We have all grown up being pelleted with health "facts"--i.e., assertions or discoveries that had been solidly proven to be truthful, according to the latest research. Some people have blamed the Internet for the deluge of health information that has been unleashed but, clearly, we were overwhelmed with such information (thanks mostly to popular magazines and tabloids) even before its advent.
Let's face it: health information has always been popular. This is a testament to the fact that most people want to either stay healthy or become healthier. Of course, there are those persons who have focused on their health to the point of perhaps having become obsessed. We have come to designate such persons with unkind epithets such as "health freaks."
You don't have to be paranoid about your health, though, to know that what you know or don't know about health issues can make a big difference in personal health outcomes. For example, over a period of years we learned how harmful things like alcohol, cigarette smoking, lead in paints, mercury in seafood & amalgam, asbestos in home insulation, Teflon cookware, etc., were seriously impacting our health.
Because of the warnings we routinely received, most of us learned to avoid these things, or to at least reduce our exposure/use of such things. In this regard, health news sources have helped many people lead healthier lives.
Nevertheless, there have been instances when we have been told things which, while they may have once been considered unassailable "facts," have turned out to be either not true or in need of revision, questioning or more objective scrutiny. Here are 10 examples of this potentially dangerous misinformation phenomenon:
1. You should brush your teeth after every meal. This practice, while it may have sounded practical and may be pushed even today by some dental experts, may actually be harmful in the long run. This is especially true if you:
Also, after you eat, your mouth is inundated with potentially abrasive digestive-aiding saliva. When you put all this together, brushing your teeth immediately after you eat may actually be the worst time to brush your teeth. It might be better to just rinse your mouth after a meal, then brushing your teeth later on, when things have calmed down inside your mouth.
You best bet may actually be to brush your teeth twice a day, when you get up and when you go to bed. The bacteria most responsible for tooth damage and gum disease needs time to do its damage--we're talking days, not hours. Bacteria are quick but they don't possess superhero or mutant powers.
Other things you can do are to regularly floss your teeth, get regular teeth cleanings, and not neglect regularly visiting your dentist.
2. Eggs are bad for your health (more specifically, for your heart). Actually, eggs are very good for your health, especially if they don't come from chickens grown in factory farms (which unnecessarily subject chickens to growth and sex hormones, antibiotics and pesticides). We were told that eggs were bad for us because they contained high amounts of cholesterol.
Well, not only do we need cholesterol in our diet but many studies are now showing that cholesterol may not be as bad for our heart/cardiovascular system as formerly thought. Eggs, in fact, are an excellent source of protein and can be part of a responsible, healthy diet.
3. Saturated fat and cholesterol are responsible for the high rates of cardiovascular disease. Actually, it's more likely that lab-created trans fats and hydrogenated fats (especially the partially hydrogenated variety) have had more to do with cardiovascular disease than naturally-occurring, not-over-consumed saturated fats and cholesterol.
What the latest research is showing is that how we develop cardiovascular disease may be a much more complicated process than previously thought. There are a variety of factors that are playing a key role and these synthetic fats (found readily in vegetable oils and in margarines & make-believe butter products) are probably playing a bellwether role in the problem.
For your part, stay away from canola oil and the other so-called "vegetable oils"--instead using cold-pressed natural oils like olive oil; also, use organically-produced butter (not from cows kept in factory farms) rather than lab-created margarines and spreads.
4. A so-called "balanced diet" supplies all the nutrients you will need. If by "balanced diet" nutritionists mean (or include) fruits and vegetables heavily laced with dangerous pesticides and insecticides, GMOs, microwaved meals, processed/packaged foods, canned foods, fast food, high-Omega-6 fried vegetable oil fried foods, meats from factory farms, etc., then, this so-called "balanced diet" is a recipe for a nutritional disaster.
What the food industry, the medical establishment and professional nutritionists have termed a "balanced diet" is very much not "balanced" in your favor. Instead of abiding by this outdated, heavily flawed paradigm, strive to eat lean meats that don't come from factory farms, fruits and vegetables organically grown, and truly "natural" food products, as opposed to things heavily swimming in toxic chemicals, packaged/processed, biogenetically altered, or irradiated.
5. You don't need to worry about ionizing radiation exposure from X-rays, PET and CT scans. The medical community tells patients that the radiation doses from X-rays and PET scans are too low to worry about but the truth is that there is no such a thing as a "perfectly safe dose" of ionizing radiation. In theory, one X-ray or one PET scan can potentially lead to cancer (or some other medical complication).
Even if the dose for one X-ray were indeed "low" (and that's a matter of opinion), you can be assured that the dose you get from a CT scan is much higher--the equivalent of about 200 X-rays, in fact. When you multiply that times the number of times you have gotten a CT scan in your lifetime, you will then have to admit that that is a very high amount of radiation for anyone, especially for children, the elderly and the immunocompromised (all of whom may be more susceptible to the DNA-damage ionizing radiation can impart).
Not only should you worry about this type of potentially dangerous radiation but you should insist on medical imaging, when possible, that doesn't expose you to this radioactivity danger--such as provided by sonography, MRIs and thermography.
