We all have heard the same health myths about certain habits, foods or behaviors that can help or hurt our health. When myths are repeated from generation to generation we begin to accept them as fact. Below are 5 popular health myths that are going bust thanks to Dr. Christopher Calapai, a NYC board certified expert in osteopathic medicine specializing in longevity who debunks these myths with sound medical reasoning.
Myth #: Starve a cold, feed a fever.
Do you starve a cold and feed a fever when you're feeling under the weather? Or is it the other way around? Starving is never the correct answer. When you eat a nutritional, well-balanced diet, many other factors fall in place that keep your body functioning optimally. Dr. Calapai explains that, foods that are rich in nutrients help fight infections and may help to prevent illness. “A wide array of nutrients in foods; some of which we may not even know about, are essential for wellness. When you rely on dietary supplements for good nutrition you may limit your intake to just the known nutritional compounds rather than getting the full benefit of all nutrients available in food.”
Myth #2: Reading in dim light damages your eyesight.
Good news, according to researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, reading in dim light doesn’t lead to permanent eye damage. While it may cause eyestrain and temporary dryness; you can read a menu in a dimly lit restaurant without it causing any long-term impairment. Likewise, the common belief that sitting too close to the TV set will ruin your eyesight is yet another old wives’ tale.
Myth #3: Can’t sleep? Drink warm milk.
Dr. Calapai says that, “today there's no scientific evidence that milk has the slightest impact on drowsiness. Milk does contain the nap-inducing amino acid tryptophan, but only in trace amounts. Eggs and cheese have more, but even an egg and cheese sandwich won't knock you out. However, if a hot-milk nightcap seems to help you catch z's, drink up. A little placebo effect never hurt anyone.”
Myth #4: Cold weather will make you sick.
“In terms of infectious illnesses, germs make you sick, not cold weather itself,” urges Dr. Calapai. To catch a cold you have to come in contact with rhinoviruses and you need to be infected with influenza viruses to contract the flu. Rhinoviruses peak in spring and fall, and influenza viruses peak in the winter. While there isn’t a connection between being chilled and getting sick, cold air may contribute to conditions that lead to illness.
Myth #5: You can catch something sitting on a public toilet seat.
Dr. Calapai says, “our fear of sitting on the average toilet seat (one that isn't visibly soiled) is overblown. There's no question that germs can inhabit the seat, the bulk of the organisms found are basically fecal-borne bacteria. These can include E. coli streptococcus (the bug behind strep throat), or S. aureus (linked to serious skin problems or pneumonia).” He explains that germs are on seat the doesn't mean they’ll make you sick. Your skin acts as a very effective barrier to keep germs out (unless you have an open wound or lesion on your behind). Organisms leading to STD’s such as the herpes virus, HIV, or other sexually transmitted diseases don't survive for long outside the human body, especially not on a cold, hard toilet seat. To infect you, they need to enter either through an open cut or sore or via a mucous membrane (your mouth or rectum, for example), which wouldn't normally come into contact with the seat. Dr. Calalapi states that, “all this makes the odds of infection from just sitting down miniscule.”
Tomorrow we debunk 5 more health myths, including one about chocolate.
About the doctor:
Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O. is an Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine, and anti-aging medicine. Proclaimed the "The Stem Cell Guru" by the New York Daily News, Dr. Calapai is a leader in the field of stem cell therapy in the U.S. His stem cell treatments have achieved remarkable results in clinical trials on patients with conditions as varied as Alzheimer's, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, frailty syndrome, heart, kidney and liver failure, lupus, MS and Parkinson's. He has worked with Mike Tyson, Mickey Rourke, Steven Seagal, and Gotham's, Donal Logue; and as a medical consultant for the New York Rangers.