contains a small amount of vitamins and minerals. (NOTE: Honey should not be given to children younger than 1 year old.)

Complex carbohydrates, often referred to as "starchy" foods, include:

Whole grain breads and cereals 
Starchy vegetables 
Legumes 

Simple carbohydrates that contain vitamins and minerals occur naturally in: 
Fruits 
Milk and milk products 
Vegetables 

Simple carbohydrates are also found in processed and refined sugars such as: 
Candy 
Table sugar 
Syrups (not including natural syrups such as maple) 
Regular (non-diet) carbonated beverages, such as soda 
Refined sugars provide calories, but lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Such simple sugars are often called "empty calories" and can lead to weight gain. Also, many refined foods, such as white flour, sugar, and polished rice, lack B vitamins and other important nutrients unless they are marked "enriched." It is healthiest to obtain carbohydrates, vitamins, and other nutrients in as natural a form as possible -- for example, from fruit instead of table sugar.

About the Author

Chuck Bluestein was a chemist for the federal government. He worked at the Defense Personnel Support Center in Philadelphia testing materials for military use. Philadelphia is home to the 2008 Baseball World Series winners, the Phillies. He has been learning about health, nutrition, herbology, fitness, chemistry, fasting and psychology since he was 9 years old. At age 12 he was doing yoga, martial arts (like kenpo karate) and tai chi.

Epilogue or Post-Article Information

This is where I add more information for those who want to read it, without making the article any longer. I am usually not this smart, but I wrote the above on the 13th day of a fast of pure water (no minerals in it). I am writing this on the 15th day of that fast. Note that my webpage on Fasting says that a long fast like this should be done under a doctor's supervision trained for this to make sure your potassium levels (and for other reasons) do not drop too low. But I cannot afford that now. They do take health insurance (at least the MD in Philadelphia and the MD in New Jersey do).

Instead of cooking beans, you can sprout them. Cooking destroys some vitamins. Sprouting the beans increases the vitamin content dramatically. Heath food stores even sell Crunchy Sprouts. They are peas, cow (black-eyed) peas, chick peas (garbanzo beans), lentils and adzuki beans that have been sprouted for a few days.

They are crunchy like a snack and great to add to salads. This is the point in the plant's life that it is growing the fastest. I feel that these are the among the healthiest things that you can eat. I like the taste of them with added olive oil. Minerals cannot be destroyed by cooking. They are indestructible. You can burn the food to an ash and all the minerals are left. Minerals can never be destroyed, but can be changed into another mineral with nuclear fusion.

Seed sprouts are not crunchy, but broccoli sprouts have over 20 times the cancer fighting ability as broccoli. The John Hopkins University School of Medicine has bred a broccoli that is extra high in the phytochemicals that fight cancer. They patented it. It is sold in stores and is called Brocco Sprouts®. For more on this, see cancer under Natural Cures.

I saw that the Arizona company has a green tea drink with pomegranate. They are trying to make it appear healthy. But the main ingredient is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). An internet search shows you that this is one of the worst things that you can put in your body. It is addictive and makes you fatter and crave food more. It destroys your health. But this is good business for the food companies. 

They want you to buy massive amounts of food and drink, even if you are having trouble paying for other things. Also when your health is ruined, then you need to buy drugs which helps the drug companies to make money. The only way to stop this is for consumers to become informed and stop buying these things.

There are healthy sweeteners that they can use like agave (a syrup from a cactus that enters the blood very slowly), honey, maple syrup, stevia and others. The Health Related Articles page has an article about this. The last thing that the food and drug companies want you to do is fast, since then they make no money at all. You then gain money. Ben Franklin said that a penny saved is a penny earned. He lived in Philadelphia

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Copyright 2008 by Chuck Bluestein
 

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