Health Myths

mythsThe following article is a small excerpt from one of my books.  I hope you’ll want to learn more and let me help you to get into the best shape of your life.

Years ago, both true and false health information would spread slowly.  Not today. The Internet and social media has given people the ability to send everyone on their email lists wild stories that end up mushrooming around the world in a matter of hours.

Most of those health scares are a misreading of facts or a deliberate twisting of the truth.  The following are a few examples and their truths.

Drink eight glasses of water a day

In 1945, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board told people to consume eight glasses of fluid daily. Before long, we believed we needed eight glasses of water, in addition to what we eat and drink, every day.

The Truth:  Water’s great, but you can also fulfill your daily needs with juice, tea, milk, fruits, and vegetables. Even coffee quenches your thirst, despite its reputation as a diuretic. The caffeine makes you lose some liquid, but you’re still getting plenty.

Stress will turn your hair gray

In today’s crazy world with stress and deadlines, who doesn’t believe that stress can shock your locks?

The Truth:  Too much stress does age you inside and out. It ups the number of free radicals, scavenger molecules that attack your healthy cells, and increases the spill of stress hormones in your body. So far, though, no scientific evidence proves a bad day turns your locks gray.

Reading in poor light ruins your eyes

It’s the commonsense refrain of parents everywhere that reading under the covers or by moonlight will ruin your eyesight.

The Truth:  Reading in dim light can strain your eyes. You tend to squint, and that can give you a headache. But you won’t do any permanent damage, except maybe cause crow’s-feet. Your overtired eyes can get dry and achy, and may even make your vision seem less clear, but a good night’s rest will help your eyes recover just fine.

Coffee’s really bad for you

108 million Americans crave coffee each morning. Could something so many crave possibly be good for you? Wrong.

The Truth:  Too much may give you the jitters, but your daily habit has a lot of positives. Coffee comes from plants, which have helpful phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Drinking coffee gives your brain a boost, too. And, despite the jolt of energy it provides, coffee has no effect on heart disease.

Feed a cold, starve a fever

The old wives’ tale has been a staple since the 1500s when a dictionary master wrote, Fasting is a great remedy for a fever.

The Truth:  Colds and fevers are generally caused by viruses that tend to last seven to 10 days, no matter what you do. There is no proven evidence that diet has any effect on a cold or a fever. Even if you don’t feel like eating, you still need fluids, so put a priority on those.  If you’re congested, the fluids will keep mucus thinner and help loosen chest and nasal congestion.

Fresh is always better than frozen

Ever since scientists and health care professionals realized the benefits of antioxidants, they’ve stated “eat more fresh fruits and veggies” which implied that eating frozen fruits and vegetables was second rate.

The Truth:  Frozen can be just as good as fresh because the fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of their nutritional content, taken from a plant, and frozen on the spot, locking in nutrients. Unless it’s picked and sold the same day, produce at farmers’ markets, though still nutritious, may lose nutrients because of heat, air, and water.

Eggs raise your cholesterol

In the 1960s and 1970s, scientists linked blood cholesterol with heart disease and eggs (high in cholesterol) were carefully eliminated from most diets.

The Truth:  Newer studies have found that saturated and trans fats in a person’s diet, not dietary cholesterol, are more likely to raise heart disease risk. And, at 213 milligrams of cholesterol, one egg slips under the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 300 milligrams a day.  Eggs offer lean protein and vitamins A and D, and they’re inexpensive and convenient.

Get cold, and you’ll catch a cold

It must be true because your mother always said so.

The Truth:  Mom was wrong.  Chilling doesn’t hurt your immunity, unless you’re so cold that your body defenses are destroyed and that only occurs during hypothermia. You can’t get a cold unless you’re exposed to a virus that causes a cold. The reason people get more colds in the winter isn’t because of the temperature, but it may be a result of being cooped up in closed spaces with more people and exposed to cold viruses.

