By many accounts, conventional medicine is based on a set of ingrained and misleading beliefs that continue to be practiced by thousands of doctors that, rather than preventing disease or preserving good health, often actually promote illness or disease.
Here are five such health myths that could be negatively impacting your health.
1. Drink Milk for Strong Bones
For decades, physicians and government agencies have drilled into our heads that calcium is the key to strong, healthy bones—and that milk is the best dietary source of this all-important mineral. And how can we not truly believe that milk and other dairy products are the be-all and end-all for good bones? Along with medical professionals touting dairy’s supreme benefits, the dairy corporation has embarked on a campaign advertising the powers of cow’s milk for bone health for almost 20 years—with great success.
Various minerals and other nutrients make up bone, with calcium being a main player. However, if our bones were made strictly of calcium, they would not provide nearly the support necessary to get us through life’s everyday tasks. Bones are made of a variety of substances—including magnesium, vitamins A, D and K, and substances like chondroitin sulfate—that work together synergistically to provide strength, flexibility and resilience.
Not only that, but when it comes to calcium sources, dairy is not your only—or even your best—option. In fact, dairy could have the opposite of its intended effect and actually deplete your bones of important minerals.
Like all animal protein, milk has an acidic effect on your body and lowers the pH of your blood. To get back to a healthier, slightly alkaline state, your body pulls calcium from your bones. Why? Because calcium and other minerals happen to have a great acid-neutralizing effect, and the majority of these alkalinizing minerals reside in your bones.
Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body through the urine, so the net result of consuming dairy is actually a depletion of calcium from the body, despite milk’s high calcium content. In fact, research confirms that long-term consumption of milk and dairy products does not reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures.
Rather than dairy, get your calcium from leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard and collard greens), raw seeds (particularly sesame and flax) and raw nuts (especially almonds and Brazil nuts). In addition, choose almond or rice milk, which provides calcium without acidifying effects. Finally, for extra assurance that you’re getting enough bone-building calcium, take a calcium supplement every day.
Does this mean no dairy in your diet? No, some dairy in a well balanced diet may be beneficial, however look for a variety of foods to obtain your calcium
2. Save Your Skin By Avoiding the Sun
Yes, excessive exposure to the sun can cause age spots, wrinkles and skin cancer. No one disputes that fact. But avoiding the sun altogether is a mistake, as well.
When you expose your skin to ultraviolet radiation from the sun for mere minutes a day, your body produces vitamin D—one of the most underrated, yet incredibly important nutrients.
Unfortunately, the prolific use of sunscreen to protect against skin cancer has interfered with the body’s ability to absorb ultraviolet rays. This, along with the mistaken medical advice to avoid the sun whenever possible, means that almost 50 percent of the worldwide population is deficient in D—an estimated one billion people!
Research has only just begun to uncover the many benefits of adequate vitamin D in the body. It is necessary for the absorption of calcium, but also for the prevention of certain types of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression and cognitive impairment.
It is nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D strictly through diet. You can take a D supplement, which is effective, but sun exposure is the most reliable and certainly the cheapest way to ensure you have sufficient amounts of this nutrient in your system.
If you’re fair skinned, going outside for just 20 minutes in the midday sun and exposing as much skin as possible can produce up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D! (Darker-skinned individuals may need up to 30 minutes of exposure.)
And don’t worry—your body self-regulates and produces only the D that it needs. So you can’t “overdose” on vitamin D that’s synthesized through sun exposure.
3. You Need Fluoride for Healthy Teeth
Research into fluoride began in 1901, but it wasn’t until 1944 that the first large-scale study of fluoridated water and its effect on tooth decay began in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During that 15-year study, researchers found that the cavities among children born after the city added fluoride to the water supply dropped by more than 60 percent.
Even today, fluoride continues to be dental medicine’s main weapon in the battle against tooth decay. Almost every toothpaste on the market contains fluoride, and most of our water supply now has added fluoride.
However, the safety of fluoride remains hotly debated, mainly because, in addition to preventing cavities, it also potentially causes a whole slew of negative problems. In fact, further research even challenges the notion that fluoride prevents tooth decay, and links it to oral, bone, liver and thyroid cancers, as well as infertility.
There are a range of fluoride free toothpastes readily available
4. Mammograms Prevents Death from Breast Cancer
Medical professionals advocate for yearly mammograms, claiming they can prevent breast cancer deaths. But, the research simply doesn’t pan out.
For one, mammograms not only give false positives, which spur additional testing (exposing the patient to more radiation) and biopsies (which often show no cancer is present), but new research finds that mammograms lead to overdiagnosis and hence overtreatment of breast cancer.
Researchers looked at data from 1976 through 2008 to track how many breast cancers were found early (still confined to the breast) using mammogram, versus those cancers found later, after the cancer had spread.
They discovered that while the use of mammograms did more than double the number of early-stage cancers detected, it didn’t fare so well when it came to late-stage cancer. In fact, late-stage cancer detections dropped by just eight percent.
The researchers concluded: “Despite substantial increases in the number of cases of early-stage breast cancer detected, screening mammography has only marginally reduced the rate at which women present with advanced cancer. Although it is not certain which women have been affected, the imbalance suggests that there is substantial overdiagnosis, accounting for nearly a third of all newly diagnosed breast cancers, and that screening is having, at best, only a small effect on the rate of death from breast cancer.”
A healthy lifestyle—eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco and reducing your exposure to environmental toxins and estrogen mimics—really is the best way to prevent disease. Of course, if you are in the high-risk category for breast cancer (i.e. you have a strong family or personal history of cancer), screenings are critical. However, if you are healthy and lower risk, discuss your personal need for mammograms with your physician and make an informed decision with him or her.
5. Avoid “Fattening” Coconut
Coconut has an unfortunate reputation. Because it contains so much fat (90 percent saturated fat, in fact), most people think it’s on the list of “no-no” foods. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, coconut is a great source of many amino acids, vitamins and minerals, including potassium magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C and riboflavin.
There is a big difference between animal-based saturated fats and the saturated fats found in coconuts. Animal fats are made of short-chain triglycerides, while the fat in coconut is actually a medium-chain triglyceride. This type of fat gets transported directly to your liver, where it is converted into energy ready to be used immediately.
Also, 45 percent of the saturated fat found in coconut is lauric acid, which gets converted in your body to monolaurin. This compound, found in breast milk, strengthens a baby’s immune system, helps promote normal brain development and keeps bones healthy. Better yet, coconut has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.
There are many ways to enjoy coconut’s benefits. There’s the meat, water and milk (made from the meat and water puréed together), as well as the oil, which is great for sautéing and baking. Just be sure to choose organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil to avoid unwanted heat processing or chemicals.
References: On Request