5 Myth About Food & Health

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The right nutrients can definitely help your health, but some dubious claims still persist. Here are just a few.

DAIRY MAKES YOU MORE MUCUS-Y  

Nope. Studies have found that drinking milk has no effect on the amount of mucus people make. Also, “dairy doesn’t objectively affect any lung function,” says paediatrician Dr Ran Goldman, who claims this myth was popularised by influential American paediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock. “The research we have today doesn’t support those choices,” Dr Goldman says. So unless you have an allergy to or intolerance of dairy, there’s no reason to skip the ice-cream. Fight phlegm with hydration, sleep and cool-mist humidifiers, and keep allergens in check by giving your vacuum cleaner a workout.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR HELPS PREVENT CANCER

Apple cider vinegar is known for its antimicrobial and antioxidant effects, but that’s pretty much where it ends. While one study showed that acetic acid killed tumour cells, those were rat cells in a lab. It’s nearly impossible to change the acidity of your blood through what you eat or drink, even if that might affect cancer risk. Eating certain foods, however, such as broccoli or kale, is associated with reduced risk of certain types of cancer. And people who generally stick to wholegrains, low-fat dairy and go easy on red meat, alcohol and sugar tend to have a lower risk, says dietitian Jennifer McDaniel.

CRANBERRY JUICE IS BEST FOR A UTI 

Plain old water is better, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that women with recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) who drank an additional 1.5 litres of water daily were less likely to get another one. There is, however, limited evidence that taking a cranberry supplement a day may reduce the risk of recurring UTIs, perhaps because its large concentration of particular antioxidants may help prevent bacteria from sticking to urinary tract walls, says Jennifer. Drinking liquids until the urine is clear and the stream is forceful will help flush the infection out of the urinary system.

PASTA AND BREAD BOTH GIVE YOU BRAIN FOG

Not unless you’re one of the relatively few people who have a true allergy to or intolerance of gluten or wheat, which can be diagnosed by a doctor. For most individuals, it’s eating too few carbs that can leave them feeling sleepy and unfocused (both signs of low blood sugar). The starches and sugars in carbohydrates are the body’s and brain’s main sources of fuel, says Jennifer. To feel your sharpest, go for wholegrain, whole-food-based carbs (think wholegrain pasta, oats, beans, fresh fruit and vegies), as they supply more long-lasting fuel for your brain and body. By contrast, white bread, cakes and sugary snacks can spike your blood sugar, leaving you feeling tired and foggy when it comes crashing down.

ORANGE JUICE CAN WARD OFF A COLD

A glass a day, or even a megadose of vitamin C in a supplement, probably won’t keep the rhinovirus at bay. A review of 29 studies found that taking 200mg or more of vitamin C didn’t prevent colds in most people. If you do get slammed, however, C may help shorten the duration of your symptoms a little, the study found. And while not a magic bullet, it does play a critical role in helping your immune system, so aim for about as much as you’d find in an orange, a cup of chopped broccoli, or a cup of sliced strawberries. When you find yourself coughing and sneezing, relieve symptoms by “drinking plenty of fluids, taking a warm shower to moisten the nasal mucus membranes, getting extra sleep and doing some gentle exercise,” says preventative medicine specialist Dr William Schaffner.

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