Better Health Tips
10 Health Myths Even Most Doctors Believe
Dr. Joseph Mercola is one of the best informed and most popular doctors on the Internet. His many tips for better health have helped to improve the lives of literally millions of people. Dr. Mercola is also one of the few nationally recognized doctors who is aware of the major manipulations going on behind the scenes in the health industry and in other key areas covered by WantToKnow.info.
Dr. Mercola's website, Mercola.com, is one of the ten most visited health websites on the Internet with a daily email newsletter that now goes out to over two million subscribers, including 40,000 health care professionals.
The below list of 10 medical myths compiled by Dr. Mercola not only gives invaluable tips for better health, it shows how the health care industry has failed to inform us of key matters which impact our lives and world on a daily basis.
If you are not aware of one or more of these key health topics, it might serve you well to learn more by following the links provided. The "What you can do" box at the bottom of the article also has additional better health tips and ideas on how to spread the word and further inform yourself.
10 Medical Myths Even Most Doctors Believe
By Dr. Mercola of www.mercola.com (Edited for brevity)
CNN has published a list of the "truth about twelve 'health myths'". Among the myths this article busts? "If you cross your eyes, they'll stay that way." "Eat the crust of your bread because it's full of antioxidants," and, "to get rid of hiccups, have someone startle you."
There is a massive amount of medical misinformation circulating now, which is causing an epidemic of chronic disease unprecedented in human history. With all the medical misinformation we're exposed to on a daily basis, it's disappointing to see CNN waste time and space on yet another entertainment-style fluff piece, discussing "health myths" that have no real bearing on your health.
Below I review 10 real health myths that CNN didn't bother to mention, even though these are the cause of a lot of unnecessary suffering and premature death. Because there is no shortage of real health myths that can, and do, have a massive impact on tens of thousands if not millions of people. Here is my list of the top 10 health myths, none of which CNN bothered to mention:
1: Cardio is the Best Type of Exercise
In recent years, researchers have begun to realize that conventional cardio, such as jogging, is not all it's been cracked up to be, and that you can actually improve your health and increase fat burning by making slight modifications to your cardio routine.
The problem is that traditional cardio only works on the slow twitch muscle fibers in your red muscle, completely ignoring your white muscle super-fast twitch fibers. "Peak 8" refers to peak exercises done once or twice a week, in which you raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 20 to 30 seconds, followed by a 90-second recovery period. To perform these properly you will want to get very close to, if not exceed, your maximum heart rate by the last interval. Your maximum heart rate is calculated as 220 minus your age.
Researchers have found that interval cardio produces a unique metabolic response that is in large part responsible for its superior benefits. Intermittent sprinting produces high levels of chemical compounds called catecholamines, which allow more fat to be burned from under your skin and within your muscles. The resulting increase in fat oxidation is thought to drive the increased weight loss.
It is also the only type of exercise that will increase growth hormone levels. This becomes especially important after the age of 30, when growth hormones steadily decline. It is much safer and far less expensive to have your body make growth hormone naturally though Peak 8 type exercises than to inject it like many athletes do to the tune of $1500 per month.
2: Vaccines are Safe and Effective and Prevent Disease
I completely understand that for many this issue is not debatable as they believe that vaccines are one of the greatest gifts to public health in the history of civilization. If you believe that, then let me encourage you to open your mind and explore other views held by many well respected physicians, scientists, clinicians and pro-vaccine safety educators. You might want to review the article Read This Before Vaccinating for Anything, to help you start your exploration process.
When it comes to vaccines, there are three primary questions that need to be considered.
- First, is the vaccine in question safe?
- Secondly, does it effectively prevent disease?
- And third, which vaccines can safely and effectively be given together or in close succession?
Unfortunately, these issues have not been sufficiently studied for most vaccines, and those vaccines that have been studied frequently show that they are either unsafe, ineffective, or both!
When several vaccines are administered together, or in close succession, their interaction may completely overwhelm your child's developing immune system. Now consider that if your child is vaccinated according to the CDC's recommended schedule, by the time your child starts kindergarten he or she will have received 48 doses of 14 vaccines. Of these, 36 doses will be given during the first 18 months of life – a time when your child's body and brain is undergoing massive development!
Public health officials have NEVER proven that it is indeed safe to inject this volume of vaccines into infants. What's more, they cannot explain why, concurrent with an increasing number of vaccinations, there has been an explosion of neurological and immune system disorders in American children.
