health myths

Whether it’s hitting the gym on a daily basis or just watching what you eat, the majority of us are somewhat health conscious. After all, as my grandma always reminds me, you only get one body in this life so you might as well take good care of it. Still, while you might think you know your stuff, there are plenty of health myths out there that serve as all-too-convincing lies.

These so-called “facts” are things that we all believe without question. They’ve been whispered in our ears since we were children by everyone from our parents to our friends. So much so, in fact, that the notion that they could well be fallacies has never even entered our collective mind. Well, it’s time to well and truly wake up and realize that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear. Here are some commonly held beliefs that are nothing more than mere poppycock.

Health Myth 1: Cracking Your Knuckles Gives You Arthritis

health myths

The gut-wrenching clicking sound as someone cracks their knuckles is comparable only to the noise of nails running swiftly down a blackboard. What’s worse still is the mental image that flashes to mind — that of bones literally snapping from place to place. While there’s simply no doubt that this habit is irritating, is it really as terrible for your health as we’re led to believe? And, crucially, does it cause arthritis?

The short answer is, well, probably not. At least, there’s no proof of it yet. In reality, the habit may actually mean that you have healthy joints. That is according to a recent medical study on the subject. The findings were very revealing: Not only is there nothing to suggest that cracking your knuckles will cause long-term health problems, but the team also found that it could be a form of vital stress relief. Indeed, that familiar “ahh” feeling people get when they pop their joints could be the very thing that helps us unwind.

Health Myth 2: Watching Too Much TV Damages Your Eyesight

While you’re binge-watching Netflix in your pjs all weekend, there may be a niggling, nagging thought at the back of your mind. Sure, there’s nothing better than getting fully immersed in a show to the point that you lose all concept of time. But wait, weren’t we taught that looking at screens too long damages our eyes? This is a myth that’s been floating around for quite some time now; but honestly, there’s nothing at all to suggest that it’s true.

After any given binge, you needn’t feel guilty. According to guidelines from the Royal National Institute of Blind People, watching your favorite show on a loop and sitting close to the TV may give you a slight headache; but the health problems start and end right there. Staring at that big old screen won’t damage your eyesight or make you blind anytime soon. So, you go ahead and watch that 20th episode of Gossip Girl. There’s no shame in it and we won’t tell a soul.

Health Myth 3: Drinking Water Will Give You Glowing Skin

drinking water

Let’s be frank here. We all wish we had beautifully glowing, clear skin. We’d all love to look in the mirror and see a blank, pure canvas of a face staring back at us, blemish-free and radiant. The sorry truth of the matter, though, is that some of us have better, healthier skin than others. While there are billions (okay, that’s a little hyperbolic) of skin care tips out there should you take the time to look, there’s one that we all believe without question. That is the idea that drinking water by the glassful every minute of the day will result is a flawless complexion. But wait, is there really any truth in this or is it mere hearsay?

Well, the study Just Add Water published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology recently looked at the potential health and cosmetic benefits of drinking water. When it came to water’s effect on the skin, the results were a little fuzzy, to say the least. It’s a problematic area since there doesn’t seem to be one straight answer. The author noted that while dehydration will, doubtless, cause skin problems, there’s no evidence that drinking an excessive amount of water will make your skin glow. Sorry, ladies.

Health Myth 4: Skipping Breakfast Makes You Overeat

While trying to shed a few extra pounds, there’s one mantra we all repeat to ourselves: “Never, ever skip breakfast. Period.” The concept is pretty simple to grasp. When you miss the first and, of course, “most important” meal of the day, your body craves the energy it should have gotten early on. The result is that you snack heavily on high-sugar treats and things that are certain to give you the burst of energy you need. At least, that’s what we’ve all been lead to believe. In reality, missing out on your cereal in the morning may be the right way forward for chronic dieters.

According to a 2013 study by researchers at Cornell University, foregoing this meal a few times each week could actually help you lose weight in a safe, steady way. “If you skip breakfast, you may be hungrier, but you won’t eat enough calories to make up for the lost breakfast,” explains David Levitsky, Cornell professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology.

During the study, the team looked at how people’s eating habits changed when they were told to skip breakfast. Rather than overeating, as most would expect, the participants consumed an average 408 calories less when they didn’t eat the first meal of the day. This suggests that cutting out the meal is not as unhealthy as we imagine and it could even help dieters lose weight.

Health Myth 5: Drinking Coffee Makes You Dehydrated

health myths

If you need your java hit to get things going each morning, I hear you. Before I’ve had my filter coffee over breakfast, I look and act like a less-attractive character from The Walking Dead. Here’s the thing, though: Coffee lovers get a whole lot of flack. There’s no end of holier than thou people out there who just can’t wait to tell us how truly awful caffeine really is. One of the myths that you’ve probably heard before now is that drinking coffee regularly dehydrates you. Since we all know that hydration is absolutely essential to our health, this very idea is extremely troubling. Luckily, it’s nonsense.

Back in 2014, the University of Bath published a study that dispelled this, the peskiest of myths, once and for all. Over the course of a three-day period, the researchers monitored “moderate coffee drinkers” (people consuming around 200 to 450 milligrams of caffeine per day) and a control group of non-coffee drinkers. The results showed no difference in dehydration between the two groups. Although we know caffeine is a diuretic, i.e. something that should cause a lack of hydration, the researchers explained the likelihood is that people build up a tolerance to this effect.

So, in theory, the more you drink coffee, the less likely it is to make you dehydrated. In that case, I’ll take another latte, please!