Myth or Fact - Separating Health Facts from Fiction

When it comes to health myths, how do we separate fact from fiction?

We all want a quick fix to be healthier, and there are a multitude of diet and exercise tips and trends bombarding us daily on social media, TV ads, and making headlines. But how do we know what’s true, and what’s just a scheme or fad? When it comes to health information, how do you separate fact from fiction? Keep in mind that health tips are not always black and white. What may work for your neighbor or sister, may not work for you. It’s important to realize that what may be a “myth” for some, may be a “fact” for you, and vice versa. Here are some common health myths deciphered.

Myth: You can’t be healthy if you are overweight.
Facts: We often connect weight with health. But experts agree that we need to stop focusing solely on the number on the scale. Although weight is an important measure of health and can help you prevent and control many diseases, it’s not the only thing to consider. Instead, we should focus on positive health behaviors. In fact, the stigma of being overweight may cause more devastating mental health concerns than actually being overweight.

Myth: Get those 10,000 steps in to be healthy.
Facts: If you track your steps, we are used to seeing “10,000” as the magic number for our daily goal. However, this number is arbitrary. In fact, that number is not the miracle solution it’s often presented to be. In a recent study, it was found that you may able to reap health benefits by taking half that number of steps each day. For older women, researchers found taking as few as
4,400 steps per day was associated with a 41% lower risk of dying. Also, it doesn’t seem to matter if you take those steps power walking, cleaning your house, or running errands to get the benefits.

Myth: Stay away from gluten to improve your diet.
Facts: With so many people on gluten-free diets these days, it’s hard to avoid the notion that gluten is bad for you. If you have a gluten-related disorder, such as celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you should avoid gluten because it can cause an adverse reaction which can lead to serious health problems. Just because something is gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier. For the average, healthy individual, going gluten-free is not the key to health. Instead, it’s your overall food choices that can help determine how healthy you are.

Myth: Drink 8 glasses of water a day or you will get dehydrated.
Facts: This is not necessarily true. If your urine is dark yellow, make sure you are getting enough fluid. But eight is not a miracle number. Studies show people who drink a glass of water when they’re thirsty typically get enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Plus, beverages other than water and the foods you eat also help you get the fluids you need.

Myth: You need to take a daily multivitamin to be healthy.
Facts: We have been told that multivitamins can supply nutrients that aren’t in your diet, but that may not be necessary for everyone. To lower the risk of birth defects, pregnant women should definitely take folic acid. Post-menopausal women and vegetarians may need to supplement their diets with a multivitamin. But for most people, it’s widely accepted that the best way to get the nutrients you need is to eat a healthy diet. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not taking a multivitamin is right for you.

Myth: If you want to lose weight, be sure to eat breakfast.
Facts: Eating breakfast is a successful strategy for some, because it can help prevent you from eating more later in the day. But not everybody is a fan of breakfast. In fact, a Cornell University study found that the non-breakfast eaters didn’t overeat at lunch and dinner, and instead they ended up eating about 400 fewer calories a day. Skipping breakfast may help some healthy people lose weight after all!

Myth: Green Mucus=Infection=You need an antibiotic.
Facts: Only a lab test can determine infection. While it’s true that green or yellow mucus can indicate a bacterial infection, it’s not a sure sign, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you should begin taking antibiotics. If you are not sure if it’s a common cold or an infection that may require an antibiotic, visit your healthcare provider.

Myth: I don’t want to get a flu shot because it will give me the flu.
Facts: You’ve heard it before, and you may have even experienced it yourself: you get a flu shot, and you still get the flu! But this myth is false, because flu vaccines are either made with no virus
at all or an inactive flu virus. This means that you won’t get the flu from getting a shot. However, you may get some side effects, such as low-grade fever, headache, or muscle aches, or soreness,
redness, or swelling where the shot was given. These side effects are not actually the flu, and fortunately, they typically go away quickly.

DO ONE THING: When it comes to your health, don’t believe everything you read online or see on TV.

SHARED DECISION MAKING: If you have a question about what’s best for you and your health, talk to your healthcare provider to get the most up-to-date and accurate information.