This issue covers so much ground, it's impossible to even try to summarize the many hazards and the lack of efficiency data for all the vaccines currently being given, in this article. For more information please visit our vaccine section at http://vaccines.mercola.com. [Better health tip: For excerpts from key major media news articles revealing the serious risks of vaccines, click here.]
3: Fluoride in Your Water Lowers Your Risk of Cavities
The theory behind the introduction of fluoride in your water supply initially seems beneficial – to reduce the incidence of dental caries in children. However, the health dangers of fluoride are so numerous; they far outweigh any benefit to your teeth, and that's IF water fluoridation actually did what it's claimed to do.
Today, even promoters of fluoridation concede that the major benefits are only from topical applications; fluoride works from the outside of the tooth, not from inside of your body, so why swallow it? Statistics tell us that water fluoridation is ineffective for preventing caries. There is practically no difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries, and no difference between states that have a high- or low percentage of their water fluoridated.
Meanwhile, fluoride can cause significant harm, from dental fluorosis to thyroid damage to reduced IQ and much more. I've joined forces with the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) to help end water fluoridation poisoning in Canada and the United States.
For more about the dangers of fluoride, and information about how to get involved in this campaign, please see this recent article, which also includes an excellent interview with Dr. Paul Connett, who created FAN and is one of the foremost experts on this topic. [Better health tip: For an MSNBC/Reuters article revealing scientific skepticism on the benefits of fluoridated water, click here.]
4: GMO Crops are Safe, Well Tested and Economically Beneficial
GMOs may be the greatest health disaster in the American diet. Within 9 years of their introduction in 1996, multiple chronic illnesses jumped from 7 percent to 13 percent of the population, food allergies doubled in less time, and many other ailments have exponentially increased with the introduction of GM foods.
Millions may already be suffering health problems caused by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their diet. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has already urged doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients, citing studies that show how GMOs cause disorders such as vital organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system problems, accelerated aging, infertility, and dysfunctional regulation of insulin and cholesterol.
But not only are GM foods a health disaster, they also pose a significant environmental threat, and industry promises of financial benefits have turned out to be false as well.
For a quick introduction, I recommend reading the article 10 Reasons to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods, which delves into everything from the health problems associated with eating GM foods to the evidence against GM crops as a sustainable, economically and environmentally viable alternative to traditional farming. [Better health tip: For major media articles showing these dangers, click here. A powerful essay on the science of GMOs is available here and excellent documentary can be found here.]
5: Sun Causes Skin Cancer
There are many misconceptions about melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer that accounts for more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. But despite all the bad press linking sun exposure to skin cancer, there's almost no evidence at all to support that stance. There is, however, plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Over the years, several studies have already confirmed that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. In fact, melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can be increased by sunscreens. In my interview with vitamin D expert Dr. Robert Heaney, he explains how the conventional recommendations are in fact causing the very health problem they claim to prevent.
How does sunlight prevent, rather than cause, skin cancer? In short, it's the vitamin D formed in your skin from exposure to sunlight that provides this built in cancer protection. The vitamin D goes directly to genes in your skin that help prevent the types of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes. Unfortunately, if you follow the conventional recommendation to avoid sun exposure or always use sunscreen, your skin will not make any vitamin D, leaving you without this built-in cancer protection.
Statistics confirm the truth of these findings, as melanoma rates have increased right along with sun avoidance and increased use of sunscreens. If avoiding the sun actually was the answer, then melanoma rates should have decreased exponentially over the past couple of decades. Instead, sun avoidance and the excessive use of sun screen are actually the two primary reasons for the rise in melanoma. [Better health tip: For an ABC News article on vitamin D and cancer prevention, click here.]
6: Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease
As recently as 2002, the "expert" Food & Nutrition Board issued the following misguided statement, which epitomizes this myth:
"Saturated fats and dietary cholesterol have no known beneficial role in preventing chronic disease and are not required at any level in the diet."
This dangerous recommendation, which arose from an unproven hypothesis from the mid-1950s, has been harming your health and that of your loved ones for about 40 years now.
The truth is, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances, without which your body cannot function optimally. They also act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.
In fact, saturated is the preferred fuel for your heart! For more information about saturated fats and the essential role they play in maintaining your health, please read my previous article The Truth About Saturated Fat.
7: Artificial Sweeteners are Safe, Well Tested and Promote Weight Loss
Most people use artificial sweeteners to lose weight. The amazing irony is that nearly all the studies that have carefully analyzed their effectiveness show that those who use artificial sweeteners actually gain more weight than those who consume caloric sweeteners.
