7 Things You Thought Were Healthy Your Whole Life, But Really Aren't

| Pregnancy & Parenting

Where do urban legends come from? What myths have we blindly been believing as fact when, in fact, they're quite the opposite? Check out these 7 bogus "health tips" from Women's Health.

Myth #1: You should drink eight glasses of water a day. Loading up on plenty of H2O helps stave off colds, makes you feel full, and keeps your energy running high. But the eight glasses dogma? It’s misleading. “Getting enough water isn't just about drinking glasses of it but includes all the water in foods and drinks,” says Los Angeles-based nutritionist Maggie Moon, R.D., owner of Everyday Healthy Eating. “Also, it’s impossible to say how much water will keep someone healthy. Water needs are not just about metabolism; they change based on environmental conditions and physical activity.” Ditch the one-size-fits-all rule, and use your thirst as a guide for when to hit the water cooler or consume water-rich foods like fruit and salad.

glass of cold water

Myth #2: You'll get sick if you don't dry your hair before stepping outside. Leaving the house with damp strands on a chilly day might make you shiver—but it won't get you sick, as older generations of moms used to think. “The only way to catch a cold or the flu is to come into contact with the viruses that cause them,” says Holly Phillips, M.D., women’s health physician and author of "The Exhaustion Breakthrough". True, research shows that cold and flu viruses thrive in cold weather; that may be because dry winter air dehydrates the mucus membranes of the nose, which helps viruses invade your system. But not finishing your blow dry before heading out the door won’t make you more likely to contract them in the first place.

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Myth #3: You should poop once a day. Actually, going number two anywhere from three times a day to three times a week meets the range of what’s considered regular. “How often you poop comes down to your personal diet habits: how much fluid, fiber, and overall food you take in,” says Phillips. “Most people go once a day, but some people who are perfectly healthy go more often or less.” Be concerned with your poop habits only if you’re suddenly going a lot more or less, your bowel movements are accompanied by pain or blood, or the consistency is much looser or a lot harder than usual.

empty toilet paper roll

>> Read more: Are you getting enough fiber?

Myth #4: You need 8 hours of sleep a night. Like the eight-glasses-of-water rule, this super-specific edict doesn’t work for everyone all the time. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults score seven to nine hours of sleep each night in order to function at the top of their game mentally and physically the next day, says Phillips. But that leaves plenty of leeway for individual sleep needs. Some people swear they can function fine on five or six hours per night, while others only feel rested with nine or so hours of snooze time.

fetal position sleeping

Curious for more? Click here to discover the other myths!