Busting 5 common wellness myths

Busting common wellness myths. (Istockphoto)
Busting common wellness myths. (Istockphoto)

Summary

In a world of influencer-led content, many spurious health and fitness myths get amplified. Lounge speaks to doctors and fitness professionals to bust some of these misconceptions

During one of my recent doom-scroll sessions on the ‘Gram, I came across a fitness influencer who sticks “yoga teacher & nutritionist" against her name, has 236,000 followers, and in one of her videos was claiming to teach us how to ‘naturally’ increase our height.

The first exercise to increase your height, according to the influencer, is three sets of hanging from a bar for 30 seconds. I have been a monkey all my life and hanging from a bar is something I started doing as a kid and, firmly in my 40s now, I still do it. Since forty years of hanging from a bar failed to do anything for my height, it got me thinking how much of such ‘fitfleuncer’ content is actually factual and scientific.

While I shall save the question of whether one should follow fitness, health, wellbeing, and nutrition advice from someone with vague credentials on a social media platform for another day, for now let’s explore how much water some popular health myths hold.

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A spoon of ghee/butter in coffee is good for health:This is a topic of debate in the health and wellness world, says Shalini Garwin Bliss, executive dietician at Manipal Hospital in Gurugram. She notes that proponents of this argue that the healthy fats in ghee or butter can provide a slow-release source of energy and promote satiety. However, Chandni Haldurai, the head nutritionist at Cult Fit, warns against doing this, no matter how delicious it sounds.

“Coffee with ghee or butter may sound delicious, but it’s not always a good idea. Although these fats can give you a brief energy boost, their high-calorie content quickly adds up. This tendency may not be helpful for people seeking to control their cholesterol or weight," says Haldurai. It's crucial to remember that this extra fat contributes to increased calorie intake, potentially hindering weight management efforts, adds Bliss.

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Apple cider vinegar is good, helps burn fat:This idea is big these days as not only influencers but gym trainers and coaches also support the idea of having daily doses of apple cider vinegar. While there are several potential health advantages of apple cider vinegar, including improved digestion and prevention of increases in blood sugar, it is not a miracle cure for weight gain, says Haldurai.

“There is no magic bullet for weight loss. Simply consuming apple cider vinegar daily is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss without complementary lifestyle changes like a balanced diet and exercise," says Bliss.

A comprehensive strategy for weight management that incorporates nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle modifications is the only efficient way to achieve and maintain weight loss. Alas, it’s common to exaggerate claims of miracle weight loss without making the necessary efforts, say coaches and nutritionists.

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Jaggery and demerara sugar are safe:Sugar is the top enemy of anyone even mildly invested in health. But many simply replace refined sugar in their diet with jaggery and demerara sugar. Next time you put that second spoon of jaggery or demerara sugar in your tea or coffee, you should remember that despite being less processed than refined sugar, both are still sugars and can have an impact on blood sugar levels.

“Due to their low processing and trace nutrients, they might be marginally preferable solutions, but people with prediabetes or diabetes shouldn’t choose them. Anyone ingesting these alternatives needs to practice moderation and keep an eye on their blood sugar levels," warns Haldurai. Moderation is all sugar and sugar substitute intake is the key, warns Bliss.

Freshly squeezed and cold-pressed juices are healthy:It is indeed true that fruit juices that have been freshly squeezed or cold-pressed retain more nutrients than packaged juices. But all such juices have little to no fibre. Due to their high fibre content, which helps slow down the absorption of sugar, whole fruits provide the most advantages, says Haldurai. However, if you must have your fruits in liquid form, smoothies that are made with whole fruits, yoghurt, or vegetables are preferable, since they retain fibre and offer a more well-balanced vitamin profile.

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Hanging leads to height gain:Saved the best for last. If only hanging from bars actually led to height gain, many of us would have been giants. There is no good evidence or study to support these claims, says Dr. (Prof.) Amite Pankaj Aggarwal, directorand head of the department for orthopaedics, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh in New Delhi.

“It’s amyth that certain exercises or stretching techniques, such as pull-ups and hanging from a rod, can make you grow taller," says Aggarwal, dismissing the tall claim.

Height gain depends on a lot of factors, from one’s genetics to diet to muscle strength, explains Dr. Poonam Sidana, neonatologist and paediatrician, CK Birla Hospital, NewDelhi.“Those who go out and play sports such as basketball are more likely to grow stronger because they are actually running around and are able to use all their bigger muscles. So, it really is a combination of things and cannot be attributed to a single activity," adds Sidana.

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

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