These days, we don't just get information from our doctor anymore: We read internet forums, ask our friends, and check Pinterest for home remedies. However, because information is so easily spread, there are a number of bad pieces of health advice floating around, and it's important to know which of these tips to throw into the trash and which ones you can believe. Not everything you see or hear is founded in medical truth, and listening to bad advice can have some negative consequences on your health.
"I think it's easy for people to hear and believe inaccurate medical advice because, quite frankly, many organizations, companies and individuals are giving medical advice these days," says family physician Dr. Jen Caudle over email. "The problem is that not all of this advice is true, and even if it is, it doesn't necessarily mean that the advice is applicable to you as an individual."
When in doubt, it's always best to check with your doctor to get the most accurate information and to find out what works best personally for you. In the meantime, consider these 11 common, but super inaccurate, pieces of health advice you should definitely ignore, despite what you may have heard.
1. Drinking Milk Is Good For Your Bones
Most of us grew up with all those "Got Milk? ads, but it turns out milk isn't necessarily as great as we once thought, according to many studies. A study from the American Journal of Public Health found that women who ate lots of dairy products had higher rates of bone fractures than women who didn't consume much dairy. "Countries that drink less milk have lower rates of fractures," says Dr. Monica Aggarwal, MD over email. "There are many plant based foods that provide a better source of calcium
2. Juicing Will Make You Healthy
"If juicing is easiest for you, do it," says Aggarwal. "You are getting a lot of good vitamins and minerals. However, you are removing the important fibers you can get from fruits and vegetables and getting a huge bolus of sugar. It is better to eat the fruits and vegetables whole if you can—or at least make a shake which keeps some of the fiber, rather than juicing."
3. You Should Just Take Antibiotics
There are certain conditions that need to be treated with antibiotics — such as strep — but treating every viral infection with antibiotics can be harmful, according to Mayo Clinic. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance, which reduces the effectiveness of drugs to treat bacterias.
4. Everyone Should Take Supplements
Think you need to be taking a ton of supplements? Not so fast! "Supplements are not necessarily regulated by the FDA, and some may have side effects or interact with other medications," says Caudle. "Before going to purchase a supplement, run it by your doctor first."
5. Use Q-Tips To Clean Your Ears
"The truth is that Q-tips and other objects put in the ear can cause damage to the canal and eardrum," says Caudle. "As a family physician, I advise patients not to use q-tips in the ears. Remember, some ear wax is protective for the ear. For excessive wax, discuss safe wax removal techniques with your doctor."
6. Follow The 5-Second Rule
Just because your food has been on the floor for less than five seconds doesn't make it okay to eat. A study from the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that no matter how long you drop your food on the ground for, you'll always end up picking up bacteria.
7. Darker Skin Doesn't Need Sunscreen
"That is false!" says Caudle. "The truth is that all skin types need sunscreen to protect against signs of aging and skin cancer." Even if you don't burn, the sun can still do damage on the skin.
8. Don't Eat Any Gluten
"Those who do no have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance won't benefit from a gluten free diet," says registered dietitian Elizabeth Snyder over email. "In addition, the market has been flooded with 'gluten-free junk food' choices, and many consumers mistakenly perceive these snacks and goodies to be healthier."
Being healthier is something most of us strive for, so it's important to be well informed about the myths, facts, and any gray areas.
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