4 Of The Strangest Health Facts Ever
When I went to medical school, I was under the impression that everything I was going to learn was always going to make sense.
However, since graduating, I’ve discovered many of the things I believe about health are actually quite paradoxical.
Now don’t get me wrong - a commitment to eat well, sleep 7-8 hours a night, exercise, etc. is all sound advice.
But things like not eating dairy to build strong bones, or skipping bread to feel better weren’t things I was expecting to learn.
In my career, I’ve taken many of these little health tidbits and stored them away so I could share them with you.
So today I’ll share some of the silliest and oddest health tips you’ve ever heard.
1 - Drink Coffee Before A Nap For Enhanced Alertness
Japanese scientists performed a study a few years ago to see what would happen if you drank coffee directly preceding a nap.
They found if you drank roughly 200 mg of caffeine (equivalent to one strong cup of coffee) and then took a nap for 20 minutes, you’d wake up feeling more alert and more focused than if you drank the coffee and didn’t take a nap.
The reason this is true is because of how caffeine works in your body.
If you manage to fall asleep directly after drinking coffee, the caffeine won’t have kicked in quite yet. After all, it takes about 20-30 minutes for caffeine to have its full effect.
That means by the time you wake up from your 20-minute nap, you’re getting the restorative power of the nap combined with the caffeine from the coffee, therefore providing you “super-human” alertness and focus.
According to Allen Towfigh, MD (Medical Director of New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine) the reason this action is so powerful has to do with the clearing out of adenosine, combined with the influx of caffeine. "Adenosine is a byproduct of wakefulness and activity...as adenosine levels increase, we become more fatigued. Napping clears out the adenosine and, when combined with caffeine, an adenosine-blocker further reduces its effects and amplifies the effects of the nap."
So if you really want to get the maximum benefit of coffee, slam a cup of cold coffee and then take a power nap.
2 - Antibacterial Soaps Make You Sick
Years ago, antibacterial soaps were released to the public to keep germs at bay. This seemed to make sense, since using a substance with antibacterial properties was a great way to stay healthy.
However, it turns out the opposite might be true. So far we don’t actually have any evidence supporting the claim antibacterial soaps are any more effective than normal ones. Even worse is how long-term exposure to some of the soap’s ingredients might have their own harmful health risks associated with them.
Many of these chemicals are known endocrine disruptors. So when you sit there washing your hands with them, the chemicals seep in through the pores of your skin and invade your bloodstream. And after they make it into your body, they screw up hormone levels, which can have some seriously negative downstream effects.
One of the worst offenders is known as triclosan. Because known health risks are attributed to it, it’s falling under intense FDA scrutiny. In fact, the state of Minnesota has actually banned all triclosan-containing products altogether starting in 2017.
So think long and hard about your next purchase of antibacterial soap.
3 - Gain Weight To Shrink A Size
All across the nation, patients are coming into their doctor’s offices with a big question front and center in their minds: “How can I lose weight so I can fit into my old clothes?”
Now the obvious answer to this question is to eat better, cut calorie intake to the normal metabolic requirement, and to exercise.
But what most people don’t know is if you really want to go down a size or two, you actually need to gain weight. And by that I mean replace fat with muscle.
You’ve probably heard it said before, but muscle is much more dense than fat. So if you start to build more muscle, you might end up putting on more weight...but your body’s profile will also shrink.
Multiple studies have shown individuals with very similar body profiles fit into clothes very differently based on their fat-to-muscle composition. Say, for instance, you were to compare a very fit 150-pound woman (who has a knack for moving weights in the gym) to her sedentary 150-pound bonbon eating friend, who only moves up and down off the couch.
While there’s going to be an obvious difference in their body shapes, you’ll notice the fit woman is able to wear smaller clothes. This has to do with the fact a pound of muscle takes up less room than a pound of fat.
Mark Nutting, fitness director of SACO Sport & Fitness in Saco, says it perfectly. "You can get bigger muscles and get smaller overall if you lose the fat," he says. "The bulk so many women fear only occurs if you don't lose fat and develop muscle on top of it."
The one takeaway here is you have to lose fat, too. But remember - a 150-pound woman with a high amount of muscle is going to fit into clothes that are much smaller than the clothes a 150-pound woman with a high fat-to-body ratio can fit into.
4 - Eat Bigger Meals To Lose Weight
If you’ve ever fallen victim to marketing gimmicks focusing around a food’s caloric content, then you, my friend, are a sucker for “bad science.”
Over the past few years, people have begun to figure out how calories in a diet work. They’ve realized if they want to lose weight, they need to eat fewer calories throughout the day.
And, to accomplish this, they end up breaking up their meals into smaller, lower-calorie portions.
Then, throughout the day, they’ll end up snacking on small 100-calorie snack packs since they’re not high in calories.
The problem with this activity is two-fold. The most obvious issue is when you eat snacks containing 100 calories each (and you do that 5 - 7 times a day) you’re adding on hundreds of extra calories you don’t need.
And the second problem ties right into that.
When you eat low-calorie meals, you’re never quite getting your body the fuel it needs, and so it’s constantly screaming out for more. Not to mention these small periodic meals have several more undesirable effects.
For one, eating small meals (which are typically carb-based) cause your body’s blood sugar to spike. This leaves you wanting more and more carbs throughout the day.
Second, it kickstarts your metabolism to operate at a quicker rate - which is fine if you’re working out and are attempting to gain weight. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s self-defeating.
Third, it causes you to never feel full. And if you’re never full, you’ll typically revert to grazing in an attempt to manage satiation.
So what’s your best bet?
Eat three meals a day that meet your daily calorie needs. Make sure they’re high in protein and fat and low in carbs. You’ll start to notice you’re less hungry - and because of that, you might start to lose weight.
Want to see more strange health tips?
Pay attention, because I’ll be writing more about them in the near future.