What’s Up Doc? 12 Health Myths Demystified

When you’re young, you hear all sorts of advice or old wives’ tales. Some are helpful and keep us safe – look both ways before crossing the street and don’t talk to strangers. Some are well-intentioned, but up in the air at best – sitting that close to the TV will ruin your eyesight. 

As with all things though, some advice can do more harm than good. And other advice can be rooted in nothing but lore, especially when it comes to health myths. 

Myth 1: We have to drink milk for strong bones. 

Did the dairy industry milk us for all we were worth? Remember Britney and Beyoncé proudly showcasing their milk mustache like it was the newest hot girl accessory? Milk does indeed contain a healthy dose of calcium, but it’s not the miracle beverage people  made it out to be. Truth be told, the dairy industry was suffering financially. They came up with a clever ad campaign with a catchy phrase and combined it with the hottest celebs. All in all, the campaign was successful and the myth remained. 

Myth 2: We only use 10% of our brains.

Our brains are incredibly complex, working in the background, operating the functions in our bodies while we are none the wiser. That takes significant brain power. And we aren’t even factoring in the 36 tabs we have open at any one time. 

Myth 3: Drink eight glasses of water a day. 

On the surface, it makes sense. We’re nearly 60% water! And eight glasses is a nice, even number. However, the answer isn’t so cut and dry. Water is the miracle drink (sorry, milk!). It can multitask like nobody’s business! And it doesn’t even necessarily need to be H2O for hydration. It can come from other beverages like teas or juices, even in some of the food we eat (soup of the day anyone?). If you want a more concrete number, this handy calculator can help!

7Myth 4: Diet anything. 

This is a very nuanced and complex topic that intersects with socioeconomic status, weight discrimination, chronic illness, genetics – the list could go on. It is worthy of its own coverage (which I plan to tackle in an upcoming piece if the editor gods approve it). I’ll make a few short points. 

We often correlate weight with wellness. I’m certainly not in the medical profession, so I can’t speak to any one person’s health journey, but in general, your size isn’t necessarily indicative of health. Very recently, Ariana Grande shushed body shamers’ speculation in a three-minute TikTok during which she said, “you never know what someone is going through” and to “refrain from judging other people’s bodies.” Weight and morality shouldn’t be connected in any way. 

Myth 5: Chocolate will spice up the night. 

I am sorry if you shelled out for Ghirardelli or Godiva. While delicious, they have no impact on libido. 

Myth 6: You’ll get choc-ne. 

Chocolate has sugar. Excessive sugar intake can cause inflammation. Inflammation can contribute to acne. However! While there are dots that appear connected, they won’t be on your face. Other culprits cause acne. 

Myth 7: You choose addiction.

Sure, Intervention is riveting TV. But these narratives are skillfully edited to ensure maximum shock for the audience. 

But no one woke up for Career Day in their junior year and opted to be a meth addict. While it’s true that initial use is typically voluntary, there are any number of factors that contribute to someone’s first inclination to try to illicit substances. Addiction literally rewires your brain. People can also be genetically predisposed to addiction. Rich, poor, or in between, addiction is a disease. 

Myth 8: Bottled water is better than tap. 

Tap water gets a bad rap. Never will I claim tap water tastes like the nectar of the gods, but the elitism of bottled water needs to go down the drain. Bottled water is appropriate in some instances, like infrastructure issues in a place like Flint, Michigan or as part of an emergency preparedness kit. 

But the plastic the bottles are made from are an environmental disaster. According to Harvard, plastic bottles leave a wicked carbon footprint. I don’t know about you, but I’m more inclined to take advice from Harvard than your uncle’s barber’s Facebook meme. 

Myth 9: Energy drinks have special ingredients to boost attention. 

Yes, B-12 is good for you. Except you don’t need 350% of your daily recommended dose. It’s water soluble, so your body absorbs what it needs and you’ll pee out the rest. I’m an elder millennial. I don’t need a special drink to incur the wrath of my bladder even more. 

Myth 10: Cold myths.

‘Starve a fever, feed a cold’ isn’t true. Your body is fighting off a virus. If anything, you should actually mildly increase caloric intake to match the caloric output so there’s not a deficit. Also, venturing outside with wet hair in weather that is rainy and freezing will not make you sick. 

Myth 11: You only need to reach for the SPF if the sun is shining.

Whether cloudy, sunny, or the tricky weather in between, lather on the sunscreen. UV rays come through whether it’s a cirrus, cumulus, or nine clouds. 

Myth 12: You can use a loofah for a long time. 

If I could type out the green, squeamish emoji at this very moment I would. Doll – that pre-pandemic loofah needs to go. Cloth and sponges retain moisture until they dry. However, over time, even with drying it out, all sorts of one-celled organisms or mold, among other icky things, can grow. 

So grab a shower with a fresh new loofah, slather on some sunscreen, and you’ll be ready to face the day, even if it’s a little chilly outside and the blow dryer stopped working.

Photo by Moose Photos


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