7 Ridiculous Health Myths People Still Believe

4 minute read

By Selena Singh

We’ve all received countless pieces of health advice. Unfortunately, not all of them are true — even if your grandmother told you so. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about healthy living with a search online.

With this in mind, here are seven health myths that you (or people you know) likely believe — and why they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Take some time to get to the bottom of health myths now before it’s too late.

You Shouldn’t Swim for At Least an Hour After You Eat

How many times have you heard to stay away from the pool after eating? This myth is based on the mistaken idea that your stomach will steal the oxygen needed by your muscles during a swim, leading to drowning. Sounds ridiculous, right? It is.

Our bodies have plenty of oxygen to support both our muscles and stomach. If this myth were true, anyone who loves multi-tasking would be doomed. The only nugget of truth here is that competitive swimmers shouldn’t eat a large meal before a swim (not because they risk drowning, but because they might experience some cramps).

Vegetarians Don’t Get Enough Protein in Their Diet

Protein is part of a well-balanced diet required for the growth and maintenance of the body. Many people worry that becoming a vegetarian will lead to a protein deficiency. It may come as a surprise that not all sources of protein are animal-derived. Many vegetables, beans and legumes contain a lot of protein. Some examples include tofu, split peas, kidney beans and broccoli. The best part is that these all come without the disadvantages of consuming meat (higher cholesterol and calories).

The Flu Shot Gives You the Flu

Contrary to popular belief, the flu shot does not give you the flu. If you do get the flu right around the time you received the vaccine, it’s likely that you were infected prior to vaccination. The flu shot cannot give you the flu because it’s made with flu viruses that are either inactivated (not infectious) or with no viruses at all. So, why do some people feel sluggish after their flu shot? Their immune system might be reacting to a foreign particle entering their body. However, the reaction only lasts a couple of days and is a lot safer than getting the flu!

The Sun is the Best Source of Vitamin D

Why is vitamin D so important? Well, it’s responsible for strong bones and a healthy immune system. Vitamin D is also an essential micronutrient, which means that since our body can’t produce it on its own, we must obtain it elsewhere. Many people think that basking in the sun is a great way to acquire vitamin D. However, the Skin Cancer Foundation states that this myth is dangerous. In addition to the fact that the sun’s UVB radiation increases the risk of skin cancer and aging, the sun isn’t even an efficient source of vitamin D! After just 10 minutes of exposure, our bodies stop producing vitamin D from UVB radiation. Safer ways to increase your vitamin D levels include eating oily fish and drinking orange juice.

Washing Your Hands with Warm Water Kills Germs

Most of us are probably victims of this myth. The truth is that while heat does kill bacteria, the water would have to be hot enough to scorch our hands before being effective against germs. To be specific, the water would have to be 212°F or 100°C (the same temperature as boiling water)! What’s the answer to clean hands then? The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends using soap, scrubbing your hands together, and rinsing with running water.

Tilting Your Head Back Stops Nosebleeds

It might seem natural to tilt your head back to stop your nose from bleeding. However, this can actually cause more harm to you since the blood can run down the back of your throat (leading to choking) or can even go to your stomach (causing a stomachache). The best thing to do when your nose bleeds is to tilt your head forward while pinching just under the bridge of your nose.

You Don’t Need Sunscreen in the Winter

If you look up at the afternoon sky during any season, you’ll notice a large, shining circle. That’s the sun — and it doesn’t disappear in the winter. In fact, the Earth’s surface is actually closer to the sun during the winter months than in the summer, so we’re exposed to more harmful rays. In addition, snow and ice actually reflect UV rays, leading to an increased risk of sun damage and skin cancer. So, it’s important to wear sunscreen all the time, not only during beach season.

Selena Singh