We all have ideas of what we think is good and bad for our health, but how much of what we believe is actually true? We are bombarded by so much information and figuring out what is true and what isn't can be overwhelming. That's why Best Life got experts to weigh in on what is fact and what is fad. Here we look at 10 health myths that they have debunked.
1. Cholesterol is bad for you. For years, we have been told that cholesterol is bad for our health but this is not completely true. "The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA 'total cholesterol') isn't nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood," explains Lynne Wadsworth, a holistic health coach. You get good cholesterol (HDL) and then you get bad cholesterol (LDL), which is tied to heart disease.
2. Going hungry is effective for weight loss. Cutting back on the amount of food you eat to the point where you are left constantly hungry is not a great way to shed a few pounds. It can actually have the opposite effect.
"Eating too little or starving yourself is a very bad idea, and it actually leads to rebound weight gain," says family physician Mashfika Alam. "Eat a balanced-out, low-calorie diet — that will help you to lose weight."
3. Kickstart weight loss with a detox. A juice cleanse or detox may seem like a great way to lose weight fast, but this is actually a health myth that comes with serious side effects. Julie Lohre, a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist, elaborates: "Our kidneys and liver take care of removing the toxins that are in our bodies, so unless you have problems with these organs, there is not going to be some type of big build-up. Most regiments used in a typical detox dehydrate the body and can cause bowel issues like diarrhea, so the weight loss you see within a few days is typically just from the loss of water."
4. Extra weight means bad health. Weight alone is not a good indicator of health. A thin person can be extremely unhealthy while a person carrying a bit more weight can actually be in good health. "We need to stop focusing on weight and instead focus on genetic predisposition combined with positive health behaviors," says registered psychologist Angela Grace. "Feeling fat is worse than being fat."
5. Coffee can stunt a child's growth. Generations of parents have bought into this health myth, but researchers are now disproving it.
"The basis of this myth stems from the idea that caffeine in coffee can be the cause of osteoporosis, a vitamin D deficiency that makes the bones fragile," says Kristen Scheney, a nutrition expert. "However, after numerous studies, no conclusive findings have been made to suggest a relationship between coffee consumption and impaired growth."
6. Bottled water is better than tap water. Despite what we have heard, tap water in most municipalities is as safe and clean to drink as bottled water. In fact, Morton Tavel, M.D., explains that tap water often contains useful minerals, magnesium, and calcium.
7. Knuckle cracking causes arthritis. The sound of cracking knuckles may irritate some people, but it won't cause arthritis. "The 'crack' is simply the popping of bubbles in the fluid that lubricates the hands, known as synovial fluid," says Scheney. That said, knuckle cracking can lead to reduced grip strength and swelling in the hands.
8. Walking 10,000 steps is the perfect number for fitness. Many people have taken to counting their steps in an effort to reach that golden number of 10,000, but this alone will not make you fit. "10,000 steps, like eight glasses of water, was an arbitrary guideline written by one person who calculated how many calories walking 10,000 steps burned and determined that was a good number," says Janis Isaman, owner of My Body Couture.
9. Chocolate causes acne. There are various factors that contribute toward the onset of acne, but chocolate is not one of them. Studies have now debunked this health myth. Researchers running sample groups observed no visible difference between participants who did eat chocolate and those who didn't.
10. You only need sunblock when the sun is out. This is not true, according to Joel Schlessinger, a board-certified dermatologist. "No matter what the weather is like, you should be diligent about applying sun protection all year round," Schlessinger says. "Each morning you should be applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin and reapplying your sun protection at least every two hours."
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