A new report claims that the simplification of complex nutritional messages has resulted in grain foods such as bread and pasta becoming the 'scapegoat' for weight gain and bloating, despite ample research to the contrary.
In terms of diet and nutrition, it's sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction. Myths relating to new ways to lose weight tend to be presented as fact and stick in consumers' minds, which can be potentially dangerous.
Negativity surrounding carbohydrates and grain-based foods has caused a carb-free trend among dieters and the health conscious, which is a potentially worrying situation.
The new report shows that an estimated 26% of Australians are limiting grain foods such as bread and pasta to help lose weight, despite numerous studies confirming that whole grain consumption has a beneficial effect on weight loss.
Professor Manny Noakes has recently shared the latest findings on the benefits of grain foods in the diet. Noakes highlights the importance of choosing quality carbohydrates, rather than regarding them as a homogenous category.
"Cutting out highly refined or fat and salt-laden carbohydrates is a good idea, but culling high fibre and low GI grain foods at the same time is just throwing the baby out with the bath water," she says. "Studies show whole grains may have a critically important impact on body composition, particularly in being able to reduce abdominal fat."
The research reveals that 16% of Australians may be avoiding wheat-based foods, with a significant 35% self-diagnosing dietary conditions, yet Coeliac disease affects just 1% of the population.
Science is now telling us that fibres may be more effective in combination than individually, so there needs to be greater emphasis on eating not 'more' fibre, but a diverse range. In practice, this means soluble, insoluble and, crucially, resistant starch.
Not only do grain foods provide energy and a number of vitamins and minerals, the right combination of fibre can help stabilise blood sugar levels in people who suffer from adult-onset (type II) diabetes.
A UK nutritionist wrote an article this week that suggests that our low-fat obsession may harm our health and that we should all start consuming more fat, 'including the much-demonised saturated fat'. I'm not sure this idea will catch on with the fat-fearing consumers quite as successfully as the low-carb trend.
Selective eating is becoming a popular lifestyle choice, but perhaps selective hearing is also trending among consumers who seem to pick and choose which health fad is right for them, rather than looking at the science.
Rebecca is editorial assistant of FoodBev.com