The cyber world is loaded with information regarding health, nutrition and well-being. But which one should you trust, that’s little bit confusing. Popular culture is also having loads of myths and half-truths. Most are harmless. But when doctors start believing medical myths, that’s a time to worry. There are several common child health myths we should stop believing. In 2007, a study was published into several common misconceptions, from the belief that a person should drink eight glasses of water per day to the notion that reading in low light ruins your eyesight. Some people got fired up about this because they knew that physicians accepted these beliefs and were passing this information along to their patients.
Some common child health myths we should stop believing
• Peanut allergies occur whether or not a child is exposed to peanuts - Pediatricians have counseled parents to keep babies away from peanuts for the first three years of life. As it turns out, children exposed to peanuts before they were even 1 year old have no greater risk of peanut allergies.
• Fish oil does not reduce the risk of heart disease - At one point, the belief that fish fats prevented heart trouble did seem logical. People whose diets contain a lot of fatty fish seem to have a lower incidence of heart disease. Fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 supplements lower levels of triglycerides, and high levels of triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Not to forget that omega-3 fatty acids seem to reduce inflammation, a key feature of heart attacks.
• To protect against asthma attacks, it won’t help to keep your house free of dust mites, mice and cockroaches - The advice from leading medical groups has been to rid your home of these pests your child has asthma. The theory was that allergic reactions to them can trigger asthma attacks. But intensive pest management in homes with children sensitized to mouse allergens did nothing to reduce the frequency of their asthma attacks.
• Drink 8 glasses of water - While it is quite important to stay hydrated good health, digestive system, skin and much more, it is not an absolute necessary to count the number of glasses. Drinking enough water whenever you are thirsty is enough to hydrate you and keep you healthy. Hydration can be further improved by including hydrating foods in your diet like fruits, soups and vegetables. Also, drink more water if your urine is dark yellow or if you don't urinate regularly.
• Eggs are bad for your heart – Well, it’s not true at all. Eating an egg or two is surely not going to increase risk of heart disease. Eat the whole egg and do not leave the yolk. Egg yolk is filled with numerous beneficial minerals and fats essential for your body. Protein-rich eggs are one of the healthiest foods on earth.
• Being in cold environment can give you a cold - This is again not true. A study found that healthy children who spent hours in temperatures just a little above freezing experienced an increase in virus-fighting activity in their immune system. What is more is that you are more likely to get sick indoors where germs can pass easily.
• Green mucus means infection: Studies have shown that green or yellow mucus is common in case of bacterial infections. However, green or yellow mucus is not a sure sign that you need antibiotics. A sinus infection make you have clear mucus, and a common cold can turn it into green.
• Toilet seat can make your child fall sick: It is important to know that toilet seats may be dirty, but what can be dirtier and covered with harmful bacteria and virus are bathroom doors, door handles and floors. When using public washrooms, it is better to cover your child’s hands with paper towel before he touch doors or handles. Ask him to use hand sanitizer before and after touching the doors and knobs and wash hands with hand wash after using the toilet.
• A child can be addicted to sugar - You might feel like your child is addicted to sugar, but he is not. Our brains release dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel happy, when we eat food. This helps us feel motivated to eat. The hungrier we are, the more dopamine is triggered when eating in order to motivate us further to eat. When we restrict our child’s eating, the pleasurable feeling he gets when he finally eat is, stronger. In other words, the intensity of the dopamine response to sugar is heightened by trying to cut sugar out.
• Eating before bed will lead to obesity - The myth goes that eating late at night is worse for your child because he doesn’t use as much energy while you sleep. But based on research, the body doesn’t appear to process food that way. Studies have found no relation between weight gain and the time of day that food is consumed. A study also showed that children who eat dinner past 8 p.m. did not appear to have any significant weight difference compared to children who ate earlier.
• Feed a cold and starve a fever – Our elders probably recited this old saying every time you got sick as a kid. But it’s not actually found in real science. According to me, the phrase should be like, Feed a cold, feed a fever. Because nutrition is helpful in terms of both. It takes energy to fight off infection. When your child is hungry and in need of nutrients, his body won’t work as efficiently. Next time you get the sniffles, make sure to eat healthy foods to support your immune system, fever or not. And make sure to load more on fluids.
- Natural sugars are better – There is an idea that certain sugars are healthy while others are not i.e. eating “natural” sugars from fruit affects your body differently than eating refined sugars. And yes, eating a strawberry and eating a cookie are going to be different. But it’s not because the strawberry has a different type of sugar. Sugar is broken down into glucose for your body to use as fuel. Our body does not discriminate based on what food the glucose came from, whether it is from a brownie or a bowl of brown rice. The difference between the strawberry and the cookie is due to what else is in those foods. A strawberry has nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Similarly, a cookie has nutrients such as saturated fats, sodium, and carbohydrates.
• The heavier the child is, the less healthy he is - Weight is not the determinant of health, though, many believe it to be. Except for at statistical extremes, body size and weight is only loosely correlated with health. Most studies actually indicate that child whose BMI falls in the ‘overweight’ category have the lowest risk of chronic disease and greatest longevity. Studies have also found that anywhere from one-third to three-quarters of child classified as ‘obese’ are metabolically healthy. They show no signs of elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or high cholesterol in future.
• Gluten-free foods are healthier - There are many myths about gluten, but this is perhaps the most common i.e. the gluten-free products are healthier than foods with gluten. But many gluten-free versions of otherwise glutenous foods like pasta, bread, and baked goods are filled with more sugar and sodium and are actually more processed. Additionally, gluten is not a harmful substance in itself, unless the child eating the gluten has celiac disease, an allergy, or intolerance.
• Sugar makes kids hyper - Sugar isn’t good for kids, but research shows the sweet stuff won’t cause them to hurt their schoolwork, or make them unable to focus. Since many parents believe there’s a link, though, they expect their kids to behave badly after eating sugary food. So, they are primed to notice it if it happens.
• We use only 10 percent of our brains - Though, several health specialists and motivational speakers are promoting this fact, but, these people were not basing the proclamation on sound science. Today, scientists can look at any brain scan, measuring activity at any given time, and have a big laugh at this myth. You just don't see big dormant areas. The idea lingers in popular culture because we want to think we haven't reached our full potential.
• Chewing gum stays in your stomach for 7 long years - Although it is true that many of the ingredients in gum like elastomers, resins and waxes, are indigestible, that does not mean they hang out in our guts for seven years. Plenty of what we eat, even things you are recommended to eat, such as fiber, is indigestible. But the digestive system is a robust piece of organic machinery, and anything it can't absorb, it moves along. Despite the stickiness and strange consistency of gum, it passes right through your digestive tract and into the toilet.
• Reading in dark or sitting close to screens ruins your eyesight - Dim light or alternatively, staring into the multicolored tube at close range can undoubtedly make your eyes work so hard they hurt. But there is no evidence that these practices cause long-term damage. The screen myth may have started in the 1950s, and at that time, it may have been true. Some early color TV sets emitted high amounts of radiation that could have caused eye damage, but this problem has long been remedied, and today's TV and computer monitors are relatively safe. If you or your child tend to sit so close to the computer or TV that it hurts the eyes, it may be a good idea to get checked for nearsightedness. However, sitting too close does not create a need for glasses even if getting glasses can remedy the habit.