NutriSense Blog
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14 Common Health Myths Debunked by Dietitians

June 23, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Natalie Krafft
Reviewed by
Katie K.
RD

You’ve probably heard age-old sayings like “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” or “sugar is bad for your health.” But are these claims rooted in science?

When parents, friends, and even traditions, pass down misconceptions and outdated beliefs, it’s easy to skip over questioning their validity. Sometimes we can tell these old wives' tales aren't true even without the research to back them up. Like "chewing gum will stay in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it" or "you can drown if you swim after eating."

But when it comes to some health myths, there's more at stake. Following incorrect health advice can be dangerous, so we decided to get to the bottom of these myths once and for all. 

We asked our Nutrition Team to help us debunk 14 popular nutrition and lifestyle myths. Here's what our dietitians—and the research—say about these myths. 

1) Skipping Breakfast is Bad for You

a plate of pancakes with fruit

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is an expression you’ve probably heard relentlessly since childhood. But some studies have indicated that this may not necessarily be true.

Breakfast can play an essential role as it allows us to replenish our body with energy after several hours without food. It also may improve cognitive function and help with weight control.

Some research has suggested that Americans who did not eat breakfast tended to have poorer diet quality and were more likely to be deficient in specific nutrients

In individuals with diabetes, not eating breakfast was associated with more significant glucose spikes after eating.

However, practices like intermittent fasting show that it may be possible to lose weight, decrease cholesterol levels, and more while following an alternate-day fasting plan

Other studies state that while eating breakfast may appear to be associated with a reduced risk of obesity and other health conditions, it’s impossible to attribute these health effects to eating breakfast alone.

Starting your day with a low-quality meal appears to have more negative effects on health than skipping breakfast. This means that the quality of the breakfast meal and how nutrient-dense it is might be what is most important.

2) All Carbs Are Bad for You

In diet culture, carbohydrates are often the villains, especially for people with obesity. But as with all things diet culture, you may be better off ignoring that.

Carbohydrates can be divided into two main categories: simple and complex carbs

1) Simple Carbohydrates

These tend to be high in sugar, highly processed, and include foods such as candy, sugary drinks, and baked goods. 

While evidence suggests that we should limit simple and refined carbs as they contain little nutritional value, complex carbs are a different story.

2) Complex Carbohydrates 

These are higher in fiber and slow to digest. They're in items such as legumes, whole grains, and potatoes. 

Many carbohydrates are essential sources of energy and fiber for our bodies and complex carbohydrate sources such as beans contain many vital nutrients

These carbohydrates are an essential component of a balanced diet for many. They tend to have a lower glycemic index which may help blunt glucose spikes, support healthy cholesterol levels, and promote gut and heart health. 

All this to say, while you should limit some types of carbohydrates in a nutritious diet, prioritizing nutrient-rich carbs can be highly beneficial for your health.

3) Fruits Are Bad for People with Diabetes 

strawberries and cherries

Fruits are a delicious source of important vitamins and minerals essential for our health, but what about their high sugar content? 

Because many fruits tend to be high in sugar, some people falsely believe that eating fruit can contribute to diabetes or worsen the condition. However, the sugar content in fresh fruit occurs naturally, which is quite different from added sugars.

In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, most individuals with diabetes can include fruit as part of a safe and healthy diet. Choosing fruits with a low glycemic index or pairing fruit with a source of protein, such as plain Greek yogurt, may help if you're concerned about sugar intake. 

However, as long as you control your portion sizes and eat mindfully, eating fruit is perfectly healthy for most individuals with diabetes.

4) Eggs Increase Cholesterol Levels

Research previously believed that eating high cholesterol foods such as eggs contributed to high cholesterol levels in the body. 

However, new research has debunked this myth, shifting the focus to a combination of things. Other factors now being studied include physical activity levels and consumption of excess carbs, saturated fats, and trans fats.

One study by Harvard researchers linked diets containing one egg per day is not associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease lowering cholesterol levels in healthy individuals. 

As other items such as highly processed and fried foods are observed to negatively affect cholesterol, limiting these items and prioritizing fiber, unsaturated fats, and physical activity can support healthy cholesterol levels.

5) Sweet Potatoes Will Always Spike Your Glucose

sweet potatoes on a board

Sweet potatoes are typically considered a healthy option due to their high vitamin A content and antioxidants. Still, people with diabetes may wonder if they’re safe to eat without causing blood sugar spikes.

