The 5 Worst Health Myths (That Everyone Still Believes)
1. Fat Makes You Fat
The fact that dietary lipids and adipose tissue are both referred to as “fat” has produced one of the biggest misconceptions in health - eating fat must make you fat. This faulty concept has shifted our entire food supply - removing fats from foods, adding new chemicals and sugars to make it taste normal, our dietary recommendations including the old food pyramid, and hence has led to our horrendous health situation in the U.S.
This idea was largely popularized by a single influential researcher named Ancel Keys (Read: The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz), who popularized the idea that dietary fat, especially saturated fat from animal products, raised cholesterol, and cholesterol was related to heart disease, but his research never really showed this to be true. This was around the same time that vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils (trans fats) like Crisco and Margarine were popularized and replaced butter and lard in the kitchen. Right around this time our prevalence of heart disease and 20th century diseases was rising, and the seeds for our obesity epidemic were planted, which flourished over the next 50+ years to where we are now. Now you can find vegetable oils like genetically modified (GMO) canola oil and government-subsidized GMO corn and GMO soybean oil in every boxed or packaged product on the market. Although vegetable oils have shown horrible health impacts epidemiologically and in the clinical research, and good healthy fats have shown the opposite, the misconception still exists. Low-fat foods still crowd the shelves, and this is a hard paradigm shift because it has become so deeply rooted in our minds.
What the research really shows is that cholesterol from food does not raise bad cholesterol. So eat your eggs. It’s also shown that lower cholesterol does not correlate to lower risk of heart attack, in fact lower cholesterol is a bigger risk factor than higher cholesterol. What science has also shown now is that fat doesn’t make you fat, but sugar and insulin make you fat and make you unable to burn your own fat (read: Eat Fat, Get Thin; Fat for Fuel; Bulletproof Diet; The Keto Edge; etc). Fat is the building block for all of your cell membranes and cholesterol is the building block for all hormones. Although quality absolutely matters, fat does not make you fat.
2. Genes Determine Health Status
The human genome project was completed in 2003. It was expected that humans would have hundreds of thousands of specific genes coding for the specific proteins in our body, but it was found (to the surprise of everyone) that humans contained around 25,000 genes, not much different than some very simple organisms like miniature worms used in research. What was more important than mapping the human genome however was the introduction of the study of Epigenetics. Epi-(above) Genetics is the study of how certain genes can be “turned on” or “turned off” by environment. For example, we all may have certain “bad genes” for cancer or heart disease, but these genes need to be “turned on” by our lifestyle - smoking, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, stress, toxicity. It has been said that genes are like a loaded gun, but environment pulls the trigger. We now know that we each have certain mutations, called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) that make us more or less predisposed to certain diseases, but the environment can determine whether these genes are “triggered” or not. (Read: The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton PhD) When we live in unhealthy environments we can ‘trigger’ those genes, but if we avoid unhealthy environments, those genes are no more dangerous than a gun with nobody to pull the trigger.
We all have good genes and bad genes, but your environment determines which genes are expressed and hence your health expression.
3. Avoid the Sun
I do not believe it is important, let alone healthy in the least bit, to avoid the sun. Dermatologists have won this battle, making us all afraid of skin cancer. It is true that overexposure to sun does cause oxidative damage, and oxidative damage is linked to an increased risk of cancer, but this argument is short-sided and missing the important benefits of sun exposure, including boosting your prohormone vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 has an incredibly array of benefits, not the least of which includes DECREASING the risk of cancer dramatically. In one of the largest epidemiological studies performed on over 20,000 Swedish women, it was found that avoiding the sun actually INCREASED all-cause mortality. In a past podcast episode where I interview veterinarian Dr. Susan McDonald, I found it really interesting that she has seen a dramatic increase in melanoma in dogs in her practice over the past 30 years. Are these dogs not wearing enough sunscreen?!? Or could there perhaps be other causes - toxins, GMOs, etc that are triggering cancer genes (see epigenetics above….)
