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Health Myths and the Future of Medicine

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As it turns out, a lot of the things we believed were true about our health aren’t really true after all. Just ask Dr. Oz.

The renowned surgeon, author, Oprah alum, and talk show host confirms in a recent article that, low and behold, fat weighs the same as muscle (although it does take up more space), eating late at night doesn’t necessarily make you gain weight, and pasta, eggs, and frozen fruits and veggies aren’t all that bad after all.


Although it’s unlikely that I’ll be snacking on a frozen asparagus and cheese omelet before heading off to bed tonight, it’s nice to know that if I did, it wouldn’t kill me.

As comprehensive as the Oz list may be, there’s another myth that health experts the world over have been busting lately: the idea that, in terms of health care, whatever works for one works for all.

Of course, there are all sorts of variables you have to consider when figuring out how to treat a particular ailment, and not just the ailment itself. One of the most intriguing is the thought of the patient.

This wasn’t always the case. Back in the latter part of the 19th century, illness and health were considered purely physical in nature, with the body operating essentially like a piece of machinery. Another hundred years would pass before physicians started noticing the role of emotions and feelings in how the body functioned. These days, things are getting even more interesting as consciousness itself is playing an increasing if not exclusive role in how we manage our health.

Perhaps the most well known if still largely unexplained indicator of this fact is the placebo effect. By most accounts, if you’re given a sugar pill in place of a prescription drug, there’s a 30% chance that your health will improve. Studies show, however, that it helps if the person administering the pill is wearing a white coat, implying that it’s not just your faith in the perceived drug but also in the one who is administering the drug.

If being tricked into better health isn’t your thing, there are other thought-based approaches to influencing the body in positive, health-inducing ways such as meditation and prayer. These methods put the patient squarely in the driver seat – a prospect that can be at once intimidating and exhilarating.

My hunch is that as we continue to explore this relationship between the mind and body, we’ll see even more myths about health being busted, and Dr. Oz will likely have to come up with a whole new list.

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About Eric Nelson

  • Don Ingwerson

    Eric, Very interesting article…I enjoyed reading it and got some good thoughts from it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks Don!

  • Igor

    I’m fortunate that many years ago I switched to all fresh foods (from the produce department), make all my meals at home and generally pursue a healthy lifestyle.

    But I’m VERY concerned about the wholesale breeding of dreadful bacterias and viruses at animal farms where animals are crowded and sick and treated with concentrated anti-biotics, even when they are well and not yet sick. 80% of antibiotics are for well animals instead of sick animals or people.

    Thus, we have industrial-strength bacteria/virus breeding farms operating in the USA, and their waste products are poorly contained.

  • “…there’s another myth that health experts the world over have been busting lately: the idea that, in terms of health care, whatever works for one works for all.”

    A valid point – to an extent. However, it has more to do with lifestyle and environment than with physiology.

    For example, Michael Phelps eats the sort of diet that would give most people a heart attack in about ten seconds. But Mr Phelps burns far, far more calories per day than the average Joe, and would be in danger of dropping dead if he didn’t provide himself with that amount of fuel.

    But the same isn’t true of modern medicines, which are designed to work on particular aspects of human body chemistry, and this is basically the same in all of us. For example, if I have a headache I might take a couple of aspirin, which inhibits the production of the enzymes that tell neurons to carry pain messages to the brain. Unless I have a history of abusing pain medication, I will get relief from my headache whether I’m a six foot tall Englishman or a four foot six female pygmy from the Congo.