Here’s the list of the top 12 health myths:
Health Myth 1: Saturated Fats Cause Heart Disease
As recently as 2002, the Food & Nutrition Board issued the following misguided statement, which epitomizes this myth:
"Saturated fats and dietary cholesterol have no known beneficial role in preventing chronic disease and are not required at any level in the diet."
This dangerous recommendation, which arose from an unproven hypothesis from the mid-50s, has been harming your health and that of your loved ones for about 40 years now.
The truth is saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances, without which your body cannot function optimally. They also act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes. In fact, saturated fat is the preferred fuel for your heart!
Health Myth 2: Sun Causes Skin Cancer
There are many misconceptions about melanoma that accounts for more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. Despite all the bad press linking sun exposure to skin cancer, there’s almost no evidence at all to support that stance. However there’s, plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Several studies have already confirmed that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. In fact, melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can be increased by sunscreens.
Vitamin D expert Dr. Robert Heaney explains how the conventional recommendations are in fact causing the very health problem they claim to prevent. Vitamin D formed in your skin from exposure to sunlight provides built in cancer protection. Vitamin D goes directly to genes in your skin that help prevent the types of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes. If you follow the conventional recommendation to avoid sun exposure or always use sunscreen, your skin will not make any vitamin D, leaving you without this built-in cancer protection.
Statistics confirm the truth of these findings, as melanoma rates have increased right along with sun avoidance and increased use of sunscreens.
Health Myth 3: Cardio is One of the Best Types of Exercise to Burn Fat
Conventional cardio, such as jogging, is not all it’s been cracked up to be. You can improve your health and increase fat burning by making slight modifications to your cardio routine.
Traditional cardio only works on the slow twitch muscle fibers, completely ignoring super-fast twitch fibers. The best way to include both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers in a workout is by interval cardio training. Interval cardio exercises are done when you raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 20 to 30 seconds, followed by a 90-second recovery period.
Researchers have found that interval cardio produces a unique metabolic response that is in large part responsible for its superior benefits. Intermittent sprinting produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin and within your muscles.
Health Myth 4: Low-Fat Diets are Healthy
The low-fat myth may have done more harm to the health of millions than any other dietary recommendation. The low-fat craze led to increased consumption of trans-fats, which we now know increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
To end the confusion, it’s very important to realize that eating fat will not make you fat!
The primary cause of excess weight and all the chronic diseases associated with it is actually the consumption of too much sugar -- especially fructose, but also all sorts of grains, which rapidly convert to sugar in your body.
Health Myth 5: Artificial Sweeteners are Safe and Help Promote Weight Loss
Nearly all studies show that those who use artificial sweeteners actually GAIN more weight than those who consume caloric sweeteners.
In 2005, data gathered from the 25-year long San Antonio Heart Study showed that drinking diet soft drinks increased the likelihood of serious weight gain – far more so than regular soda. On average, each diet soft drink the participants consumed per day increased their risk of becoming overweight by 65 percent within the next seven to eight years, and made them 41 percent more likely to become obese.
The reasons for are still being investigated, but there are several potential causes, including:
- Sweet taste alone appears to increase hunger, regardless of caloric content.
- Artificial sweeteners appear to simply perpetuate a craving for sweets, and overall sugar consumption is therefore not reduced—leading to further problems controlling your weight.
- Artificial sweeteners may disrupt your body’s natural ability to “count calories,” as evidenced in studies such as this 2004 study at Purdue University, which found that rats fed artificially sweetened liquids ate more high-calorie food than rats fed high-caloric sweetened liquids.
The research tells us that artificial sweeteners are NOT a dieter’s best friend, because contrary to what the marketing campaigns claim, low- or no-calorie artificial sweeteners are more likely to help you pack on the pounds than shed them.
Health Myth 6: Vaccines are Safe, Effective and Prevent Disease
Many people believe that vaccines are one of the greatest gifts to public health. If you also believe that, then open your mind and explore other views held by many well respected physicians, scientists, clinicians and pro-vaccine safety educators.
There are three primary questions about vaccines that need to be considered.
- Is the vaccine in question safe?
- Does it effectively prevent disease?
- Which vaccines can safely and effectively be given together or in close succession?
These issues have not been sufficiently studied for most vaccines, and those vaccines that have been studied frequently show that they are either unsafe or ineffective, or both!
Pro-vaccine-safety educators have long been saying that vaccines can over-stimulate your child’s immune system, sometimes causing the very disease it’s designed to protect against, or worse. And, when several vaccines are administered together, or in close succession, their interaction may completely overwhelm your child’s developing immune system.
