Debunking fitness misconceptions:
Misconceptions in the field of health and fitness are more common then virgins at a Star Trek convention. The industry is saturated with misinformation. Tips and ‘well informed’ rhetoric can hit from all sides, often making your head feel like it’s taken a spin class all on its own.
It is all too easy to fall in to what today is termed as ‘broscience’, just as I did when I first started my career.
‘Broscience’ for the uninitiated is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.”
My aim here isn’t to cast the subject of broscience into the depths of Hades. To my mind broscience has a value. Sharing ideas and making provisional claims on aspects of health and fitness can help promote thoughts that can be further researched in the field of science- ultimately deciphering techniques and making things more efficient.
My objective is to demystify just some of the misinformation that currently exists.
My first piece of advice, would be to make sure that researched scientific evidence always stands in front of ’helpful anecdotes, ‘sure fire tips’ and ‘mates advice’. Lets look at an example:
Nutrition myth #1: Organic foods are superior in terms of nutrient quality compared to conventional foods.
Although I wouldn’t put this myth into the premier league of broscience dogma, this is certainly one that needs to be analysed, if for no other reason, than that organic food can cost a shed-load of money. So, is it worth the extra outlay?
This current systematic review, made an important corollary, in that organically produced foods are not superior to conventional foods with respect to nutrient content.
Comparison of content of nutrients and other nutritionally relevant substances in organically and conventionally produced crops as reported in satisfactory-quality studies
Results of analysis
Higher concentrations in organic or conventional crops?
No. of studies
No. of comparisons
|Nitrogen||17||64||6.7 ± 1.9||0.003||Conventional|
|Vitamin C||14||65||2.7 ± 5.9||0.84||No difference|
|Phenolic compounds||13||80||3.4 ± 6.1||0.60||No difference|
|Magnesium||13||35||4.2 ± 2.3||0.10||No difference|
|Calcium||13||37||3.7 ± 4.8||0.45||No difference|
|Phosphorus||12||35||8.1 ± 2.6||0.009||Organic|
|Potassium||12||34||2.7 ± 2.4||0.28||No difference|
|Zinc||11||30||10.1 ± 5.6||0.11||No difference|
|Total soluble solids||11||29||0.4 ± 4.0||0.92||No difference|
|Copper||11||30||8.6 ± 11.5||0.47||No difference|
|Titratable acidity||10||29||6.8 ± 2.1||0.01||Organic|
An excerpt from the study: ‘We extracted 1149 nutrient content comparisons from 46 satisfactory-quality crop studies, and data on 11 nutrient categories were reported in ≥10 studies. Analysis of satisfactory-quality crop studies found no evidence of a difference in 8 of the 11 nutrient categories (vitamin C, phenolic compounds, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and total soluble solid). Nitrogen contents were significantly higher in conventionally produced crops, and contents of phosphorus and titratable acidity were significantly higher in organically produced crops.’
It was concluded from this systematic review that 10 out of 13 nutrient categories had no significant difference. However the differences that were detected biologically plausible were most likely due to differences in fertiliser use (nitrogen and phosphorus) and ripeness at harvest (titratable acidity).
It is important to note, that although no difference in nutrient content was distinguished between the two. Research in this area is still ongoing.
Alex Ritson – Feb 2014
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