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There are many so-called “old wives’ tales” that are still widely believed so here’s the truth on five of the most commonly believed health myths.
The internet has revolutionised the way people take control of their own health, and there are whole websites dedicated to giving people accurate, helpful health information. However, there is still a lot of fairly dubious advice and wisdom out there. From the rise of ‘cyberchondria’ to the increased hysteria of ‘real-life stories’ on popular forums, misinformation is rife.
Have you ever been convinced by any of these health myths?
Myth #1: You should poo once a day
Your bowel movements are a good indicator of your overall health, but it’s a myth that the only healthy poo schedule is a regular one. And there is even confusion over what a regular schedule even is – contrary to popular opinion, having regular bowel movements does not mean one every day.
In reality, anything from three times per day, to at least three times per week is considered regular. Everyone is different, so don’t stress. As long as you’re not in any pain or discomfort, and there are no warning signs such as blood in your poo, there is no need to worry about your schedule1.
Myth #2: You’re more likely to get pregnant in some sex positions than others
Whether you’re trying for a baby, or trying to avoid getting pregnant, myths about the best positions still run wild and are widely believed. Many people swear by certain positions to get pregnant. You will even find people claiming that you should adopt certain positions to make it more likely that you will get pregnant with a boy or a girl.
However, there is no need to list any of the mythical positions here, because there isn’t any truth to this idea. If sperm is released into the vagina, there is a chance of pregnancy. End of discussion2.
Myth #3: You need to drink eight glasses of water per day
There are so many different opinions about how much fluid is enough to keep you hydrated. Some, including many so-called ‘wellness’ and ‘clean eating’ bloggers constantly praise the magic of water, claiming that you should drink exactly eight glasses of water per day.
It’s true that the UK government and NHS recommend drinking between six and eight glasses of fluid per day3. But that fluid doesn’t have to be water; milk, tea, coffee and fruit juice all count. Everyone and every day is different – some people need to drink more than others, and you’ll need to drink more in warm weather and during and after exercise. Drink when you’re thirsty, not to fulfil a quota3.
Myth #4: You should ‘detox’ your body with a special diet.
It has become worryingly widespread for people, particularly young women, to assume their bodies are toxic and need some kind of special diet to detoxify them. So-called ‘detox’ diets often involve living on nothing but juice for a set period of time, and usually require you to spend a considerable amount of money.
Newsflash: your body is not toxic. ‘Detox’ diets do not have special power to help you lose weight or get rid of cellulite. It’s your liver’s job to remove toxins from the body, and it’s extremely good at it4.
And while we’re on the subject, ‘toxins’ do not cause cellulite – cellulite is the result of a complex range of factors including hormones and genetics5.
Myth #5: You should get a ‘base tan’ to protect against sunburn
Many people believe it’s a good idea to get a ‘base tan’ before going on holiday, to try and avoid getting burnt. Using a sunbed is a popular way to achieve this so-called pre-holiday base tan.
No amount of tanning is safe or healthy, and it definitely doesn’t protect your skin. Research has shown that the melanin produced by tanning is equivalent to applying sun cream with SPF 3 or less. Moreover, tanning can cause premature ageing of the skin and can put you at increased risk of melanoma (the most aggressive form of skin cancer)4.
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