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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 March 13, 2019

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

          Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

          You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

          Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

          1. Work on the small tasks.

          When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

          Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

          2. Take a break from your work desk.

          Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

          Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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          3. Upgrade yourself

          Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

          The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

          4. Talk to a friend.

          Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

          Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

          5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

          If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

          Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

          Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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          6. Paint a vision to work towards.

          If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

          Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

          Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

          7. Read a book (or blog).

          The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

          Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

          Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

          8. Have a quick nap.

          If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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          9. Remember why you are doing this.

          Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

          What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

          10. Find some competition.

          Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

          Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

          11. Go exercise.

          Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

          Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

          As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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          Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

          12. Take a good break.

          Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

          Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

          Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

          Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

          More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

          Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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