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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 May 15, 2019

          How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

          How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

          As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

          “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

          When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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          Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

          We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

          But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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          So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

          It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

          1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

          Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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          2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

          This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

          You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

          3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

          This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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          4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

          How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

          So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

          If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

          And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

          Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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