While it’s true that sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, they also contain fiber that can help balance out glucose levels. 

Some of the confusion around sweet potatoes may lie around their glycemic index, which can vary depending on their cooking method. Boiling sweet potatoes helps keep the resistant starches intact and lower their glycemic index, slowing digestion and regulating glucose levels. 

Do sweet potatoes sometimes cause glucose to spike? Sure! But this doesn't mean they always will. 

Boiling potatoes, cooking them and then letting them cool off, or even pairing them with a protein are a few easy ways to help blunt potential spikes. However, remember that people respond differently to certain foods, so it’s essential to determine what works best for you. An excellent way to find out is to use a tool like a continuous glucose monitor

6) Women Get Bulky by Lifting Weights 

Many women avoid lifting weights at the gym due to an outdated belief that weight lifting can make their bodies too bulky or muscular. 

However, as anyone who may have intentionally tried to put on muscle will know, bulking up is not an easy feat. 

Growing muscle requires consistent resistance training, adequate sleep, recovery, and a high protein and calorie intake

It’s essential for women to consider these findings since weight training has other health benefits that go beyond aesthetics. Lifting weights is a highly beneficial way to burn calories, stay in shape, improve blood sugar control, and can help you to stay active for longer in life. 

Some professionals recommend regular weight training over cardio exercise for fat loss, which may drive similar results. 

So, the next time someone tries to convince you that lifting weights will make you bulkier or heavier, remind them that resistance training may help lower body fat percentage.

7) Adrenal Cocktails Help with Hormonal Balance

a cup with adrenal cocktail ingredients

Adrenal fatigue, which can also be described as hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis dysfunction, is a condition where the adrenal gland can become overworked and stop producing hormones. However, adrenal fatigue itself has not been scientifically proven to exist, and research is still ongoing here. 

But that hasn't stopped the promising effects of adrenal cocktails from making this drink popular. 

Adrenal cocktails are typically made with ingredients like coconut water, aloe vera juice, and orange juice, among other things. The drink is intended to supply the body with sodium, vitamin C, and potassium. 

While these drinks may not negatively affect your health and provide beneficial nutrients, there is no evidence that they affect the adrenal glands.

It's always best to consult your doctor before trying anything new like this, especially if you experience low energy levels, trouble sleeping, weakness, or loss of appetite after drinking it.

8) Gluten-Free Foods are Healthier for Everyone

Another nutrition trend is the gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and appears in everyday items such as bread, pasta, beer, and some sauces.

People with Celiac disease avoid consuming gluten as it causes painful damage to their small intestine. However, only one percent of the global population is thought to suffer from this condition. It’s also possible to be gluten intolerant without having Celiac disease, in which case limiting gluten products is necessary.

However, for people with no known history of gluten sensitivity, limiting gluten has not been observed to have any additional scientifically proven benefits. 

In fact, gluten-free diets can increase nutritional deficiencies in people without gluten intolerance. You may instead be unintentionally cutting things like fiber, vitamin B, iron, zinc, and potassium out of your diet.

Other studies suggest limiting gluten without cause can have adverse effects like hyperglycemia and coronary artery disease

Speak with a medical professional before making significant dietary changes to determine what’s right for you.

9) Everyone Should Take Probiotics Daily

a few vitamins

Probiotics are well known to support gut health and boost the immune system, but should you really take them every day?

According to Harvard researchers, probiotics can be beneficial, but it can be challenging for consumers to determine the quality of their probiotics as the FDA does not regulate these supplements. 

Other research shows that in many cases, scientists don’t have enough evidence to determine which types of probiotics can positively affect certain conditions. We also don't know the length of time you should take them to get the best results.

More research is needed to determine probiotics' safety and potential risks, especially for the elderly or immunocompromised.

10) Cracking Your Knuckles Causes Arthritis

Cracking your knuckles may be something you were scolded for as a child, and some even hold onto the belief that doing this could lead to arthritis later in life. 

However, research on this habit has largely determined that cracking your knuckles is mostly harmless. 

Other studies have indicated that this habit may lead to temporary swelling and decreased grip strength.

Fortunately for many of us, there's no scientific evidence found that links knuckle cracking to arthritis.

11) Coffee Stunts Your Growth

a cup of coffee

If you were someone who was not allowed to drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages as a child, this one will disappoint you. There's no evidence to support this myth! 

