Health Myths: what’s right and what’s wrong?


Pablo Medina, Editor

Sometimes when you want to stay healthy and in shape,you’re quick to take advice from anyone. However, not every health tip given by students, exercise enthusiasts or even some health professionals are grounded in reality, and some people confuse real health facts with health myths.

Some of the popular myths like drinking eight cups of water every day, eating fats or carbohydrates leads to weight gain, and skipping meals to lose weight are still talking points for students these days.

The question remains: do these myths have some legitimate scientific backing to support them?

The answer is both yes and no. Some of those myths are actual methods in maintaining proper health, while others are misunderstood perceptions of the body’s natural functions. For example, fats and carbohydrates get blamed for adding extra pounds on the body. The reality is that carbohydrates and fats are essential to balancing a healthy body.

NEIU nurse practitioner David Worrell stressed the importance of keeping certain nutrients in a person’s diet.

“You need fats and carbohydrates for energy, and your proteins are the building blocks to muscle,” Worrell said.

NEIU Advanced Nurse Practitioner Catherine Schacht spoke of the importance of protein to healthy eating habits and a balanced diet.

“You might not feel like you’re getting as hungry if you’re consuming enough protein,” Schacht said.

And as for drinking eight glasses of water per day? Among health professionals, this is an acceptable practice. Worrell notes to keep an eye on one’s urine color throughout the day.

“If your pee is clear, then your body is well hydrated, and if it’s thick and yellow, then you need more water in your body,” Worrell said.

Staying hydrated also helps a person from fatigue and heart problems. According to the American Heart Association, drinking water allows the blood to pump through the body easily and it lets the muscles contract and relax efficiently.

Keep exercise in mind. The more a person sweats during the day, the more water that person will need to drink. Diuretics, like caffeine and certain vegetables (cucumbers, celery, carrots) induce more urine, which can also dehydrate a person. In addition, if the person doesn’t sweat during a long workout, it is a sign that that person is dehydrated or heat exhausted.

Among the different health tips passed around campus, some of them are about sexual health and pregnancy.

“I work in women’s health, so most of the myths I hear are related to women’s health,” NEIU Advanced Nurse Practitioner Catherine Schacht said. “A lot of them have to do with whether you can or cannot get pregnant based on menstrual periods or what the sexual activity is.”

Schacht acknowledged the misinformation supplied by incoming students, and aimed to enlighten students about the responsibilities of sex.

“There are a lot of students that need a review of basic physiology, but there are just as much that are well informed and know exactly what they’re doing,” Schacht said. “You can be safe all the time, through either abstinence or birth control, something that works very well, but taking your chances doesn’t work.”

The health center in the NEIU campus dispenses materials for safe sex such as lubricants, male and female condoms, birth control, and pamphlets that aid in understanding sexual behavior and signs of sexual illnesses.

“In our setting here, anyone can come get condoms for free, limit of two each day,” Schacht stated. “Every student can come in and see me and there is no charge for the office visit. If they have any kind of insurance, it almost always covers birth control, as part of the Affordable Healthcare Act.”

“A lot of people say, ‘I got tested on and I’m healthy,’ and they don’t have any idea what the tests were that were done, but they went to a clinic or a doctor, and say they’ve been tested and everything is okay,” Schacht said.

Some patients take test results and health findings with a grain of salt, and don’t consider all of the choices to a healthier lifestyle. With the winter season approaching Chicago and NEIU, the health of students will be put to the test in the coming months of November and December.