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Not doctor recommended? 4 really popular health myths

cold flu image
cold flu image (iStock/Uberphotos)

You’ve probably heard all types of health tips throughout your life. Things like, “don’t eat too late,” or, “just sweat it out." But do these suggestions actually carry weight?

Here’s a look at four popular health myths.

“The Detox Diet”

You probably know someone who has come back from a vacation and proclaimed they’re starting a detox -- usually meaning some sort of all-liquid diet. The idea is that you’re somehow purging the toxins.

“Our kidneys and liver take care of removing the toxins that are in our bodies so unless you have problems with these organs, there is not going to be some type of big build up in our bodies,” explains Julie Lohre, a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist, to MedExpress.

“Most regiments used for a typical detox dehydrate the body and can cause bowel issues like diarrhea so the weight loss you see within a few days is typically just from the loss of water… really the opposite of what you want to do for overall health.”

“Late-night eating will make you fat”

This theory states that if you eat too late -- meaning after 8 p.m. -- you’ll gain weight quicker. (Right to your thighs, right?!) It’s actually not true.

There are no studies that link human calorie intake to time. It’s really just about what you’re eating, not when you’re eating.

There is a study that found people who eat late could be eating more. It has to do with the fact that we get less pleasure from food in the dark, so we eat more to compensate. We’re complicated, aren’t we?

“Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold”

This saying dates back to a 1574 dictionary which noted that “fasting is a great remedy of fever.”

The belief is that eating food may help the body generate warmth during a “cold” and that avoiding food may help it cool down when overheated.

Well, modern science says this is wrong, wrong, wrong. In fact, it should be the opposite.

When the body is combating a cold, it needs energy in the form of calories to fight off infection and recover. The catch? The same applies to a fever. “The body’s demand for calories increases in both scenarios in order to produce immune cells that defend against an invading pathogen,” says Sharon Horesh Bergquist, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Emory School of Medicine, which means, she adds, that the idea that we should starve fevers is a myth.

In fact, feeding (and hydrating) a fever might be even more critical than feeding a cold. “When you have a fever, it is essentially increasing your body’s temperature to fight an infection and in turn also increasing your metabolism and your body’s use of calories."

“Cracking Knuckles Leads to Arthritis”

As a rule, painless cracking of joints is not harmful. However, common sense would generally suggest that the intentional and repetitive cracking of one’s joints not only is potentially bothersome socially but could also be physically troublesome when it produces pain.

Knuckle “cracking” has not been shown to be harmful or beneficial. More specifically, knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis.

Joint “cracking” can result from a negative pressure pulling nitrogen gas temporarily into the joint, such as when knuckles are “cracked.” This is not harmful.


This article first appeared in the Morning Report Newsletter! Sign up for it here.


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