This is one of the primary problems with vaccines in general – their detrimental impact on your body’s primary, natural defense against ALL disease.
If your child is vaccinated according to the CDC's recommended schedule, by the time your child starts kindergarten he or she will have received 48 doses of 14 vaccines. Of these, 36 doses will be given during the first 18 months of life – a time when your child’s body and brain is undergoing massive development!
Public health officials have NEVER proven that it is indeed safe to inject this volume of vaccines into infants. What's more, they cannot explain why, concurrent with an increasing number of vaccinations, there has been an explosion of neurological and immune system disorders in American children.
Health Myth 7: Fluoridated Water Lowers Your Risk of Cavities
Introduction of fluoride in your water supply initially seems beneficial – to reduce the incidence of dental cavities in children. However, the health dangers of fluoride are so numerous; they far outweigh any benefit to your teeth.
Statistics tell us that water fluoridation is ineffective for preventing cavities. There is practically no difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries, and no difference between states that have a high- or low percentage of their water fluoridated. The health dangers of fluoride can cause significant harm, from dental fluorosis to thyroid damage to reduced IQ... and much more.
Health Myth 8: GMOs Crops are Safe and Well Tested
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be the greatest health disaster in the American diet. Within 9 years of their introduction in 1996, multiple chronic illnesses jumped from 7 percent to 13 percent of the population, food allergies doubled in less time, and many other ailments have exponentially increased with the introduction of GM foods.
Millions may already be suffering health problems caused by GMOs in their diet. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has already urged doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients, citing studies that show how GMOs cause disorders such as vital organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system problems, accelerated aging, infertility, and dysfunctional regulation of insulin and cholesterol.
Health Myth 9: Milk Does Your Body Good
This myth insists that conventional pasteurized milk has health benefits, which is far from true. Conventional health agencies also refuse to address the real dangers of the growth hormones and antibiotics found in conventional milk.
It’s not recommend to drink pasteurized milk of any kind, including organic, because once milk has been pasteurized its physical structure is changed in a way that can actually cause allergies and immune problems. Important enzymes like lactase are destroyed, which causes many people to not be able to digest milk. Additionally, vitamins (such as A, C, B6 and B12) are diminished and fragile milk proteins are radically transformed from health nurturing to unnatural amino acid configurations that can actually worsen your health. The eradication of beneficial bacteria through the pasteurization process also ends up promoting pathogens rather than protecting you from them.
Health Myth 10: Soy is a Health Food
Unfermented soy products are NOT healthful additions to your diet. On the contrary, thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility—even cancer and heart disease. Not only that, more than 90 percent of American soy crops are genetically modified, which carries its own set of health risks.
Here is a sampling of the detrimental health effects that have been linked to soy consumption:
- Breast cancer
- Brain damage
- Infant abnormalities
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney stones
- Immune system impairment
- Severe, potentially fatal food allergies
- Impaired fertility
- Danger during pregnancy and nursing
This doesn’t apply to all soy. Organic and, most properly fermented soy does have great health benefits.
Health Myth 11: Whole Grains are Good for Everyone
ALL grains, including whole-grain and organic varieties, can elevate your insulin levels, which can increase your risk of disease.
More than 85 percent of Americans have trouble controlling their insulin levels -- especially those who have the following conditions:
In addition, sub-clinical gluten intolerance is far more common than you might think, which can also wreak havoc with your health.
If you are one of the fortunate ones without insulin resistance and of normal body weight, then grains are fine, especially whole grains. It is wise to continue to monitor your grain consumption and your health as life is dynamic and constantly changing.
Health Myth 12: All Plant Based Supplements are Good as Animal Supplements
The primary example here is that of omega-3’s. It’s very important to realize that not all omega-3 fats are the same, and that the type and source of your omega-3 will make a big difference in the health benefits it provides.
There are three types of omega-3 fats:
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
- EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
- ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)
Most of the well-known health benefits associated with omega-3 fats – such as mental health, stronger bones and heart health -- are linked to the animal-based omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA), not the plant-based omega-3 fat (ALA).
ALA, which is the type of omega-3 found in flaxseed and nuts, is converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only at a very low ratio.
This does not mean plant-based omega-3 fats are intrinsically harmful or that they should be avoided, only that you ideally want to include an animal-based form as well.
Bottom Line on Health Myths
There’s no shortage of health myths that we’re exposed too every day, and it seems to be getting worse. The 12 health myths reviewed above are but a sampling. There are still many more. It’s essential to get these health topics right if you want to protect your health, and the health of your loved ones.
About the Author Lynn Glenn