Over the summer, I took an Intro to Nutrition course at Cornell. The professor, Dave Levitsky, is both entertaining and extremely knowledgable. He has been a full professor at Cornell since 1986, is currently working on multiple research projects, and has had his work published over 100 times.
By far my favorite part of his class was a segment that he referred to as "Dave's Dietary Delusions." This part of the class was entirely devoted to discussing myths.
In fact, Professor Dave Levitsky dedicated an entire lecture to discussing myths and why they weren't true. There was a wide range of myths spanning from basic nutritional information to uncommon medical conditions.
You shouldn't always believe what you hear.
Myth: Fat is bad for you.
Fat is not the enemy. Fat is actually a very important component of a balanced diet. Just make sure you're focusing on healthy fats like avocados and nuts rather than the saturated and trans fats you find in junk food.
Myth: Not eating makes you lose weight.
When you don't eat, your body goes into starvation mode. This means it will hold onto calories and expend as little energy as possible. Without a doubt, not eating is an ineffective method of weight loss.
Myth: Creatine supplements actually work.
They have a lot of dangerous side effects including muscle cramping, gastrointestinal effects, renal failure, and dehydration. And there is no evidence that taking creatine supplements prevents muscle damage or soreness nor that they are helpful for prolonged sports.
Myth: Organically grown food is healthier than commercially grown food.
Organic farming has no effect on the nutritional value of the food produced. "Organic" simply refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products. Products that are organic have been produced without genetically modified seed, synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers.
Myth: Starches are fattening.
Starches are not fattening. The problem with carbs is that they are calorie dense, and we frequently serve them in portions that are far larger than a single serving. Unlimited breadsticks and never ending pasta bowls definitely don't help this problem.
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In fact, eating starches in moderation is totally fine and is actually essential for a balanced diet. Just do your best to focus on nutrient dense starches like sweet potatoes and whole grains.
Myth: Eating after 8 pm causes weight gain.
The problem with eating at night does not stem from the actual time at which you are eating. The problem with eating at night is that we tend to eat foods that are high in calorie, fat, sugar, and sodium.
If you are hungry and have a piece of fruit or some carrots and hummus late a night, it will not cause weight gain. However, if your daily late night snack is a bunch of mozz sticks or an ice cream sundae, you may gain weight.
Myth: Sleeping by an open window or going outside with a wet head will make you sick.
Sleeping by an open window will definitely not cause you to catch a cold (as long as it's not freezing). In fact, cool air from an open window can help you breath better. Colds and flus are caused by viruses. Being outdoors with wet hair isn't going to make you miraculously come into contact with those viruses.
Myth: Sitting in hot water will decrease a male’s capacity to reproduce.
Hey guys, if you're in the mood for a long bath don't fret. All will be fine.
Myth: Drinking a lot of black coffee will help you sober up.
The only thing that makes you sober is time. Coffee does nothing. What about food and water you say? Nope. They won't do the job either. Food will only make a different in terms of level of intoxication if you ate before you started drinking.
Myth: Drinking lots of water will prevent a hangover.
"No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover. The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to avoid drinking."
Obviously, everyone is not expected to be sober all the time, but if you really want to avoid a hangover be careful because is there scientifically proven magic cure.
Myth: Wearing tight briefs can make men sterile.
Guys, you're gonna be fine. Stop worrying. Extremely tight underwear can reduce sperm count but will certainly not cause total infertility.
Myth: Putting butter on a burn will ease the pain.
This is most certainly not recommended by medical professionals. Putting anything greasy on a burn actually makes things worse because it traps the heat. The proper way to treat a burn is to cool the burn with cold water. Then, cover it with a sterile pad. If it's really bad, get it checked out.
Myth: Reading in dim light will ruin your eyes.
You're not gonna need glasses after reading in a dimly lit library during finals week. Reading in dim light will simply make your eyes tired. You may, however, need glasses as the result of sitting too close to the TV during the season premiere of Scandal. You also might need glasses after spending an extremely long period of time staring at your computer.
Myth: Shaving hair causes it to grow back faster, darker, or coarser.
After shaving, the hair that grows back tends to look thicker. This is because you shaved off hair with a tapered end, and the hair that is growing back is growing with a blunt end. Therefore, the new hair looks thicker than the old hair.
Myth: Sugar causes diabetes.
There are actually two different types of diabetes. Type I Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Type 1 Diabetes normally occurs in children and young adults and is primarily genetically linked.
Type 2 Diabetes, the more common form, develops most frequently in middle-aged and older people that are overweight. Genetic factors also play a role here but a lack of exercise and excess body fat are the leading factors in developing Type 2. So all in all, you can enjoy that chocolate bar every once in a while but make sure you are working out and limiting caloric intake.
Myth: Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.
This one is super simple. There is literally no difference. Difference breeds of hens simply lay different colored eggs. Quality does not differ between the colors. Flavor does not change. Nutrition is exactly the same.
Myth: We only use 10% of our brain.
A lot of popular culture, like the movie Lucy, leads us to believe that there is a lot more power to our brain than we are currently using. This is false. Our brains are doing so many incredible things at once that it is hard to believe they would be physically capable of doing any more.
Dr. Barry Gordon, a behavioral neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist, told Scientific American that "we use virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active almost all the time." It is simply a common misconception that human brains have a large amount of untapped grey matter.
Myth: Fresh food is more nutritious than frozen.
In a lot of cases, frozen food is just as nutritious as frozen food. Sometimes, it may actually be more nutritious because foods are typically frozen in their peak ripeness when they are the most nutritionally-packed. In the winter especially, when fewer vegetables and fruits are in season, buying frozen may be the most nutritionally and economically beneficial.
Overall, it is best to buy fresh, ripe produce when it is in season. However, if you're looking for a vegetable during its offseason, frozen will likely be your best option. If you're not sure what's in season when, check out this article.