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Don't Be Fooled by These Health Myths

From Fad Diets to Skincare Routines

With an abundance of information coming at you every day, it’s easy to get wrapped up in health myths and misconceptions. Here, Northwestern Medicine experts fact-check some common myths.

Myth: A fad diet can help you lose weight fast.

From juicing to keto to intermittent fasting, there are a host of ways that promise to help lose weight fast. This extends to “miracle elixirs” like apple cider vinegar and bone broth, too. Unfortunately, some of these approaches can take a toll on your health. Instead, focus on incorporating a variety of nutritious produce and vitamin-rich foods into your diet, without going to extremes.

Myth: You can work out for your body type.

You can target muscle groups when exercising, but you can’t choose where you burn calories. “If you really dig in to workouts suggested for specific body types, you’ll find that the exercises are essentially the same for each,” says Northwestern Medicine Athletic Training and Sports Performance Manager Kevin M. Pennington, ATC, MBA. “This is because the more muscular development you have, the more calories you burn, no matter where your muscles are.” Don’t forget to include strength training into your routine.

Myth: Your flu shot can get you sick.

The flu vaccine is comprised of an inactivated virus — meaning it does not cause infection. The flu can be very serious, especially if you’re at heightened risk for complications. Don’t let flu shot myths stop you from getting vaccinated. It’s a preventive step you can take to help protect yourself, your loved ones and those in the community who are unable to tolerate a flu shot.

Myth: If you’re healthy, you don’t need regular screenings.

You’ve been given a clean bill of health. That means you can skip your mammogram or colonoscopy, right? Wrong. Not all illnesses come with symptoms. It’s always better to play a proactive role in your health. Regular screenings are the first line of defense for disease detection. Find out what screenings are recommended for both men and women at every age.

Myth: Cracking your back helps relieve stress.

Sure, it’s a satisfying crunch, but cracking your back is one thing you should leave to the professionals. “When joint restrictions exist, it’s common that surrounding muscles will tighten around that region, which unfortunately increases the stiffness,” explains Northwestern Medicine Orthopaedic Chiropractor David W. Flatt, DC. The motion created when cracking your back will release that tension, resulting in a pleasant sensation. But leave that to the professionals. Cracking your own back could actually make your back issues worse and cause more pain, muscle strain or injury.

Myth: You don’t need a skincare routine.

“Investing early in the health of your skin, with regular skin care, will not only better protect it from the harsh effects of winter, but also keep you looking and feeling your best throughout the year,” says Steven Nwe, DO, a dermatologist with Northwestern Medicine. While there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all skincare routine, products are available to treat many common skin conditions, from dry skin to wrinkles.

Looking for more on-the-go information? The MyNM® app offers health tips, recipes and resources to help you navigate your health journey. (And no myths allowed.)