10 Health Myths to Stop Believing Now
Truthiness, a word coined by Stephen Colbert in 2005, refers to the quality of a statement seeming like it’s true, even if there are no facts to back it up. And when it comes to staying healthy and losing weight, there’s a whole lot of “truthy” advice out there. Some of these health myths are harmless — but others can result in decisions that actually sabotage your goals.
Here are 10 health myths you should probably ignore.
Health Myth #1: Eggs Are Bad for You
For decades, people assumed that eating eggs would raise your cholesterol simply because eggs contain a lot of cholesterol. But researchers haven’t found a clear linkbetween dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels.
However, a 2019 study did find an association between egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. But it’s worth noting that the study was a pooled analysis based on questionnaires — not a controlled experiment — so this study doesn’t necessarily provide conclusive evidence that eggs caused the increased cardiovascular risks.
And by nixing eggs, you’d be missing out on all their nutritional benefits — like 6 grams of protein and 18 vitamins and minerals. Recent research suggests that it’s healthy to eat two to three eggs per day — so keep enjoying your hard boiled eggs and breakfast burritos (in moderation, of course).
Health Myth #2: You Need to Poop Daily
We humans are pattern-seeking animals, so it makes sense that we would assign a lot of value to having bowel movements you could set your watch to.
But if you skip a day or two, there’s no need to make a big stink about it unless you’re experiencing constipation, diarrhea, pain, or other uncomfortable symptoms. Just eat plenty of fiber, stay hydrated, and let your body take care of the rest.
Health Myth #3: Going Out in the Cold Can Make You Sick
If you want to make your grandmother cringe, tell her you left the house with wet hair on a chilly day. But just being cold won’t give you a cold.
Rhinovirus, the virus that typically causes the common cold, is spread through close contact with others — you know, like when you’re cooped up indoors with your coughing, sneezing friends and coworkers all winter. So getting some fresh (albeit frigid) air can actually be helpful. And one more reason to venture out into the cold: A cold weather workout can help you avoid gym germs.
Health Myth #4: Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day
If you skip breakfast, someone will invariably pipe up and tell you this. And yes, there’s evidence that a healthy, higher-protein breakfast may help boost your energy level and set the tone for the rest of the day.
But if you’re not a breakfast person, don’t worry — you don’t need to eat breakfast every morning. For example, there’s evidence that intermittent fasting — eating only during specific hours of the day, which may include skipping breakfast — may be effective for short-term weight loss.
Health Myth #5: You Need 8 Glasses of Water Per Day
Water is vital to the proper functioning of every cell in your body. But how much water do you actually need to drink each day?
A common way to estimate your hydration needs is by taking your weight in pounds and dividing it by two. (For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for 75 ounces of water per day.) But the actual amount you need can vary based on your size, how active you are, how hot it is outside, and even the foods you eat, as most foods contribute water depending on their makeup. The easiest way to make sure you’re drinking enough water? Have a glass whenever you’re thirsty.
Health Myth #6: Sugar Gives You a “Rush”
When your energy is lagging, you may be tempted to grab a sweet snack for a quick pick-me-up. But it turns out there may not be much truth to the idea of a “sugar rush.” A recent meta-analysis of the effects of carbohydrates on mood suggests that carb-heavy snacks — like sweets — may actually increase fatigue 30 minutes after consumption.
Need an energy boost? Meditate, chat with a coworker, or take a 10-minute walk to give your brain a much-needed break.
Health Myth #7: Antiperspirants Cause Cancer
You may have heard the theory that chemicals in antiperspirants — especially aluminum — can be absorbed into the skin, increasing the risk of breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, however, there’s no scientific evidence linking antiperspirants and cancer. And don’t worry that antiperspirants keep you from sweating out toxins — your liver and kidneys handle that.
Health Myth #8: Daily Vitamins are Pointless
As a kid, you were probably told to take a multivitamin every day. Then a few years ago, some experts started to question whether there was really any benefit to taking a daily multivitamin.
One group of researchers even advised consumers to “stop wasting money” on multivitamins. Their reasoning: There was no strong scientific evidence that multivitamins could lower the risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or cognitive decline.
But don’t ditch your vitamins just yet. While it’s true that a daily multivitamin won’t make up for a diet full of processed foods and sugary drinks, vitamins and supplements can help you make sure you’re not missing any key micronutrients. This is especially true for those vitamins and minerals that many people don’t get enough of, like potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and C.
Health Myth #9: A Detox Diet Can Flush Out Toxins
Detox tea, detox water, detox diets — these days, there are a million products and plans out there that promise to flush out toxins. These “toxins” generally refer to things like pollutants, pesticides, and additives — though really, anything can be toxic if you consume too much of it (even water!).
The truth is, you don’t need a diet to flush out toxins — again, that’s a job for your kidneys and liver. But healthy eating can help your body do its natural detox-ing duties better — so instead of trying to flush out toxins, focus on fueling your body with nutrient-rich foods and cutting back on how much junk you’re eating in the first place.
Health Myth #10: Walk 10,000 Steps a Day to Lose Weight
Many fitness trackers default to a 10,000-step goal, but that number isn’t based on any real science — it actually stems from a marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer called manpo-kei (“10,000 step meter”) in the 1960s.
By all means, walking 10,000 steps per day is a healthy habit. For an average person, that’s around 4 to 5 miles — and if you’re new to exercise and walk those steps at a brisk pace, it can be enough to meet the CDC’s recommendation of at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week to maintain or improve your overall health.
But while 10,000 steps can be a good starting point if you’re severely overweight or just starting your fitness journey, most people should aim for at least 10,000 steps per day, in addition to a workout program — especially if you’re looking to lose weight or improve your cardio.