Coffee and caffeine, in general, have not been observed to affect height or development. Instead, other factors determine your height, including genetics, dietary factors (such as getting enough calcium), and sleep.

This myth may arise from research that found a possible link between caffeine consumption during pregnancy and miscarriages. There have been no studies to suggest that coffee has any significant effects on the development of young children.

However, other potential effects of caffeine in younger children have not been sufficiently studied and may vary. So it's a good idea to monitor caffeine intake as research continues.

12) Cutting Out all Sugar Keeps you Healthy

Sugar is another villainized dietary element, sometimes for a good reason. Research has found that American adults consume three times the recommended daily sugar intake, which is concerning in and of itself.

However, completely cutting out sugar is not only extremely difficult but also not typically recommended as part of a balanced diet

Sugar plays a vital role in providing the body with energy. Rather than eliminating it, aim to limit foods with added sugars and little nutritional value and focus on consuming whole foods.

Many natural sugars are in vitamin and nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Research also suggests that natural sugars do not share any adverse effects of added sugars in items such as fruit juice and other sugary drinks. 

However, consuming added sugars in excess has been linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. Instead, consume the recommended daily intake of sugar (less than 10 percent of daily calories) and eat sweets in moderation.

13) Sitting is the New Smoking

someone sitting with a computer

“Sitting is the new smoking” is a claim that has been around for about a decade, and it’s not without merit. Research has shown that sitting for extended periods can lead to obesity, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

While this research is vital to consider, some scientists have countered this argument with the assertion that the act of sitting itself may not necessarily be the root cause of these health conditions. 

Instead, a lack of physical activity may be behind some adverse health effects of a sedentary lifestyle. 

When you find yourself sitting for eight hours a day at the office, it can be hard to find time to exercise. Prioritize movement in any way you can. If you work from home, get a standing desk and take five-minute breaks every hour to stretch your legs. 

If you commute to work, try walking or biking (or parking farther away if work is too far!) to help combat the effects of too much sitting.

14) Red Meat is Bad For You

Red meat came under fire after studies found that there may be a link between eating red meat and an increased risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

While these findings sound alarming, most research suggests that the effects may come from extremely high consumption. Other research suggests that processed meats have a higher association with developing certain cancers.

Regular portions (two to three servings per week for some, but others may benefit from less or more) may lower the risk of these health conditions.

Meat is a highly nutritious food that you can include in a healthy, balanced diet. While researchers continue to study potential adverse health effects, remember that everyone's diet is different! 

Key Takeaways

a person taking notes

If some of these myths surprised you, we hope we’ve helped debunk them with science-based evidence. Here are two takeaways to keep in mind as you navigate through misinformation and false claims.

Do Your Research

Did you hear through the grapevine that something was good or bad for you? Doing your own research is essential, especially with things that affect your health and wellbeing. 

Also, seek nutrition and other health-related advice from a credentialed medical professional who can help you better understand your individual health needs.

Avoid Extremes

You might have noticed a trend among many of these myths, and that is the fact that they support extreme dietary limitations

However, some studies suggest that for most people, limiting entire food groups may not be necessary or ideal in most cases. Consulting with your doctor is the best way to determine what’s best for your specific needs.

Understand your Body and Health Needs with NutriSense

With so many health-related myths out there, it’s essential to know where to find trustworthy information to help you stay on top of your health. 

A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) allows you to view real data about your body’s response to dietary and lifestyle factors and see how they influence your health.

NutriSense's CGM program also provides access to credentialed dietitians who will guide you towards reaching your health goals. Find out how NutriSense can help you stay on top of your health here.

Click here to listen to the podcast.
Listen to the full podcast:
14 Common Health Myths Debunked by Dietitians
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Do you spend all your free time scrolling through social media? If you can’t remember the last time you went offline, you may need a digital detox.

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8
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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.

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8
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11 Best Apps for Tracking Fitness
11 Best Apps for Tracking Fitness

Fitness tracking apps give you valuable insights into your exercise routines. Here are the top fitness apps for Android and Apple for this year.

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9
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Why Gardening is so Good for You
Why Gardening is so Good for You

One of the best ways to get all the mental and physical benefits of nature is by flexing your green thumb. Read on to learn more about how gardening can benefit your health.

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8 Common Food Additives and How They Affect Your Health
8 Common Food Additives and How They Affect Your Health

From soft drinks to candies and cereal to salad dressings, many food products contain food additives. Read on to find out more about eight common additives, and how they affect your health.

