9 Terrible Health Tips to Ignore Right Now, According to Experts
It turns out garlic isn't the cure, and exercise is good for you even when you're stressed.
Whether you're reading articles online or you're scrolling through Instagram, it's easy to pick up a lot of bad health tips these days. It only takes so many influencers telling you to drink this or wipe down that to make your head spin. Unfortunately, taking non-expert advice to heart, especially amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, can quickly affect your health for the worse, both mentally and physically. According to experts, these nine terrible coronavirus tips should be ignored immediately. And for more myths about COVID-19, check out 15 Coronavirus Myths You Need to Stop Believing, According to Doctors.
"Don't exercise when you're stressed."
There's a myth that exercise suppresses the immune system, so you should avoid it in times of stress, which we all are experiencing on some level right now. But that's not at all the reality. "Exercise actually helps the immune system be more efficient," says Eudene Harry, MD, the medical director for Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center in Orlando, Florida. "Recent research shows the decrease in the number of immune cells noted after exercise in previous studies may be due to these immune cells going to areas at increased risk for infection, such as the lungs. So, keep moving!" And for more fallacies about exercise, check out The 21 Biggest Exercise Myths, Debunked by Science and Health Experts.
"Use Clorox wipes on your body to kill germs."
Please don't do this. While Clorox is great for getting rid of germs on your home surfaces, phones, door knobs, and light switches, you should never be using those wipes on your body. "The wipes are meant to disinfect hard surfaces—they're not meant to put on the skin because it can be harmful," Harry says. Don't even use them to wipe your hands. Stick with hand sanitizer or soap and water. And for the things you should use Clorox wipes on, check out 15 Things in Your House Experts Say You Should Wipe Down Every Day.
"Spray alcohol or chlorine on yourself to disinfect your body."
Again, alcohol and chlorine may be helpful for cleaning objects in your home, but it should not be used to disinfect your body. "Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body," according to the World Health Organization (WHO). "Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)."
"Take a hot bath to avoid contracting the coronavirus."
There are rumors going around that taking a hot bath will prevent you from catching COVID-19, but as the WHO notes, "Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you." And for safer ways to fight COVID-19, check out 17 Small and Easy Ways to Prevent Coronavirus.
"Eat garlic to protect against COVID-19."
Lots of posts have been shared on social media that recommend eating garlic to prevent infection. But it's not that simple. As the WHO notes: "Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus."
"There are a few lab studies that show that garlic extract can partially inhibit the replication of the virus in cells," Gary Linkov, MD, previously told Best Life. But, he notes, "there is limited human study evidence that garlic will prevent viral infection in our bodies, especially one as potent and virulent as the novel coronavirus." And for more facts to get straight, check out 13 Coronavirus Facts You Don't Already Know.
"Regularly rinse your nose with saline to help prevent infection."
You may have heard that rinsing your nose out with saline solution can protect you from coronavirus. But the WHO again says this is just an internet myth. "There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus," the experts note. "There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing [your] nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections."
As Linkov previously told Best Life, "Viruses will frequently lodge in areas deeper in the nose, such as the adenoids, where they cannot be reached with simply washing the nose." He also said that "using tap water to wash the nose regularly puts us at an increased risk of driving additional pathogens into our sinonasal passages."
"Drinking colloidal silver can kill the coronavirus."
In February, natural health expert Sherrill Sellman appeared as a guest on televangelist Jim Bakker's show and claimed that colloidal silver—which consists of tiny silver particles in a liquid—kills some strains of coronavirus within 12 hours, though she admitted it hadn't yet been tested on COVID-19.
But, according to the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), "evidence supporting health-related claims [about colloidal silver] is lacking. In fact, colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health."
As a result, in March, the state of Missouri filed a lawsuit against Bakker and his production company due to their advertising of colloidal silver and related products as treatments for the coronavirus.
"Drink water every 15 minutes to wash the virus away."
Of course, it's always a good idea to stay hydrated. But don't think that it'll wash COVID-19 out of your system. One social media post that quotes an unnamed Japanese doctor recommends drinking water every 15 minutes to flush the virus down to your stomach and prevent it from entering your lugs. Of course, that's not how it works, though.
Professor Trudie Lang of the University of Oxford told the BBC that there is "no biological mechanism" that would support the idea that you can just wash a respiratory virus down into your stomach and kill it.
"Avoiding ice cream can help you avoid COVID-19."
If ice cream is what you want right now, don't worry about its effects on your well-being. "A recent erroneous online message circulating in several languages around the world and purporting to be a UNICEF communication appears to indicate that avoiding ice cream and other cold foods can help prevent the onset of the disease," Charlotte Gornitzka of UNICEF said in a statement. "This is, of course, wholly untrue."
In a statement to Reuters, the organization further said: "It is, unfortunately, yet another example of the kind of misinformation we've seen circulate on social media around the world. Misinformation during times of a health crisis can result in people being left unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus. It can also spread paranoia, fear, and stigmatization, and have other consequences like offering a false sense of protection." So if something sounds kind of wild, be sure to fact-check it. And for more fake news that's spread with COVID-19, check out 7 Fake Coronavirus News Stories You Need to Ignore.