Popular Social Media Nutrition Myths Debunked

Popular Social Media Nutrition Myths Debunked JM Nutrition

Popular Social Media Nutrition Myths Debunked

By: Ariana Aghaeinia, dietetic student at the University of Toronto, reviewed and edited by registered dietitian, Carina Folgering and the JM Nutrition Team

 

Social media is a powerful tool that connects us globally. It is, however, also flooded with nutrition claims and advice, many of which are misleading or simply false. As a result, we will take a closer look at some of these popular social media nutrition myths you may have encountered in your daily scrolling. We will then debunk them by providing evidence to the contrary.

Let’s get started, shall we?

 

Social Media Nutrition Myths:

1. Everyone should take magnesium supplements

This is no doubt a common and prevalent social media nutrition myth.

A supplement you may have seen pop up on your social media channels recently is magnesium. Whether used in trendy mocktails to help with sleep, or taken to improve overall mood, this miracle supplement seems to be the key to optimal health. At least it is portrayed in this way.

But, before you run to the store and stock up on the social media phenomenon, let’s take a closer look at the supplement.

Here’s some insight into this supplement that has achieved viral status in recent months. 

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is not produced by the body. This much is crystal clear.  Therefore, its required daily dose must be consumed through our everyday diet.

Fortunately, most people are able to reach this threshold through their diet. This means that they don’t require any further supplementation.

When adequate amounts of magnesium are consumed, the mineral can act upon its various functions. These include nerve, muscle and even blood pressure regulation.

How do these match up to the claims made about the supplement?

Magnesium’s aid in sleeping can be attributed to its muscle relaxing properties. Meanwhile, its mood enhancing claims can be linked to its role in mitigating the stress response.

What’s the bottom line?

Like any other supplement, magnesium should only be used when it cannot be obtained directly from the diet. This can be determined with the help of a health professional.

Supplementation during other circumstances is not recommended. It can even be dangerous, if overdone.

Eating a magnesium-rich diet with seeds and grains can help you see the same benefits as those supplements that have gone viral on social media.

 

2. Powdered greens are a great vegetable replacement

This is another relatively common social media nutrition myth that requires a closer look.

Nestled in the ever so popular ‘What I eat in a day’ videos on Tiktok and Instagram is a finely ground green powder blended into a cup of cold water, and marketed as the perfect start to the day.

Brands, such as Bloom and AG1, have skyrocketed in popularity in the past couple of years. As a result, social media platforms have been flooded with clever influencer sponsorships.

So, are these aesthetic powders the fast ticket to help you hit the daily vegetable intake so many of us struggle to reach?

Let’s investigate further.

Bloom, arguably the most advertised over social media platforms, claims to help with bloating and overall digestion, along with improving immunity.

A closer examination of its actual ingredients, however, shows that there are insufficient amounts to provide real benefits.

What’s more, a key nutrient offered by real fruits and vegetables is their high fibre content, which is far greater than the amount offered in these powdered greens.

While powdered greens provide some boost in daily vitamin and mineral intake, save your money and consume the real deal instead.

A significantly better replacement for a nutritious drink is to make your own refreshing smoothies at home using a blend of frozen fruit and vegetables. There are countless recipes online for easy access. You can also consult a nutrition professional such as a dietitian to help you put this together. 

 

3. Oats are unhealthy

This is certainly one of the most popular social media nutrition myths, at least in recent months.

Are oats really unhealthy? Let’s take a look.

Since the end of time, oats have been a staple in a healthy and hearty breakfast. Oats are no doubt a very well rounded food.

They are also high in fibre and may help lower cholesterol.

In addition, their antioxidant properties have been shown to help with heart health.

Why do some on social media claim that oats are unhealthy?

If all of this is true, then why is there an increasing number of people on social media claiming that oats are unhealthy?

The root of this claim stems from blood sugar levels.

Nutrition influencers claim that oatmeal causes spikes in blood sugar levels, which lead to crashes. This ultimately causes you to feel hungry. As such, you indulge in more food, even when you may not actually need it.

However, it is important to not take these claims at face value. Here’s why.

Our blood sugar levels are dynamic and change throughout the day. This depends on the amount and types of foods we consume.

