FEATURE – Whether it’s “drink lots of water,” “don’t crack your knuckles” or “don’t forget to take your vitamins,” some pieces of healthy living advice are best left in the history books, because they simply are not true no matter who told you so or how many times you’ve heard them.
Read on for nine myths to bust out of your mindset – and to share with your friends or family next time they bring them up.
1. Drinking lots of water is healthy — the more the better.
This is a myth. You can tell how much water you need to drink by looking at your own urine. If it is clear like water, you are drinking too much. If it is dark yellow, not enough. You are shooting for a lighter yellow color. How much water you need will vary by the season in St. George given extreme variables in temperatures. So use color as your gauge.
2. Taking a multivitamin is healthy and something everyone should do.
This is a myth. Vitamins are necessary, but you only need a very tiny amount of any given vitamin and the rest are discarded by the body. If you are eating a well-balanced diet, you don’t need supplements. That includes things such as co-enzymes, metabolism boosters and antioxidants, none of which have been definitively shown to reduce mortality (see the National Institutes of Health website). The public is literally bombarded with ads for supplements and vitamins from a multibillion-dollar industry. Just be aware that there is no solid data to back up any claims. It’s your money. Caveat emptor.
3. A big breakfast is healthy.
This is a myth. It is really a remnant from the 1950s marketing of meat and milk. Data now shows those who eat breakfast almost always consume more calories on a daily basis than those who skip it. And Western breakfast foods are very high in fat and sugar, which leads to midmorning lethargy. A small plate with some protein, a complex carbohydrate and some fruit is ample to energize you until lunch without causing you to crash at 10:30 a.m.
4. You can’t lose weight if you don’t exercise. No pain, no gain.
This is a myth. Studies actually show that exercise alone is a poor method to lose weight. Dietary changes are clearly the most important thing, with or without the exercise.
Now, for long-term weight stabilization, an active lifestyle is clearly better than one that is sedentary. This may be why those who make New Year’s resolutions give up going to the gym by February or March. They just aren’t seeing any progress.
5. Hormones cause cancer.
This isn’t exactly a myth, because it is a complicated issue. In regard to taking birth control pills, the death-risk from cancer has been shown to be (at worst) equal in women who do take birth control pills to those who don’t use birth control pills. Women who take postmenopausal hormone therapy have the same long-term risk of dying from cancer (all types included) as those who don’t use hormones. So while progesterone has been tied to breast cancer, and estrogen to uterine cancer, the data just doesn’t show an increased long-term risk of cancer mortality in women using hormones.
6. Eggs increase your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.
This is a myth. They don’t. They are a great source of protein. Bon appétit.
7. The flu shot can give you the flu.
This is a myth. It can make you sore for a couple of days. It is not necessarily 100 percent effective even in the best of years. But it won’t give you the flu. Influenza is nasty, I mean really nasty.
8. Cracking your knuckles can give you arthritis.
This is a myth. I remember hearing that one in grade school. It turns out it is just a gas bubble that pops from one side of the joint capsule to the other.
9. Detoxification is healthy.
This is a myth. I honestly don’t have a clue, though, what sort of “toxins” we need to get rid of. We have this amazing thing called a liver. It works every day of our lives to protect us from toxins, along with our gut and kidneys. There is absolutely no evidence that any detoxification, given orally or rectally or any other way, in any way benefits you.
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