6. You can't prevent most diseases with proper nutrition. Actually, you may not have ever heard a doctor or nurse say that to you, but this mentality is part and parcel of what medical and nursing schools teach their gullible students. Most doctors know how scurvy was eventually found to be a nutritional deficiency but, in the minds of most doctors, this was a rare, isolated scenario.
Most diseases, especially the hardcore chronic ones like CVD, cancer and diabetes, have little to do with nutrition--at least that's what medical and nursing schools teach. Naturopathic, chiropractic and holistic health experts, though, with extensive science to back up their beliefs, believe the opposite.
Let's be clear: this difference of opinion doesn't spring from scientific disagreements but from the fact that, if doctors acknowledged the nutritional connections, then the profitable drugs, treatments and surgery that have replaced nutritional tools would then become either of secondary importance or downright obsolete.
7. Painkillers are okay, if prescribed by doctors. The truth is that the medical establishment is as much to blame as the patients who have become addicted to painkillers. Doctors like to prescribe painkillers because Big Pharma forces or bribes them to do so. Why should that come as a surprise when you consider that painkillers are some of the most profitable drugs to the big pharmaceutical companies?
For your part, look for alternative ways to relieve your pain--better yet, strive to find a cure for the source of your pain, instead of letting the medical establishment merely treat the symptoms (which is what doctors are trained to do, in their defense). For the record, all popular painkillers (e.g., Ibuprofen) come with dangerous side-effects and complications, especially the higher the dosage and the longer you use them.
8. Low saturation-fat vegetable oils (including corn, canola, etc.) and hydrogenated (and other synthetic fats) oil margarines and spreads are good for your health. Although some doctors and, more surprisingly, most professional nutritionists are still pushing this dangerous lie, the science which now condemns these products is no longer being ignored (at least not by responsible health experts). You need only consider how so-called vegetable oils are made.
These oils, mostly obtained from nuts and seeds (not "vegetables"), are subjected to very high heat, which destroys nutrients and enzymes, and are then treated with toxic chemicals (like hexane), which hide the awful smell that this nasty process leaves behind. Not only are these processed oils lacking in nutrients but they are also very high in Omega-6 fats, which can contribute or lead to health problems (especially when consumed out of balance with its more nutritious cousin, Omega-3).
Beyond this, these oils can be highly contaminated and are very difficult to digest; they may also be greatly contributing to the arterial plaque that leads to CVD.
9. Sunlight is mostly bad for the skin and the eyes. Those people who have laid on the beach exposing themselves to direct sunlight for hours or, worse yet, who have used UV lamps to get a quick tan have both played Russian roulette with their health, especially in regards to later on possibly developing skin cancer. Having said that, sunlight is mostly good for us--in fact, it's the best way to absorb Vitamin D, which is essential for several processes, including calcium absorption.
While excessive exposure to sunlight may be unhealthy (including to the eyes), sunlight is generally a healthy thing. Some experts are arguing, in fact, that it's because many people living in cities don't get enough outdoor exposure and sunlight that some diseases (including cancer, autoimmune disorders and osteoporosis) have gotten worse.
For your part, make sure that you spend adequate amounts of time in the outdoors, especially when the sun is bright and shiny. You don't need to sunbathe, nor do you need to walk around half-naked in order to derive the intended benefits. And, no, UV lamps are not a safe, practical alternative to sun exposure.
10. Filtering your water is a mostly unnecessary "luxury." Not only should you be filtering your drinking/cooking water but, also, the water you bathe in and wash your clothes with. The chemicals that your local community puts in your water may kill some disease-causing organisms but there is much more in the water to worry about than microbes.
Your local water may be brimming with pesticides, insecticides, toxic chemicals, discarded pharmaceuticals and even radioactive substances. You need to filter/treat your water for as many of these toxic things as possible, including the potentially harmful chemicals (chlorine, fluoride, chloramines, etc.) your local water authority may be intentionally adding to your water.
All things change, hopefully for the better. That goes for the health sciences. There are times, however, when certain views, perceptions or established dogma linger for longer than they should. This can be a result of experts simply disagreeing, new facts coming to light, or new technology becoming available that can perhaps help alter our perspective on something.
As consumers, we should never blindly trust any so-called "fact." We should instead always remain vigilant, questioning, open-minded and ready to alter our perspectives, as the need arises. We should also keep in mind that the agenda of the big corporations, the medical establishment, the government, mainstream media, etc., is often drastically different (if not diametrically opposed) to our personal goals or best interests. As such, we need to make up our own minds about things being offered to us (whether it's information or products and services).
As the examples in this article illustrate, health "facts" can change. We need to always be prepared to not only acknowledge this fact but to alter our health plans/agenda accordingly. Ultimately, health experts are there to assist and to guide you--not to make decisions for you or to dictate to you things which other experts may cogently disagree with.
In other words, you in are in control. Celebrate and make the most of that "control" by staying well-informed, always looking at both sides of an issue, and never assuming that a supposedly well-established "fact" couldn't possibly be wrong, misrepresented or simply outdated.
Copyright, 2017. Fred Fletcher. All rights reserved.
References & Resources
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