Busting 6 common food myths

By Kate Hassett

Busting 6 common food myths
There are a plethora of food myths floating around. But which ones should you pay attention to and which should you ignore?

1. Drinking coffee dehydrates you

So you’re about to take a sip out of your first cup of coffee for the day and your office’s resident health guru makes a comment about how bad coffee is for dehydration. What do you believe?

Whilst drinks containing caffeine have been demonised by those preaching for purity, the diuretic effect that causes you to lose sodium and water is a real factor in becoming dehydrated. However having one or two cups of coffee a day should have no real effect on your levels of hydration, says Lisa Renn, accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.

“If you have to have more than four cups of coffee a day you may see a diuretic effect from that, but if your intake is less, then from a dehydration view you’re going to be okay.”

2. Artificial sweeteners help you lose weight

Verdict? False. Lab studies using mice, have found that those who received artificial sweeteners over natural sugars, ate more and increased in size due to receptors breaking down which associate sweet tastes with calories in the brain.

3. You can cut mould off hard cheese and still eat it, but it’s not the same for bread.

Correct. Dr. Alisa Hocking of CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences says that mould in hard cheeses is usually easy to overcome, “it is one of the few foods where what you see is what you get.”

Because of the dense structure of hard cheese, mould rarely spreads beyond where the eye can see, surviving usually just on the surface.

However, with porous foods, like pastry and bread, it’s much more feasible that mould has continued its growth throughout the item of food. This is when mould can make you very sick so play it safe and throw it away.

4. If you swallow chewing gum it stays in your stomach and clogs up your gut.

Whilst chewing gum is definitely not intended to be swallowed, it doesn’t necessarily cause harm to your insides if by chance, it happens.

However, if you consume a lot of gum over a long period of time, there have been cases of non-digestible lumps forming in the gut – called bezoar.

“If it starts off as a small lump and you keep on swallowing, the gum can stick and it can grow like a snowball,” according to Dr Nitin Gupta, a paediatric gastroenterologist at Sydney’s Children’s Hospital.

Gupta recalls the case of an 18-year-old who was admitted to hospital after experiencing stomach pains. Upon closer inspection, doctors realised her stomach was full of a large gum ball, that had grown after swallowing at least five pieces of gum a day over several years.

5. If you’re body craves it, you must need it.

Whilst there are many studies that claim a person will crave certain foods when they are lacking or deficient in certain nutrients, the neuroscience behind food cravings has debunked this myth.

Associate Professor Eva Kemps from the School of Psychology at the University of Flinders in Adelaide asks, if this was the case, then how often do we crave vegetables?

“Let’s face it, foods like cake, pizza, ice-cream, and chocolate aren’t really foods that any of us need to eat, they are just nice foods to have and they tend to be the ones that we crave.”

6. Storing onions in the fridge reduces your likelihood of crying over the cutting board.

True! If onions are stored in the fridge before being cut, they are less likely to release the irritant chemical called propanthial S-oxide, which makes us teary.




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