25 Health Myths That Need To Be Debunked Once And For All

Posted by , Updated on November 1, 2022

When it comes to our health, it always helps to be in the know. With so many “facts”, it’s hard to distinguish which ones are correct and which ones are not and with all the talk about health tips, good information is bound to get distorted over time. In 25 health myths that need to be debunked once and for all, we shed light on the supposed “medical facts” that we constantly run into.

Tanning Beds are safe.

Tanning Beds are safe.

Many people believe that tanning beds are safe as long as they don’t have UVB Rays. Businesses that state otherwise perpetuate this myth to keep the business thriving. Although UVB rays are identified with burns and skin cancer, UVA rays are just as harmful as UVB. The World Health Organization has listed tanning beds as one of the leading items that cause cancer.


Swimming after eating causes cramps

Young Girl Swimming Underwater

So many people believe that swimming right after a meal causes cramps. This isn’t the case. Right after eating, more blood flows to the digestive system and away from the muscles. This might cause you to have less energy to swim but it doesn’t cause cramps.


Alcohol kills brain cells.

Alcohol Attacks Brain Cells

Although it may be splitting hairs, alcohol doesn’t actually kill any brain cells (as much as it may seem to). In reality it only damages the ends of neurons when used in large quantities.


Calories are more fattening when eaten at night.

Calories are more fattening when eaten at night

Calories are calories. Period. Dr. John Forey Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, said that it doesn’t matter what time of day calories are eaten. The total number of calories is what matters.


Carrots improve your vision.

Carrots improve your vision

Carrots really don’t improve how well we see. Our photoreceptors (cells in the retina) do not work well simply because we eat carrots or any vegetable containing Vitamin A. Carrots, however, are helpful in preventing macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in people aged 60 and above.


Crossing your eyes will make them stay that way.

Cross Eyes

W. Walker Motley, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, says there is no harm in voluntarily crossing our eyes.


Eggs are bad for your heart.

Eggs Are Bad For Your Heart

On account that each egg yolk contains about about 211 milligrams of cholesterol per large egg, people have come to believe that eggs cause cardiac problems. It is true that cholesterol is associated with heart attacks and clogged arteries but to say that eggs are bad for the heart is a great misconception. Epidemiologic studies confirmed that most people can have an egg per day without problems. Why? Everytime we eat eggs – or any other food with cholesterol – the body balances our level of blood cholesterol simply by producing less cholesterol itself. Moderation is key.


Fasting rids the body of toxins

Fasting rids the body of toxins

The body employs the liver, kidneys and spleen to remove toxins. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., of Albert Einstein College of Medicine explains that there is no scientific basis in people’s claims that fasting removes toxins from the body.


Feed A Cold, Starve a Fever.

Feed A Cold, Starve a Fever

In the old days, it was believed that a drop in temperature causes colds while a temperature spike causes fever. So it has been handed down from one generation to the next that eating food keeps the body warm during a cold, while eating less during a fever helps lower down body temperature. Myth! In both cases, it is important to eat and drink. Drinking more so. When we’re ill, we lose a lot of fluids so it’s important to stay hydrated.


Gum stays in your stomach for 7 years.

Gum stays in the tummy for 7 years.

Contrary to popular belief, gum doesn’t stay in your stomach until you’re in college. A senior physician in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network, David Pollack, explains that like most consumed items, chewing gum is carried into the intestinal track by fluids and passed within a few days.


Have someone startle you to get rid of hiccups.

Have someone startle you to get rid of hiccups.

Because hiccups are simply spasms of the diaphragm (your breathing muscle), startling someone or prompting them to yell is believed to cause the diaphragm to stretch and relieve the hiccup. Studies show that this is not the case.


All herbs are natural so they’re harmless.

All herbs are natural so they're harmless.

Not always the case. Recent studies show that some herbs have adverse effects on humans. Kava, known to relieve anxiety, has been seen to cause liver toxicity. Gingko leaf extracts, used to treat dementia and induce mental clarity, cause headaches, nausea and diarrhea. It’s best to consult a doctor prior to taking any “natural” supplement.


Knuckle-craking Causes Arthritis

Knuckle-craking Causes Arthritis

Studies show that people who crack their knuckles are no more likely to get arthritis than those who don’t.


Low-fat diet guarantees weight loss

Healthy muffins developed by The Culinary Institute of America.

Manufacturers sell products like cookies and muffins and market them as low-fat for people trying to lose weight. What they don’t say is low-fat is not the same as low-calorie. While cookies and the likes are low-fat, they’re rich in calories from sugar.


Microwaving creates dangerous chemicals in food.

Microwaving creates dangerous chemicals in food.

Microwaves, energy waves we see as visual light, and radio waves are all forms of radiation. So are X-rays and gamma rays which pose health concerns. But microwaves are far weaker X-rays and gamma rays. Robert Brackett, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, explains that when microwaves are absorbed by the water, fats, and sugars in our food they are converted directly into atomic motion, or heat. There is no residual or side effect.


Most heat is lost through the head.

Most Heat Is Lost Through the Head.

This myth came about when the US Army Field Manual stated that 40-45% of body heat is lost through the head. This is simply not true. Heat loss occurs in any part of the body that is uncovered.


Muscles turn to fat when you don’t exercise.

Muscles Turn To Fat When You Don't Exercise

When you do nothing but eat and sleep, you lose your muscle mass and gain weight but that isn’t because your muscles turn to fat. Muscle and fat are entirely different tissues and there’s no way that one turns into the other.


Plaque removal loosens your teeth.

Plaque removal

On the contrary, leaving the plaque on your teeth causes it to turn into tartar which, in turn, loosens the teeth.


Reading with dim lights causes blindess.

Reading With Dim Lights Causes Blindess

There’s no scientific evidence that reading with dim or low lights causes blindness. If this myth were true, then all our ancestors who began reading back when there was no electricity would have suffered from blindness.


Snacking is unhealthy.

Snacking is Unhealthy

Dr. Tim Harlan, author of Just Tell Me What to Eat! confirmed that “snacking is essential”. When we’re hungry, we need to eat something as long as we’re eating the right snacks. Dried fruits and nuts are recommended.


Sugar causes hyperactivity in children.

Sugar Causes Hyperactivity in Children

Scientific studies have failed to establish the effect of sugar on chidren’s behavior. Sugar is not linked with hyperactivity in children. In one study, parents were told that their children were given drinks with sugar. The parents reported that their kids became hyper. In reality, the drinks given were sugar-free.


Too much cold causes colds.

Too Much Cold Causes Colds

Colds are viral infections and passed from one person to another through, well, viruses. Temperature has nothing to do with it. This myth came to be because people tend to stay indoors when the weather’s cold, making it easy to transmit infections from one person to another.


Warm milk induces sleep.

Warm milk induces sleep

According to Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, who specializes in sleep disorders, milk does contain tryptophan, which is believed to be an effective sleeping aid, but only in very small amounts. That means, you’d have to drink gallons of milk before you get any soporific effect.


We get fat by consuming carbohydrates.

We get fat by consuming carbohydrates.

Jean Harvey-Berino, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont and co-author of The Eating Well Diet has put an end to this myth. There is nothing in carbohydrates that make us gain weight. The prime suspect are calories. It’s consuming too much calories that make us fat. Period.


The 5-second rule

When You Drop Food on the Floor, It's Ok To Eat It if You Picked it Up Quickly

Scientists conducted a study where a parcel of food was dropped on the floor. Citing the five-second rule, they picked up the food within seconds from the time it was dropped. A significant amount of bacteria was found on the food.

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