Through out our education, and even after that, a lot of things regarding our health that AREN’T TRUE seem to be pushed upon us. Most of the time it is not on purpose (sometimes it is), but these health myths are still harmful.
Let’s take a look at two most prevalent ones.
MYTH 1: ALCOHOL KILLS BRAIN CELLS
If you were to pour 100 % alcohol on a brain, it’s not going to react very well. When you drink alcohol, however, this is not the case.
The original research into this was done as follows:
1.Take dead alcoholics and regular people
- Check brain cell density in both
- Alcoholics had lower density in the brain
- Conclusion: alcohol kills brain cells
Why is this wrong?
Well, it’s called a confounding variable; there were other factors at play. Specifically, in this case:
*Alcoholics tend to be of lower education
* Alcoholics have worse nutrition
A brain without good nutrition and no stimulus in the form of education is obviously not going to be the same as a person who is educated, reads, thinks and nourishes himself properly.
After this was pointed out, the data were analyzed taking into account these factors. Guess what? NO DIFFERENCE.
Alcohol is still harmful, though.
The crucial point is that a clear distinction has to be made between alcohol USE and alcohol ABUSE. Alcohol can increase risk of specific cancers in some people, and in high dosages, it is detrimental to the liver AND YES, THE BRAIN.
When enjoyed responsibly, though, alcohol actually appears to increase lifespan. And for some cancers, risk actually seems to be lower if you drink small amounts.
How about addiction? Well, alcohol has a relatively high addiction potential, though it’s lower than tobacco.
How much is fine?
For men, drinking two standardized glasses a day is the maximum. For women, one standardized glass per day.
Make a note that you can’t save up! If you don’t drink during the week, that doesn’t mean you can have 10 drinks on Saturday and expect to be healthy.
MYTH 2: EATING CHOLESTEROL INCREASES YOUR BLOOD CHOLESTEROL
This myth is more bothersome than the first. It has been documented in many scientific articles that high cholesterol does not cause heart disease, but that people with heart disease have a tendency to also have high cholesterol. This is what is called “spurious correlation” in statistics and means that if two occurrences move together, it does not mean that one causes the other.
I will not go into the facts that there seems to be a lack of sound statistical knowledge in many “scientific” studies, or the fact that BIG PHARMA wanting to sell more drugs finances many such “studies”.
I strongly suggest that interested friends read:
How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff and Irving Geis. This excellent book was first published in 1954 and there is a second edition published in 1993.
The second myth started; I read, because someone used epidemiological research to make headlines.
Misuse of statistics or epidemiological research, for whatever reason, are unethical and many misinformed people are taking drugs that are harming them because of this.
Epidemiological research is something like this:
- The average Swedish citizen has white skin
- The average South African citizen has black skin
- Sweden gets little sun
- South Africa gets a lot of sun
- Sun probably makes your skin darker
Makes sense right? There is however one big problem: you can never prove anything with epidemiological research. Look at the example below to see why:
- The average Dutch citizen has white skin
- The average South African citizen has black skin
- The Dutch eat a lot of cheese
- South Africans eat little cheese
- Cheese probably makes you white
See the problem? Just because two things coincide, doesn’t mean they are connected. SPURIOUS CORRELATION.
You eat 300mg, you make 1000MG
This is basic biology, taught to every doctor. The average person eats 300mg of cholesterol a day. The average liver produces 1000mg a day.
Read that again. Your body produces three times more cholesterol than you eat. Do you really think that 300mg is the problem?
If you eat more than 300mg cholesterol, your liver senses this and produces less.
The trouble starts if the liver can’t keep up.
LDL and HDL
First of all LDL is not “bad cholesterol” and HDL is not “good cholesterol”. In fact they are not cholesterol at all: they are lipoproteins that carry the cholesterol from your liver to your cells and back from your cells to your liver; recycling.
LDL is a fluffy cholesterol ball that carries the cholesterol from your liver to your cells.
HDL is a dense ball that carries the cholesterol taken from your cells back to your liver. It is called the “good” cholesterol because it takes the cholesterol back to your liver.
There are two important points to keep in mind:
- What matters is not how much cholesterol you have, but whether LDL (giver) is in balance with your HDL (clearer), and
- The proportion of dense LDL “balls” you have which get stuck in arterial walls and cause inflammation; narrowing of your arteries.
To “balance” LDL with HDL, EXERCISE which will increase your HDL; it should be over 40.
To reduce dense LDL balls, STOP CONSUMING GRAINS.
So what causes high cholesterol?
Mostly food. Specifically sugars, grains, processed food. You know the list if you’ve been following my blog.
Below is a picture of high cholesterol foods.
The only one I would object to would be the hamburger. Why? Flour (grain), high fructose corn syrup in the bun and probably in the ketchup, MSG in the sauce/ketchup, and cheese… You know what I suggest you eat and NOT EAT.
So, “bon appetite” my friends.