12 medical beliefs that aren’t true
Your health is your wealth. So to stay fit, many people do all they can to eat healthily and exercise regularly. Yet unless you're a doctor, it's difficult to know the ins and outs of every last detail about your body, which can lead to people falling into the trap of believing various misconceptions. That's why we've come up with the following list of mistakes and myths surrounding the human body and its functions. While some of these facts may be surprising, others are simply fascinating...
1. "Being overweight means you're eating unhealthily."
It's often said that overweight people lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Yet not everyone in this category eats poorly or fails to do enough exercise. A German study has also shown that being overweight doesn't necessarily mean the person will die earlier or suffer from illnesses.
Overweight test subjects who regularly do sports have a higher life expectancy than people with an average weight who don't exercise regularly. Of course, this is only true to a certain degree. Researchers are quick to point out that these results only apply to people with a body mass index (BMI) of up to 30. The BMI is the value derived from a person's height and weight. Doctors consider values between 19 and 30 as being safe.
2. "Eating carrots helps you see better in the dark."
It's well known that the vitamin A contained in carrots supports your eye's ability to see. Yet the myth surrounding a person's ability to see in the dark after eating carrots became well established during World War Two. It was said that fighter pilots who consumed lots of carrots were able to see better when flying in the dark. This misconception was quickly taken by many at face value and persists today. While eating carrots helps us to see, this is only true during the day!
3. "Honey is better than processed sugar."
If you think that honey contains fewer calories than everyday sugar, prepare to be disappointed. While it looks harmless enough, honey actually contains more calories than refined sugar and can lead to weight gain. Eating too much of this sweet nectar can also increase the risk of suffering from diabetes. That said, honey can be a good alternative to sugar when consumed in sensible amounts, as it contains various nutrients and is a natural remedy for a number of ailments.
4. "The tongue is split into four parts."
At school, children learn that the tongue can discern four different flavors: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. However, there's actually a fifth flavor that the tongue can recognize. It's called umami, which is like the taste of glutamate.
The tongue map we see in various science textbooks is also a common misconception. The tongue isn't actually divided into four separate zones, as the thousands of taste buds on your tongue work together as a whole.
5. "A pregnancy lasts nine months."
Here's a topic that particularly concerns expectant parents the world over. Though it's often believed that babies are born after a nine-month term, most actually come into the world at an earlier date; only 4.3 percent of children are actually delivered on the due date. The main reason for this is that it's not always possible to say when the egg was fertilized.
As most women can only use their last missed period as their orientation point, this date is used as the start of the pregnancy. The doctor then sets the due date 38 weeks and two days from this time. Since every pregnancy is different and it's not possible to determine the exact time of conception, the actual birth date can differ by up to five weeks. But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the child is healthy, right?
6. "Milk is good for your bones."
"Calcium makes your bones strong." This is another common misconception, as consuming dairy products containing lots of calcium has no impact on bone density or your body's ability to produce vitamin A. Though it has no use for your bones, drinking milk is a good way to provide your body with lots of protein.
7. "Food from the microwave can cause cancer."
Some believe that microwaves expose food to harmful waves. Yet, all microwaves do is heat up the water molecules in the food — there is no change to the food itself and this method for heating up meals does not cause cancer. Just be sure to use dishware that's suitable for microwaves.
8. "We only use 10% of our brain."
We've heard this statement many times before, but it's only true to a certain degree. While it's correct to say that a person can't use their entire brain at one moment, they will use all of the various regions of the brain responsible for a range of processes at least once in their lifetime. That means a person's brain is almost entirely active during their lifespan.
9. "Organic food is more nutritious and free of pesticides."
While it's a nice thought, organic fruits and vegetables aren't actually free of pesticides and unhealthy chemicals. US organic standards allows a list of more than 20 chemicals to be used in organic food production. Even when farmers don't use these products, organic food is susceptible to chemical flow from surrounding fields and nearby factories.
10. "Too much salt is unhealthy."
Salt has long been suspected as causing high blood pressure and difficulties when trying to lose weight. Yet new studies have prompted many researchers to be less damning of the crystal-form seasoning. Research has shown that a lack of salt can lead to diabetes, a lower sex drive, and increased body fat. Whether it's too much or too little salt, both instances carry certain risks. That's why it's best to consult a doctor or dietician if you're suffering from the aforementioned symptoms. Otherwise, there's little harm in adding the odd pinch of salt here and there.
11. "Yogurt improves digestion."
It's said that the probiotic bacteria in yogurts can do a world of good for your digestion. However, researchers haven't been able to find out whether these bacteria affect your digestion positively or negatively. As there are so many bacteria in your gut, it's hard to say whether the "good bacteria" found in yogurts has any effect on your digestion. Having said that, there is no harm in having yogurt for your breakfast, as long as it doesn't contain too much sugar.
12. "Eating at night makes you fat."
"If you indulge in midnight snacking, you'll put on weight." Sure, too much snacking can make you fat, but it actually doesn't matter what time of day or night you eat. Only the amount of food and exercise you do has an effect on whether you gain or lose weight. If you enjoy eating at night, just be sure to go for a workout the next morning or take a nice long walk.
Most people have at one time believed in some of these myths. But most of this new knowledge should be reassuring and shows that there's no need to get so worked up about such matters.