Six Common Health Myths

Ever heard that cracking your knuckles could cause arthritis in old age? Or are you worrying about hitting the quota of eight glasses of water a day? There are so many old wives' tales and half-truths out there but how many of them are really worth your concern? Here, we clear the air around six common health myths.

Myth One: Cracking your knuckles will cause arthritis in old age.

Truth: While cracking your knuckles may weaken your fingers, there is no scientific research to prove that it would lead to arthritis. Still, it sounds scary and might even be considered irritating to some people so do it in moderation and not at all in work settings.

Myth Two: You should unload in the bathroom at least once a day.

Truth: Healthy persons should have regular relief sessions but it does not necessarily have to be once a day. Constipation is – pardon the pun – loosely defined as unloading less than twice a week.

Myth Three: It is popularly believed that picking up food that has fallen off the plate, or even on the ground, can still be safely eaten.

Truth: Sadly, untrue. Food that comes into contact with the ground picks up large amounts of bacteria. And as featured in Discovery Channel's MythBusters, there was no major difference in amounts of bacteria on food dropped for two seconds as compared to six seconds. Having seen commonly altered variations of seven-second, thirty-second and even five-minute rules, we suspect the famous five-second rule may just be a convenient invention to save someone from embarrassment.

Myth Four: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Truth: Regular intake of most fruits would do the trick; it doesn't always have to be an apple. In fact, most nutritionists would recommend bananas and blueberries, which are high in fibre and antioxidants.

Myth Five: Depression is a problem of the heart – people just have to snap out of it!

Truth: Depression is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals called the neurotransmitters. It is not a sign of emotional or mental weakness. You can't just pull yourself together – a doctor should be consulted, and medication and counselling may be prescribed.

Myth Six: You have to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Truth: According to Heinz Valtin, retired professor of physiology from Dartmouth Medical School, you do not have to. While drinking plenty of water can be beneficial, there is no scientific evidence supporting the "8 glasses a day claim". Large quantities of water could be consumed from other sources such as milk, juice, coffee, fruits and vegetables. How do you gauge whether you drink enough then? Easy. Let thirst be your guide; it is the natural indication that your body needs to be hydrated and that would be the time to drink up.

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