7 Medical Myths Debunked
● By Wendy Sipple
Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way!” As kids, we all heard this warning from grown-ups. And, come on, weren’t you just a little afraid that it might really happen? Here are some other health-related misconceptions that might make you go bug-eyed.
MYTH #1: THE MORE OFTEN YOU SHAVE, THE THICKER YOUR BEARD WILL BE.
This is a man-sized myth. The size and shape of our hair follicles determines the thickness and texture of our hair – whether it is thick and coarse or thin and fine. The hair may appear coarser, but shaving doesn’t change the follicle, so frequent shaving won’t make your beard thicker.
MYTH #2: FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE BETTER THAN FROZEN.
“Frozen fruits and vegetables can be as good as or even better (nutritionally) than fresh as they are usually picked and frozen at the peak of ripeness, which tends to also be the peak of nutritional content,” says Susan Liebert, a registered dietitian with Mercy Hospital of Folsom. “When fresh fruits and vegetables are picked before they are ripe, shipped a long distance, and then sit on store shelves, they lose nutrients as well as flavor.”
MYTH #3: YOU SHOULD STRETCH BEFORE YOU EXERCISE.
The truth is, not always. Some studies suggest that pre-exercise stretching can actually increase the chances of injury since it destabilizes your muscle fibers. Some exercises, such as running, can benefit from warm up and stretching. But with others, like weight lifting, it is better to exercise and then stretch your muscles after you’re done.
MYTH #4: COLDS AND FLU ARE AT THEIR MOST CONTAGIOUS BEFORE ANY SYMPTOMS APPEAR.
This is untrue. They spread most easily when symptoms are at their worst. That’s because these infections are commonly passed through coughed-up or sneezed-out droplets containing the virus or via hand-to-hand contact. The risk of catching (or passing) something persists as long as the drip does. “It’s not a simple answer,” says Katharina Truelove, M.D. at Marshall Medical Center. “Some types of flu can be contagious for weeks after symptoms improve.”
MYTH #5: THE “FIVE-SECOND-RULE” FOR DROPPED FOOD IS SAFE.
Liebert, with Mercy Hospital of Folsom, cites a Clemson University study: “Researchers found that food dropped on the floor for as little as five seconds could pick up a significant number of bacteria – enough to make someone sick,” she relates. As few as 10 salmonella or 100 E. coli are enough to cause illness, especially in high-risk groups like the elderly, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. Quickly picking up dropped food does mean fewer bacteria are on it, but the safest choice is to just throw it out.
MYTH #6: FOODS SWEETENED WITH FRUIT JUICE ARE MORE NUTRITIOUS.
Nope. Your body can’t tell the difference between regular sugar and the highly processed fruit juice concentrate that is used to sweeten many so-called “health foods,” nor does juice sweetener offer a significant nutritional advantage.
MYTH #7: GREASY FOODS CAUSE ACNE BREAKOUTS.
The American Academy of Dermatology says that extensive scientific research has yet to find a connection between diet and acne. In other words, foods don’t cause breakouts – good news for teenagers who love pizza! •