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    Oct 15, 2017

    Every Question You've Secretly Had About Eating Healthy, Answered

    Important for anyone who's wondering WTF is actually up with gluten and juice cleanses.

    When it comes to nutrition, it's hard to get straightforward answers to our biggest questions. So our colleagues in Paris asked the BuzzFeed France community to tell us what they'd want to know if they could talk to a nutritionist.

    Then, we contacted two French nutritionists and dieticians: Ariane Grumbach, a "foodie" nutritionist-dietician and Florence Foucaut, and asked!

    1. What's the big deal about gluten, anyway?

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    "Gluten is a term for the proteins that form when flour and water are mixed together," Grumbach explains. Nowadays, there's a common belief that gluten is hard on the digestive system." In her opinion, you should understand your own body and what you're able to digest, instead of "demonizing gluten left and right."

    Foucaud maintains the same stance and reminds us that there are no studies that demonstrate benefits to eating a gluten-free diet if you don't actually suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

    2. How often should you eat pasta? Does it matter if it's gluten, gluten-free, or whole grain?

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    In Ariane Grumbach's opinion, a varied and balanced diet is the most important thing: "There are many people who say they do not digest pasta well, but it's also because it's often eaten in huge portions." She recommends experimenting with smaller servings to see if that affects digestion. And when it comes to whole grain, she explains, "One must not glorify it, since it may sometimes also be indigestible. Try semi-whole wheat at first to see if you digest it well."

    3. Are salads really necessary for a balanced diet?

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    According to both of our specialists, not necessarily. Florence Foucaud considers salads as good, but you need a wide variety of sources of nutrition.

    "Strive for balance in the long run. Each meal does not need to be well-balanced, but one should eat as varied of a diet as possible," Grumbach says. "There are people who, depending on their digestion, may have trouble eating raw vegetables, so for them, salad is definitely not essential for nutrition."

    4. Are juice cleanses a scam?

    5. What makes certain vegetables, like kale, so trendy?

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    According to Foucaud, "Consumers used to prefer seasonal vegetables, because that was what was available. Now, we keep rediscovering "old" vegetables. Back in the old days, these just weren't as available or weren't worth farming. But consumers' tastes today are able to drive up demand."

    Grumbach reminds us that just because kale is trendy, doesn't mean that it's the end-all, be-all magical veggie. "Someone got it into their heads to invest in kale marketing, but kale isn't actually more interesting than other cabbage varieties that have been around for a long time."

    6. Which is better for you: fat or sugar?

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    Both Ariane Grumbach and Florence Foucaut agree that there isn't one that's objectively better than the other. Both are necessary, but in moderate amounts.

    Grumbach points to fat's bad rep as a result "partly due to the sugar lobby,"even though excessive sugar isn't healthy, either. "We always tend to confuse whether something is 'good for you' without considering the amount we're talking about. There is nothing wrong with eating reasonable amounts of fat, and there is nothing wrong with eating cookies or chocolate from time to time."

    7. What really happens when you cut out meat and dairy from your diet?

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    There are plenty of ethical reasons to not eat animal products, but according to Grumbach, "From a health standpoint, you can honestly eat anything if you're able to digest it well." She adds that there aren't really immediate benefits to not eating meat or milk, unless you were eating like, two steaks a day. As long as you're eating a **say it with me now** balanced and varied diet, there's no real health-related reason to cut out meat and dairy, Grumbach says.

    FYI: The World Health Organization announced in 2015, that processed meats (charcuterie, salted meats, smoked meats) were proven carcinogenics. Red meat was classified as a "likely carcinogenic."

    8. Is cow milk really less healthy than almond milk?

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    Some people really are lactose intolerant, which means that they have a deficiency in lactase — the enzyme that lets you digest milk. For those people, Grumbach reminds us that lactose-free milk is widely available.

    9. Is there one thing we should all definitely eat to avoid getting cancer?

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    Unfortunately not, contrary to popular opinion: "There is no perfect diet, as there are no anti-cancer foods," Grumbach explains. When it comes to cancer, "it's such a complex disease that one cannot prevent it for sure, and there is a huge amount of other things which come into play such as lifestyle, stress, physical activity and genetics." When it comes to general health, again, a varied and balanced diet is your best bet.

    10. Is eating organic really healthier?

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    There is at least one clear advantage: fewer pesticides in your veggies. If your vegetables aren't organic, definitely make sure to wash them really well and peel them," Foucaud says.

    11. Is BMI still relevant?

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    "BMI was created for statistical purposes, and there is no reason to apply it on the individual level. Depending on your age, muscular mass, etc., you aren't necessarily going to have a BMI that fits the standards," Grumbach says.

    12. What's the best vegetable to be eating?

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    One more time, for the seats in the back: The best thing is to eat as much variety as possible — ideally, something seasonal and locally grown, since vegetables are all better if they've been recently harvested.

    This post was translated from French.