These include heart disease, heart attack, cancer, and strokes. As years passed, many of these commonly held beliefs were proven false.
Related: 9 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Fat
Sodium: For years people believed that all sodium was devastating to public health. It was blamed for high blood pressure and heart disease.
However, sodium has several positive health benefits. It is necessary for hydration and muscle contraction.
Fat: The low-fat trends that were popular during much of the 1980's and 1990's were due to the fact that the public believed dietary fat caused weight gain and heart attacks.
To combat this "problem" several food manufacturers turned to alternative methods of lowering fat. They simply offset fat with more sugar, thereby increasing carbohydrate intake.
As we know now, this was simply a marketing gimmick to sell more products to the public.
Cholesterol: People began avoiding foods such as eggs and red meat due to it's cholesterol content. Cholesterol gained a bad rap for purportedly causing heart disease and other health issues.
However, cholesterol in moderation has positive health benefits for the majority of the population. Only when abused or taken in excess will cholesterol have any dilatory effects.
The point is that nutrition and health is a perpetually changing field that seemingly shifts focus on a daily basis, sometimes wrongfully so.
The Sugar Industry ScamOne such example that has just recently come to light is a misconception created by the sugar industry. In the mid-20th century the sugar industry successfully caused a shift in the perception of public health.
Newly released historical documents have come to light. They reveal how a drastic shift in health and nutrition research occurred.
In 1967, a sugar advocacy group, known today as the Sugar Association, paid Harvard researchers a large sum of money to publish a study. This study dealt with the impact of sugar and fat on heart health.
At the time, the New England Journal of Medicine, a highly influential publication, criticized fat. Fat was labeled as a major contributor to heart disease. The impact of sugar on heart health was minimized.
These Harvard scientists are no longer alive. However, one of them went on to become the head of the United States Department of Agriculture. He helped draft the original federal government dietary guidelines.
At the time of publication, medical journals were not required to disclose financial matters relating to the subject matter.
Why is This Important?In 1967, this publication created a trickle-down effect that caused widespread dietary misconception. Even to this day, many people believe that dietary fat is dangerous when in fact it is crucial for overall health (albeit in moderation of course).
Several people turned to lower-fat (yet higher sugar foods) as a dietary substitute. This was in an effort to improve their health.
The effects of this single study are far-reaching. These dietary misconceptions have been handed down through several generations, perhaps contributing the obesity epidemic we currently face today. This single study wrongfully paved the path of dietary research for several decades after it published.
As a general consumer you should take nothing at face value when it comes to reading studies and research findings. Studies tend to have some level of bias involved, whether it be due to a personal motive or financial incentive.
As we know today, sugar in all forms should be consumed in extreme moderation. It can play a prevailing role in heart disease, cancer, and weight gain. Several multi-million dollar corporations have come under scrutiny in recent times (such as Coca-Cola) as they funded studies that disregarded the effects of sugar on obesity.
Furthermore, candy manufacturers supported a study that said "children that consume sugar tend to weigh less than children that do not." Although this research was funded in the past we must not allow history to repeat itself.
Instead, attempt to view every study, every article, and single tip with a certain degree of skepticism. In the end most any corporation or advocacy group will have some financial motive that will attempt to alter public opinion in favor of their company. Never accept anything at face value without conducting some level of research on your own.
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