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2 Health Myths You Are Taught in School that Are Wrong

2 Health Myths You Are Taught in School that Are Wrong

In high school, and even beyond that, we are taught to believe a lot of things that aren’t true. Most of the time it is not on purpose, but these health myths are still harmful.

Myth 1: Alcohol kills brain cells

Sure, if you physically pour 100% alcohol onto a brain, it’s not going to react very well. When you are drinking alcohol though, this is not the case (read this book). The original research into this was done as follows:

  1. Take dead alcoholics and regular people
  2. Check brain cell density in both
  3. Alcoholics had lower density in their brain
  4. Conclusion: alcohol kills brain cells

Why it this wrong?

Well, it’s called a ‘confounding variable’. Basically, there was another factor at play. Specifically here:

  • Alcoholics tended to be of lower education
  • Alcoholics tended to have worse nutrition

A brain without good nutrition and no stimulation in the form of education is obviously not going to be the same as one of a person who does have those things.

After this was pointed out, the data was analyzed taking into account these factors. Guess what? No difference.

It’s still harmful, though.

But there should be a clear distinction between alcohol use and alcohol abuse. Alcohol can increase risk of specific cancers in some people, and in high dosages, it is detrimental to the liver (and yes, the brain).

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When enjoyed responsibly, though, alcohol actually appears to increase lifespan. And for some cancers, risk actually seems to be lower if you drink small amounts.

On the note of addiction, alcohol has a relatively high addiction potential, though it’s lower than tobacco:

Drug-harm-chart

    If you have trouble believing this graph, don’t worry, you are not the first. It’s from the paper “Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse,” and entirely accurate.

    How much is fine?

    For men, drinking 2 standardized glasses a day is the max. For women, 1. Note that you can’t save up! If you don’t drink during the week, that doesn’t mean you can have ten drinks on Saturday and still call it healthy.

    Myth 2: Eating cholesterol increases your blood cholesterol

    This one bothers me even more than the first. It bothered me so much I spent months doing cholesterol research to find out why on earth we still believe this. It all started because someone used epidemiological research to make headlines.

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    Epidemiological what?!

    Cholesterol-Intake-Map

      It’s simpler than it sounds. Epidemiological research is something like this:

      1. The average Swedish citizen has white skin
      2. The average South African citizen has black skin
      3. Sweden gets little sun
      4. South Africa gets a lot of sun
      5. Sun probably makes your skin darker

      Makes sense right? There is only one big problem: you can never prove anything with epidemiological research. Look at this example to see why:

      1. The average Dutch citizen has white skin
      2. The average South African citizen has black skin
      3. The Dutch eat a lot of cheese
      4. South Africans eat little cheese
      5. Cheese probably makes you white

      See the problem there? Just because two things coincide, it doesn’t mean they are in any way connected.

      Your eat 300mg, you make 1000mg

      This is basic biology, taught to every doctor: the average person eats 300mg of cholesterol a day. The average liver produces 1000mg a day.

      Read that again. Your own body produces three times more cholesterol than you eat. Do you really think that that 300mg is the problem?

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      If you eat more than 300mg cholesterol, your liver senses this and produces less.

      The trouble starts if the liver can’t keep up.

      LDL and HDL for dummies

      The cholesterol in your food is not the cholesterol in tour blood. In your food it is a simple substance, in your blood it is balled up into a complex of cholesterol and proteins.

      ldl-and-hdl

        Simplified:

        • LDL is a fluffy cholesterol ball that carries cholesterol from the liver to the body
        • HDL is a dense ball that carries cholesterol from the body back to the liver

        What matters is not so much how much cholesterol you have, but whether your LDL (giver) is in balance with your HDL (cleaner).

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        So what does cause high cholesterol?

        Mostly food. Specifically sugars and other fastly absorbed food. Take a look at this collection of graphs:

        Cholesterol-low-carb-vs-low-fat
          • The red line is a low fat diet
          • The yellow line a mediterranean diet
          • The purple line a low-carb diet

          The purple line basically wins on every measurement type, while a low fat diet loses.

          To keep cholesterol under control you should basically read up in low glycemic index foods.

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          Last Updated on August 13, 2020

          12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

          12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

          As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

          1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

          I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

          Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

          Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

          2. What is the purpose of meditation?

          The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

          It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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          Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

          In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

          You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

          This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

          The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

          Less Physical, More Psychological

          Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

          This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

          The First Benefit of Meditation

          The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

          1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
          2. Relaxation of the body

          Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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          Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

          That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

          When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

          When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

          Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

          Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

          This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

          Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

          Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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          This benefit takes you to the second one.

          The Second Benefit of Meditation

          While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

          1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
          2. Observance
          3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
          4. Patience

          Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

          You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

          This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

          1. Energy

          Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

          2. Observance

          The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

          3. Peacefulness

          Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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          4. Patience

          The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

          The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

          Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

          Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

          The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

          • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
          • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
          • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
          • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
          • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
          • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

          These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

          Final Thoughts

          Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

          Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

          Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

          More on Meditation

          Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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