Brain Game: What sounds like good health advice but actually isn’t? (Round 7)

  • Our weekly writing competition starts with 10 participants, who are eliminated one by one based on your votes – who will you choose?
  • In this round, contestants discuss the dangers of dieting, drinking too much water, brushing too soon after eating, and following unverified Covid-19 tips
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Have you ever been told that something was healthy for you only to discover it really wasn’t? Photo: Shutterstock

Read through the responses to this week’s Brain Game prompt, and choose which answer you like most. Based on your votes in the Google Form below, we will eliminate one person from the competition.

Contestant 1

Dieting can be counterproductive. Many people think they can lose weight by eating less. But under this glamorised ideal, there are hidden risks.

Excessively cutting your calorie intake can decelerate your metabolism, which is the body’s process of converting food to energy. Eating less slows down the process of burning the food you are still consuming, meaning that dieting is often ineffective in the long run.

Moreover, dieting encourages eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. When people are obsessed with weight loss, they stop enjoying food, and their diets become dangerous.

Smaller portions of food can soon lead to eating nothing at all, causing severe illnesses like malnutrition. This fixation can deteriorate their physical and mental health.

Instead, we should exercise regularly alongside a healthy and adequate diet. Food should not be viewed as a burden.

Contestant 2

We are often told to drink eight glasses of water every day. However, eight glasses a day may not suit everyone, and in the worst scenario, it can lead to serious side effects.

The amount of water your body requires varies depending on age, health conditions and other factors. About two litres (eight cups of 250ml each) are enough for teenagers while adults may need three litres (12 cups of 250ml each). Apart from age, men usually need more water than women. Diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors can also affect the amount of water you should drink every day.

But if you drink too much water, your kidneys cannot get rid of the excessive water. The sodium content of your blood becomes diluted. This is called hyponatremia, and it can be fatal.

Drinking water is beneficial and necessary for the body, but only in a moderate amount. To know how much water you need, ask a doctor.

The next time your parents tell you to drink as much water as possible, tell them the truth.

Contestant 3

Were you ever taught to brush your teeth right after meals, especially after eating sugary treats?

In kindergarten, my classmates and I would always brush our teeth right after eating lunch. In primary school, I was always reminded to bring a toothbrush to school to brush after eating snacks. Even now, my parents tell me to brush my teeth immediately after I eat something sweet.

Many people think this can keep our teeth clean and healthy. However, brushing our teeth right after eating may not be the best advice.

The food we eat often contains acid. While we eat, this acid softens our enamel, the hard, protective coat that prevents our teeth from getting damaged. If we brush our teeth immediately after eating, we risk brushing off and harming the softened enamel. Once the enamel is gone, our teeth will be damaged even more quickly.

Instead, dentists recommend waiting 60 minutes after eating before brushing our teeth.

Contestant 4

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a slew of “health” advice has spread widely on social media, ranging from so-called Covid-19 cures to conspiracy theories about vaccines. While such advice seems well-intended, it can be dangerous.

One woman read that garlic could prevent Covid-19 infection, but she became sick and ended up in hospital after eating about 1.5kg of raw garlic over two weeks. The World Health Organization had to warn against the credibility of such claims.

Social media posts spread unfounded claims that vaccines do more harm than good to our bodies. This deterred people from getting vaccinated. At its extreme, death can be the tragic outcome of misinformation during a global pandemic.

So how should we guard against false health advice, in particular amid Covid-19? Prevention is better than cures. Listen to trusted sources to inoculate yourself physically and mentally.

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