History has taught us many things. For one, it repeats itself, and secondly, hover-boards don’t hover but do explode. But with the passage of time, the life lessons and evolutionary triumphs are marred with more misconceptions about medical science than Phillip Morris during the 1980s. Rest easy, though, because we dug up some of the most pervasive medical myths about your body that you need to know about.
Going out without a coat will make you sick
Remember back in the day when your mother harped at you before leaving the house to remember your coat so you don’t catch a cold, as if the cold weather were contagious or something? It turns out that the loved ones in your life who were spewing this old wives’ tale had less scientific knowledge than your average meme.
Common colds are viruses, so they are transmitted after making contact with the virus. Going out and getting a infected without being with someone sick makes about as much viral sense as suddenly seeing a cat playing a keyboard without having received a link. Dozens of studies support that cold temperatures don’t make you sick, so if your kid whines about not wanting to wear a coat because it’s ugly and uncomfortable, they’re right. Coats protect you from feeling chilly, not from viruses. The only way to protect yourself from catching viruses, is by washing your hands, so feel free to force your kid to do that uncomfortable activity.
It’s okay to eat food off the floor if you do it within five seconds
We’ve all been there, we’ve all experienced the existential dread that immediately follows dropping something delicious on the floor, wondering in an emotional haze whether or not it’s okay to pick it up and eat it. The Five-Second Rule has led us to believe that eating something off the floor is totally cool as long as we stuff whatever we dropped into our faceholes within five seconds, as calculated by some imaginary Jack Bauer doomsday clock powered by the Illuminati or something.
But the Five-Second Rule is pure gibberish. According to a study from Rutgers University, timing is not on your side when it comes to retrieving and eating dropped food. The study concluded that no matter how long a piece of food was sitting on the floor, it will always pick up the exact same amount of bacteria, whether your chip was sitting on the floor for one second or one hour. So don’t be gross. Let that chip go. There are billions more of them in the world!
Being fat is unhealthy
American culture has led us to believe that poor health looks a certain way, and that specific picture involves someone with rolls of fat all over them. But you could easily have a "healthy" BMI of less than 20 living diet soda and a pack of cigarettes a day, but doing so would really leave you probably far less healthy than your everyday friendly chubbster.
As a matter of fact, overweight people statistically live longer than their thinner counterparts, so your entire perception of what healthy looks like is completely wrong. So maybe you should stop obsessing about your new fantasy diet you heard about on Pinterest and enjoy some delicious bread. Remember bread?
Eating fat is unhealthy
We’ve been bombarded with an endless stream of diet trends that you’d have to be a certified dietician to keep up with. Whole wheat bread was good, then carbs were bad, but wait not all carbs, it’s the gluten … but no matter what the trend, fat continues to be fat, which is awful. The shelves at your local grocer are packed to the brim with "fat-free" items, which chemically might be, even though the fat was likely replaced with carcinogenic compounds and fillers.
The problem with the misconception stems from the incidental correlation of overweight people suffering from heart disease also consuming tons of fat in their respective diets. However, that perception turns out to be nothing more than another adorable little false equivalency. It turns out that our bodies need fat, and it doesn’t necessarily make us fat like we think it does. Studies conclude that there’s no connection between eating saturated fat and developing heart disease. And then there’s the matter of good fats that will make you healthier, and they’re delicious too. Enjoy guacamole? Avocados and olive oil are great sources of the kinds of fats that your body needs.
Don’t fear fat. Embrace the right fats instead. Remember in the ’90s when fat was an endearing term, spelled with a ph? Maybe we should bring that back.
You can prevent getting sick if you boost your immune system
Sorry, you won’t, and if you DID boost your immune system, you’d probably die.
Nowadays, it seems like everyone has a treasure trove of supplements and nasty rituals aimed at preventing the same seasonal illnesses that plague their less savvy counterparts. But immune boosters are nothing more than your personal comfort blanket during flu season, providing you with a false sense of superiority. Theoretically, if you did boost your immune system, you’d also be boosting tons of things inside of your body that quite frankly, do not need boosting. A heightened immune system would have a proinflammatory effect that would in turn mess with cardiovascular functions leading to heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, you being dead, etc. So do your wallet a favor and skip the snake oil.
