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The biggest health myths busted

May 29, 2009 14:11 IST
If you believe that pregnant women are supposed to eat for two or sugar makes children hyperactive, better think again because these are just two of the countless health myths followed since generations.

Scientists have debunked the biggest health myths that have existed until now, reports The Mirror.

The myths and truths are:

1. Myth: Eating carbs makes you fat

Truth: According to the Food Standards Agency, starchy foods only become fattening when actual fat, such as cream or margarine, is added. Carbs contain less than half the calories of fat and tend to be more filling -- making you less likely to overeat.

2. Myth: You need to drink eight glasses of water a day

Truth: Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found not a single study to back this up. Excessive amounts of water can actually be dangerous, even fatal. Most people only need 750 ml to one litre and can get this from juice, tea, coffee... or beer.

3. Myth: The flu jab can give you flu

Truth: The flu jab isn''t a live vaccine so it can''t infect you with the virus. People make this mistake because the jab is usually given in autumn -- peak time for cold viruses. And if they go on to get a minor cold they misinterpret it as flu.

4. Myth: I'm fat because I have slow metabolism

Truth: A recent study by the University of Chicago revealed that fat people have faster metabolisms and burn off more calories as energy than slimmer people.

5. Myth: Pregnant women should eat for two

Truth: Two out of five women admit to believing this myth, according to SMA Nutrition. But they only need an extra 200 calories a day -- equal to two slices of bread -- and even then, only in the last three months.

6. Myth: Vitamins make you live longer

Truth: Popping ''antioxidant'' vitamins such as C, A and E won''t extend your life, concluded one study last year. They may even lead to a premature death

7. Myth: Chocolate gives you spots

Truth: Acne is caused by the effects of hormones on sebaceous oil glands in the skin. This is why it particularly affects teenagers and can also be increased by stress. So chocolate won't make a difference.

8. Myth: Sugar makes kids hyperactive

Truth: Sugar does not cause hyperactive behaviour. Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis reviewed 12 trials and was unable to detect any effect. Scientists found when parents think their child have had a sugary drink they rate behaviour as hyperactive -- so it may be all in the mind.

9. Myth: Sit-ups shift a pot belly

"Even 100 sit-ups a day will do nothing to get rid of the layer of fat on your tummy, only cardiovascular exercise -- the type that gets you out of breath -- can shift body fat," said fitness expert Nicola Botton.

10. Myth: When you sneeze, your heart stops

Truth: When you sneeze the pressure in your chest increases as you inhale and drops when you exhale, so your heart rate is affected, but it keeps beating. Yet a survey by esure found two million motorists have had an accident, near miss or lost control as a result of sneezing while at the wheel.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Source: ANI