There are plenty of ridiculous health claims around the internet, and many of them seem really believable. Some we’ve heard all our lives from family, friends, and people peddling products. How do we separate the truth from myth and misinformation? With help from some of the most reliable health, news, science websites and magazines, we’ve tracked down the answers for you!
April Fool’s Day is just around the corner … here’s a reminder not to be fooled by these top 10 health beliefs.
- Eating a lot of carrots can save your failing vision. Vitamin A is essential for good vision — no one’s refuting that — but you only need a small amount. One half-cup of raw carrots will provide you with 184 percent of the recommended daily value. An excessive amount of beta carotene, the compound in carrots that’s converted to vitamin A, can not only make your skin turn orange, but studies show it has also been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in some people. So enjoy the crudité, but if you worry that your eyesight is failing, make an appointment with an optometrist or an eye doctor. (Source: Huffington Post)
- You can get the flu from the flu vaccine. This myth endures partially because of the timing factor. It takes a week or two for the full effect of the vaccine to kick in, so if you were unlucky enough to be exposed to the flu right before or after you got the vaccine, you’re probably still going to get sick. But James J. Turro, MD, FACP, an internal medicine physician at the Mount Kisco Medical Group, says the other reason this myth perpetuates is that it’s normal to feel a little bit sick in the day or two after your shot. The vaccine “tricks” your body into making antibodies against the flu, and that response can make you feel achy and slightly feverish. “I’ve been getting the flu shot for 30 years now, and I always feel a bit off for a day or two afterwards,” he says. (Source: Westchester Magazine)
If the label says “natural,” it means it’s better for you. The word “natural” is not defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and can mean just about anything. Even products labeled “all natural” can be highly processed and contain high fructose corn syrup, a manufactured sugar that some researchers think is a contributor to the spike in obesity. The word “organic”? Now that’s regulated by the USDA and means the food is made without most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, and antibiotics. (Source: Health Magazine)
Gum Stays in Your Stomach for Seven Years. Your Little Leaguer’s wad of Big League Chew won’t (literally) stick around until high school graduation. “As with most nonfood objects that kids swallow, fluids carry gum through the intestinal tract, and within days it passes,” says David Pollack, a senior physician in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network. And even though gum isn’t easily broken down in the digestive system, it probably won’t cause a stomachache, either. (Source: Real Simple Magazine)
Going out with wet hair will make you sick. No matter what your Nana said, studies show that having your hair cold and damp doesn’t make you more susceptible to coming down with a case of the sniffles. “Researchers put cold viruses in the noses of two groups of people, and one group was then exposed to cold, wet conditions,” says Rachel Vreeman, MD, co-author of Don’t Cross Your Eyes…They”l Get Stuck That Way!: And 75 Other Health Myths Debunked. “People who were chilled were no more likely to get sick than those who weren’t,” she says. (Source: Prevention Magazine)
- Microwaving food destroys nutrients. Microwaving food does not destroy nutrients. In fact, according to Caroline Kaufman, a registered dietician nutritionist based in Los Angeles, in some cases microwaving food offers health benefits. “A fast and convenient way to steam vegetables, microwaving can help people retain more water-soluble nutrients often lost when drowning vegetables in water and cooking them too long. Microwaving also helps preserve heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C due to a faster cook time,” Kaufman said. (Source: Fox News)
Eating eggs raises your cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body. The confusion can be boiled down to semantics: The same word, “cholesterol,” is used to describe two different things. Dietary cholesterol—the fat-like molecules in animal-based foods like eggs—doesn’t greatly affect the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream. Your body makes its own cholesterol, so it doesn’t need much of the kind you eat. Instead, what fuels your body’s cholesterol-making machine is certain saturated and trans fats. Eggs contain relatively small amounts of saturated fat. One large egg contains about 1.5 grams saturated fat, a fraction of the amount in the tablespoon of butter many cooks use to cook that egg in. So, cutting eggs out of your diet is a bad idea; they’re a rich source of 13 vitamins and minerals. (Source: Cooking Light Magazine)
- Cold weather makes you sick. “People have studied this in so many different ways — going so far as studying all the people on an island in the Arctic Sea to see if they’re getting more sick than people in warmer places,” Vreeman says. “Scientists have done tests where they’ve put cold viruses right into people’s noses to see if they get sick more easily in cold conditions.” Cold, she says, is not the culprit. ( Source: Chicago Tribune)
Sitting too close to the TV is bad for the eyes. Although parents have been saying this ever since TVs first found their way into our homes, there’s no evidence that plunking down right in front of the TV set damages someone’s eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that kids can actually focus up close without eyestrain better than adults, so they often develop the habit of sitting right in front of the television or holding reading material close to their eyes. However, sitting close to a TV may be a sign of nearsightedness. (Source: KidsHealth)
- Feed A Cold, Starve A Fever. The old wives’ tale has been a staple since the 1500s. “Colds and fevers are generally caused by viruses that tend to last seven to 10 days, no matter what you do,” says Rachel Vreeman, M.D., a fellow in Children’s Health Services Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. “And there is no good evidence that diet has any effect on a cold or fever. Even if you don’t feel like eating, you still need fluids, so put a priority on those.” If you’re congested, the fluids will keep mucus thinner and help loosen chest and nasal congestion. (Source: Huffington Post)