10 Health Myths Busted

There are plenty of health tips and warnings that have developed over the years, but which are complete myth and should perhaps be ignored?

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1

Eating late makes you gain weight

You’ve probably consistently been told by people that eating late in the evening will make you put on more weight than eating at other times, but there is little evidence to support this. In fact, researchers at Dunn Nutrition Centre and Oregon Health & Science University have suggested that this view is a complete myth. They concluded that while skipping meals earlier in the day can lead to bingeing out in the evening, it is not when people eat that makes a difference but rather what they eat and the amount they eat. So long as the calories consumed are burnt off, it doesn’t matter what time of the day you consume them.

2

Reading in a dimly lit setting ruins your eyesight

If you’ve spent years reading by candlelight, torchlight or other dim light then fret no more. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis have concluded that reading in a dimly lit setting does not cause any permanent damage to your eyesight. While it might cause dry eyes or eye strain at the time, the effects are temporary. Good news too for those of you who tend to sit in rather close proximity to the TV - it won’t ruin your eyesight, despite what your mother may have told you.

3

You can ‘catch up’ on your missed sleep at weekends

Believing that it’s ok to deny your body the sleep it needs in the week and then catch up with a lie in at the weekend is a popular but mistaken one. A study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, restricted participants to just four hours’ sleep for five nights and then gave them a longer sleep of 10 hours. After this lengthy recovery sleep, a number of factors such as reaction times, attention span, and fatigue were measured but found to have not returned to normal. The conclusion was that a single lie-in at the weekend will not be enough to make up for lack of sleep in the week.

4

Cold weather can give you a cold

While incidences of the common cold do tend to increase in winter, it has very little to do with the cold weather itself. A study by the Common Cold Research Unit took a number of volunteers who were exposed to the cold virus and then separated them; one group were kept in a well heated room while the other group took a bath and were left dripping wet in a cold hallway. The numbers of those who caught a cold was no different between the two groups. The conclusion was that the cold virus spreads more readily during during the colder months as people spend more time indoors and come into contact with others who might have a cold, rather than it being the actual falling temperatures directly causing a cold.

5

Vitamin C prevents colds

The myths surrounding colds and cold prevention are plenty, and a common one is the belief that taking vitamin C will help prevent you catching a cold or shorten its duration. Studies into Vitamin C have found little to no benefit from vitamin C for the prevention or treatment of the common cold. In fact, when vitamin C was tested for cold treatment in several studies, it was found to have no more effect on the length of a cold than a placebo.

6

Thin is better than fat

For sure being obese isn’t good for your health, but being what some people might consider ’fat’ isn’t necessarily the worst thing for you from a health perspective. What people sometimes underestimate is the health risks associated with being underweight, which can sometimes be worse for us. Researchers at Tohoku University identified that those over 40 and classed as underweight were at greater risk of heart disease and pneumonia than those who were classed as overweight.

7

All bacteria is bad

It’s all too easy to over-obsess with cleanliness and making everywhere as sterile as possible. While some bacteria is responsible for illness, there is some bacteria that is good for you. Healthy skin, for example, is covered in many different species of “good bacteria” which can aid disease prevention. Similarly, the human gut contains good bacteria which are beneficial to health. You should therefore avoid overusing antibiotics or over-cleansing skin in order to help the body retain the good bacteria it needs.

8

Drink eight glasses of water a day

Commonly shared advice is that we should drink eight glasses of water a day, but there simply isn’t any evidence behind it. Hydration is important but overhydration can be dangerous. Hydration needs can partly be met by the food we consume, but how much fluid you need to take on board will vary on a number of factors, including your size, the temperature and how active you actually are.

9

Breastfeeding gives you sagging boobs

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed? That is the question for many new mothers. Despite the positive health benefits that breastfeeding can bring for their baby, some mums are put off by the impact breastfeeding will have on their breasts. Yet, according to a study by plastic surgeon Brian Rinker, it is not that act of breastfeeding that causes breasts to sag. The study identified no difference in the level of breast sagging between breastfeeding women and non-breastfeeding women, and concluded that it is pregnancy itself that impacts on women’s breasts, alongside other factors such as age and smoking.

10

Eat what you want as long as you burn it off

Many people mistakenly believe that they can get away with eating what they like just because they exercise and don’t put weight on. However, filling yourself with unhealthy food options can still cause health issues, after all many a fit person on a poor diet can still die from heart disease or other related issues. Of course, staying active will help reduce your risk, but it is vital to ensure the body gets a good nutritious balanced diet.