Debunking the Most Popular Health Myths
|By Petra Trudell, Managing Editor on Friday, July 11, 2014|
|There is a lot of health advice out there. But how do you know what's
true and what's a
There is no shortage of health myths out there that can make healthy living choices all the more difficult. We decided to take some of the most widespread myths and see what the experts had to say about them. Have you been following a myth all along?
The Claim: You shouldn't eat a mango with milk.
Truth or Myth: Definitely a myth. There is no evidence combining the two is harmful -- in fact, it's a pretty common combination. Just one mango provides more than twice your daily vitamin C and more than 70 percent of your daily vitamin A, while milk provides important minerals like calcium. Enjoy!
The Claim: Being nervous causes high blood pressure.
Truth or Myth: This one is true. Being very nervous or experiencing severe anxiety will cause a temporary spike in your blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, long-term damage to the heart only results from frequent bouts of strong anxiety (daily) for a long period of time. Try to reduce stress and anxiety whenever you can.
The Claim: Adding lemon juice to meat while cooking reduces fat content, making it better for you.
Truth or Myth: Although lemon juice is a common way to tenderize meat and break down its connective tissue when used as a marinade, this one is a myth. The fat content cannot be negated by adding lemon juice -- the only way to remove fat from meat is to trim it off prior to cooking, and that won't make it fat free, either.
The Claim: Sweating causes weight loss.
Truth or Myth: This one is technically true, but not in the way you think. Sweating is the body shedding fluid and electrolytes, so, water. This loss of water weight will mean a lower number on the scale following a workout, but drinking fluids and consuming sodium will bring it right back. Sweating doesn't equal immediate fat loss, although working up a good sweat will get you toward your weight loss goal over time.
The Claim: Warm milk can help you fall asleep.
Truth or Myth: It's true milk can help you sleep, but it's more for psychological reasons than nutritional ones. The claim is milk is rich in tryptophan, so that is why it helps you sleep, but the tryptophan that may be in milk hasn't been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, according to the New York Times. Drinking warm milk can be comforting, which explains why it makes you drowsy.
The Claim: Eating a banana will help reduce cramps.
Truth or Myth: This claim is true. Trainers and dieticians recommend bananas to prevent cramps because they contain potassium, which is a crucial electrolyte for the body. When the body is deficient in potassium, the muscles can involuntarily contract and cause cramping. However, it's best to use it as a preventative measure -- eat one right after exercise or have more before and during your period to help prevent cramps.
The Claim: Impotence is an inevitable part of aging.
Truth or Myth: Not all men will experience impotence, or erectile dysfunction, as they age, so that part is a myth. It is, however, a very common result of getting older. According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately 40 percent of men will experience symptoms by age 40.
The Claim: Help calm your baby with sugar water.
Truth or Myth: This is true. According to a review published in the medical journal Pediatrics in 2012, 150 previously published studies have shown giving a baby up to 12 months of age sugar water helped reduce pain and discomfort after medical experiences like shots or circumcision. However, an exact reason or dosage hasn't been established, so administer this remedy under the guidance of your pediatrician.
The Claim: Preparing food in an aluminum pan can be harmful to your health.
Truth or Myth: This is a myth, but with some stipulations. The amount of aluminum absorbed from a pot or pan hasn't been established as directly harmful, as it's such a minimal amount. That being said, food shouldn't be prepared in aluminum cookware with deep gouges or scratches and it shouldn't be stored in them, as this can lead to excess aluminum being absorbed by the food.
The Claim: Alcohol reduces the effectiveness of certain medications, including antibiotics.
Truth or Myth: Absolutely true -- consuming alcohol with medications impacts how they're metabolized, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). More importantly, combining medicines with alcohol can cause serious and even life-threatening side effects.
The Claim: "Diet foods" are lower in calories and therefore better for you.
Truth or Myth: This is a myth in that calories aren't the only measure of a healthy food. While a "diet food" may be low in calories, it may also be loaded with artificial ingredients and lots of sodium. Healthy foods, like avocados or olive oil, are also high in calories, so you need to consume all foods in moderation.
The Claim: Margarine is healthier than butter.
Truth or Myth: This one is true, but you have to careful. Margarine is typically free of cholesterol and contains more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats than butter, which makes it better for you. However, it can be higher in trans fats, according to the Mayo Clinic. Trans fats aren't good for the body, especially the heart, so be sure to read nutrition labels carefully.
Many myths start from truth, but can become exaggerated. Let us know what other health claims you're curious about -- we would be happy to debunk them for you. Have a great weekend!
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