An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Unfortunately, you have to do more than eat just one apple each day to stay healthy. FastMed reviews some of the most common health myths, so you can make choices based on science rather than superstition!
Myth 1: You should drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Fact: You may need even more water than that! The amount of water your body needs depends on many factors, including the amount of exercise you do, how hot it is outside, your gender, your weight, and whether or not you’re sick or may be getting sick. WebMD recommends a half ounce to an ounce of water per day for every pound you weigh. The Institute of Medicine states that men should ingest 3.7 liters (15.6 cups) of water per day, and women should get 2.7 liters (11.4 cups) of water per day through drinking water and water found in foods.
Myth 2: You can catch a cold from playing in the rain or going outside with wet hair.
Fact: The common cold is a virus. You can only catch a cold from another person who is infected with the virus, or by coming into contact with secretions that an ill person has sneezed into the air. You can play in the rain all day, but you won’t catch a cold unless you touch something that someone who is infected has also touched, like a keyboard or doorknob.
Myth 3: If you crack your knuckles, you’ll get arthritis.
Fact: There are many risk factors for arthritis, but cracking your knuckles isn’t one of them. The noise that you hear when you crack your knuckles is made by bubbles popping in your synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints. Most research shows that cracking your knuckles won’t give you arthritis. It’s still not good for you, though; habitual knuckle crackers are more likely to have swollen hands and poor grip strength.
Myth 4: If you swallow your gum, it stays in your stomach for seven years.
Fact: Just like any other type of food you ingest, gum passes through your body normally. In fact, pretty much anything less than ¾ of an inch in diameter can make it through the digestive system, particularly if it is soft like gum (and no, that’s not a challenge). Gum is made of gum resin, preservatives, flavorings, and sweeteners. You can’t digest gum resin, and the rest of the ingredients are easily broken down. Although it won’t take seven years to digest, doctors have seen health problems from people who have swallowed too much gum, so you’re better off spitting it into the garbage.
Myth 5: If you want to get rid of the hiccups, have someone startle you.
Fact: Chew on some ice. Hold your breath. Chug a glass of water. Ask anyone how to cure the hiccups, and he’ll have a solution for you. But hiccups can be caused by many different things, including smoking, drinking alcohol, eating too quickly, stress, or more severe medical conditions like cancer or stroke. Most ‘cures’ for the hiccups involve raising the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which would happen if someone startled you and you gasped. Some research shows that eating a teaspoon of granulated sugar or a lemon wedge soaked in bitters (sans the rind) can help cure the hiccups.
Myth 6: Wait at least an hour after you eat before you go swimming.
Fact: The theory is that blood is diverted from your muscles towards the gut to help with digestion, and that can lead to a cramp. While it is possible that vigorous exercise on a full stomach will be uncomfortable and you might get a cramp, you probably don’t need to wait to splash around in the pool or ocean. If you’ve been drinking alcohol, though, you may want to hold off – a 1989 study showed that 25% of adolescent drownings involved alcohol, and a 1990 study of hundreds of adults found the percentage to be even higher (41%).
Myth 7: Sitting too close the television will weaken your eyesight.
Fact: According to WebMD, sitting too close to the television or reading a book in dim light might give you a bit of a headache, but it won’t cause actual damage to your eyesight. This myth has persisted because old GE television sets sold in the ‘60s emitted excessive radiation, so the company told parents to keep their children at least a few feet away from the boxes. Today’s televisions don’t have that problem. If you do need to sit close to the television to see it well, you might be nearsighted and undiagnosed.
Myth 8: Women shouldn’t lift weights because it will make them bulky.
Women and men are different by nature, and unless a woman purposely trains to get a bulky look, it won’t just happen as a byproduct of lifting weights. Strength training is essential to keep your body healthy, regardless of gender. So don’t be afraid to lift weights, ladies – not even the heavy ones. It’s good for you!
Whether you’ve heard these myths from your mother, friend, or even (hopefully not!) a misinformed health practitioner, FastMed has officially debunked them. When you want honest advice about your health, or if you’re ill or injured, come to FastMed. We’ll get to the root of your problem so you feel better, faster.
 Engleman, E., Lankton, J., & Lankton, B. (1971). Granulated Sugar as Treatment for Hiccups in Conscious Patients. New England Journal of Medicine, 285(26), 1489-1489.
 Herman, J.H., & Nolan, D.S. (1981). A Bitter Cure. New England Journal of Medicine, 305. 1654.
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