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True or false?

There are lots of well-known sayings around health and wellbeing – but can you trust them?

There are so many sources of information it’s sometimes hard not get caught out or confused trying to sort the fact from the fiction. Our advisors and coaches are always on hand to guide you through the minefield. Meanwhile let’s take a look at some common myths…

Myth 1: I need to avoid eating fat to be healthy

The truth is, some fat is necessary for the body as it provides essentials nutrients. Fat is either used by your body’s cells, turned into energy or converted into body fat. The body needs fat to help absorb vitamins as they are fat-soluble. 

Eating too much saturated fats can increase cholesterol levels in your blood, increasing the risk of heart disease or stroke. But unsaturated fats slow down the build-up of plaque within the arteries which reduces our blood pressure. These fats should therefore form part of a balanced diet.

Saturated fats are found in food like butter, coconut oil, cheese and ice-cream. Whereas fish, nuts, avocado and seeds are types of unsaturated fats.

Discover more weight loss myths

Myth 2: healthier food is more expensive

There are healthier food options available, that cost less. Try supermarket own brands which can be great value for money, as are loose fruit and vegetables, which tend to be cheaper than packaged ones. Writing a shopping list ensures you don’t overspend and following a meal plan can prevent buying food that is then wasted.

Replacing ingredients with healthier alternatives can go further for less money. Alternatives such as beans, pulses and frozen veg are one of the cheapest supermarket items available. Frozen fruit and vegetable are a healthy alternative that last longer, reduce waste and enables you to use what you need, when you need it.  

Cooking from scratch can be cost effective and healthy. Making your own food at home is great way to budget, as you are in control of ingredients and quantities.

There’s some great information about this on the British Heart Foundation website. 

Myth 3: you can't lose weight by walking

Every weight loss plan can benefit from any form of exercise, and brisk walking is a brilliant low impact way of doing this. Workouts may not burn the number of calories you desire but it doesn’t mean the movement involved isn’t necessary for staying healthy and taking control of your life. 

Walking is not excessive but rather a great, every day, simple activity that you can easily work into your day to create new, good exercise habits and prevent weight gain. It can be as easy as walking to work, going for a walk with friends, and walking the dog.  

Myth 4: No pain, no gain

You do not have to experience pain to improve your fitness. 

Sore muscles can occur when you start a new exercise programme, change your routine, or increase the duration or intensity of your regular workout – but that’s not pain, pain is different. Any sudden sharp pain while working out should be taken as a warning sign. You may not be doing the exercise properly or have overdone it. Pain is a sign to stop and seek medical advice – there is no gain from pain!

A little soreness means muscles are required to work harder than they’re used to, or in a different way, which is why your muscles feel sore or stiff. Knowing your limit and what your body is capable of will help reduce these after affects and you will recover. Don’t be disheartened – they are a sign you have worked hard!

Discover other exercise myths.

Myth 5: nicotine causes cancer

Nicotine doesn’t cause cancer. It is the other toxic chemicals in cigarettes, such as tar and carbon monoxide that damage your health. Knowing that nicotine isn’t the cause, should encourage you to seek other alternatives – like nicotine replacement patches - that are less harmful.  

If you’re wanting to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals going into your body but still have nicotine cravings, then products like NRT and e-cigarettes are therefore good options.

Myth 6: vaping is as harmful as cigarettes 

Not true - in fact, e-cigarettes are often offered as an aid to help stop smoking. 

Because vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, they can help you stop smoking for good. Vaping poses only a fraction of the risks of smoking and making the switch can offer substantial health benefits. 

E-cigarettes do not contain tar or carbon monoxide – 2 of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke. Yes, they may contain some chemicals also found in tobacco smoke, but at much lower levels. So vaping is useful as a stepping stone to gently wean yourself off cigarettes.

Discover more about the harm smoking does on the NHS website

Myth 7: drinking red wine reduces the risk of heart disease

Although red wine contains some antioxidants that can help reduce blood pressure, this doesn’t mean it will reduce the risk of heart disease, there is no hard evidence to support this. 

However, there is more evidence linking alcohol to increased blood pressure levels and life-threatening diseases such as stroke, heart attack and many forms of cancer.  

The fact is, there is no safe alcohol allowance – even a small glass of something a day runs the risk of a negative impact on your health.

Head to the Heart Research UK website for more myth-busting. 

Myth 8: only alcoholics develop liver disease 

It’s not just people who drink over the recommended limit of alcohol that develop liver disease. Genetics and family history can also play a role in whether someone will develop a serious form of alcohol-related liver disease. People with another high-risk liver condition and a BMI in the overweight range are also in more danger too.

1 in 4 people drink alcohol over the recommended limit on a regular basis which can increase the risk of developing liver disease and liver cancer. Alcohol is broken-down by the liver, producing harmful chemicals that can damage and kill liver cells. The liver is very good at repairing itself, but when the liver is unable to keep up with the effects of regular drinking, it can cause irreversible damage. 

Find more information from the British Liver Trust. 

Find help and support through the myth minefield by talking to one of our advisors or coaches

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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