Health Rules: Myth or Fact

Evidence suggests some of these popular health “rules” are made to be broken

by Grace Silipigni | Sep 1, 2022

8 glasses of water

We’ve heard these “rules” time and time again. They’ve been around for so long that rarely do we pause to question their validity. Science changes every day, however, so it is our duty to stay apprised of new findings and let go of the health myths that no longer serve us.

We jump started the research for you and debunked six of the most common myths about food, fitness and overall health.

The 5-Second Rule
So, you droap your child’s pacifier on the tiled floor of a rest area bathroom. Does the 5-second rule apply? Absolutely not, but when the last cupcake falls frosting-side-up onto the kitchen floor, the fabled truth gains some validity. In a nutshell, nothing dropped in a public space should be ingested as germs and infection-inducing microorganisms cling to food within milliseconds. The suggested timeline of five seconds is also irrelevant. It doesn’t necessarily matter how long the food sits on the contaminated surface, rather how dirty the surface is.

Takeaway: If you drop it, toss it.

10,000 Steps
Here’s yet another modern myth based on a figure that lacks any legitimacy. In fact, many researchers have traced the magic 10,000 back to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a marketing ploy for selling step counters (a myth within a myth, perhaps?). Regardless of its origin, researchers do agree that 10,000 steps, or roughly five miles, aren’t the end-all be-all. A healthy lifestyle isn’t determined by the number of steps you take, but the movement of walking itself. For an adult averaging 4,000 steps a day, spending just 15 additional minutes to increase their daily count to 5,000 can help them reap the health benefits of walking.

Takeaway: Goals are individualized; find a number that suits you.

Eight Glasses a Day
Great in theory, but not so much in practice. The eight glasses of water a day rule is not only outdated, but impractical. Much like the step goals, everyone’s fluid intake is different and is heavily dependent on their lifestyle. Today’s doctors recommend that the average male and female consume 3.7 liters and 2.7 liters of water per day respectively, but also understand that fitness, health conditions and other factors play a key role in one’s need to hydrate. Also, drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Research suggests that only 80% of our fluid consumption comes from liquids in a glass while the remaining 20% comes from foods such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt, juices and the like.

Takeaway: Drink when you’re thirsty.

Cold Weather Sickness
As the cooler months creep in, we’re certain to hear rumblings of this misleading statement: Cold weather makes you sick. Believe it or not, cold weather actually boosts our immune system, thus helping us stave off infections. Temperatures hovering around freezing are also known to alleviate allergies and strengthen our hearts. So, if winter weather isn’t the culprit, what causes the surge in flus and colds? The answer: the indoors. We spend far more time inside in the company of larger crowds when the weather is cold and therefore increase our chances of coming into contact with a sick person.

Takeaway: Practice good hygiene. And yes, you can go outside with wet hair.

The Must-Take Multivitamin
You know the saying it’s too good to be true? Well, that rings true for the multivitamin argument. While the laundry list of vitamins and minerals promised in your daily gummy seem like a simple solution to giving your body the nutrients it needs, a multivitamin can do more harm than good. First and foremost, the FDA is not required to regulate vitamins as strictly as they do prescription drugs. Secondly, when taking a multivitamin, you run the risk of ingesting too much of certain vitamins which can lead to illness, decreased organ function and in severe cases, an overdose.

Takeaway: Sub the multivitamin for nutrient-rich foods.

Flu Shots and The Flu
If you contract the flu shortly after receiving the flu shot, it is purely coincidental. Unlike other vaccines, the flu shot is made of dead viruses, or at the very most, a single flu protein. The dead or weakened levels of the virus make it nearly impossible for the recipient to contract the flu from the vaccination. While it is still possible to catch the flu post-immunization, the shot isn’t the culprit.

Takeaway: It’s worth a shot.

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