When it comes to our health, we’d be dumb not to take it seriously. There’s a huge industry surrounding health, wellness, and fitness, and we’ve all invested in our health at some point. Some people do that by watching what they eat and keeping to a certain calorie count. Others do it by working out a few times a week and setting goals for themselves that they strive to meet. Still, others go out of their way to adhere to different health tips to jump start their own health. There’s no problem with doing any of these things or all of these things for that matter. However, problems will start to arise when you rely too much on health tips that seem like they work, but actually, don’t do anything to make you healthier. Some of those tips can even harm your health.
We decided to take some of the biggest health tips out there that aren’t so healthy and debunk them. Some of these health tips, while not especially helpful, are pretty harmless because they don’t really do anything. However, some of these tips that have been passed down through the generations, sometimes over the course of hundreds of years, are actually quite harmful. The worst part is that a lot of people don’t know, or they’re unwilling to acknowledge it. While most of these tips aren’t “ancient,” they have been around for awhile, and old health tips die hard. Here are fifteen health tips that we should probably leave to history.
15. Eat Less, Move More
While there is some truth to diet and exercise leading to weight loss, this adage is some of the least useful advice you could give someone who’s trying to take charge of their health. While health can depend on your choices, most aspects of health are beyond what we can control. “Eat less, move more” is the advice professionals have been giving for years. This advice doesn’t work though. Yes you have to do those things but telling people to do that in itself is useless.
There are strong biological/environmental factors at play working against that very advice. “Having obesity isn’t just some decision that people wake up and decide on,” says Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, a physician that specializes in treating patients with obesity. It’s because of this that just telling people to eat less and move more is actively harmful. Willpower isn’t the answer to weight loss, positive reinforcement is. The people who successfully achieve their health goals do it not because they’re forcing themselves, but because they’re essentially being rewarded by their own health and wellness plan. The best way to take charge of your health is to figure out what works best for you and just do that.
14. Don’t Eat After 8 PM
One major dieting tip that many of us have heard is not to eat after 8PM. Late night snacking, according to people who support this, is the death of any diet. However, those people are wrong. A study published in 2015 in The Journal of Nutrition found that eating healthy food at night led to more muscle mass and strength gains. As long as you pick healthy food to eat at night, you should be totally fine. If you have a health issue like diabetes, you actually have to eat at night in order to stay healthy. You can even lose weight while eating at night, because it’s not about what time you eat, it’s about what you eat. If you’re not trying to lose weight, you can still benefit from eating at night: having a small snack before you go to sleep can actually help you sleep better.
13. Get Stung On Purpose Because Bee Venom Can Fight HIV
Some people have been intentionally getting stung by bees for the health benefits, sometimes in an actual therapeutic setting. Like a lot of different alternative health crazes, this one isn’t really backed up with scientific evidence. However, this hasn’t stopped people from claiming that it cures a ton of different diseases from allergies to psychological evidence to HIV. Seriously, a study found that a component in bee venom could help fight HIV.
While this is certainly interesting research, we need to stress that this is preliminary research that could end up getting debunked as scientists explore this further. If someone trying to sell you on bee stings as a health treatment as a treatment for diseases as serious as HIV, know that they’re not nearly as informed about health issues as they think they are.
12. Smoking Cigarettes Will Keep Your Weight Down
Many smokers start smoking or continue the habit because they think it helps keep their weight down. This is actually true: since nicotine was first discovered, people have been using it as an appetite suppressant. Many people who quit smoking find that their weight ends up going up, and that can be really discouraging for those people who are trying to quit cigarettes but appreciated the lower weight that smoking gave them. While this is one of those things that works, this is one of those tips that you absolutely should not be using. While you are suppressing your appetite, making it easier for you to lose weight and potentially keeping it off, you’re also suppressing the health of your lungs and the rest of your body. This is a good example of unhealthy weight loss. Many people believe that all weight loss is actually good, but when you’re using cigarettes to keep your weight down, you’re losing weight at the expense of your short and long term health.
The detoxing myth has been pretty pervasive, especially over the last few years. People have been creating detox water recipes for years now, and many people who swear by it have said that it’s the best thing they could have done for their health. Unfortunately, a lot of this seems to be placebo effect.
