By Marc Braman, MD, MPH

MB (Marc Braman, MD, MPH):
If we are going to help you become truly nutritionally fad-proof, we need to do some myth-busting of the most common nutritional myths that suck people back into the whirlpool of talking-heads confusion.

Myth number one: Because we find evidence that human beings ate certain foods at certain times, that means these are what we are supposed to eat as best nutrition. This is a myth that many researchers and scientists actually get duped by. Let’s illustrate this. Let’s imagine a scenario. Aliens have hit the earth with a giant freeze ray and we are all suddenly encased in ice, frozen in place, in suspended animation, food in hand and mouth. 10,000 years later they come back and are considering thawing us out and keeping us as pets and are trying to figure out what to feed us to keep us healthy. They look at what we were obviously eating — pizza, twinkies, soda, hamburgers, etc — and they logically conclude that this is what we should run best on. [SHORTEN?] What is wrong with this picture? Human beings are able to digest an amazingly wide range of things as fuel, and largely eat whatever is available. Just because human beings ate something at some point in time we should not assume it is ideal fuel. (Assuming is very bad science.) We need to keep our kinds of evidence in priority order. Our three lines of best evidence are to be given much greater weight than assumptions based on what someone ate, somewhere, some time, because they could. So, just forget all those theories, fads, and books about nutrition based on this assumption — which is most of them.

Myth number two: Your blood type determines what kind of diet you should eat. Yes, there is definite individual variation regarding specific foods or proportions that someone will do best with. Obviously some people don’t do well with gluten or dairy or peanuts or whatever it may be. But this myth is actually readily dispatched by simply smiling at oneself in the mirror. One finds that human beings with Type O blood, who are alleged to need a meat-based diet, still have human teeth. Shh! Don’t tell the blood type people! And these are built for a primarily unrefined plant food diet. And while one hopefully won’t see this part of one’s anatomy in the mirror, the digestive tract is still built for plants in Type O human beings. And this is not to mention the fact that this blood type myth has no science to support it, but quite a bit to refute it.

Myth number three: If you lose weight eating a particular way it must be healthy. While appropriate weight loss is a wonderful thing for most people in today’s obesigenic world, this is a definite ‘no’. Now, just stop and think about this for a minute. There are many, many effective ways to lose weight — cancer, very effective and very common method of weight loss, as is it’s common treatment ‘chemotherapy’. Famine and other forms of starvation are quite effective. Anorexia works wonders. If you eat a diet of styrofoam baseballs, especially if you manage to get them down whole, I guarantee you will lose weight. [SHORTEN?] But you won’t be healthy or happy. Just because you can lose weight on a diet doesn’t mean your body likes it or that it is a healthy way to lose weight. Don’t be duped by this assumption.

Myth number four: Poor health is a time-based issue of modern foods vs ancient foods. Modern lifestyle and nutrition is definitely a problem. But it is not primarily an issue of modern whole foods vs ancient whole foods, or an issue of conventionally-grown whole foods vs organic whole foods. This is readily demonstrated by the fact that ancient Egyptian mummies had quite a lot of cardiovascular disease — like we do today. And they ate only 100% organic whole foods. They had no choice, because that is all there was. The Egyptian mummies make clear that terrific or terrible nutrition is not primarily a product of time but of lifestyle. Lifestyle, in this case nutrition issues between different kinds of ancient organic whole foods, transcends and trumps all these other issues and theories.

Myth number five: The formal nutritional guidelines have been at least partly responsible for the obesity and disease problems of modern lifestyle. The official United States nutritional guidelines, and the direction or pattern of change over time that they have been demonstrating is striking. The best science and the best experts update the guidelines in ways that increasingly fit the direction and pattern that we have just described. Whoever the latest self-proclaimed nutritional messiah happens to be or whatever their theory, they all seem to require talking a lot of smack in bashing the guidelines that “obviously haven’t worked” and have gotten us “this present epidemic of chronic diseases”. “The guidelines haven’t worked, so the guidelines are wrong and they are right.” Uh, excuse me, does having a speed limit sign mean everyone is staying under that speed limit? No, of course not. Likewise, with nutrition, people have not been following the guidelines and thus, they have obesity and disease.

You now know how to know what the best basic diet is for human beings, and how not to be hoodwinked by the most common nutrition myths pedaled on the internet today.

To your health and nutritional freedom!

Blue Zones: Lessons From the World’s Longest Lived. Buettner, Dan. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2016 Sep/Oct; 318-321. doi:10.1177/1559827616637066.

The burden of disease and the changing task of medicine. Jones DS, Podolsky SH, Greene JA. N Engl J Med. 2012 Jun 21;366(25):2333-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1113569.

US Dietary Guidelines:

US Dietary Guidelines History:

Independent Nutrition Guidance by Many of the World’s Leading Expert:

Effects of the DASH diet alone and in combination with exercise and weight loss on blood pressure and cardiovascular biomarkers in men and women with high blood pressure: the ENCORE study. Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Hinderliter A, Watkins LL, Craighead L, Lin PH, Caccia C, Johnson J, Waugh R, Sherwood A. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jan 25;170(2):126-35. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.470.

Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Brown SE, Gould KL, Merritt TA, Sparler S, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, Kirkeeide RL, Hogeboom C, Brand RJ. JAMA. 1998 Dec 16;280(23):2001-7. Erratum in: JAMA 1999 Apr 21;281(15):1380.

A plant-based diet and coronary artery disease: a mandate for effective therapy. Esselstyn CB. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017 May;14(5):317-320. doi: 10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.004.

Marc Braman, MD, MPH

Dr. Braman is board certified in preventive medicine/public health and occupational/environmental medicine. He is founding member, second President and first Executive Director of American College of Lifestyle Medicine and founder and current president of the Lifestyle Medicine Foundation which created He provides lifestyle medicine care in a wide variety of settings as well as initiating efforts to establish professional standards for the field of lifestyle medicine and planning and conducting national professional conferences in lifestyle medicine.

View all posts

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your support counts!


We are a non-profit providing lifestyle medicine education to the public at no charge. Help us on our journey to change the world and millions of lives through lifestyle medicine!