Your lipstick could make you sick

In 2007, an environmentalist group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, had 33 lipsticks tested for lead. Although there’s no lead limit for lipstick, one third of the tubes had more than the limit allowed for candy.

The Truth:  The reality is that lead is in almost everything.  It’s all around us. But the risk from lead in lipstick is extremely small. Lead poisoning is most commonly caused by other environmental factors like pipes and paint in older homes.

I lift weights, so osteoporosis isn’t a concern

Your twice-weekly weightlifting sessions contribute to bone health, but it’s not the whole bone-building picture. Weightlifting alone does not offer much protection if your diet lacks certain nutrients.  You also need to address nutritional factors, such as calcium and vitamin D intake, smoking cessation, individual bone health and other factors.  For strong bones, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends (in addition to weight training two to three times a week) that women under age 50 and men under age 71 take in 1,000 mg of calcium a day; women 50 and over and men 71 and over need 1,200 mg a day. Women and men under 50 require 400 IU of vitamin D a day, and those 50 and older need 800 to 1,000 mg.

I eat only 1,000 calories a day and still gain weight, so I must have a slow metabolism

If you track your calories and still can’t lose those last 10 pounds, your problem may lie more with your math than your metabolism.  It’s easy to underestimate calories, especially if you eat a lot of restaurant meals. Large amounts of hidden fats, mainly fats used in cooking the food, add hundreds of calories per dish. Added butter, milk or cream cannot be seen, which makes it harder to track calorie intake.  In addition, chronic dieting without exercising can slow metabolism, especially as you age. Women should eat between 1,600 to 2,000 calories a day, depending on activity level, and men should take in between 2,000 and 2,800 calories a day.

I eat only “natural” beef and chicken, so I’m safe from antibiotics and pesticides

Reading labels as a way to eat healthier only works if you know the lingo. Choosing foods with a “natural” label, for example, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear from added chemicals. ‘Natural’ has almost no legal meaning.  The USDA’s legal definition of ‘natural’ only means ‘minimally processed and without artificial preservatives.’ Virtually all conventional meat qualifies. To stay clear of pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals, look for the green-and-white USDA organic label. It’s the gold standard of labeling for meat, dairy and eggs.

Longevity runs in my family, so I’m destined to be healthy to an old age

Just because grandma lived to age 95 doesn’t automatically mean you’ll also live to see your 90s. Various studies (involving identical twins) suggest that only about a third of the variation in longevity is accounted for by genes. The rest is lifestyle and chance. Many things that seem like chance are really not random; to a surprising extent you can make your own luck by getting on a healthy pathway.  Many people have the capacity to live well into old age, but most do not. Generally speaking, though, knowing how long your parents lived is not a very good indication of how long you will live.

I don’t need a second opinion; I trust my doctor completely

No matter how well you trust your doctor, seeking a second opinion when you’re diagnosed with a serious ailment or are considering surgery is simply smart. It helps you make an informed decision. The decision to have surgery is a serious one. Many nuances and subtle differences exist in surgical approaches, including technology and surgical procedures.  It’s always a good idea to understand the differences, and a second opinion may prove to be a meaningful investment.

I take vitamins, so I can eat what I want

It sounds like an easy fix, but popping vitamins does not give you dietary carte blanche to eat junk food and skip fresh fruits and vegetables. Taking vitamins can provide a false sense of security. Isolated nutrients found in a pill do not have the same effect on your body as when they are consumed as part of a whole food.  For example, taking a vitamin C supplement can’t compare with eating oranges or berries, which contain antioxidants, phytochemicals (natural chemicals which often act like antioxidants) and fiber, which all work together synergistically. Vitamins can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but they certainly do not counteract the negative effects of unhealthy foods.  Check with your physician before starting any new vitamins or supplements.

