Health Advocate Blog

Debunking Common Wellness Myths

When it comes to wellness, it’s often hard to determine fact from fiction. The internet can be a great place to find information, but with so much out there, it is hard to know what is scientifically sound. To aid you in your quest for truth, we’ve debunked four common wellness myths.

MYTH: Carbohydrates cause weight gain, especially grains like pasta, bread and cereal.

REALITY: Weight gain is not limited to one food group, but a surplus of calories in all food consumption. Your body needs carbohydrates to function properly. In fact, fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates. Moreover, grains are an important part of a healthy diet as they provide you with important nutrients like fiber, iron and B vitamins.

Increase the nutritional value of your grains by striving to make half your grains whole. Research shows that individuals that eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a lower risk of chronic diseases such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

If you have Celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, there are whole grain options that are naturally gluten-free. These include amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, corn, wild rice and brown rice. Choose certified gluten-free products to avoid gluten-containing grains.

MYTH: Exercising a specific part of your body can result in a reduction of fat in that area.

REALITY: The idea that fat can be burned from a certain area of the body by exercising that specific area is called spot reduction. Unfortunately, this is a common myth. Research conducted by the University of Connecticut disproved this myth by examining MRIs from participants who completed a 12-week strength training program only exercising their non-dominant arm. The study found the same level of fat loss in both arms.

The best method of losing weight is by creating a calorie deficit by burning more calories through activity than you consume through food. Exercise helps with overall weight loss, but exercising a specific area won’t help the weight come off that area any quicker. Ultimately, your eating habits dictate whether or not you’re losing weight.

MYTH: Detoxes and cleanses can rid your body of toxins and help you lose weight.

REALITY: Toxins, by definition, are substances that have the effect of poison. If your body was experiencing a harmful level of toxins, then you have bigger problems to worry about then a detox diet! The truth is, your kidneys and liver naturally detox your body.

Detox diets typically involve an extreme reduction in calories and/or cutting out a particular food group. You may lose weight in the short-term, but keep in mind any changes you make to lose the weight are the same changes you need to continue to keep the weight off. The key to weight loss is changing behavior to create a lifestyle change—not 30 days of carrot juice!

In fact, cleanses or detox programs are not effective, and in some situations can result in more harm than good. Eat food that is closest to its natural state if you want to limit the amount of unnatural substances you consume.

MYTH: Stretching before workouts can prevent injury.

REALITY: Stretching is a hot topic of debate among health professionals. The general consensus is that while part of a well-rounded exercise routine, stretching before exercise doesn’t prevent injury. Numerous studies have concluded no significant reduction in injury as a result of pre-workout stretches.

The best known method to prevent injury is to perform a warm-up routine before exercising. Prepare for any activity by starting slowly and easing into it. When you warm up, you ready your muscles and connective tissues by generating heat through movement. Warm-up exercises also help prepare your cardiovascular system for your workout or activity. The importance of warming up is well researched. Ultimately the type of warm-up needed will vary based on the activity you perform for exercise.

Stretching can improve flexibility, and it may feel good to do, but having a quality warm-up will help in keeping you injury-free and enjoying your workout!

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Coaching program, we can help you sort through the myths of the wellness world! Call us today to connect with a coach to discuss any diets, exercise routines, or wellness products before you start them if you want help ensuring their validity.