The truth about common health myths

Recent research suggests less than 3 percent of Americans have a healthy lifestyle – defined as one that reduces a person’s risks for heart disease. This isn’t a huge surprise. After all, heart disease kills over 600,000 of us each year. What may be more surprising is that, in an era with so much accessible information to help us get and stay healthy, most of us aren’t.

Part of the problem is a lot of information we see is either contradictory or simply #fakenews. Here are just a few health myths we’d like to shatter forever:

Myth: Artificial sweeteners are bad. Studies through the years – and confusing media reports about them – have led many of us to believe sweeteners cause cancer, strokes, dementia and other unhealthy effects. But most of these studies have been disproven by later studies or the effects attributed to the sweeteners were just as likely to be caused by something else, like obesity. A consistent rap against artificial sweeteners is they’re “chemicals” and chemicals are bad. But this is another myth. Everything we eat and drink – in fact, every process that takes place in our bodies – is made up of chemicals. Cyanide is a perfectly natural chemical that can kill you. Aspartame is an artificial one that won’t. If you are averse to aspartame, there is more choice of sweeteners nowadays including some derived from natural plants such as stevia.

 Myth: Vaccines are dangerous. They are not. Again, most of this controversy is the result of now debunked research that linked vaccines to autism. It has unfortunately taken on a life of its own but there’s plenty of valid research that shows it is simply false. Not to mention that not vaccinating your children puts them at increased risk of diseases we once had under control, like measles. This short viral video by comedians Penn & Teller puts vaccine risk in context – caution: you may find some of the language offensive!)

Myth: Drink 8 glasses of water daily. This untruth probably originated in a 1945 recommendation that said people need about 2.5 quarts of water a day – but it also said most people get this amount of water from the food they eat. The fact is most of us drink more than enough water in juice, wine, beer, milk, tea, coffee and, of course, water every day. If you’re thirsty, drink, otherwise don’t sweat it.  And about coffee – which we’re often told shouldn’t count toward our water intake because it dehydrates us? Well, it turns out this isn’t true either.

Myth: Cold weather gives you a cold. Nope. In fact, if anything a little cold weather probably boosts our immunity. What’s more likely is that, when cold weather hits, we spend more time indoors, surrounded by other people whose coughing, sneezing or unwashed hands can make us sick.

Myth: Public toilet seats make you sick. Also not true – or not true enough to actually worry about. What to really watch for? Door handles, sink faucets and floors. Use toilet paper to open the stall door or turn on the water (remember to wash your hands!) and don’t leave your belongings on the bathroom floor, particularly if they’ll end up on your desk or countertop later.

 What are some other health myths that drive you bonkers? Share them with the Shop Talk blog forum now!

Did you know: Cracking joints

Bonus myth – cracking your joints doesn’t give you arthritis. It’s simply caused by gas bubbles released when your joints move.

32 thoughts on “The truth about common health myths

  1. I wanted to let everyone know of an affect of a common FDA approved ingredient in many foods that really is no better than poison for many people and that includes me. This ingredient can cause ADHD and similar diseases, and it also is a trigger for many people who suffer from migraines, artificial colors.

  2. Another common health myth – that homosexuality is A. a disease, B. a choice, C. a sin, D. contagious. I am heterosexual, but I have friends who are heterosexual, others who are bisexual, and others who are homosexual. I do not KNOW which ones are which. A few friends have told me that they were gay, or bi, or lesbian, and I said, “Thank you that you are willing to tell me. It does not affect my relationship with you. I still will be your friend.”
    Some of them stayed, when I went away. Some of them moved away, when I stayed. Some of them died. One died of AIDS. Three died of drug use complications. Two died in car wrecks. One died of a self-inflicted gunshot.
    NONE of them fit in the “accepted norm” of society. NONE of them WANTED to be different. They ALL wanted to fit in; to be free to be comfortable; to NOT HAVE TO BE SUPER-CAREFUL, lest he or she inadvertently open up to another, and lose privacy of SELF. NONE of them CHOSE to be an outcast.
    I did NOT get homosexuality, nor bisexuality, from my associations with them. I did not judge them.
    I miss those that are gone from my life, when I see something that a friend told me about, and I think to share my experience with that friend, and then THUD, it hits me, that that friend is GONE.

  3. I always put the paper seat cover on all the public toilets I’ve ever used. And, I never sit on the toilet seat. I know, there is a lot of germs and bacteria in public bathrooms especially in the toilet area. I make sure that I wash my hands with soap and water after using the public toilet.

  4. I was trying to maintain put bleach toilet and clean the sink. But I don’t know Every time I got flu shot months later I’m very sick very very bad cough feels like my lungs falling apart. I take some medicine Still sick I try turmeric with fresh lemon and honey. I don’t which medicine work but it took almost 3 weeks

  5. I soooo love this article! I can shove it in my husband’s face about the artificial sweeteners lol!

  6. I am not against vaccines. I am against 72 vaccinations before the age of 18. In the country I come from, one vaccine is mandatory and 7 or 8 voluntary, and almost everyone has them. But 72 ?
    As to unhealthy eating, I notice that many Americans eat very fatty, way too much meat and no vegetables ! What a difference with what I am used to LOL. Most of my friends who come over for lunch, were first somewhat startled at the difference. Now they all are ready to come whenever invited !

  7. Myth – Flu shots give you the flu. Fact – The flu shot is made from dead viruses and cannot “give” you the flu. However, the vaccine can trigger an immune response from your body, so you may have a few mild symptoms, like achy muscles or a low-grade fever. The nasal flu vaccine, FluMist, is made with a weakened live flu virus.