I don’t need to work out — I chase around my kids all day long

Running around taking care of kids can certainly burn calories and be physically exhausting. But all that activity is not specific enough to produce the results like weight loss, muscular definition and improved energy levels , you’d get from a structured exercise program.  However, those calories burned during daily activity (called NEAT for non-exercise activity thermo genesis), are an effective add-on to an exercise program. To get the best results from an exercise program include cardio respiratory exercise to improve function of your heart and lungs, resistance training to boost muscle strength and bone-mineral density and some flexibility exercises. At least two days a week of dedicated exercise can have a significant impact on managing body weight and experiencing other beneficial results from exercise.

I can still lose weight if I eat what I want on the weekends and diet all week

You eat healthy all week long, so you should be able to splurge on weekends and still lose weight, right? Not exactly. If you have been restricting calories during the week, you may find yourself extra hungry come Saturday morning. As a result, you may end up making up for the calories you limited during the week and then some.  By Sunday night you’re sluggish and bloated. A better bet is to eat healthfully throughout the week and allow yourself a little extra leeway on the weekends.  It is still important to eat mindfully even on the weekends. If you’re going out to dinner on Saturday night, eat a healthy, high-fiber breakfast (such as oatmeal and fruit) and lunch (such as salad and sandwich on whole-grain bread), and then allow yourself to indulge in an entree, a drink and a dessert in the evening.

I don’t need a primary care physician

Annual visits to your gynecologist or other specialist throughout the year are important, but they don’t make up for a primary care doctor. Specialists focus only on a particular body system. A primary care doctor is trained to view the whole person, which differs from a specialist’s focus. A primary care doctor treats the majority of all health conditions, from skin care to chest pain and everything in between. In addition, your primary care doctor acts as a health care advocate if you develop a serious illness, referring you to one or more specialists and acting as the coordinator of all the care you receive (e.g., making sure medications from one specialist doesn’t conflict with another). The better your care coordination, the better your long-term outcome.

I vent my anger, so I’m less likely to have a heart attack

Primal scream therapy and punching pillows as ways to vent anger are a thing of the past for a reason. They don’t work. In fact, this type of venting may actually worsen the health impact of anger. People who are chronically angry have more health problems than people who are less angry.  Anger is connected with surges in blood pressure, and venting anger may actually make it worse. It’s also not very effective in terms of solving life’s problems.  Instead, look at problems more realistically and develop a more forgiving and flexible outlook. Also you need to develop good communication skills so you can negotiate in a reasonable way that considers the other person’s perspective.

It’s over-the-counter medication, so taking a little extra can’t hurt me

If you’re of the mind that since two aspirin are good then three must be better, you may be gambling with your health. Taking more than the recommended amount of any medication can cause health issues.  Over-the-counter does not mean harmless. In fact, OTC drugs can and do cause significant side effects, often due to inappropriate use. For example, acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) is one of the most common causes of acute liver failure, often due to unintentional overdose. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen) can cause stomach ulceration and bleeding, especially when used for prolonged periods or in high doses. . Your best bet is to follow the labeled dosing. If you need something more, check with your pharmacist or physician before increasing the dose.

I save up my one-drink-a-day allowance for the weekends and enjoy it all at once instead

Numerous studies show the health benefits of a glass of red wine a day. Abstaining fromalcohol all week and over-imbibing on weekends, however, is not advisable and could even prove dangerous. All things in moderation and that particularly means drinking alcohol.  Even studies that say one drink a day is good for your heart also mention that the one drink a day may also increase your risk of other conditions like cancer. The one-drink findings were based on the fact that some alcohol may thin your blood a bit and may reduce your risk of blood clots.  Drinking to excess is not good for your heart or any other part of your body and may even increase the risk of a cardiac event.

I know you want to get in shape and look great.  Whatever your fitness goal…to slim down…gain muscle…tone your arms or flatten your tummy…I’m here to help you accomplish your goals and to improve your fitness level. If you have enjoyed this article and the many other free features on my site, and would like some more comprehensive information such as fitness books and CD’s to aid you in achieving your health and fitness goals, please visit my ONLINE STORE where you will find innovative natural health and beauty products to help you become the BEST YOU CAN BE !