Thanks to the excessive heat and lots of outdoor activities, the summer lends itself to plenty of claims about health and safety. However, many of these adages simply aren’t true. In this article, we’ll dig up some common health myths that tend to pop up every summer and find out the truth once and for all.
Myth #1: Don’t swim right after eating.
This classic myth claims that going swimming within 30 minutes of eating will cause you to cramp up. In addition to being uncomfortable or painful, the condition is potentially dangerous since it could compromise your swimming abilities and put you at risk of drowning. Fortunately, there’s little truth to this myth – you can usually swim for fun right after eating and experience no cramps whatsoever. However, you may want to take a short break after eating if you plan to swim for exercise (like doing laps in the pool) to avoid a stomachache or any indigestion. There is more blood drawn to your gastrointestinal tract after eating, so vigorous activity afterwards could cause discomfort.
Myth #2: You can wear a t-shirt over your swimsuit instead of sunscreen.
A t-shirt isn’t sufficient for blocking out UV rays from the sun. In fact, a white t-shirt has an SPF of only about 3. Always wear waterproof sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and reapply regularly while outdoors to protect your skin from sun damage. To learn more about sunscreen, read How To Apply Sunscreen Properly.
Myth #3: Poison ivy is contagious.
Poison ivy is certainly a pain, but the rash it causes isn’t actually contagious. The rash is caused by the oil from the plant, so once you wash your skin after exposure you won’t be contagious. To be safe, consider washing your arms, legs and feet after walking in any area where poison ivy may be growing.
Myth #4: Coolers keep food safe to eat for hours.
Bringing a cooler to the beach is a great way to keep water, sodas and other beverages cool, but it isn’t sufficient for many perishable foods. If you plan to pack turkey sandwiches, for example, you’ll need to keep the cooler’s interior below 40 degrees in order to prevent the growth of bacteria. Use plenty of ice packs when transporting food and don’t assume that perishable foods can be in a cooler for more than an hour or two. When traveling with a cooler, store it with you in the car (so it’s exposed to the air conditioning) rather than in the truck. You may also want to get a thermometer to let you know whether the food is safe to eat or not.
Myth #5: When grilling burgers, a brown color means it’s cooked sufficiently.
It’s not safe to assume that any burger that’s brown on the outside is sufficiently cooked. According to the USDA, burgers need to reach an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit before they’re safe to eat. Get an instant-read meat thermometer to check each burger before you serve it.
Myth #6: You can get sick from going in and out of air-conditioned buildings.
Fortunately, this myth doesn’t hold up to science. If you get the sniffles during the summer, it’s likely due to allergens and not a cold. Use HEPA air purifiers and clean out your air conditioner’s filter to reduce the allergens in your home. In addition, check the weather forecast and consider staying indoors on days when outdoor allergen levels are high (which is usually on very hot and humid days). For more information on air purifiers, read Finding The Best Air Purifiers For Allergies.
Myth #7: Flip-flops are easy on your feet.
Many people think the freeing feeling of wearing flip-flops give their feet room to breathe. Unfortunately, flip-flips generally don’t have enough arch support, shock absorption or cushioning, so wearing them puts your feet at risk of heel pain, strained arches, pinched foot nerves and tendinitis. Buy sandals which have at least a cushioned sole with arch support, and avoid thong flip-flops if possible since they cause your feet to clench in an unnatural way while walking.
Myth #8: Saltwater in the ocean can help clean out a wound.
If you get a cut, scrape or open wound at the beach, some might suggest that you dip it into the ocean since the saltwater can help clean and heal it. This isn’t true. In fact, you can actually spit on cuts and scrapes to help clean them up when clean water isn’t available. An enzyme in your saliva will help kill microorganisms found in the wound. Once cleaned, place a waterproof or liquid bandage on it until it heals.
As you can see, many of the most popular summer health myths simply aren’t true. Make sure to follow the tips and recommendations above for a safe, happy and healthy summer. For more information on summer health, speak to your doctor.