Chicken soup is good for a cold. Going outside with wet hair will make you sick. Carrots improve your vision…
We’ve all heard these or other phrases like these - whether they came to us from our parents, grandparents, or through our own beliefs and experiences.
And it can be hard to know which of the many health beliefs passed down to us are tried and true wisdom from the past, and which are myths.
So, we decided to take some of the most common health beliefs out there and do some digging to find out which are true and which are myths.
To help us figure out where to start, we asked our members what they thought.
We started by asking what our members believed about three common health “myths,” and then asked them to tell us about a common health myth or practice that they believe.
What did we ask?
- Do you believe drinking coffee during childhood stunts your growth?
- Do you believe if you stay outside in the cold weather for too long, you will catch a cold?
- Do you believe eating carrots will improve or give you great vision?
- What is a common health myth or practice that you know or follow?
In total, 81,782 of our members responded to the survey. Find out what they thought below!
Does Coffee Stunt Your Growth?
Most of our members didn’t believe this one. And, according to Harvard Health, they’re right.
“There is no scientifically valid evidence to suggest that coffee can stunt a person's growth.”
So, where does this myth come from?
Early studies on caffeine indicated that it may affect how well our bodies absorb calcium, which helps bones grow strong. But we now know that the effect is too small to really make an impact. And while caffeine can cause other issues in children and teens, there’s no evidence that it slows or stunts growth.
Does Being Outside in Cold Weather Make You Sick?
As you can see from the image above, most of our members don’t believe that going out in cold weather can make you sick. But, over 25% of them believe it can.
While being outside in cold weather can’t cause you to catch a cold (which is a virus), it can cause other illnesses (like frostbite, hypothermia, etc.), and it can lower your body’s ability to fight off infections like a cold.
And, colds and cold-like viruses are more common, more easily spread, and harder to treat in colder weather.
According to Northwestern Medicine,
“Being cold actually may reduce your body’s ability to fight infection, and the cold air in your nasal passages may reduce your immune cells’ ability to fight off the virus in your nasal passage.”
So, it looks like our parents were right on this one!
Does Eating Carrots Improve Your Eyesight?
This one was close!
While most of our members didn’t believe this one either, the yes and no responses were almost equal.
44.6% said they didn’t believe that eating carrots can improve their vision, and 42.2% said they did. That’s less than a 2% difference.
But, is it true? Can eating carrots improve your vision?
We know carrots are high in beta-carotene which our bodies use to make Vitamin A. That’s where this health “myth” comes from. We’ve all heard that Vitamin A is good for eyesight. And, studies support that.
The problem is that some research suggests that beta-carotene doesn’t convert into vitamin A well enough to do much good to our vision.
What does that mean?
It means that while vitamin A supports healthy vision, the jury is still out on whether the beta-carotene we get from carrots is enough to make much of an impact.
Common Health Myths and Practices
To help us decide which health beliefs to tackle in upcoming posts, we asked our members which health myths and practices they believed in, and the same ones came up over and over again.
Here are the top ten:
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away
- 10,000 steps a day is the magic number
- Carbs make you gain weight
- You should drink at least 8 cups of water per day
- You should get 8 hours of sleep each night
- Sleeping with wet hair can make you sick
- Going outside with wet hair when it's cold will make you sick
- Chicken noodle soup can help you recover from illness quicker
- Honey is good for illnesses and allergies
- Apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight
To learn more about which of these myths are true and which we can ignore, we’re going to dig into each of them, one by one, in upcoming blog posts. So keep your eye out for more of our health myth debunking series!