Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of health claims out there. Some of them sound reasonable (e.g., take daily vitamins) while others seem bizarre (e.g., urine therapy). In this mess of contradictions and misinformation, who can you trust?
MYTH #1: Exercising Is the Best Way to Lose Weight
For generations, people have been told that to lose weight, you should eat less and exercise more. This seems to make sense. If you create a caloric deficit, you’ll lose weight, right?
Unfortunately, exercising to lose weight really isn’t that effective, as reported in detail by Vox. The amount of calories burned through exercise is marginal, and you can actually sabotage your weight loss efforts by exercising if you feel hungrier after a workout.
Most of your calories are burned through your basal metabolic rate, something that’s very difficult to change. If you want to lose weight, changing your diet is more effective.
However, for those who hate exercise, don’t rejoice just yet! Exercise still boasts numerous powerful health benefits, from preventing heart disease to boosting mood. So exercise, but don’t do it to lose weight.
MYTH #2: The Common Cold Is Caused by Cold Weather
The common cold is called the cold because it’s caused by cold weather, right? Wrong!
Despite what your mother may have told you, you can’t catch a cold by simply going outside without a jacket. The cold virus needs to be present in order for you to catch it.
Why, then, do colds become more common during colder months? Scientists speculate it might be because people stay inside more during colder seasons, huddled together, allowing germs to more freely spread. Humidity levels and winter temperatures may also be more inviting for cold viruses.
MYTH #3: Vaccines Cause Autism
This claim is based on a study that has since been redacted, and its author has since been stripped of his medical license. However, there is still widespread belief that vaccines are dangerous.
While it’s true that some individuals experience adverse reactions to vaccines, for the vast majority of us, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Immunization is responsible for freeing generations from the gripes of serious illnesses like polio, measles, and smallpox.
The conspiracy theory that vaccines are here to make us sicker so pharmaceutical companies can benefit also doesn’t make much sense. With vaccines, people are becoming healthier and therefore have less need for medication.
As for autism, there is no evidence that suggests vaccines are responsible. The age at which children get vaccines is also the age where signs of autism become noticeable. But just because these two events coincide, does not mean there is a causal relationship. The Immunization Safety Review Committee has officially rejected vaccinations as a cause of autism.
MYTH #4: Drink Eight Cups of Water a Day
Drinking eight cups of water a day is a popular piece of health advice almost everyone has heard of. However, a comprehensive review of studies say that there is no scientific evidence that this should be the rule for otherwise healthy people.
Water is, nevertheless, an important necessity. By substituting your sugary drinks, such as juice and soda, with water, you eliminate a substantial amount of useless calories and sugar.
MYTH #5: Take Vitamins and Supplements
Most people don’t need vitamins and supplements. In fact, taking too much of a vitamin can be bad for your health. Most healthy people can get all the vitamins they need by eating a nutritious diet.
However, some people do need supplements as a treatment for their condition. For example, people with anemia may need iron or vitamin B12 supplements. If you think you may need a supplement, don’t buy it over-the-counter right away. Talk to your doctor first.
MYTH #6: Smoking in Moderation Is Okay
You may think you can get away with having the occasional cigarette and that you’re by no means addicted. After all, wine lovers are permitted to drink in moderation. So does this also apply to smoking?
A comprehensive review of scientific literature suggests that even a small amount of cigarette use by so-called “social smokers” poses significant health risks. These risks are very similar to those faced by heavy daily smokers.
Avoid These Myths, Live Healthier, and Save Yourself from Costly Treatment
It’s no surprise that health-care in the United States is expensive. Thankfully, it’s within your power to avoid unnecessary costs. You can do this by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and educating yourself about health. However, be careful what you read on the Internet. Stick to high-authority government websites like the CDC or NIH.
Have a chronic condition? You can still maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Thanks to stricter price controls in Canada, websites like Canada Med Pharmacy offer substantially cheaper drugs.
Throughout all this, don’t forget that you can maintain your health by visiting your doctor regularly for preventive care, making sure your vaccines are up-to-date, eating well, and staying active!