We are truly living in the age of information. Thanks to the internet and the ubiquity of smartphones, everything you want to know (and a lot of stuff you don’t) is only a few clicks away. But if there’s one lesson you learn when spending time online, it’s this: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
The concept of “fake news” may be a relatively new one, but people have been spreading rumors and false information about health since long before computers were invented. In the interest of replacing fiction with fact, let’s take a look at the top 5 biggest health misconceptions.
All Fat is Bad For You
There was a time when fat was dietary enemy number one, sparking a craze of “fat-free” everything. We now know that some types of fat are actually highly beneficial. As I explain here, “good” fats like those found in olive oil have been shown to improve heart health, among other positive effects. Many studies indicate consuming olive oil can improve cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy.
To incorporate healthy fats into your diet, use olive oil instead of butter when cooking or baking, and snack on nutritiously fatty foods like avocados and nuts. See my post here for more healthy snack ideas.
Men Hit Their Sexual Peak at 18
Contrary to popular belief, men are not at their sexual best when they’re teenagers. While it’s true that testosterone levels begin to spike around age 18, they continue to rise through the 20s and peak around age 30. This may explain why, according to one survey of over 12,000 people, men said they had the best sex of their lives at age 33.
And testosterone isn’t the only factor when it comes to good sex. An older, more experienced man can have the kind of sex life he could only dream about at 18 (perhaps some of you who remember your early experiences with sex will not be surprised by this revelation).
Of course, men of all ages can experience issues with sexual dysfunction. If your libido needs a boost, check out my list of top five supplements to increase sex drive.
Sleeping Late on Weekends Helps You Catch Up
Many of us have a tendency to push ourselves too hard and spread ourselves too thin. But if you think you can drive yourself into the ground during the week and then make up for it by sleeping in on the weekend, think again. In one recent study, researchers set out to determine if extra sleep on weekends could counteract the metabolic problems (like weight gain and reduced insulin sensitivity) often linked to insufficient sleep during the week. They found that not only did “catch-up” sleep not work to counter these issues, muscle- and liver-specific insulin sensitivity was worse in study subjects who had weekend recovery sleep.
The takeaway? Rather than depriving your body of sleep during the week and trying to make up for it on the weekends, try to stick to a schedule that allows you to get adequate rest every night.
More Protein Means More Muscle
Many people consume more protein than they need, believing it will lead to increased muscle mass. But research indicates that high protein intake doesn’t lead to bigger muscles. A 2018 study looking at the effect of extra protein on the bodies of older men found that eating a high-protein diet had no significant impact on lean body mass, muscle performance, or physical function.
So how much protein do you really need? And what kind of protein should you be eating? I offer a simple explanation of protein intake here.
Your Genes Decide Your Fate
Far from being at their mercy, you can up and down-regulate your genes through lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, and stress management. The exploding field of epigenetics, the study of how chemical and environmental factors impact genetic health, has revealed many ways in which we can influence our genes. In one study, people who ate more fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease even if they carried copies of the gene that increases risk of heart problems, effectively “turning off” the gene.
I’m fascinated by epigenetics and the role it plays in optimizing health, which is why I made genetic testing (and appropriate lifestyle changes) a significant part of my Tack180 program.
It can be hard to cut through all the false information out there. To get more of my scientifically-validated advice across a wide range of health areas, take my new Men’s Health Quiz and then check out the recommendations page that follows. You’ll be amazed by how much you can learn in just a few minutes (even on your phone). It’ll also help you determine which health area you should target first for the greatest impact. Have fun!
However you approach it, make a move to being healthier, and you will be heading toward a win. Good luck! And feel free to send me your feedback on the quiz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.