Some foods get converted into glucose (sugar) quicker than others, causing a rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) is a tool that groups foods based on how quickly they get converted into glucose. High GI foods having a quicker conversion.

Oatmeal is a medium GI food. This means that its conversion to glucose is moderate. This makes it the perfect breakfast to help you feel full until lunch time.

Therefore, enjoy the hearty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and know that the so-called spike in your blood sugar is simply the body’s natural response to food.

Related: Diabetes management

 

4. The carnivore diet is optimal for weight loss

This is another social media nutrition myth that requires an examination.

It is not surprising that yet another diet has rolled around with too-good to be true benefits and claims.

If you’ve stumbled on a video of someone biting down on a stick of butter recently, they’re most likely following the so-called “carnivore diet”.

Also referred to as the “lion diet” by some, this particular diet has gained great popularity online. Its proponents claim it helps with weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and overall mood.

Related: Weight loss with a dietitian

Like many other fad diets, the carnivore diet restricts any non-animal products such as fruits, vegetables and grains. Its focus is primarily on fats and proteins.

Similar to the keto diet

Essentially, it has similar principles as the keto diet.  

The keto diet strictly limits carbohydrates. As such, it forces the body to enter a mode of ketosis where other forms of fuel, such as fats, are broken down to supply the body with energy. The premise behind entering ketosis is to encourage fat loss. However, this form of weight loss is not sustainable, and can even be harmful.

Related: Advantages and disadvantages of the keto diet

While you may experience short term weight loss with the carnivore diet, this can be linked to the change you’ve implemented in your food consumption. It is also not representative of the actual effects of the diet.

If you consume meats, especially red meat, on a daily basis for a prolonged period of time, it is likely that you will increase cholesterol levels and potential cardiovascular problems

The bottom line?

The carnivore diet is yet another trendy promise to quick weight loss that has little scientific backing.

If you want to improve your health and start your weight loss journey, try to keep a balanced diet. And, be wary of  those that completely restrict particular food groups.

 

5. Chlorophyll water helps with weight loss

Yet another trendy green drink sensation that has swept over social media the past couple of years is chlorophyll water. And it’s another social media nutrition myth that we feels needs to debunked.

Typically, this influencer-backed product is seen in its concentrated form, where droplets are added to a large glass of water.

Like many other wellness products, chlorophyll is advertised as a remedy for weight loss, skin concerns, and even cancer prevention.

But how valid are these claims?

Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives plants their green colour and also helps with photosynthesis. This pigment can also be made semi-synthetically. This is the form seen in supplements such as the viral concentrated chlorophyll droplets.

Despite its popularity, there is limited research supporting the many claims made in support of chlorophyll. While some studies suggest that this supplement is a good antioxidant and detox tool, it is by no means an all-in-one miracle product.

Drinking chlorophyll water does not counteract bad lifestyle choices, such as consuming a poor diet.

In fact, if you still want to dabble and see if chlorophyll has any of its so-called benefits, save your money and try eating more leafy greens. Not only will you get the natural form of chlorophyll using this method, but also obtain plethora of other nutrients they have to offer.

 

6. Smoothies are unhealthy

Although a less common social media nutrition myth than the previous ones, nonetheless we felt it necessary to address it here.

One of the more recent health claims that has surfaces on social media is the idea of smoothies being an unhealthy food. 

It is important to note that this claim targets even smoothies made at home with whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.

But, if we are always encouraged to eat more of these foods, how could a claim like the one above be substantiated?

The limited logic behind the unhealthy nature of smoothies stems from the fact that they are a very dense food, as they take a large volume of ingredients and blend it into a smaller form.

This then causes individuals to consume the energy dense smoothie and be left with a lower sensation of fullness compared to them consuming each individual component.

Some nutrition influencers even go as far as to claim that smoothies are as unhealthy as soft drinks.

Our verdict on this social media nutrition myth

So is it time to put the blender away?

Not quite.

While smoothies are generally energy dense because of the volume of food they take to make, this is what also makes them a good tool.

They’re a great way to quickly get sufficient amounts of nutrients. This is especially helpful for those who don’t have time to prepare a full breakfast. Smoothies are also much more nutrient dense than the advertised greens we mentioned earlier.

