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5 Common Diet Misconceptions With Nutritionist Sophia Power

5 Common Diet Misconceptions With Nutritionist Sophia Power

This week we talked to our expert on all things nutrition and holistic health, Sophia Power on some common misconceptions in the health, beauty and wellness world. She gave us the low down and busted some popular myths about diet and other healthy habits.

Read on for her words of wisdom, backed by science.

Q: Does diet have an impact on sleep and stress?

A: Absolutely! Amino acids from dietary protein form the basis of important neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that are required for mood and stress resilience. Melatonin is made from an amino acid (tryptophan) and is the hormone most associated with a night of good, restful sleep. Micronutrients from a diet filled with fruit, vegetables and whole grains like zinc, magnesium, B vitamins and calcium also help with the production of these neurotransmitters and hormones. A diet filled with refined carbohydrates, caffeine and poor-quality fats like trans-fats, on the other hand, can keep you awake at night, cause inflammation and mood instability. 

Q: Does collagen actually work for skin health and anti-ageing? 

A: The body does naturally produce collagen, but sadly this declines from around age 25. Replacing collagen through diet (i.e. bone broth) or a collagen powder helps to keep the skin plump, elastic and healthy. Vitamin C also helps with the body's natural collagen production, which is why you are likely to see it in many collagen powders on the market. Collagen is important to replace for more reasons than just our skin - joints and ligaments also require collagen to stay firm, flexible and working well so you can look young and feel young too.

Q: What's the biggest misconception about diet that people still believe? 

A: That fat makes you fat or that fat is bad for you. We now talk about 'good fats' and 'bad fats' so I think we're on our way to busting this myth. However, I still hear people fretting about the amount of fat in nuts and ordering skim flat whites. Nature gets it right and sooner or later, the science backs it up - healthy fats come from natural, minimally processed foods like olive oil, butter, full cream milk or nut milk, avocado, nuts and seeds. Bad fats are industrial seed oils or trans fats which have undergone a lot of processing and have been changed on a molecular level to be something that the body a. doesn't recognise and b. causes inflammation. Fat doesn't make you fat, it's true that it is more calorie-dense per gram than carbohydrates - but it keeps you fuller for longer than carbohydrates and comes with more flavour, so it keeps junk food cravings and snacking at bay.

Q: Are supplements just a waste of money?

A: I hear this one a lot, but supplements cover a whole host of different types of products, including vitamins and minerals. If you've got a proven deficiency in a nutrient such as zinc, iron or B12 then you'll notice a big difference when you supplement them to correct the deficiency. If you're taking something you don't need because you've already got plenty of it in your diet then sure, you might be wasting your money! Some supplements enhance or improve certain things - for example, the herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba is great for students trying to study for exams, ashwagandha is perfect for someone experiencing more stress than usual, magnesium is essential for people who exercise a lot and have sore, tense muscles. It depends on what you're trying to achieve by using supplements. Of course, the guidance of a health professional is always recommended here and can save you money on supplements you may not need in the long run. 

Q: Does diet have anything to do with keeping skin clear or do I just need to have a good skincare routine? 

A: If you struggle with issues like acne, congestion, pigmentation or even issues like eczema and rosacea then you need to have a thorough look at your diet. The skin, just like all other organs, does require a range of nutrients to be clear, healthy and function properly. Nutrients like zinc, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, collagen, vitamin C, vitamin E and antioxidants from colourful fruit and vegetables are going to go a long way in reducing inflammation and producing healthy skin cells. Dietary fibre is also helpful in naturally eliminating toxins as it moves through the gut so that they don't end up being pushed out of the body's other organ of elimination - the skin. In saying that, a good skincare routine is a must, especially if the issue has already popped up on your skin. A gentle, minimal skincare routine is always better than going in with harsh products that damage the skin's natural barrier. 

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