There are a lot of pieces of advice floating around out there when it comes to health and wellness that it can be hard to know what’s true or what’s not true.
Or what’s half true.
Some things come with a lot of nuances. Or they seem reasonable, but once you get the full story, it’s clear why it may not make as much sense as previously thought. Or it’s true for some, but not for others due to certain lifestyle factors.
Today, we cover nine different things you may have heard and we look into whether or not there could be any truth to them.
1. “Cholesterol is bad for you…”
It seems pretty well known that high cholesterol is bad. But is it?
Well, there’s some nuance.
The thing is that there are two types of cholesterol. And though one is bad, the other is not only good for your health — it’s essential.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) — this is what is known as bad cholesterol. It is associated with an increased risk of heart issues, as it can build up in blood vessels, limiting blood flow, and adding stress to the heart.
HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) — this is considered good cholesterol because a healthy amount of it supports heart health. This is largely because it works to clear the blood of LDL cholesterol, taking the LDL to the liver where it can be flushed out of your body.
What is known as having “high cholesterol” generally refers to high levels of LDL cholesterol. It is especially an issue if levels of HDL cholesterol are low at the same time.
The problem is, there are often very few symptoms of high cholesterol, and if they do occur, they tend to be vague and attributable to a range of things. Meaning it can be hard to pinpoint the cause.
If you want to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, there are a few things you can do…
- Trade saturated fats for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
- Eliminate trans fats.
- Eat more fiber.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re worried, book an appointment with your doctor to get your levels checked.
2. “Starving yourself will make you lose weight…”
In order to lose weight, you need to be burning more calories than you’re taking in. That way, your body will use any stored fat for energy. So, it stands to reason that if you stop eating… your body will just use up the fat and you’ll lose weight!
Well, it’s not that simple…
If you stop eating completely, your body will likely go into “starvation mode”. This means that your metabolism will slow down as your body tries to reserve food and energy. As a result, you will burn fewer calories and likely not achieve the result you were looking for.
But let’s say that you still eat — you just eat way less. This is closer to what you want to do to lose weight, but still unhealthy.
You still need to eat enough food to nourish yourself.
If you’re denying your body food, two things will happen:
- You won’t be getting the nutrition you need for your body to function properly.
- Once you end this fasting stage and go back to normal life and normal eating habits, your lost weight will simply come back.
If you’re looking to lose weight through an adjusted diet, you need to run a calorie deficit and burn more calories than you’re taking in. Then, once at your desired weight, make sure you’re burning the calories you take in so that you can maintain your new weight. Most experts agree that this is the healthiest way to gradually lose unwanted fat.
3. “Carrots give you night vision…”
It’s well known that carrots can support the health of your eyes due to their high vitamin A content.
And yes, this includes your vision!
But will it give you actual night vision? Unfortunately not…
A vitamin A deficiency isn’t just linked to poor eyesight in general, but poor eyesight at night. It can lead to a condition that makes it more difficult to see in the dark. So, it’s not that the vitamin A in carrots will give you night vision, but that they can help prevent you from being unable to see in the dark.
4. “Energy drinks have a special energetic ingredient…”
This one is partly true. Because energy drinks do have a special ingredient that offers energy…
It’s called caffeine.
Then, some brands pack in additives and other sugars on top of that. These just add to a crash later on.
And while some energy drinks contain B vitamins to support energy levels, these aren’t a short-term answer like caffeine. If B vitamins are going to help give you energy, it’s because your levels are low and you need to increase your daily intake.
5. “Eating before bed makes you gain weight…”
The idea behind this myth is that, while sleeping, your metabolism slows, and you won’t burn the calories you just consumed.
However, the prevailing theory is one called calories in/calories out. And it means that — regardless of when the calories are consumed — so long as those calories are burned, it shouldn’t result in weight gain.
Again, this is simply the most popular theory at this time, and more research is needed to determine whether or not eating before bed can cause weight gain.
Experts also state that, if eating before bed is causing you to gain weight, it could simply be because what is being eaten before bed are extra calories, typically junk food in front of the television with little attention given to portion control.
6. “Crunches alone will give you a six-pack…”
Crunches are certainly good for your abs and can help tone them over time. But there are two things to consider…
Crunches only work a certain amount of your core muscles. In order to work your entire core, you should seek out more workouts that can build all of the stomach muscles.
Even if you have a six-pack, you may not be able to see it. They say that six-packs are made in the kitchen. This is because, despite having abs, you may have a layer of fat covering them. To remove some of this fat in order to see your core muscle, you’ll likely have to adjust your eating habits.
This isn’t to say that you can’t have a strong core and some fat on your body. Of course, you can, you just might not be able to see the muscles as finely.
7. “Sunblock is only needed when the sun is shining…”
Sunblock helps protect your skin from overexposure to harmful UV rays that radiate from the sun. This damage can be subtle and add up over time. Not just leading to painful sunburns, but skin conditions as well.
But, one would think that you would only need to wear sunscreen when the sun is shining. Though, this isn’t the case. This may vary depending on where you live, but in the summer, the sun is so strong that its UV rays can penetrate clouds. With UV rays coming through even on rainy days!
If you spend a lot of time outside, you should consider wearing sunscreen every day — whether the sun is out or not.
8. “If you exercise, you can eat what you want…”
This one really depends on your goals. Because, really, you can eat what you want no matter what!
But if your exercise is a workout with the goal of gaining muscle, you’re going to want to load up on healthy carbs and protein, not a bowl of ice cream.
If you’re looking to lose fat, then using exercise as an excuse to eat could just cancel out the calories you burned on your workout.
No matter what you’re doing, you want to make sure you’re fueling your body adequately for not just your workout, but your day. As they say, eat to exercise, don’t exercise to eat.
9. “Sitting is the new smoking…”
Chances are you’re sitting right now. Should you be worried?
Well, it could depend.
Researchers state that this myth has been passed around by news articles, likely in search of clicks or page views. And it’s quite misleading.
Research suggests that if you sit around a lot — for eight or more hours per day — you may be at a 10-20% increased risk of developing certain health issues. Though, it’s not a certainty.
For one, sitting at a desk working is considered different than lounging on the couch in front of the TV. And driving involves some movement. On top of that, you could spend eight hours a day sitting, then spend the other hours of the day on your feet or exercising. These factors can make a big difference.
On the other hand, smoking doesn’t have that many factors. If you smoke, you smoke. And research suggests that smokers are at a 180% increased risk of developing a wide range of health issues.
So, while sitting may not be considered healthy to do all day long with no exercise in between, it shouldn’t be compared to smoking cigarettes.
There’s a lot of information floating around out there. And sometimes sources you may trust can spread them too (with good intentions, of course!). This is why it’s best to verify everything you hear via multiple sources. Because, after all, when it comes to your health, you don’t want to be wrong!
Is there a common health myth you keep hearing that you know is either wrong or has more to it than people think?
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