10 health and beauty myths you should stop believing

All Woman

LET'S set the record straight — correlation does not prove causation. The fact that something happens to a bunch of people while trying a remedy does not mean that it was the remedy that caused it to happen.

There are countless health and beauty tips, tricks and adverts that are founded in pseudo science — no proven facts. Some of them might be close to the truth but were distorted in transmission, while others are so far from the truth that we don't even know where they came from to begin with. Here are 10 of the most widely accepted health and beauty myths that have no evidence to back them up, that you might have probably fallen prey to.

Cutting your hair makes it grow longer and thicker

Think about it. Hair grows from your scalp. Growth is controlled inside of the skin. Cutting the ends of your hair will have absolutely no effect on the rate at which new strands comes through the scalp, or the volume of new strands of hair (which, by the way, you could not have cut if they were not out yet). What clipping your hair does, however, is remove ends that may have thinned out or split. Without them, your hair will probably look healthier and less wispy, but make no mistake, cutting does not add anything.

Eating carrots will give you night vision/correct your vision

While we hold nothing against the nutritious and tasty vegetable, you must know that carrots are not doing anything special for your eyes that other vegetables can't. The myth is believed to originate from the Second World War, when British soldiers started the propaganda as a tactic to confuse the Germans. They had secret weapons that they would use in orchestrated city-wide blackouts, but reported that their soldiers had good night vision because they ate a lot of carrots. But wait! Don't toss out those carrots! They are rich in Vitamin A (beta carotene) which is actually good for your eyes but, sadly, is not enough to give you superpowers or fix your vision problems.

Washing your face often will prevent or treat acne and oily skin

It might seem completely logical that if your skin is oily, you should keep washing away the excess oil. It might also seem like a good idea to keep your skin as clean as possible to prevent acne flares. Unfortunately, washing your face too often, and not moisturising your skin can exacerbate both problems. When your skin is too dry, sebaceous glands overcompensate by producing more sebum to keep you moist. Overwashing the skin can also irritate it, and consequently worsen acne. Your safest bet is to wash twice daily and use a light moisturiser.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Unless your doctor has a personal issue with apples, they can't guarantee that he will stay away. Apples are great, healthy snack options, but their PR team might have gone a bit overboard in branding. They are about 85 per cent water, and contain important antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fibre, as many other fruits do. The adage was perhaps meant to incorporate other fruits anyway, so don't be afraid to mix it up.

Dairy products increase mucous production

You have probably been told not to drink milk or eat ice cream while you suffer from a cold because you will make more mucous and worsen the sickness. This is not true. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Milk doesn't cause your body to make more phlegm. In fact, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat”. So please, let that poor, sick baby have the breast milk or formula. Tea alone won't do.

You must drink eight glasses of water daily

The amount of water you need to consume varies from person to person. It has been generally recommended that you guzzle down water eight times per day (from eight ounce glasses) mainly because that's easy to remember. But it is not set in stone. You might need more or less water depending on your level of physical activity, weight, sex, and other factors. What's important is that you remember that your body is mostly water, and you should sip some whenever you feel thirsty to prevent dehydration.

The five second rule

When you drop your food on the floor, a single bacterium doesn't spot it and then shout to his army of friends who arrive five seconds later to devour it. The army of bacteria friends were already there waiting (and some of them were already on your food before it fell, anyway). Just to set the record straight, a study was done in 2004 to test the amount of bacteria moving into an area within five seconds, and the scientists declared that, “We did see a transfer of germs before five seconds”. So, umm, you actually might not want to eat that.

Toothpaste is good for anything except brushing teeth

Toothpaste is just toothpaste. It is not an acne remedy. It is not a penis or breast enlarger. It is not a bleaching cream. It is not a night-time face mask. Perhaps because it is cool to the touch and leaves the skin feeling minty fresh, humans have taken a liking to applying toothpaste to other body parts external to the mouth. Toothpaste is actually very abrasive when applied to the skin and irritates it, which causes it to redden and become swollen — a sign which many persons mistake for pimples drying out, beautiful exfoliation, lightening, or an enlargement of the area. But it's not safe so can we stop?

Exercises and cosmetic products can enlarge your penis

Research has shown that the best remedy for a man who thinks his penis is too small is a high dose of self-esteem. There are numerous creams, exercises, and instruments on the market that promise a larger penis, and may even increase the size temporarily, but none have been proven to give lasting, meaningful results. What has happened quite often, though, is circulation issues and loss of sensitivity and function in the penis due to nerve damage from some of these remedies. There is penis enlargement surgery, but even with that the risks may not be worth the approximate one to two centimeters that you may gain.

Anything but surgery can permanently increase your bust size

There are many recommendations for both increasing and decreasing breast size — from not breastfeeding to keep them plump, to doing specific exercises to build pectoral muscles, fasting for breast reduction, and using creams and ointments to get them firmer. While we know the effects of pregnancy, lactation, and gravity on the breasts, it must be noted that the breasts are made up mainly of the milk-producing network and fatty tissue — no muscles. Breast size is largely dependent on the amount of fatty tissue in the breast. While exercise can improve your posture, and build up the muscles under your breasts, it cannot change the size or shape of the actual breasts. Creams might swell the skin temporarily, and they might perk up or shrink with rapid weight gain/loss, but only surgery can magically move you up or down the cup ladder.

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