Common health myths debunked
How accurate are some of the health-related claims? Here, we reveal the truth behind some of the myths.
I keep getting invited for health talks with technology, internet, banking and consulting firms. The employees as my audience are smart, interactive, aware and on the ball with health information. Even then, thanks to un-ratified data or generic data available (non-specific to health issues), there are a lot of myths floating around. I wanted to debunk some of these and give the logic behind it, so that you are all better equipped at handling your health instead of exhaustively skimming through confusing data or old wives’ tales. So here we are:
Myth #1: Soak your almonds
Almonds are rich in B-vitamins (riboflavin) and magnesium -- both of which are water-soluble. Soaking them destroys these vitamins. The very reason we associate almonds with a sharp memory is due to the vitamin E (fat-soluble), B-vitamins (keep our neurons protected) and magnesium (calms the mind, hence helping absorb data better). The last two get lost once you soak them. So chew on them raw to get the best effect of the nutrients.
Myth #2: Eat fruit instead of dessert
We eat fruits because they are high in fibres, antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, potassium etc. These vitamins and minerals are best absorbed as a snack and not in combination with a meal. So when you eat a fruit as a dessert, the body only recognises it as sugar. Not only does it hinder the digestion process, but you also lose the antioxidant power of fruits.
Eat them when you wake up or as a snack in between meals at 11 am or 5 pm (instead of reaching out for the biscuit or samosa!) to get the powerhouse of its benefits.
Myth #3: To stay fit, walk 10,000 steps
By that logic, everyone who does yoga regularly must be terribly unfit. Yet people who do regular yoga have healthier hearts, calmer minds and higher muscle mass. Exercise is about movement and agility, not about mindless step counting. The step counting rule was popularised in the US when people stopped moving and obesity rose. It was a way of pushing lazy people to stay active through the day. So stay active by all means, but make sure you take out extra time for pure exercise to increase agility and muscle mass. So what does that mean? Simply put, walk your 7-10k steps to stay active, not as a form of exercise. For exercise, quality matters. Schedule a brisk walk two-three times a week and minimum two yoga sessions every week, to keep joints and balance in place.
Myth #4: You must drink 3 litres of water every day
Yes, you need water, but everyone’s needs are different. Sometimes, too much water can lead to dilution of nutrients and deficiencies. At other times, less water can cause headaches and constipation. A 55 kg woman needs 2-2.5 litres and an 80 kg man may need 3.5 litres, depending upon physical activity levels. So adjust your dosage as per your weight, activity schedule and nutrient status.
Myth #5: If your parents have a disease, you’re likely to get it too
This is not true if we’re talking about lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, age-related hormonal cancers etc. If your father or mother has it, the only way you will get type 2 diabetes is if you have the same lifestyle as them, not otherwise. Eat nutritionally dense balanced foods, eat 30 percent less than your hunger, avoid the bad stuff, exercise and de-stress, all of it every day and consistently and there’s no way you’ll even fall ill.
So stay well-informed, but also don’t believe everything you read on the internet or what your neighbour’s grandmother told you. Sift through expert opinions as per your health issues versus generic health information published for normal people to stay healthy. Stay sharp (don’t soak those almonds!).