With the wide availability of opinions on the internet, each idea has backup and every trend has a fan. It’s easy for opinions to masquerade as facts, which can cause devastation for those in a healthcare crisis. Confirmation bias allows people who are searching for an answer to ignore the steady information and research from a healthcare professional and choose to follow the faceless advice from an online source.
Over the pandemic, the spread of misinformation has caused healthcare professionals a headache - from the rumour that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips to the idea that the 5G network is responsible for the virus.
But there are plenty of other misconceptions surrounding healthcare, especially in regards to mental health and diets.
Here, Healthcare Digital breaks down ten debunked healthcare ideas and trends.
10: Therapy is for weak people
According to Vida Health, 47% of Americans believe that therapy is a sign of weakness. The impact of the pandemic - from isolation to bereavement - has helped change this misconception.
People in therapy have the same problems as everybody else, but instead of ignoring them, they are resourceful enough to seek help from a professional, as you would a broken bone.
9: Vaccines cause autism
No, no they don’t.
In 1998, British healthcare researchers published a study of 12 children and concluded that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism.
Subsequent studies were done which found no link between the two. The paper was later labelled “fraud” by England’s General Medical Council and the chief researcher, Andrew Wakefield, had his medical licence revoked.
8: Humans need to drink dairy milk
Humans are the only animal which consumes milk from another species. Milk from cows is designed for calves before they can digest solid food. But in humans, there is evidence that dairy milk is responsible for health conditions such as acne and osteoporosis.
Dairy milk contains the nutrient calcium, which can also be found in salmon and soybeans.
7: Crystals can cure
Crystals can’t cure - but they do look pretty. If that makes you feel better, start collecting.
But Madagascar has ‘healing’ rose quartz in abundance, yet 75% of the population live in poverty. Gems and precious metals are quickly becoming Madagascar’s fastest-growing export. 80% of the crystals sold are mined by unregulated groups, without rules for safety or fair pay.
6: Himalayan Pink Salt is healthy
Much like crystals, Himalayan Pink Salt certainly looks pretty.
Mined in Pakistan, not too far from the Himalayas, the salt is adored for its colour. On packaging, Himalayan Pink Salt’s health benefits are preceded by ‘Thought to be’ or ‘Reportedly’ - not proven. According to studies, the volume of supposed nutrients varies. But it definitely looks pretty.
5: Gluten Free is best
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It holds food together and prevents it from ripping. Some believe gluten causes digestive issues.
The Celiac Disease Centre, at the University of Chicago, states that there is no proof that a gluten-free diet is healthier than a non-gluten diet - unless you're allergic.
4: A juice cleanse will make you skinny
The fad diet, a ‘juice cleanse’ may be a popular Instagram post, but it will not aid weight loss. By just replacing meals with juice, the unsustainable, unbalanced diet is supposed to remove toxins and assist with digestion, yet there is no evidence to support this - only that it causes diarrhoea.
3: Eating your placenta is a good idea
The placenta feeds a baby during pregnancy and leaves a woman’s body during birth. Some believe a Mother eating it helps restore her health.
Whether blended with almond milk or taken in pill form, there is no actual evidence that this is a healthy decision. Also, as placentas can easily be contaminated, they could cause an infection if eaten.
2: Rhino horns have health benefits
One rhino is killed each day for its horn in South Africa. There is an underground market for the supposed health benefits of digesting it, including as a hangover remedy and a cure for impotence.
But rhino horn is made of keratin, the protein found in human hair and fingernails, so obviously, there are no medicinal benefits in humans from consuming rhino horn.
In fact, much like crystals, the placebo effect is the only noted health benefit.
1: You can be healthy at every size
The human body needs fat to survive. But having too much fat on our bodies, or too little, can be fatal. There is a healthy, happy medium for everyone.
While you can’t be healthy at any size, you can make your own choices about healthcare, from choosing what you eat to how you encourage positive mental health.
In a world of many opinions and varying facts, Healthcare Digital will strive to be a balanced voice, for every size.