Modern medicine is so full of myths, rumors, and urban legends, it can be very hard to work out what is real medicine and what is just an old wife’s tale to get you to spend your money. In this article, we, bring you the 10 most common myths and rumors around medicine and try to debunk them.
- Muscle can Turn into Fat
If you stop exercising, your muscle will turn into fat. Amazingly this theory has gained reasonable amounts of credibility and yet it makes no physiological sense at all. Muscle tissue and fat tissue are entirely separate. They’re not linked in any way. The idea that if you don’t stimulate your muscles, they’re going to morph into a different type of tissue doesn’t make sense. However, if you were training extremely hard and eating a high-calorie diet to maintain that muscle and suddenly you stop exercising but eat the same, then those calories are going to go somewhere.
- Starve a Fever or a Cold
Starve a fever and feed a cold. This is a weird urban myth that says one sort of viral illness should be starved while you should give someone food when they have a different kind. Any sort of viral illness is going to put a massive strain on your immune system and if it does that, you’re going to have an increased calorie requirement. On top of this, if you have a fever or feel unwell, you’re highly likely to have an increased fluid requirement. If you suddenly take this away or for some reason starve someone, you’re going to make recovery and potential risks of complications even worse.
- The Adrenaline Stab
Injecting someone’s heart with adrenaline if they’re not breathing could save their life. Several movies suggest that if you’ve stopped breathing then an injection of adrenaline into your heart could get things moving again. People do have EpiPens and it’s for acute anaphylaxis or allergies, we never stick them in someone’s heart. The heart is surrounded by several layers including a pericardium and a myocardium, which is the muscle layer. If you stick a needle straight into that, not only are you going to damage all the tissues but you’ve also highly likely to damage the heart muscle itself. Jamming a big needle through someone’s chest, you’re highly likely to hit a lung, which again will cause a bigger problem. Adrenaline can save people’s lives, but it works better when you put it into a vein and not into someone’s heart directly.
- Cold = Cold
Going out in the cold causes a cold. Many of us as kids remember being told to wrap up warm when we go outside otherwise there’s a danger that we could catch a cold. For several reasons you see more people getting more colds and flu-like illnesses in the winter compared to the summer. When we go out in the cold, this causes our veins and arteries to constrict. It is this constriction that stops them from acting as effective filters when bugs get up our nostrils.
In addition to these certain types of viruses, in particular, rhinovirus can also be affected by temperature. They appear to be more active at lower temperatures. But even with these factors taken on board, the biggest reason we see an increase in coughs and colds in the winter is simply because of hanging around with other people. In summer, we spend more time outside, the air circulates better, and bugs can’t transfer from person to person as easily as they can in the winter.
- Bedtime Calories
Eating food before bed makes you fat. This rumor is so well ingrained that it’s become a part of the generalized health advice. The theory is that if you eat food just before bed, you’re not as metabolically active. So, when you go to sleep, this food isn’t burned up and somehow it then gets stored as fat.
Our metabolic drive when we’re asleep is remarkably similar to when were awake. Our brain still requires glucose, our body still needs to heal, and our heart still needs to pump blood around the body. What doctors and dietitians are trying to get people to do is just reduce their total calorie intake and this is how the technique works. By closing or reducing the number of calories we eat in the day has a greater beneficial effect on our health.
- Sugar Makes Kids Hyper
This seems like quite a contentious one because we’ve all been led to believe that when you give sugar to your kids, they are going to go crazy (not in the literal sense). There’s truly little evidence to suggest that this is the case. The reason we tend to associate sugar with hyperactivity comes down to a misunderstanding between the concept of causation and correlation. The idea is that we see the two things occurring together, they must be linked. Most of the time hyperactivity is based on parental behavior. The parents assess how their kids are and they say hyperactive or not. In a study where the kids were given low-calorie drinks, the parents said that they were still as hyperactive as before.
- Eggs: Good or Bad?
There’s no tangible evidence that eating moderate amounts of eggs per week will cause any adverse health problems. The misconception about eating eggs comes around from the yolk. Splitting the egg into two, the white is extremely high in protein levels while the yolk tends to be higher in cholesterol. Eating a single egg has only 75 calories in it and it also has multiple amounts of healthy fats in it, omega 3, 6, and 9, and various vitamins and minerals. So, in practice, the positive benefits of eating eggs largely outweigh any negatives you might get from the small amount of saturated fat you consume from the yolk. It is safe to say that you can eat 3 eggs per day and have no adverse health complications.
- Gluten’s Bad, Okay?
Gluten is bad for you. Gluten is a protein found in various types of wheat, rye, and barley and it acts as a kind of glue. It holds food in a certain position and gives it a characteristic texture and can also give it flavor. For some reason gluten has become the enemy of many in the health world, arguing that it causes bloating, indigestion, and various other medical problems. However, gluten is not harmful. For most people eating gluten is fine. If you want to feel full, have some food that has gluten in it.
- Glasses of Water
Drink eight glasses of water a day. The idea that we should be drinking eight glasses of water a day is so old, it came from a paper in 1945 American Nutrition Guidance that suggested adults should be drinking 2.5 liters of water a day, hence roughly about eight glasses. Between our meals and other beverages like tea and consumption of fruits, we can achieve between two and two and a half liters of total FLUIDS in a day. A bigger problem about drinking eight glasses is that some people take it too extreme. Drinking more than eight glasses of water a day can disturb our electrolytes and doing this can affect put neurological functions.
- Brain Capacity
The idea that somehow, we’ve evolved to use 10% of the capacity of our brain seems somewhat amusing but it originates from a 1908 book by psychologist William James. He stated that we only use 10% of our brains. We know that even holding someone’s hands crosses at least 10 percent of our brain’s regions and it’s impossible for our brains to use less than 100% of what we’ve got. The reason we know this is because if you simply don’t use a part of your neurological function in your brain, it degenerates, which causes dementia, parkinsonism, and various other neurological problems that we would see. This can also be backed by evolution. Evolution has designed a very efficient brain, where there is never going to be a system whereby it created something we don’t use.