Health Myths We All Need To Stop Believing

Are you taking your vitamins every day? Popping Airborne to save you from a cold? Science says, "Stop it, ya goof."

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A few days ago I gathered seven nearly full bottles of supplements, including apple cider vinegar capsules and a daily multivitamin, and put them in my trash can. I had just read some articles explaining that studies have linked vitamin supplementation with higher mortality rates.

Five minutes later, I worried that perhaps I was being too extreme, that maybe years down the road researchers would do some other studies that would show different results, or that in a few months I would realize that I needed one of these supplements for some reason and then would curse myself for wasting tens of dollars by throwing them away before their expiration dates.

I took them out of the trash and put them back in a drawer. I wouldn’t continue taking them, I told myself, but I would leave them there, just in case.

My back-and-forth is emblematic of the general public’s relationship with health advice. In short, many of us just don’t know what the heck to believe. It’s no wonder. We have Pauling’s legacy like this:

“Although Pauling’s megavitamin claims lacked the evidence needed for acceptance by the scientific community, they have been accepted by large numbers of people who lack the scientific expertise to evaluate them. Thanks largely to Pauling’s prestige, annual vitamin C sales in the United States have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars for many years.”

Myth: Gluten-free is the way to be.

How many times have you heard about the evils of gluten (the proteins found in wheat)? Lots, yeah?

Let’s see if we can do this from memory: Gluten intolerance is at the root of a number of physical and mental problems for people in countries with many processed foods, because wheat is hiding in everything that we eat, and now we’ve screwed ourselves. The story goes something like that, right?

It makes sense. We are frequently tired! We have skin problems! We eat lots of wheat! Wouldn’t it logically follow that the best thing we could do would be to eat foods without gluten and give our systems a break?

Dr. Carly Stewart doesn’t think so. “Gluten-free foods are only healthier for you if you are allergic to gluten. If you aren’t, eating a gluten-free diet restricts the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals you are able to consume,” she tells Lifehacker.

“A variety of foods that are high in whole grains (such as foods containing wheat, rye, or barley) also contain gluten, and these foods are an essential part of a healthy diet. Most people have no trouble digesting gluten.”

In other words: Making it harder on yourself to eat a varied, healthy diet isn’t recommended. Why put yourself through that if you don’t have to?

Anna Cherry
Anna Cherry is the staff writer for Multiply. She's lived in a few different places, written in more, and is now back in the state of her birth (Missouri).

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