Can an apple a day keep the doctor away? 10 health myths busted
There are loads of health myths circulating out there that often give us the wrong idea about health and fitness. Chances are, you've heard, and believed, some of them – but part of our job here at Expertrain is to separate fact from fiction in a bid to be happier and healthier! So we're here to dispel those weird and wonderful health myths you may have heard. From an apple a day keeping the doctor away to coffee making you sober enough to drive after a night out – you heard it here first!
#1. Darker alcohol is healthier
We know alcohol isn't good for us, but there's a rumour going around that darker alcohol is a healthier choice. Whilst it's true that darker wines and beers contain more antioxidants than their lighter counterparts (darker wines contain more polyphenols whilst beers have higher levels of flavanoids), they also contain more congeners. These are toxic chemicals which are produced during the process of fermentation, and they can actually make your hangover worse! (1) You'll find them in most dark drinks including whisky, gold tequila, red wine and beer. So if you want to avoid a hangover, stick to lighter drinks and limit yourself to just a couple.
#2. Heart disease only affects old or unhealthy people
Thinking you're immune to heart disease just because you're young isn't uncommon, but your diet and lifestyle now can impact your future heart health. Being overweight as a child or young adult could mean you'll suffer from elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, putting you at an increased risk of heart disease. Genetic factors can also play a part, with men more likely to suffer than women. We should all aim to keep our cholesterol below 200mg/dl and blood pressure at 120/80mg/Hg – heading to your doctors for regular checks is essential.
#3. Snacking after 8pm causes weight gain
Let's get our facts straight – this isn't anything like the film 'Gremlins'; there isn't a magic cut off hour after which you shouldn't eat. We know it's not a great idea to snack in the evenings, but it's more about the types of food you eat rather than the time you eat them. When we're tired, or when it's late at night, we are more likely to make poor food choices (2). The 8pm myth is just that, a myth. Try one of our healthy late night snacks, but don't eat too close to bed time; if your body is still digesting food, you could find it hard to get a good night's sleep.
#4. An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Most of us have heard the saying, but what's the truth in it? Apples are a great source of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre, and they can help you maintain a healthy weight; that's about it. They're no better or worse than any other fruit or vegetable! Obviously, if you're swapping fatty, sugary snacks for an apple, you're making a choice which will improve your diet and overall health (3). But this doesn't mean there's no need to see a doctor regularly for blood pressure checks and overall health check-ups.
#5. It's possible to train yourself to need less sleep
Your body naturally needs between eight to ten hours sleep a night to function at its best, although many of us can get by on six or seven hours. We all have friends who brag about needing less sleep; most of us have that friend who claims to only need three or four hours sleep a night. Chances are, they're just really sleep-deprived and unaware of it. There is no way you can train your body to need less sleep. Research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to depression, concentration issues, weight problems and even cancer (4). So turn your laptop off, snuggle down and enjoy a good night's sleep if you want to stay healthy.
#6. Frozen fruit and vegetables are not as healthy as fresh ones
We all need to try and include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables in our diet everyday, but if you haven't had time to shop for fresh food, you could find yourself turning to frozen fruit in your smoothie or frozen vegetables with your evening meal, and what's the harm in that? Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen shortly after picking, which locks in nutrients. Of course, you can't enjoy eating them raw (unless you're making a smoothie), but keeping frozen fruit and vegetables to hand means you're more likely to get your five-a-day.
A study carried out at the University of Western Sydney revealed that there is actually very little nutritional difference between fresh and frozen vegetables (5). Most of the vegetables studied had similar results when it came to vitamin and mineral content, and in some cases the frozen vegetables were actually higher in vitamin C!
#7. One type of diet is better for you
There is no 'one diet fits all', and we all have different needs, intolerances and likes or dislikes when it comes to diet. You might find you have more energy on a low carb, high protein diet, whilst others prefer to eat a gluten-free, vegan diet. It's important to ensure that you eat a well-balanced diet and listen to your body's nutritional needs. If what you eat is packed with additives and chemicals, and it's leaving you feeling sluggish and tired, make some changes! Switching to a diet packed with raw food, fruit, vegetables and lean protein will not only make you healthier, it will boost your mood too, leaving you feeling happier! Try out some of our healthy recipes today to get you started.
#8. Eating fat makes you fat
There's no truth in this myth at all – it's all about the type of fat you eat. Healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats and essential fatty acids, found in olive oil, avocados and oily fish, can help to keep your heart healthy and boost brain function. It's true that, gram for gram, fat contains more calories than protein and carbohydrates, but eating healthily isn't all about calorie counting! Did you know that fat is naturally present in every cell in your body? It's required to digest fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and needed in order for the body to adequately use protein to repair tissues and muscle. Fat is also a source of energy and many fats have anti-inflammatory properties (6). In fact, eating sugar is more likely to make you fat than eating fat.
#9. Coffee makes you sober enough to drive
When it's pouring with rain and freezing cold, it can be tempting to drive home after a night out or drinks at a friend's place. Your car's just around the corner, so no queuing for the night bus or a cab. Thinking that drinking coffee after boozing will sober you up is dangerous – it's simply not true! Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant which can make you feel less sleepy and more aware after drinking. It can also make you feel more jittery. At the end of the day, you're not fit to drive after a couple of drinks, coffee or no coffee. Better call a cab and sleep it off instead!
#10. Eggs are unhealthy
The Expertrain team are addicted to eggs, so we're sure why so many people insist on believing this health myth. Eggs are packed with amino acids and nutrients – one medium egg contains 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat which helps you feel fuller for longer, making eggs a healthy breakfast choice. Don't eat just the white either as the yolk contains essential fatty acids for a healthy brain (7). Poach them, boil them, scramble them or whip up our healthy zucchini breakfast omelette – yum!
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