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9
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Why You're Experiencing Menstrual Cramping Without Your Period
Why You're Experiencing Menstrual Cramping Without Your Period

Many people experience symptoms akin to menstrual cramping even when they are not on their periods. It’s surprisingly common, and various factors can contribute to it. Read on to find out what some of these are.

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9
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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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10
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Staying Safe in the Sun: A Breakdown on Sunscreen
Staying Safe in the Sun: A Breakdown on Sunscreen

It’s important to protect your skin from the harsh effects of the sun’s rays, and one of the most effective ways to do this is to wear sunscreen. But what is sunscreen, and how does it work?

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10
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How Rice Affects Your Blood Glucose Levels
How Rice Affects Your Blood Glucose Levels

The world loves rice. It’s a staple food in many cultures and can have various health benefits for some. But does it cause your glucose to spike?

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15
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Improving Fat Loss, Muscle Gain and Fitness With Continual Glucose Monitors
Improving Fat Loss, Muscle Gain and Fitness With Continual Glucose Monitors

Kara Collier and Dan Zavorotny talk continuous glucose monitors on the Mind Pump podcast.

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8
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Dry Needling: Can it Really Help with Muscle Pain?
Dry Needling: Can it Really Help with Muscle Pain?

Dry needling is a therapeutic technique used by physical therapists and healthcare practitioners in an effort to alleviate pain and help restore movement in the body. Read on to find out more.

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11
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Healthiest Fast Food Choices
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Healthiest Fast Food Choices

Wondering what the healthiest fast food options are?  Here are some of the healthiest choices at fast food restaurants, according to dietitians.

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11
min
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Here’s What a Realistic Weight Loss Timeline Looks Like
Here’s What a Realistic Weight Loss Timeline Looks Like

Many people try crash diets to lose weight fast, which may provide some short term results but don't work for the long haul. Here is a realistic timeline for healthy weight loss.

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8
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9 Great Apps to Track Nutrition
9 Great Apps to Track Nutrition

Tracking nutrition has never been easier due to instant access to nutrition tracking apps. Here are the best ones.

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9
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6 Popular IBS-Friendly Diets
6 Popular IBS-Friendly Diets

Learn more about irritable bowel syndrome, and see what popular IBS-friendly diets people follow to ease their symptoms.

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9
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What You Need to Know About Neuropathy
What You Need to Know About Neuropathy

Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can cause pain, discomfort, and interfere with daily tasks. Explore effective ways to prevent and manage it.

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9
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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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12
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13 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress
13 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress

Stress can negatively affect your entire body. Here are thirteen different ways to reduce stress in your life.

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12
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Best Physical and Mental Health Apps Available in 2022
Best Physical and Mental Health Apps Available in 2022

Here are the eleven best physical and mental health apps available in the app store.

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33
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Improving Metabolic Health with Carlee Hayes
Improving Metabolic Health with Carlee Hayes

On this episode of Passionate Pioneers with Mike Biselli, Carlee Hayes, Nutrition Manager at NutriSense, discusses the company’s digital platform that aims to help others discover and reach their health potential.

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40
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Carlee Hayes talks Metabolic Health with Rejuvenaging
Carlee Hayes talks Metabolic Health with Rejuvenaging

In this episode of Rejuvenaging with Dr. Ron Kaiser, Carlee explains how to cut through the online nutrition industry's noise, why we shouldn't look for a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to nutrition, and how CGMs work.

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6
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Fruit Juice or Whole Fruit? What You Should Pick and Why
Fruit Juice or Whole Fruit? What You Should Pick and Why

Should you be drinking your fruits? Read on to find out more about juicing, whole fruits, and why one may be better for you than the other.

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7
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Meet the Blood-Glucose Friendly Rambutan: What It Is and How to Eat It
Meet the Blood-Glucose Friendly Rambutan: What It Is and How to Eat It

Do you know what a rambutan is? Learn more about this blood-glucose-friendly tropical fruit and why you should add it to your diet.

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13
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Organ Meats: Should You Be Adding Them to Your Diet?
Organ Meats: Should You Be Adding Them to Your Diet?

Learn about the health benefits and risk factors of adding organ meats to your meals, and try our favorite recipes using these nutritional treasure troves. 

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6
min
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Five Cancer Research Developments of the Last Five Years
Five Cancer Research Developments of the Last Five Years

Read on to learn more about five of the most promising developments in cancer research.

