Don't fall for these three health myths

This is the first in the new collection based on Dr. Andrew Weil's monthly newsletter Self Healing. I will present Dr. Weil's opinions along with my takes.

Myth #1: Vaping is safer than smoking.
Electronic cigarettes claim to offer the psychological and physical pleasures of smoking without the actual smoke, smell, carbon monoxide, carcinogens, and tar. They contain a liquid solution that is vaporized when heated.
Most varieties of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and inhalation of vaporized nicotine delivers the drug to the brain very efficiently. One Juul "pod" delivers about as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Nicotine in any form triggers a temporary increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and also constricts blood vessels, making e-cigarettes just as addictive and just as harmful to the cardiovascular system as their "real" counterparts.
My take: If you smoke, wait, why are you still smoking? You are not better off with e-cigarettes. Ask your doctor about proven ways to quit. I've also heard multiple recommendations for the book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Alan Carr. I've never smoked. I'm sure it's very hard to quit. When you consider the costs of smoking, is it really worth it?

Myth #2: Diet soda is healthier than regular soda.
There's evidence to show that nonnutritive sweeteners may leave you unsatisfied, causing you to drink--and eat--even more. There are studies that link consumption of diet soda to increased incidence of obesity. Why would something with very few calories contribute to obesity? It could be because drinking diet soda can change the way the brain responds to sweet flavors. There's some evidence that suggests people who regularly drink diet soda experienced a modified reaction to sweet taste in the parts of the brain that release dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure. That means that diet soda drinkers may be priming their brains to expect a rush of dopamine, which doesn't occur, so they continue to seek it out by overeating. Consumption of diet soda has also been linked to diabetes, risk of stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.

My take: I rarely drink diet soda, and it's been many months since I've had a full-sugar soda. I had a few sips and pushed away because it tasted unbelievably sweet to me. I made the transition to sparkling water and never looked back. In fact, I'm having a refreshing Topo Chico Lime on the rocks as I type this. Yes, you can change your taste preferences if you are willing to grind through the transition.

Myth #3: Vaccines cause autism.
Unfortunately, there is a storm of misconceptions about vaccines and the manufactured crisis around them. There was a comprehensive report by the Institute of Medicine that concluded that while vaccines are associated with a small risk of seizures, fainting, and other issues, there is no link between vaccines and autism (or type 1 diabetes). Being completely against vaccines is a dangerous attitude because vaccines have minimized the risk of epidemics such as polio and measles. That said, it's okay to discuss with your doctor the appropriate schedule of vaccines and any concerns you have about your children's needs. As with any decision, you should weigh the costs with the benefits.

My take: I received all the appropriate vaccines as a kid. As an adult, the only vaccine I regularly take is the tetanus booster. I don't get the flu vaccine, and I can't remember the last time I had the flu. I'm on the fence about the COVID vaccine. I'm not in a rush to get it. I think we still have limited trial data to have a full picture of the vaccine's effectiveness and side effects. I'm not exactly the picture of health, so I will carefully consider the various options for the COVID vaccine when they are more readily available.
I agree with you take on point #2, sparkling water is the best substitute for soft drinks (soda), though I had to look up what a Topo Chico Lime was. Enjoy.
2021-01-21 11:01:05

Notes from Dr. Andrew Weil's Self Healing Newsletter