5 Health Myths That Need to be Debunked

5 Health Myths That Need to be Debunked

Just a few centuries ago, doctors believed that drilling into the skull, a process called trepanation, could treat neurological disorders. Early in the 20th century, gynecologists treated women's physical and mental health issues with vibrators. Thalidomide, a mid-century miscarriage preventative, produced catastrophic birth defects.

Medicine is filled with missteps that become folk wisdom and mythology. Sometimes these myths make their way into the public consciousness long after they've been proven incorrect. If you abandon these five health myths, you might be able to lead a healthier, less anxiety-addled life.

1. Gluten-free is healthier

A number of self-professed health gurus promise that a gluten-free diet can cure all that ails you. The truth is that, unless you have Celiac disease, gluten-free living is not healthier. Indeed, the anxiety of remaining gluten-free can undermine your well-being, and rigid adherence to it could remove vital nutrients in your diet.

2. Being overweight means you're unhealthy

Diet and activity level are key components of health, but some people simply have larger bodies than average. Others are on their way to losing weight, though still technically obese. The number on the scale is not a good proxy for health. Indeed, one recent study found that 29% of people classified as overweight or obese were actually perfectly healthy.

3. You can lose weight in targeted regions

The fact that you tend to accumulate more fat in one area of your body does not mean you can spot-reduce fat. To burn fat, you need aerobic exercise, not targeted training. Targeted exercises such as crunches or squats will build muscle, but they can't burn fat in a single location.

4. Coffee is bad for you

Large quantities of caffeine may elevate blood pressure or make you anxious. Moderate consumption, though, is actually correlated with better health. Coffee may improve brain health, reduce the risk of dementia, prevent diabetes and liver disease, and help you maintain consistent energy levels. If you're pregnant, you need to cut back, but you don't have to give up your daily cup of joe. It's perfectly safe to consume 200mg of caffeine or less each day, or about the amount of caffeine in a 12oz cup of coffee.

5. Cholesterol is bad for your heart

Cholesterol buildup in your body can lead to atherosclerosis, a potentially deadly narrowing of your arteries. It makes intuitive sense that dietary cholesterol contributes to this phenomenon, but doctors now doubt this. Instead, a combination of saturated and trans fats, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor weight management may be to blame. This doesn't mean you should begin consuming cholesterol with wild abandon, but otherwise healthy foods that are high in cholesterol, like eggs, offer numerous health benefits. It's time to reincorporate them into your heart-healthy diet.

Health myths sound accurate, reflecting popular biases and folk wisdom. These five myths are among the most common, but science has proven them untrue.

Sources:

Medical Daily: Gluten-Free Diet Does Not Make You Healthier: Only People With Celiac Disease Should Go Gluten-Free

HealthDay: 'Obese' May Not Always Equal Unhealthy: Study

Medical News Today: Caffeine: how does it affect our health?