Don’t believe these tales

Quite a few of us have fallen prey to these health-related misconceptions

Myth 1: Lack of exercise changes muscle to fat.

blankVoluntary muscles if not used awhile, shrink but never get converted into fat because muscles and fat are not inter-linked. They are two different elements of our body that vary in composition and characteristics.

Muscles are made of protein and give us the fit and muscular look. Fat or adipose tissue is a layer present just below the skin and around various internal organs and gives us the flabby-look.

When one’s activity is not directly proportional to the calorie consumption, it leads to fat accumulation.

Myth 2: Vitamin C cures cold.

Studies suggest that there are no extra benefits you derive from the supplement that protect you from developing a cold or help you cure one. [Though a few studies do indicate that high doses of the vitamin C may help in reducing the duration of the cold, but only by a short period.]

Myth 3: Diabetes runs only in families.

blankGenetic incline certainly plays a role, which means that if you have a grandparent or parent with the ailment, you do stand a chance of getting diabetes.

However, that doesn’t mean that if no one in your family has diabetes, you won’t get it. The stresses of the modern world and erratic lifestyles have made us strong candidates for developing this disorder.

Myth 4: Heart problems are for the old not for the young and active.

A study done by the National Institutes of Health [NIH], USA, shows that two-thirds of teenagers in America already have at least one risk factor for heart disease.

Age, lifestyle and weight are certainly risk factors for heart disease, but they are not the only ones. Hypertension, high lipid levels and every day stress, though lesser-known, are risk factors too.

They are crucial as they are not age-specific. In fact, these factors are the reason why so many young individuals succumb to heart disease. Wake up and start caring for your heart.

Myth 5: Fish contains high level of sodium.

Fresh fish is low in sodium. Only when it is canned, smoked or pickled does the salt content go up because in these processes the fish is soaked in brine [a strong salt solution] to retain surface texture and arrest spoilage.

Myth 6: There is no connection between oral health and overall health.

blankThe saliva is the first line of defence as the enzymes it contains destroy the germs, preventing them from entering our body.

That’s why they enter the blood stream either when the production of saliva goes down due to blockage of the salivary gland or medicine; or during gum infection [periodontitis] when they are far stronger for the saliva. They also enter the bloodstream during invasive dental treatments.

Inflammation in the mouth is also linked to heart disease, clogged arteries, stroke and uncontrolled diabetes. So, there is certainly a connection between oral health and overall health.

Myth 7: Eating bananas causes cold and also makes one fat.

First, let’s talk about the cold and banana connection. It’s time we understood that a cold is caused by the common cold virus. And bananas or any other fruit for that matter has nothing to do with it.

It’s an old wives tale that is perhaps derived from the ayurvedic theory about mixing of two foods; the ancient science says that mixing of bananas with milk could lead to congestion of the sinuses, cold-like symptoms and allergies.

This happens because, although, both bananas and milk are cooling and sweet, once digested, their effect is different. Banana, being a fruit, is sour, while milk is sweet and this combination does not work for the body.

However, nowhere is it mentioned that bananas, eaten on their own, cause cold. So the next time, you eat a banana and develop a cold, remember it is because of the virus and certainly not because of the fruit.

Now, let’s turn to the fattening effect of bananas. When you eat a medium-sized banana, you consume approximately 100kcal – 110kcal—perhaps the reason why people think it’s fattening.

However, bananas are zero-fat and zero-cholesterol, making them better than many so-called low-calorie foods. So eating one or two bananas won’t make you fat. But if you down a dozen, then, perhaps.

Padma Sanzgiri
Dr Padma Sanzgiri, PhD in Clinical Biochemistry, is an accomplished health writer with articles featured in a number of publications including Reader's Digest, Femina and the Times of India.


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