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In light of National Nutrition Week (9-15 October), Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, discusses ten common nutrition myths and the facts behind them.


Nutrition can be a contentious subject, but health professionals agree that eating healthy is relatively straightforward.


“Regardless of how you slice it, the conclusion is that you should eat a varied, minimally-processed diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and water. If you can do that, you can’t go wrong,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “Still, nutrition misunderstanding persists.”

Affinity Health dispels 10 common myths about nutrition.

1. MYTH: Cutting carbs can help you lose weight

FACT: Carbohydrates are an essential component of your diet. However, not all carbs are created equally. Carbohydrates are classified as “simple” or “complex”. Simple carbohydrates are present in non-nutritious foods such as chips, soda, candy, and other sweets. Complex carbohydrates are more nutrient-dense and can be found in more nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Reducing your intake of simple carbohydrates and increasing your intake of complex carbohydrates can help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you fuller for longer and delivering nutrients that assist regulate your body.

2. MYTH: All fats are unhealthy

FACT: Fats are essential for vitamin absorption, heart and brain health, and many other bodily processes. Healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower your heart disease and stroke risk. Olive oil, avocados, and almonds contain monounsaturated fats, whereas flaxseed, fatty salmon, and tofu include polyunsaturated fats.


Trans fat and saturated fat are examples of unhealthy fats. Whole-fat dairy products, red meat, and chicken skin are high in saturated fat and should be consumed in moderation.

3. MYTH: Gluten-free foods are better for you

FACT: Gluten-free meals are not healthier for you if you do not have Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity. A gluten-free diet is not designed to assist people in losing weight; rather, it is intended to help those with these illnesses. Gluten avoidance may decrease your fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

4. MYTH: Salt is unhealthy

FACT: While excess sodium consumption can cause high blood pressure and renal damage, the body still needs moderate amounts of salt (sodium). Sodium is an electrolyte that aids in water balance and is required to properly function our muscles and nerves, including our heart and brain.

5. MYTH: Dietary supplements are required for good health

FACT: Most people should be able to acquire all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need by eating a balanced and healthy diet. Rather than taking supplements, eat a range of healthful, nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins.

6. MYTH: “Natural” weight-loss products and supplements are safe and effective

FACT: These products are not guaranteed to be safe or effective. Always consult your doctor before using a supplement or “herbal” cure, and remember that there is no “quick fix” for losing weight.

7. MYTH: Eating healthy is expensive

FACT: Eating healthy on a budget is easy with some planning.


  • Buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season
  • Make and stick to a shopping list
  • When staples like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, dry beans, and lentils are on sale, stock up
  • Avoid takeaways and eating out

8. MYTH: A detox diet will remove toxins from the body.

FACT: There is not enough evidence that dietary cleanses deliver on their promises. The truth is that you don’t need to buy anything to cleanse your body. Every day, your liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract detoxify it. If you want to renew your body, focus on eating more whole foods, drinking water, and avoiding excessively processed meals.

9. MYTH: Nothing should be eaten after 7 pm

FACT: While late-night munching might cause weight gain or inhibit weight loss, it is not due to the time of day. It’s more about why you’re eating. In the evening, seeking food for reasons other than real hunger, such as habit, boredom, or longing, is common.

10. MYTH: Low-fat or fat-free foods are better for you

FACT: Many low-fat or fat-free items contain extra sugar or sodium to compensate for the flavour loss caused by eliminating or lowering fat. Furthermore, fat promotes satiety, making you feel fuller for longer. Choosing a fat-free product to cut calories can backfire because you may find yourself hungry shortly afterwards. Always read the nutrition label when deciding between fat-free, low-fat, and full-fat. Take note of the sugar and sodium content.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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