22 Health ‘Facts’ We’ve Been Told All Our Lives That Are Totally Wrong

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Like many other common beliefs, knowledge on health and nutrition seems to be resistant to truth. There are thousands of “facts” that we hear everyday and believe without even thinking about them for a second. Here are 22 of those “facts” that turned out to be totally wrong.

1. MSG in Chinese food will make you sick.

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The myth that MSG is bad for you comes from a letter a doctor wrote to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968, where he coined the term "Chinese restaurant syndrome" to describe a variety of symptoms including numbness and general weakness.

But though the doctor blamed these feelings on monosodium glutamate, MSG, the research doesn't back it up. The scientific consensus according the American Chemical Society is that "MSG can temporarily affect a select few when consumed in huge quantities on an empty stomach, but it's perfectly safe for the vast majority of people."

In fact, MSG is nothing more than a common amino acid with a sodium atom added. The placebo effect is more than strong enough to account for the negative effects sometimes associated with MSG.

2. Coffee stunts your growth.

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There isn't a whole lot of evidence on this, but most research finds no correlation between caffeine consumption and bone growth in kids. 

In adults, researchers have seen that increased caffeine consumption can very slightly limit calcium absorption, but the impact is so small that a tablespoon of milk will more than adequately offset the effects of a cup of coffee.

3. Bundle up or you’ll catch a cold.

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Being physically cold isn't what gets you sick; exposure to a cold virus does. There's no evidence that going outside with wet hair when it's freezing will make you sick by itself — provided you avoid hypothermia.

But there are some scientifically sound explanations for why people catch more colds in winter. Because we spend more time in close quarters indoors, it is more likely that we'll cross paths with a cold-causing virus spread from another person during the winter. And for several reasons, we may have a harder time fighting off cold and flu virus particles in winter.

4. The chemical tryptophan in turkey makes you sleepy.

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Plenty of foods contain tryptophan. Cheddar cheese has even more than turkey — and cheddar is never pointed out as a sleep inducing food. Experts say that instead, the carbs, alcohol, and general size of the Turkey-day feast are the cause of those delicious holiday siestas.

5. Taking your vitamins will keep you healthy.

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After decades of research on vitamins, most reviews don't find any justification for our multivitamin habit, and in some cases, vitamins have actually been associated with an increased risk of various cancers. Malnourished people might benefit from some supplements, but most of us should just get our vitamins naturally from food.

6. You lose 90% of your body heat through your head.

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Not necessarily. You lose body heat through anything uncovered. Your head is not special in that way — it's just more likely to be exposed.

7. Wait an hour after eating to swim or you'll drown.

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There's no evidence to support this claim. In fact, many sources say there are no documented cases of anyone ever drowning because they've had a cramp related to swimming with a full stomach.

Cramps do happen frequently when swimming, but they aren't caused by what's in your stomach. If you do get one, the best policy is to float for a minute and let it pass.

8. It takes 7 years for gum to digest if you swallow it.

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Gum is mostly indigestible, meaning that it usually passes through your intestines and exits the other side, like most of what your body doesn't need and can't digest.

9. When you're drunk on gin, you get mean.

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Experts say this is bunk. Alcohol is alcohol whichever way you slice it. 

So why do we believe this? One very strong possibility is that we experience the effects we expect when we drink (or consume most substances). Scientific research going back to the 1960s shows that we "learn" how to behave while drunk, and that our actual drunken behavior is a direct reflection of our expectations.

10. A juice cleanse will 'detox' you after an unhealthy eating binge.

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The myth of the juice cleanse is a stubborn one — and one frequently promoted by celebrities — but it's both wrong and unhealthy.

First of all, your body naturally removes harmful chemicals through the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract — there's nothing about juice that will hurry that process along.

Secondly, juicing is mostly a way of removing helpful fiber from fruits and vegetables — many sugary fruit juices are as bad for you as sodas. You're making the fruit less healthy by "juicing" it.

11. Everyone should drink eight glasses of water a day.

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People get a lot of their water from foods and other beverages in the first place, but there is a good reason to drink more water. It's a calorie free alternative to other beverages (especially sugary ones), and people who drink water instead of those beverages consume fewer calories overall.

But in general, drink when you are thirsty — you don't need to count the glasses.

12. It's fine to eat something if it's been on the floor for less than 5 seconds.

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The five-second-rule isn't a real thing. Bacteria can contaminate a food within milliseconds. Moist foods attract more bacteria than dry foods, but there's no "safe duration." Instead, safety depends on how clean the surface you dropped the food on is.

13. Vaccines can be risky.

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This idea comes from a now thoroughly-debunked (and retracted) study of 12 children that appeared in 1998 in The Lancet and claimed there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. 

It turned out that study wasn't only flawed, it also contained false information that was necessary to make its point.

Since then, numerous studies that have analyzed data from more than a million children have shown that there's no connection between vaccines and autism.

14. Yogurt will help put your digestive system back in order.

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Researchers have found that the bacteria in our bodies are very connected to our metabolism and obesity rates, among other things, so it seems like there's a logical connection here.

But we don't yet understand how the trillions of bacteria in our bodies work well enough to manipulate them in this way. Despite the fact that the probiotic business was worth $23.1 billion in 2012, we can't make yogurt that will repair our inner bacterial balance.

That's not to say that yogurt is unhealthy, just that its benefits are oversold. Plus, a lot of yogurt is packed with sugar, which we do know contributes to obesity and other problems — so if you enjoy yogurt, find a version that isn't full of additional unnecessary calories or it might have the opposite of the intended effect.

15. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

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Apples are good for you, packed with vitamin C and fiber, both of which are important to long-term health, but they aren't all you need.

And if certain viruses or bacteria get into your system, an apple will unfortunately do nothing to protect you. So go ahead and get that flu shot, even if you eat apples.

16. Eating ice cream will make your cold worse.

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The idea that dairy increases mucus production is not true. In fact, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat.

17. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

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Cracking your knuckles may annoy the people around you, but even people who have done it frequently for many years aren't any more likely to develop arthritis than those who don't.

18. It's fine to drink sports drinks to rehydrate.

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For most people the amount of sugar in these drinks is far more than is needed — even if you've been exercising. Lower calorie options, which many of the same companies have created in recent years, are much better options. Or just drink water.

19. Coffee and beer dehydrate you, since caffeine and alcohol are diuretics.

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In sufficient quantities, caffeine and alcohol can have a diuretic effect. But the amount of caffeine in a typical cup of coffee or alcohol in a beer isn't enough to really have this effect. A moderate amount of either coffee or beer hydrates people just about as well as water does.

20. Milk does a body good (and protects your bones)!

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Multiple studies show that there isn't an association between drinking more milk (or taking calcium and vitamin D supplements) and having fewer fractures.

Milk is fine, but it's not a magical health drink. Surprisingly, however, milk is particularly hydrating — similar to pedialyte, both even more hydrating than water.

21. You shouldn't eat too many eggs, since it'll raise your cholesterol.

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Eggs have lots of cholesterol in them. For most of us, that's not an issue, since a growing body of research shows that dietary cholesterol (from foods you eat) doesn't really have much of an effect on blood cholesterol in the vast majority of people.

22. Eating fat will make you fat.

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The decision to demonize fat for its caloric density and heart-clogging effects was largely the result of shady science influenced by a sugar trade group. It turns out that the society-wide decision to cut saturated fat from diets led to increased consumption of sugar and processed trans fats, all of which were most likely less healthy overall.

We need a moderate amount of fat — especially healthy fat — in our diets.

Source: IFL Science

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