The Drs: Fat Free Food & Mercury in Fish
Do you have health habits that could actually be bad for you? That’s what The Doctors were exploring on this episode. Learn whether you have been misinformed about steps to take when it comes to maintaining your health. Learn about Fat Free Food myths & Mercury in Fish.
The Doctors: Fat Free Food Problems
Everywhere you shop, you’ll see fat free products lining the shelves. But do these products really correlate to weight loss or better health? A Women’s Health Initiative study found that women’s health was not improved through a low fat diet, and neither were their waistlines.
“I call this the big Fat Free mistake,” Dr Travis Stork said. He explained that obesity rates have doubled in the decades since the fat free trend has taken off. Dr Jim Sears explained that added salt and sugar are taking the place of fat when it comes to flavor.
Dr Andrew Ordon noted the rebound effect of artificial sweeteners as well, which can make you more hungry later. Dr Travis said that an ideal diet would have 20-35% of healthy fats. Fats fill your appetite without being instantly absorbed, helping you keep from overeating.
Dr Lisa Masterson said that fat consumption is a key to fertility. Dr Jim added that fats are important for brain development in children.
The Drs: Unhealthy Health Foods
Snack foods on the go may be a household staple, but are they really healthy for you at all? Dr Jim went out to investigate. Are you relying on so-called healthy snacks that could actually be worse for you than you realize?
Dr Jim said bran can be good for your heart, but there are no other health benefits in these fatty muffins, which average about 400 calories. You might as well eat a cupcake or cheesecake.
Flavored Supplement Water
Your favorite flavored water may seem like it’s low calorie, but bottles may contain multiple servings, more than doubling the calorie count into the range of soft drinks. Vitamins sitting in water are not as potent as other forms, such as supplement pills.
What about on the go energy bars? Protein ingredients can be good, but comparing the label to a candy bar can be a real eye opener. A truly healthy energy bar should contain:
- 5+ grams Fiber
- 5+ grams Protein
- 10 grams Sugar (or less)
The Doctors: How Mercury Gets In Fish
Fish is a low calorie, high protein food. But maybe it isn’t as healthy as we’d like to think, even at our favorite sushi restaurants. In addition to Omega 3s, fish is often high in Mercury. The Doctors talked about how Mercury ends up in our fish supply.
The answer starts with fossil fuels. Fuels are given off into the atmosphere, and rain can propel it into the ocean. There, it converts to Methylmercury, which is absorbed by aquatic life and works its way up the oceanic food chain from plankton to large fish.
Why Is Mercury Dangerous?
Mercury can affect your nervous system, with symptoms related to vision, hearing, and tingling around the mouth, hands and feet. “The problem is that a lot of times the symptoms are very subtle,” Dr Travis said. “Exposure over time, particularly in children, can be very dangerous.”
To limit your exposure to Mercury, especially if you are a pregnant woman or child, you can avoid fish such as:
- King Mackerel
The EPA and FDA recommend eating about two servings of fish per week. The American Heart Association concurs, citing the heart health benefits of fish.
The Drs: Pregnant Women, Fish & Mercury
Dr Lisa said that Mercury can affect a pregnant woman as well as her gestating baby. She said that guidelines suggest limiting yourself to two servings a week. She tells her patients they can be very comfortable with one serving per week, without having to worry about exposure.
Fish Oils are beneficial to baby development, but these can also be found in supplement form. Check in with your OB/GYN for further advice in your situation.
Dr Jim Sears suggested some healthy choices when it comes to fish:
- Wild Alaskan Salmon
Canned chunk light tuna is low in Mercury, he said. Pins and needles symptoms after eating fish or sushi can be a warning sign. If you are concerned that you’ve overdone it at the sushi bar, have your doctor test your mercury levels.