The next time you are driving or walking around, look to see how many people are wearing sunglasses. It will be nearly all of them! Proper sun exposure is even important for the eyes, helping to set the body’s circadian wake/sleep cycle. I encourage my patients to ditch their sunglasses and they often report sleeping better right away.
I get lots of sun exposure. I want my kids to get lots of sun exposure. I want my newborn to get a fair amount of sun exposure, but we also keep them covered up after too long. If we are on a boat or at a beach or out exposed in the sun all day and it’s hard to avoid we will use a non-toxic mineral-based sunscreen, but use the EWG’s annual sunscreen guide to find the best options. Please don’t avoid the sun.
Get adequate amounts of sunshine on your skin and in your eyes all year long. Go as long as you can without burning. Use the D-Minder App on your iPhone to measure exposure. Wear a hat if you are worried about wrinkles. Cover up if you are going to burn, or use the EWGs Sunscreen Guide if you have to have a sunscreen.
4. Vaccines are Safe
This one is absurd, but it’s unbelievable how many people will believe this myth without questioning it. I’m not going to go into the whole argument of vaccines, but they absolutely contain questionable ingredients, are clearly linked in the literature to autoimmunity and immune reactions, and they are well-known to have certain risks. THIS IS IN THE LITERATURE. In the public eye, on Facebook, on the news, etc vaccines are one of the most controversial and polarizing topics with one side adamant that vaccines are “safe and effective”, and “the science is settled” on vaccine safety. Well unfortunately science is never settled, and new research comes out regularly citing the potential dangers of vaccines. Do they have benefits? Maybe, that’s not the point of this podcast. Do they have potential adverse effects? Unquestionably. In fact, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out over $3.7 Billion in settlements, despite the fact that the CDC estimates that only 1% of vaccine reactions are reported to the VAERS, or Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. In 2017 alone there were 59,711 reported adverse events. This means, according to the HHS and CDC, there could have been 5.9 million adverse reactions in a single year?!? VERY FEW Americans are aware of these statistical facts, and go along with the rhetoric they hear on the news that “the science is settled, vaccines are safe.” If you believe vaccines have no potential dangers, watch the movie “Vaxxed” and follow their YouTube channel where they interview parents of vaccine-injured children. I also have a past podcast episode where I interviewed a parent of an autistic child, and you can hear his story and decide for yourself.
Vaccines are very debated because the science is very unclear, and by unclear I mean the science shows vaccines can be harmful but the media presents a different story. Do your own research for your own family, but vaccines are absolutely not 100% safe.
5. Insurance Keeps You Healthy
This one really holds people back from seeking true health care. As a chiropractor I have seen it 1000 times - “Does my insurance cover this?” (In fact I’ve written an old blog post ranting about this mindset.) It’s a logical question of course, if someone is going to help you pay for services of course you want to know! I have insurance. I think everyone should have insurance. It’s great if you need your life saved. The problem is that insurance simply doesn’t pay for health care.
According to the Medicare Guidelines, Section 2251.3:
“A treatment plan that seeks to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong and enhance the quality of life; or therapy that is performed to maintain or prevent deterioration of a chronic condition is deemed not medically necessary.”
I think this one truly holds people back from seeking the help they need to achieve the health goals they have. Health insurance works a lot like car insurance - it’s there when you get in a wreck. If you want to keep your car healthy for a long time you need regular maintenance, oil changes, wheel balancing, etc. Car insurance doesn’t pay for that. If you want to “optimize” your car’s performance maybe you need a new exhaust, intake, tires, or a new look on the outside. Car insurance doesn’t pay for that. We all understand that our car insurance is there for when we get in a wreck, we need to understand that our health insurance is the same thing. If you want to keep your body running for a long time or you want to optimize its performance, don’t look to your health insurance. It doesn’t pay for your organic vegetables, your gym membership, your high-quality supplements, or your alternative therapies like chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
If you really want your body to run like a Ferrari and last like a Toyota, you have to pay for the right upkeep, and with medical bills being the #1 cause of bankruptcy, and some 70% of those people had health insurance, you better make sure you aren’t relying on insurance to keep you healthy. Insurance is there for when you get in a wreck.
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