  8. I would like to know why the woman’s bathroom in stores or restaurant’s are always more dirty then the men’s bathroom? I am tired of going into the ladies bathroom to use it and I have to always shake my head because it is so dirty and I am tired of complaining to the store about how dirty it is

  9. I, also, am surprised at the water intake issue. I know I feel better when I drink more water. I do not like water, but I drink 1/2 a gallon almost every day. I also only use stevia sweetner.

  10. Coffee does indeed dehydrate a person. I am living proof. Please don’t believe that it doesn’t.

  11. Certain vaccines are bad just like the flu vaccine i know alot of people that got it and still caught the flu and got sicker.

  12. A great recommendation is not to share pens and pencils. It is a very fast way to spread germs so carry your own pen to use in the bank, store, etc to sign receipts and fill out paperwork.

  13. I recently downloaded an app to help me with my water intake. Turns out I was fooled by the myth of “not drinking enough”. Between my coffee and normal water intake I’m certainly getting enough.

  14. I would love to know where th information came from to call all of these things “myths.”

  15. I’m curious about CBS oil. Is it legal? in Illinois? I don’t know how to get it either. I assume online but how do you judge the strength? If I get pulled over after putting it on my knees or something, will the Police do anything bad to me?

  16. I agree that door handles, sink faucets and bathroom floors can make you ill! C-Diff is spread by people who have this killer bacteria, wipe their bottoms after a bowel movement, which transfers the bacteria- The result of them touching the door handles, and sink faucets is a great threat to your health! Using toilet paper when making contact with these objects DOES reduce your chances of contracting C-Diff!

    1. I’m glad to hear that you are getting the news out about what’s a myth of all the things that most people think about

    2. Thank you for telling me about popping the fingers did not cause arthritis it was just gas bubbles. And thank you for letting me know about the sweeteners

    3. I wish more people washed their hands. And my biggest concern is grocery carts. People are now putting their dogs in them. And the handles are filthy!

    4. I had my students swab the whole building. The dirtiest place? Toilet? No, the sink in the auto repair shop. Wow, the plate with the swab actually bubbled up.

  17. I’m excited about getting more topics to comment on. I was shocked about the amount of water we truly need.

    1. I drink lots of water because I like the taste – I live with tap water from a municipal water system that has very clean – low concentrations of dissolved minerals – water. Several years ago, I delivered pizza for a national chain store, and I drank convenience store fountain carbonated caffeinated beverages- two or three forty-eight ounce cups each day while I drove – and the clerks got so used to me that they sometimes did not charge me for refills. One week, a local store had a sale on two-liter non-caffeinated soft drinks, and we bought a bunch of it. I drank that, instead of the convenience store fountain caffeinated beverages, and got monster headaches.
      I asked my doctor, and was told that caffeine, among other things, shrinks the diameters of the blood vessels in the brain. Without caffeine, those blood vessels expand to their typical diameters, and that builds pressure inside the brain, and that caused my headaches. I asked if there was any permanent documented damage to the brain, and was told that no, after a few days the brain adjusts to the new pressure, and the headaches diminish over time.
      I now choose to drink tea a few times a week. but can go for weeks without tea, and do not have headaches as a result.
      When humans intentionally alter our diets to lose weight, some of the weight loss is from burned fat. Fat holds the excess energy in our diets that we consume and do not burn. Fat also stores lots of the poisons that our bodies sequester to protect us from their effects. When our bodies burn those fats, those poisons need to be flushed out, and to keep them soluble until the kidneys can remove them, we need to drink more water than we usually do. To drink extra water also keeps the stomach fuller, so we are less likely to eat as much food, thus support the diet to lose weight, and pee more each time, and more frequently, to rid our bodies of those poisons. Ain’t water a great part of our world?
      I am glad that my household supply is so clean – when I was a kid, the water my parents got was so full of calcium and magnesium that crystals precipitated out of it, in the toilet tank, and to flush the toilet created currents in the tank that piled those crystals away from the flush mechanism, until the pile got too tall, and the flapper valve hit stray crystals, and the water got past the valve, and the toilet trickled all the time. When Mom or Dad heard the toilet tank re-fill when no one had flushed, she or her took a look, and Dad, at his next opportunity, shut off the water valve to the toilet, and flushed the tank, sponged out the rest of the water in the tank, and removed the crystals, put everything back together, and turned on the valve.
      They got a sodium displacement water softener, which Dad installed, ahead of the water heater, and that stopped the calcium and magnesium precipitation, because the softener put sodium ions in the water to replace the calcium and magnesium. and the water softener rejuvenated the mineral tank every night, about three in the morning, and flushed the calcium and magnesium into the sanitary sewer.
      They bought hundred pound bags of salt at a feed dealer, and put some in the brine tank as needed.
      They bought distilled water to use in Mom’s steam iron, and in the car battery, and in the car radiator, because Daddy did not want to buy Mom a new iron every two years, which is about how long it would take for the steam iron to clog up with precipitated minerals from the tap water, and start to put ugly marks on Daddy’s white work shirts, and Mom would buy some more, and put the old ones with marks into the rag basket, and Daddy would buy Mom a new iron; and a new battery for the car every year, and a new radiator every three years. We bought distilled water, instead of hardware -it cost less, over time, and reverse osmosis de-ionized water was not yet a gleam in some scietist’s eye, let alone the proven technology used today, to purify drinking water from whatever source is available.

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