To reiterate, while smoothies may not provide the same level of satiety as eating a large bowl of fruits and vegetables, they’re far from unhealthy. For this reason, we don’t agree with the many social media claims.

 

7. Lemon water is a miracle remedy

This is another social media nutrition myth.

Lemon water has been the face of false nutrition information for countless years.

Want clear skin? Try lemon water.

Are you looking for weight loss? Give lemon water a try.

Do you want to detox your body from toxins? Lemon water is the answer.

It seems as though a glass of lukewarm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in the morning is the miracle remedy for all of your health problems. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much science to debunk this ever popular concept.

Why is this social media nutrition claim a myth

Lemon water in essence is just water with a few drops of lemon juice. While this may provide  a small amount of vitamin C, that’s essentially all there is to it.

There is no magical component of this drink that will suddenly make you shed pounds and allow you to have perfect skin. These claims have likely stemmed from the fact that drinking lemon water allows you to be better hydrated. Better hydration has been linked to better skin and helping regulate eating habits.

Related: The importance of drinking water

So, if the squeeze of lemon in your water encourages you to drink more water, then by all means, go right ahead.

 

8. Intermittent fasting is key for weight loss

If you’ve found yourself on the weight loss end of social media, you’ve most definitely come across a handful of posts praising the intermittent fasting method, while overlooking the potential drawbacks.

Some even go as far as to say that the only way to effectively lose weight is through intermittent fasting.

But before unraveling this concept, it is first important to discuss what this method entails.

Let’s take a look.

Intermittent fasting follows the basic idea of giving yourself a window of time to eat, and then fasting for the remaining period. The most common form is the 16/8 method. In this method, you fast for 16 hours and get an 8 hour eating window. Other renditions of the method are popular as well.

So, does this method actually help with weight loss?

Having a smaller opportunity to consume food does mean you get in fewer calories, which leads to weight loss. This, however, heavily depends on how much and the types of food you eat during your eating window.

If you limit the amount of time you can eat, you can effectively avoid mindless eating. This no doubt works for some. But, it’s important to keep in mind that this method is not suitable for everyone. It may even cause more harm than good, at least in some cases.

For example, some people may not be able to last the full fasting period, and binge on much more food than they would eat normally. 

That said, intermittent fasting is a research supported way to lose weight but it is by no means the only or best way. Remember, weight loss is not a two-week journey. It’s critical to find a way to sustainably lose and maintain an ideal weight. It’s also important to do it safely. We cannot emphasize this enough. 

Related: All about intermittent fasting

 

Social media nutrition myth final thoughts

Hopefully, you now see how much misinformation circulates about proper nutrition. As with anything else. For this reason it’s important to conduct proper research. It’s also important to consult credible sources.

While nutrition videos may feel informative and entertaining to watch, the majority have stemmed from bits of truth jumbled into a fact, many are just subtle advertisements and product sponsorships, which is another reason why you should think twice before purchasing anything promoted online. For reliable advice, consult a qualified professional such as a dietitian.

 

Conclusion

We hope that the information has shed a little light on some of the more popular nutrition myths found on today’s social media.

If you’re interested in working with a dietitian one-on-one, book a free consultation and we will certainly provide assistance. 

 

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About authors:

Ariana Aghaeinia is a nutritional sciences and pharmacology student at the University of Toronto and a dietetic student-volunteer at JM Nutrition.

Carina Folgering is a registered dietitian in Regina, Saskatchewan, who specializes in a wide variety of areas, including chronic disease management, women’s health, digestive health, weight management and more.

Our nutrition blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2021, 2022 & 2023 and one of the Top Canadian Nutrition Blogs by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe below to both the newsletter that includes latest blog posts. 

JM Nutrition is a nutritional counselling service by registered dietitians and nutritionists. Main office: JM Nutrition Toronto.

Author: Julie Mancuso

Julie Mancuso

admin@julienutrition.com

Julie Mancuso is a graduate of the University of Toronto, founder and owner of JM Nutrition, a nutritional counselling service by registered dietitians and nutritionists. For 15+ years, JM Nutrition has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals. Julie and her team regularly lend their expertise to a variety of health publications such as Reader's Digest, Livestrong, Business Insider, Food Network, Today's Parent, MyFitnessPal, Toronto Star, Elle Magazine, Best Life, Weight Watchers and many more.