In 2005, data gathered from the 25-year long San Antonio Heart Study showed that drinking diet soft drinks increased the likelihood of serious weight gain – far more so than regular soda. On average, each diet soft drink the participants consumed per day increased their risk of becoming overweight by 65 percent within the next seven to eight years, and made them 41 percent more likely to become obese.
The reasons for this ironic reality are still being investigated, but there are several potential causes, including:
- Sweet taste alone appears to increase hunger, regardless of caloric content.
- Artificial sweeteners appear to simply perpetuate a craving for sweets, and overall sugar consumption is therefore not reduced–leading to further problems controlling your weight.
- Artificial sweeteners may disrupt your body's natural ability to "count calories," as evidenced in studies such as this 2004 study at Purdue University, which found that rats fed artificially sweetened liquids ate more high-calorie food than rats fed high-caloric sweetened liquids.
There are also a large number of health dangers associated with artificial sweeteners and aspartame in particular. I've started compiling a growing list of studies pertaining to health problems associated with aspartame, which you can find here. If you're still on the fence, I highly recommend reviewing these studies for yourself so that you can make an educated decision. [Better health tip: For an incredibly revealing, carefully researched documentary on the dangers of artificial sweeteners, click here.]
8: Soy is a Health Food
The meteoric rise of soy as a "health food" is a perfect example of how a brilliant marketing strategy can fool millions. But make no mistake about it, unfermented soy products are NOT healthful additions to your diet. If you find this recommendation startling then I would encourage you to review my Why Soy Can Damage Your Health, which contains links to dozens of articles on the topic, and a video I recently did.
On the contrary, thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility–even cancer and heart disease. Not only that, but more than 90 percent of American soy crops are genetically modified, which carries its own set of health risks.
Here is a sampling of the detrimental health effects that have been linked to soy consumption:
- Breast cancer
- Brain damage
- Infant abnormalities
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney stones
- Immune system impairment
- Severe, potentially fatal food allergies
- Impaired fertility
- Danger during pregnancy and nursing
I am not opposed to all soy, however. Organic and, most importantly, properly fermented soy does have great health benefits. Examples of such healthful fermented soy products include tempeh, miso and natto. [Better health tip: For a powerful essay on the dangers of genetically modified soy and other foods, click here.]
9: Whole Grains are Good for Everyone
The use of whole-grains is an easy subject to get confused on especially for those who have a passion for nutrition, as for the longest time we were told the fiber in whole grains is highly beneficial. Unfortunately all grains, including whole-grain and organic varieties, can elevate your insulin levels, which can increase your risk of disease.
It has been my experience that more than 85 percent of Americans have trouble controlling their insulin levels -- especially those who have the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Protein metabolic types
In addition, sub-clinical gluten intolerance is far more common than you might think, which can also wreak havoc with your health.
As a general rule, I strongly recommend eliminating grains as well as sugars from your diet, especially if you have any of the above conditions that are related to insulin resistance. The higher your insulin levels and the more prominent your signs of insulin overload are, the more ambitious your grain elimination needs to be.
If you are one of the fortunate ones without insulin resistance and of normal body weight, then grains are fine, especially whole grains. It is wise to continue to monitor your grain consumption and your health as life is dynamic and constantly changing. What might be fine when you are 25 or 30 could become a major problem at 40 when your growth hormone and level of exercise is different.
10: Low-Fat Diets are Healthy
The low-fat myth may have done more harm to the health of millions than any other dietary recommendation. Again, just as the recommendations to avoid sunshine has increased melanoma rates, the low-fat craze led to increased consumption of trans-fats, which we now know increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. To end the confusion, it's very important to realize that eating fat will not make you fat!
The primary cause of excess weight and all the chronic diseases associated with it, is actually the consumption of too much sugar -- especially fructose, but also all sorts of grains, which rapidly convert to sugar in your body. If only the low-fat craze had been a low-sugar craze, then we wouldn't have nearly as much chronic disease as we have today.
For an explanation of why and how a low-fat diet can create the very health problems it's claimed to prevent, please see this article. [Better health tip: For an informative Washington Post article on this subject, click here.]
As you can see, there's no shortage of health myths out there. The myths reviewed above are but a sampling, because there are still many more. As opposed to the nonsense offered in the CNN article above, these health topics are all essential to get "right" if you want to protect your health, and the health of your loved ones.
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