6 Health Myths Debunked

health-mythsThey spread like wildfire, repeated time and again in the workplace, on the playground and at home.

Some change slightly over time, others remain the same for decades. Health myths are sticky little things that get passed on as fact.

It’s time to do a little fact checking.

Feed a cold, starve a fever

This myth is thought to date back to the middle ages when medicine wasn’t exactly in its heyday. The general knowledge at the time was that a drop in temperature caused a cold and a spike in temperature caused a fever.

To combat a cold, patients needed to eat to provide the body fuel and heat. In turn, abstaining from food starved the body’s inner furnace and thus lowered the temperature.

The best thing to do, whether you have a cold or fever, is to get plenty of fluids. And if you’re hungry, eat.

If you go outside with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold

Those of us who have come down with the sniffles during the summer can attest to the fact that cold weather is not the only requirement for the common cold.

However, weather has no bearing whatsoever on colds. Colds are caused by viruses.

So why do we seem to get sick more often during the colder months? When it’s cold outside, we stay inside causing us to be in close contact with other people, which in turn makes the spread of contagions easier.

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If you crack your knuckles, you’ll get arthritis

What causes that awful sound when we crack our knuckles? By pushing and pulling joints in a certain way, air bubbles forms in the fluid surrounding the joint and cause a popping noise.

But does distending our joints in this manner regularly cause arthritis? The answer is no.

“Plain old knuckle-cracking should not cause any damage. It does not strain the ligaments or the tissues, or overextend them enough to cause arthritis,” says Sanjiv Naidu, Penn State professor of orthopedics.

You lose 80% of your body heat through your head

This myth proves the importance for thoroughness in scientific studies. In the 1950s the US military conducted a study on heat loss in a group of volunteers. The participants were dressed in arctic survival gear an exposed to extreme cold.

However, the military scientists forgot to cover the heads of the volunteers. Naturally the results were skewed to show an inordinate amount of heat loss through the head.

The face, head and chest are sensitive to temperature change, so while we may feel the effect in those places more than others, in reality we lose body heat through any piece of exposed skin.

You need to drink eight glasses of water per day

A half-truth can cause a lot of trouble. This myth started with the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommending “1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food.”

If you had a daily intake of 2000 calories, this would roughly equal eight cups. However, the study went on to say that most of this is contained in prepared foods.

The best advice is to listen to your own body and drink when you’re thirsty. A 1984 study showed that volunteers became thirsty and drank long before their hydration levels showed signs of dropping.

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Sugar causes kids to become hyperactive

Most parents take this myth as gospel but they might be surprised to find that it’s far from the truth. So why do so many people believe it’s true? It’s the nocebo effect gone full tilt.

If we believe sugar causes a negative effect in children, we will see the negative effect whether it’s there or not.

A study was done on children whose mothers labeled them as being sugar sensitive. One group of mothers was told their children had been given a large dose of sugar, the other group was told their children had received a placebo.

The mothers of the group given sugar rated their children’s behavior as being noticeably worse than those given the placebo. The catch? All of the children had been given the placebo.

It’s so important to think critically and seek knowledge at every point in life. Now that you are armed with counterpoints to some common health myths, you can help to spread the truth.

About the author:

Madeline Ferdinand is a freelance health writer for DrugNews.net. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, sailing and spending time with her grandchildren.

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  1. 6 Health Myths Debunked | Natural Holistic Heal... - August 27, 2013

    […] They spread like wildfire, repeated time and again in the workplace, on the playground and at home. Some change slightly over time, others remain the same for  […]

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