Busting 4 wellness myths you have seen on social media

Last month, Lounge spoke to doctors and fitness experts to bust five common wellness myths. This month, we bust four more

Shrenik Avlani
First Published10 Jun 2024
Is drinking alcohol in moderation good for you?
Is drinking alcohol in moderation good for you?(Unsplash/Dylan de Jonge)

When we look for dependable information on any subject, we turn to science. The advances we have made in technology, medicine, engineering and space exploration are all thanks to solid scientific research. A vast body of similar scientific research and evidence exists in the field of sports science and nutrition as well. 

It is this scientific knowledge that has helped modern athletes push the limits of the human body, get fitter and more skilful, thus helping them improve records and take their sport to the next level. 

Also Read Busting five common wellness myths

All this is common knowledge yet when it comes to our own health and fitness, we often completely ignore science. Instead, we choose to believe things that we might have heard or come across on popular social media accounts, or simply because it is convenient. Over time, such beliefs become widely accepted as “general knowledge”.

But make no mistake that just because many people hold that a particular fitness “fact” true, doesn’t make it so. You may not realise your mistake immediately but with time science always triumphs and your health ends up paying a price. Last month, we busted five common wellness myths. In part two, we tackle four more.      

Cleanse and detox retreats clean your body  

Retreats that promise to cleanse and detox the human body frequently rest on shaky premises, says Chandni Haldurai, Cult.Fit’s head of nutrition. “Extreme cleansing regimens may interfere with these processes, resulting in nutrient imbalances and possible damage to the body. You can easily support your body’s natural detoxification process with a balanced, whole foods-based diet. That is more reliable, secure and healthy,” says Haldurai.

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Claims that cleanse retreats purify the body lack scientific backing, adds Shalini Garwin Bliss, executive dietician, Manipal Hospital, Gurugram. The human body already has efficient natural detoxification mechanisms by the way of liver and kidneys. “Extreme cleanses can lead to nutrient deficiencies and that isn't a sustainable approach to health,” she says.

Alcohol in moderation is okay

A scientific study went viral last year when it claimed that low to moderate alcohol consumption might potentially reduce risk of a heart attack. Massachusetts General Hospital’s study suggested that low to moderate alcohol consumption might potentially reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events and heart diseases by lowering the activity of stress-related neural activity in the brain. 

Both Haldurai and Bliss refer to this when they mention that some studies show that moderate alcohol consumption may offer some cardiovascular benefits. The catch is neither the experts nor the study conclusively confirms this benefit. Also, the term moderation is very open to interpretation. “It's crucial to differentiate between moderate and excessive alcohol use,” says Bliss. 

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But one thing that is certain and not open to interpretation is that alcohol use causes a number of health issues, including liver damage, addiction, and an increased risk of cancer. “Alcohol may offer some cardiovascular advantages when used in moderation, but this should not be used as justification for beginning to drink,” says Haldurai. 

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet, in 2022, titled Population-Level Risks Of Alcohol Consumption By Amount, Geography, Age, Sex, And Year: A Systematic Analysis Of The Global Burden Of Disease Study 2020, which tracked the effects of alcohol on respondents from 204 countries, ranging from the 19-95 years in age, found that even a small quantity of alcohol is harmful and carries no benefits at all for people under the age of 40.

“Drinking alcohol in any quantity at any stage of life is harmful for one’s health,” says Dr. Vikas Deswal, senior consultant for internal medicine at Medanta Hospital, Gurugram. “It can cause several issues like carcinomas, chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis, and other acute and dangerous health conditions. So, at any age drinking alcohol is not recommended. There are no benefits one can associate with it.” 

Fruit juices are healthy 

Parents frequently buy a carton of juice instead of a fizzy drink for their kids, thinking it to be the healthy option. Even adults consume these fruit juices believing them to be healthy. Nothing can be further from the truth. 

“Packaged fruit juices are often misrepresented as being nutritious. They may have extra sugars, preservatives, added colours and other chemicals, as well as fewer nutrients than fresh fruits,” says Haldurai. Bliss adds that while packaged juices might provide some vitamins, they lack fibre, which are only found in whole fruits. 

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The healthiest option as far as overall nutrition goes is still whole fruits but if you must have it in liquid form, stick to freshly squeezed or cold-pressed juices over packaged ones.

Tummy trimmer and vibration belts burn fat

You might dearly want to believe that these machines will work and give you the best waistline in the world. But belief and wishes never burned the unwanted fatty layers in the middle. 

Heat or vibration belts for tummy trimmers don't miraculously melt or burn fat, says Haldurai. All that they might achieve is temporary stimulation of muscles. 

Spot-reduction of fat is a misconception because the body burns fat uniformly throughout. The only healthy way to a slimmer waistline is through a combination of balanced diet, consistent strength training and exercise. “A comprehensive strategy and consistency are essential for getting long-lasting outcomes,” adds Haldurai.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

Also Read What is EMOM and why you should add it to your fitness routine?

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