“Let’s be clear,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University who sat down with the Guardian, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The respectable one, he says, is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions. “The other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”
10. Cutting Out Fat To Lose Weight
Fat-free foods have been around forever now because many people believe that you can lose weight by simply not eating fat. The truth is actually a bit more complicated than that. It turns out that eating fat helps you lose weight, not the other way around. The key to losing weight isn’t cutting out fat, it’s cutting out food that makes your body store fat. You want to eat food that helps you burn fat instead. Fat-free food tends to have more sugar in it, and if that sugar doesn’t get burned off, it gets stored in your body as fat. Processed carbohydrates are what cause you to gain weight, not the healthy fat that in foods like salmon and avocado. Just make sure you’re eating healthy fats, not unhealthy ones. The more natural healthy fats you eat, the better it is for your health: your blood sugar will stabilize and won’t trigger the insulin high that causes your body to store fat.
9. The Tapeworm Diet
While some diets are all about restricting the food you eat or even maximizing the food you eat, the tapeworm diet is all about the parasites you literally put in your body. While many people do subscribe to this, I hope it goes without saying that this is a very dumb thing to do.
Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, wrote a health directive about it last year detailing why this diet is a terrible idea. “Tapeworms will cause you to lose weight because you have this huge worm in your intestines eating your food,” Quinlisk said. That goes without saying, but the effects are even worse.
“Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,” Quinlisk wrote in an email statement, according to the Des Moines Register. “Those desiring to lose weight are advised to stick with proven weight loss methods — consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity.”
8. You Need To Feel The Burn When You Workout
Many people believe that the best thing to do during your workouts is to make sure you feel the burn afterward. You want your workout to hurt, or else you didn’t work hard enough, right? Wrong. Sure, you want to push yourself as far as your body can go to see the best results, but if you’re leaving the gym feeling terrible, sore and wrung out, that’s not the best results at all. This idea has already been debunked by doctors and experts, but this idea is still hanging around because we as people tend to conflate pain with success.
If something is hard, then it’s worth doing, isn’t it? It’s not, and if you’re feeling real pain when you work out, you should stop and reconsider your workout plan. Your workouts should totally be challenging, but if they really hurt, it’s just going to discourage you from actually doing them and keep you out of the gym, which simply defeats the purpose.
7. The Sleeping Beauty Diet
The Sleeping Beauty diet is one that literally involves getting sedated to lose weight. Either you take pills to sleep, or you force yourself to sleep whenever you’re feeling hungry. Not only does sleeping a lot, let alone several days straight not help you get any thinner, using pills to sleep that much could cause you to get hooked on the very addicting sleeping pills. Sure, you can wake up a few pounds thinner from sleeping that much, but if you use chemicals to help you stay asleep and end up using too many, you might not wake up at all. Even if the pills didn’t cause health issues, sleeping too much can lead to diabetes, heart disease and an increased risk of death. It could even lead to weight gain, which is the opposite of the goal you’re trying to accomplish with this. Basically, this just leads to more harm than good.
6. Over-Reliance On Essential Oils
The essential oil craze has been everywhere these days. Essential oils are basically concentrated extracts from different plants that are known to have health benefits. While essential oils can be beneficial, they can be downright harmful if you use them wrong. Using undiluted essential oils on your skin can actually cause dermatitis, and that effect is even worse if you ingest the oils the way big essential oil companies want you to. The issue with essential oils is not their efficacy, though.
Some oils have been proven to have beneficial effects, like tea tree oils and lavender. The problem is when essential oils are said to do a lot more than they actually do. For example, doTERRA and Young Living, two huge essential oil peddlers, have made the claim that their oils can treat ebola. Yes, that ebola. Essential oils work, but we need to be realistic about it and look at the evidence to show what exactly they can be used for.
5. Putting Things In Your V–
One very strange health trend that’s been circulating around is the idea of the stone yoni egg. Yoni eggs are heavy stones, often made out of jade or quartz, that are put in your vagina to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Basically, you insert the egg like you would a tampon, and then use your muscles to hold it in as you go about your day. If you’re a man, you might think that that seems easy, but any woman knows that holding a heavy stone egg with your pelvic floor muscles isn’t all that easy. There’s even a device called Elvie that basically combines the yoni egg idea with the mechanics behind the Fitbit.