If you break the seal, you’ll pee every 15 minutes all night
We’ve all been at that party where beverages were flowing like the Amazon river. After the first half hour to hour of the event, your bladder begins sending your brain a message that it’s time to figure out where the bathroom is in this residence. But before your pals will respond to your inquiry, they assure you that you’re better off holding it in, because if you break the seal, you’ll pee in regular intervals all night long. It turns out this is a completely bogus myth.
Your need to pee throughout the night has nothing to do with your choice to venture on that first trip to the bathroom. It does have to do with your choice to go on drinking, especially if your beverage of choice is alcohol. Urologists have studied this. The booze is making you need to pee a lot, and trying to lifehack your body into ignoring this deeply human side effect can only end in warm wet disaster.
If your boogers are green it means you have a sinus infection
The color coordination of your mucus has very little to do with the reason why your body is making it. Sure, there are general reasons why your nose became a popup snot factory, but its colors alone cannot diagnose a sinus infection.
The perception is that if your snot is green, it’s an infected discharge caused by a sinus infection, but this is another major health myth. Green snot is most popularly featured as a side effect of the common cold, which is a virus. A sinus infection, however, is a different condition, caused by bacteria. Don’t make us throw some ninth grade Latin prefix stuff in here, just respect that bacterial infections and viruses are completely different things, and bacteria-fighting antibiotics do nothing against viruses, so don’t rush to use them. Plus, your snot comes in tons of different colors, don’t read too much into it. It’s just a load of boogers after all.
It’s bad to swallow gum
Another great health myth of our generation is the idea that swallowing gum takes seven years to digest, so you shouldn’t glob up your insides by swallowing your gum. Luckily, our digestive systems are much more sophisticated than that. We know this because doctors of colonoscopy have looked at a great many insides without finding and festering balls of forgotten gum in there.
Most people probably chew gum, and it’s likely that those people may swallow it from time to time, however, if they did, doctors would see a lot more of it showing up on your colonoscopies. It’s just not there, because we can digest or pass it.
People are left-brained or right-brained
The pseudo-neurological myth is that there are only two kinds of people: left-brained people and right-brained people. The right-brained people are the more artistic, linguistic, eccentric ones, while the left-brained people are the logical and pragmatic ones that probably make more money than the righties. It makes for a fun Internet quiz that establishes things you already knew about yourself, but there’s no truth to this particular bit of pseudoscience.
Both sides of the brain are somewhat responsible for language, and they both work together in most physical functions. If you used only one hemisphere of your brain, you’d probably be dead. Or perhaps survive in a mostly vegetative state.
Feed a cold, starve a fever
"Feed a cold" is a fine excuse to binge chicken soup while you’re feeling icky. Its counterpart, "starve a fever," meanwhile, is a baseless myth. So, enjoy all the chicken soup your feverish body can handle. Go nuts, because this myth originated in a dictionary written in the 1500s.
It turns out, you’re supposed to feed both a cold, and a fever, so eat up. When you’re sick, your body is on the front lines of a war that you can only watch and sneeze at from a distance. While your body is fighting off the enemy, you can help out by making sure to feed it, regardless of the ailment it is trying to fight off. Take care of your tiny troops, and eat all of the soups.
Body odor is caused by poor hygiene
There’s always the smelly one. He may be the smelly kid in class, or the smelly woman in your adult recreational dodgeball league. You may be quick to wonder about why the smelly ones don’t shower properly, or why they don’t wear deodorant, but in reality, body odor can be caused by many factors unrelated to not showering. Yes, skipping bathing will make you smell, but so will a lot of other less popular bodily ailments. And they’re mostly not creepy infections like you might think.
Ever been stressed out? You smell worse when you’re stressed. Not stressed and still stinky? Maybe you’re eating the wrong foods. Anything from alcohol, broccoli, to certain herbs can give you a funky odor. Or you could even have a rare genetic disorder that makes you smell like a rotting fish.
So be nice to the smelly ones. They probably can’t help it.