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8
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A Quick Look at Meditation and Blood Glucose 
A Quick Look at Meditation and Blood Glucose 

Learn more about meditation, how it positively impacts blood sugar, and how you can start incorporating it into your routine.

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7
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Tasty, Nutritious Salads You'll Love
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Tasty, Nutritious Salads You'll Love

Salads don't have to be boring! Our Nutrition Team recommends nine delicious, nutritious salads to help you find your favorite.

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7
min
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Do You Need More Vitamin D?
Do You Need More Vitamin D?

Most people get the vitamin D they need from exposure to sunlight, but if you don't spend enough time outdoors, you may not be getting enough of this vital nutrient. Read our article to learn more.

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6
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Your Mother's Day Gift Guide
Your Mother's Day Gift Guide

Can't decide on the perfect gift for Mother's Day? Pick from a list of ideas to find a healthy, but still exciting gift this year.

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8
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Can Soy Really Prevent Diabetes?
Can Soy Really Prevent Diabetes?

Some research suggests that eating soy may reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Read on to learn whether that's true and find out more about the other health benefits of soy.

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9
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Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Celiac Disease
Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Celiac Disease

Did you know that 23.5 million Americans live with autoimmune conditions? Learn more about the symptoms and causes of celiac disease and what you can do about it.

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7
min
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Positive Thinking May Affect More Than Your Mental Health 
Positive Thinking May Affect More Than Your Mental Health 

It's no secret that positive thinking can improve your mood and help you cope with difficult situations. Review our article to see how a positive outlook may also benefit your physical health.

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10
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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8
min
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9 Unusual Health Conditions You May Not Know About
9 Unusual Health Conditions You May Not Know About

Though most of us may never encounter these, these health conditions are still fascinating to learn more about. Read our article to find out more about nine of the most fascinating, unusual health conditions.

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10
min
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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar 
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar 

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

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17
min
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Two to 80 Employees in Just Two Years
Two to 80 Employees in Just Two Years

In this 20-minute conversation, Dan shares how he’s putting a Rockstar in every seat. And mistakes to avoid along the way.

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45
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Understanding how Glucose Effects our Metabolic Health with Kara Collier
Understanding how Glucose Effects our Metabolic Health with Kara Collier

Kara, registered dietitian, and co-founder of NutriSense, discusses how blood glucose levels are a core marker of metabolic health. She dives into the health consequences of fluctuating blood glucose levels, and what levels to look fasted compared to post-meal.

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57
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Using Real-Time Data to Improve Metabolic Health with Kara Collier
Using Real-Time Data to Improve Metabolic Health with Kara Collier

Today on the podcast, Kara Collier, RDN, LDN, CNSC, discusses revolutionizing preventative healthcare. It’s her mission to empower people with the knowledge to effectively monitor, optimize, and sustain their own metabolic health.

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10
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11 Simple and Effective Weight Loss Tips for Men
11 Simple and Effective Weight Loss Tips for Men

Losing weight is typically easier for men than women, biologically speaking, but it's still challenging! Here are 11 simple yet effective tips for losing weight for men.

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9
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What are the Best Times to Eat for Losing Weight?
What are the Best Times to Eat for Losing Weight?

Review our helpful article where we discuss the best times to eat if you are trying to lose weight.

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10
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Books on Metabolic Health
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Best Books on Metabolic Health

Whether you're looking for weight loss tips or to learn more about metabolism, a little reading material can go a long way. To help you get started, here’s some books on metabolic health, recommended by our Nutrition Team.

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9
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Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Can It Replace Your Workout?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): Can It Replace Your Workout?

NEAT can’t replace the benefits of intense cardio or strength-training workouts but like any physical activity, it has many overall health and fitness benefits. Read on to find out everything you need to know about NEAT.

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40
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NutriSense CGM Program Review
NutriSense CGM Program Review

On this week's episode, Shannon describes the comfort, cost, usability, and education she experienced using the continuous glucose monitor program from NutriSense.

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25
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Track Your Health in Real-Time with Dan Zavorotny
Track Your Health in Real-Time with Dan Zavorotny

On this episode of the Making Bank podcast, Dan Zavorotny discusses how he started the company “NutriSense” and how it reached a 150 million dollar valuation in 26 months.

Podcast
37
min
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Can a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Help You Lose Weight?
Can a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) Help You Lose Weight?

Carlee Hayes talks to This Podcast Burns Fat! about the important role blood sugar plays in weight management.