While the Elvie has been tested and many women have found that it actually helps their pelvic floor muscles, inserting big crystals into your vagina is a monumentally bad idea. Jade is porous, so leaving the stone in your vagina while you sleep can actually allow for bacteria to develop in there, which is not what you want because that can cause toxic shock syndrome, the thing women can get if they leave their tampons in for too long.
This tip was popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow, the woman behind other crazy tips like “vagina steaming.” To add insult to injury, these jade eggs are really expensive. If you’re looking to strengthen your pelvic floor, either get a device like the Elvie and use it as directed or just do Kegel exercises, which are good for both men and women.
4. Bundling Up From The Cold To Avoid Getting Sick
One piece of advice we always heard as kids is that we need to bundle up when it gets really cold out to avoid getting sick. While bundling up to shield ourselves from the cold is a good thing because it keeps us warm and comfortable in tough winters, it doesn’t really shield you from illnesses like the common cold. Basic science tells us that cold doesn’t cause illness, germs do, and germs can’t really be stopped by winter clothes.
What the cold actually does is make it really hard for your body to bounce back once you’re already sick. Lower temperatures make it harder for your body’s immune system to kick in. It’s still good to bundle up during the winter anyway because it’s good to not be exposed to the cold and the potential complications of that, but the benefits have nothing to do with warding off illness.
3. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar To Cut Sugar Cravings (And Cure Cancer?)
One health tip that’s been circulating around recently is drinking apple cider vinegar with every meal. There’s a weird cult-like following around this because of the potential benefits involved: drinking apple cider vinegar is said to have a ton of fiber and nutrients and has the potential to everything from curing sugar cravings to cancer.
While there are studies that back up the benefits of apple cider vinegar, by no means should you be drinking this stuff undiluted every day. Drinking it on an empty stomach can make you feel nauseous, but drinking it after a meal negates that, acting as an appetite suppressant so you don’t overeat. On top of that, drinking it undiluted can actually burn your esophagus, kind of like the way vodka burns your throat without the pleasant buzz that comes afterwards.
If you plan on trying this out, mix a tablespoon of vinegar with 8 oz of water, and drink it with a straw so you don’t taste feet, which is kind of what apple cider vinegar tastes like. Ultimately, apple cider vinegar is great for some things (like your hair, for example), but drinking it is overrated.
2. The Grapefruit Diet
The grapefruit diet has been a big deal because of the claim that you can lose ten pounds in ten days on it. You don’t eat just grapefruit for ten days thankfully, but you do have to eat or drink a lot of it, accompanied with high protein and low carbs. While grapefruit does cause you to lose weight, this diet’s effects aren’t nearly as pronounced as celebrities say. A research study was done to see how grapefruit affects weight loss, and they found that while the people eating lots of grapefruits had lower blood pressure and cholesterol because of their restricted diet, they didn’t lose more weight than the control group. Grapefruit is great for you because it contains a ton of vitamin C and an antioxidant called lycopene that fights free radicals and helps prevent cancer, and it should definitely be a part of your diet. However, the effects of the grapefruit diet are highly exaggerated, and it’s just not practical to do this.
1. The Cabbage Soup Diet
The cabbage soup diet has been around for a long time, and a lot of people have sworn that it works. Unfortunately, this diet plan isn’t just terrible and ineffective, it’s boring. Sure, you’d lose weight on this diet, but you wouldn’t be doing it because of the cabbage soup, you’d be doing it because you’re literally starving. Eating mostly cabbage soup for a week robs your body of nutrients that aren’t in the soup. What’s really dangerous about this is that people are still going out of their way to say this works. Some people are even writing books about it, claiming erroneously that the diet is prescribed for heart patients when that’s not actually the case. That claim is even more laughable once you realize that cabbage soup is very low in protein and very high in salt, which isn’t a great mix for those trying to lose weight in a healthy, effective way. A good rule of thumb to go by when it comes to choosing a diet is to not pick something that makes you rely on one kind of food only.