One of the best known health tips out there is “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and although most of these age old health tips have no traceable origins, the earliest recorded use in print of this particular adage was in the February 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine published in Wales. Originally it sounded a bit more like this: “Eat an apple on going to bed, And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread”. We all accept that this is a stretch of the truth at best and nothing more than a child’s rhyme at worst. With that in mind, here are 5 other myths that need debunking
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day
There are many variants of this advice, from drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day to drinking 3 litres a day (that is 6 pure water sachets to you and I).
First let us get over the fact that glass sizes range form pint glasses to shot glasses. More importantly is how people accept this as the gospel truth without considerating why theirs bodies would need so much water in a day. It hydrates your body, keeps everything fluid, acts as a base for alot of reactions, keeps organs functioning and contributes to blood volume. So now that we have that I would like you to compare the water needs of a 5ft tall woman weighing 50kg to that of a 7ft tall man weighing 125kg. There is no way their water needs can be the same. However, if the idea of water cleansing therapy sounds appealing, the European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid per day. To the ladies, there is an added perk, staying replenished can be part of a good diet towards luscious hair.
- Red meat raises risk of cancer….
…and other conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Firstly we need to distinguish between processed and unprocessed meat. Processed meat is your stuff that has gone through some “process” such as been smoked, cured or salted which then gives us bacon, ham and hot dogs. This is the stuff that is bad for you and every daily serving of processed meat can increase the risk of developing heart disease by 42% and that of diabetes by 19%. This is why the typically western diet which is sweeping the planet is blamed for the increase in many diseases.
On the other hand, unprocessed meat, the stuff that has not undergone any “process”(other than cooking) does not increase the risk of developing any of the aforementioned diseases. So feel free to buy all the fresh meat you need at the butchers and next time you order that 16oz rib-eye steak for dinner,savor every guilt free bite.
- Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis
Logically, repeatedly pushing and stretching joints to make them crack could eventually cause the painful deterioration of these joints i.e. osteoarthritis. However despite this folklore which is prevalent all over the world, studies have found no connection between the habit your mother told you not to cultivate and the arthritis she feared you would develop in future. In fact in 2009, Donald Unger received an Ig Nobel Prize (we have spoken about this before) for publishing research where he revealed that he had been cracking the knuckles in his left hand every day for 60 years, but not at all on his right hand. He then compared the joints of of his left and right hand to find no difference in their condition.
The liquid in your knuckle, elbow, knee and hip joints is called Synovial fluid and it acts as a cushion to reduce friction in these joints. The cracking sound made when these joints are stretched is a result of decreased pressure within the capsule releasing gas and forming a bubble which eventually pops for the joint capsule to return to its normal size. Word of warning, if cracking knuckles is associated with pain, it may indicate damaged joints that need to be addressed.
- Swallowed gum will take 7 years to digest
If you ever swallowed chewing gum in your younger years then you most probably spent some time worrying about this one, because if the playground stories are to be believed the gum was gong to be around for a very long time. Here’s the truth though, chewing gum does not take seven years to digest. Matter of fact there isn’t much that is useful in gum for your body to breakdown and use because the bulk of gum is made out of rubbery polymers known as elastomers along with glycerin and vegetable oil-based ingredients to keep the gum soft and moist.
It may not take seven years to digest but too much swallowed gum can cause constipation and lead to gastrointestinal blockage, so really it is better to just do like everyone else and spit it out.
- Sitting too close to the TV will make you go blind
We have all heard this one before and nowadays it also applies to computers and tablets. Here is the gospel truth; sitting too close to the will not damage your eyes. Of course it is possible that a child sitting too close to the TV is a sign of shortsightedness.
Unlike most of these myths, this one has a possible origin, because during the 1960’s there was a brief period when a brand of General Electric color TVs could damage eyesight. These defective TVs were emitting more radiation than recommended and as such owners were advised to keep children a few feet away and reduce the duration of exposure/watching. The defective TVs were recalled and the problem fixed but the warnings seem to have lingered decades later. With that been said, prolonged concentration at a TV or computer screen could cause headaches and eye strains because one tends to blink less and the eyes will as such dry up. The damage under these conditions is not permanent and can be fixed by taking a short break