October 31, 2022
Last Updated:
November 1, 2022

Trick or Treat? The Truth Behind Six Health and Wellness Myths

You’ve likely heard a claim about a food, exercise regimen, or wellness trend, and shared it with others, only to find out later that it’s either inaccurate or flat-out untrue. Few fields are as rife with misinformation as health and wellness.

The overlap between sound scientific research and the emotional component of personal health leaves the space wide open for misinterpretation, which isn’t a bad thing. However, companies will take advantage, especially when looking to sell you a product that will miraculously solve all your health concerns! Learning to discern whether claims are valid or have truth to them will take time and practice, and we’re here to help.

How to tell fact from fiction

With social media, ideas and claims reach large audiences super quickly, and it’s good to be skeptical of claims that sound too good to be true. Before trusting information, make sure it’s legitimate.

Consider the source. Click away from the story to investigate the site it originated from, including its mission and other articles.

Read beyond the headline. Headlines are written to grab your attention, but often don’t tell the whole story. Make sure to read the entire article, not just take the headline at face value.

Research the author. Is the author (or group) credible? Have they written about this kind of information before? Do they have any ties to businesses sponsoring them or the piece they’ve written? Are they real?

Where’s the support? Make sure any claims are backed up by real, credible evidence from reliable sources. Click on provided links to explore the information they give as support.

Check the date. Old information – especially in the health and wellness community – can have been proven wrong. Outdated facts and figures can tell a completely different story than current information provides.

Six Health and Wellness Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Health and wellness myths range from slightly suspicious to downright dangerous. These six health and wellness myths have been circulating for years – let's break down the myths and explore the facts instead.

Myth #1: Eggs are bad for you

Few foods have as controversial a history as the incredible, edible egg. Long an affordable, protein-rich staple of diets around the world, the egg has been maligned for its high cholesterol content in recent decades.

High cholesterol is a serious health issue. Cholesterol is a waxy substance naturally produced by your liver; in excess, it can clog arteries and cause stroke and heart attack. For many years, the US government’s dietary guidelines have cautioned against eating foods like shrimp and eggs, citing older, observational studies that found that eating yolks and other cholesterol-rich foods caused a rise in cholesterol levels.

Myth Busted: In recent years, scientists and doctors have been calling these studies into question. Research now shows there’s only a weak relationship between the amount of cholesterol a person consumes, and their blood cholesterol levels. In a now-infamous study from Harvard, researchers found that eating about an egg a day was not associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

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Myth #2: Drinking lemon water in the morning causes weight loss

Lemon water – especially first thing in the morning – is touted as a near-miracle by influencers and everyday people alike. Proponents claim that drinking lemon water kick-starts weight loss, improves digestive health, clears skin, and increases energy levels.

Myth Busted: While upping your water intake can help improve your gut health, provide clearer skin, increase energy levels, and help with weight loss, it’s just one part of the puzzle. Weight loss is achieved through a combination of diet and exercise and is not recommended to be done in dramatic or dangerous ways. Plus, too much citric acid – what makes lemon sour – can erode tooth enamel and increase your chances of developing heartburn through increased gastric acid production.

Myth #3: Cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis

Arthritis develops when cartilage within the joint breaks down and allows the bones to rub together. Your joints are surrounded by a synovial membrane, which contains synovial fluid that lubricates them and prevents them from grinding together. When you crack your knuckles, you’re pulling your joints apart. This stretch causes an air bubble to form in the fluid, which eventually pops, creating that familiar sound.

Myth Busted: The sound of knuckles cracking is simply a release of gases from between the joints. Joints may creak, crack, and pop, but those noises typically have nothing to do with your risk of arthritis. Just because the practice doesn’t cause arthritis, many say it’s still a good idea to avoid popping joints when possible. Chronic knuckle-cracking may lead to reduced grip strength.

Myth #4: You only have to use sunscreen on sunny days

Skincare is essential, especially on days you’re spending time outdoors. And it sort of makes sense – the sun is out, so we need to wear sunscreen. The sun is strongest between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, and the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can even penetrate windows that don’t have a UV protection layer on them.

Myth Busted: Sunscreen on sunny days is a good start, but dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen every single day. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with one in five adults affected in their lifetimes. And though most people think we need sun exposure to get vitamin D, certain foods can contribute up to 20% of our daily vitamin D requirements.

Myth #5: Natural sugars are better for you than refined or added sugars

Sugar seems like a swear word these days! The introduction of more types of refined sugar into the market in recent years has only intensified the discussion around its impact on health. Within the category of refined sugars are added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), cane sugar, dextrose, malt sugar, fruit juice concentrates, and more. Natural sugars are those that occur naturally within food (has not been added) and include fructose (in fruits) and lactose (in dairy).

Myth Busted: While sugar can contribute to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and cancer, research shows that your body cannot differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. This doesn’t make an apple and a cookie nutritionally equivalent, only that sugar is sugar. However, you must consider the other ingredients present. For example, an apple is high in sugar, but it’s also full of essential nutrients like fiber.

Myth #6: Organic produce is pesticide-free

Conventional farming can use genetically modified crops that are resistant to disease and pests, as well as use pesticides to do the same. Pesticides are chemicals sprayed onto crops that help prevent disease and pests, too. Organic produce is defined by the USDA as produce “certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years before harvest,” as has long been considered the gold standard for produce.

Myth Busted: Organic produce does use pesticides. While these levels are lower than conventionally farmed produce, it doesn’t guarantee that they are free from pesticides and other processes to protect the plants while they grow. And if organic produce is grown alongside conventional farms, it can be exposed to airborne pesticides.

The Bottom Line

If you ever hear a claim that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be sure to use common sense, be skeptical, and always back up your information with reliable sources. And remember that what works for you may not work for others, and vice versa. IIN calls this bio-individuality: the idea that everyone has their own path to health and happiness.

Author Biography
Katy Weniger
IIN Content Writer

Katy holds a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing and advertising from Rider University. After jobs in the field of finance, she wanted to transition to an industry that focused on helping others be their best selves, and discovered IIN.

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