The human body is amazing and weird! Even with science and technology, there is a lot that we don’t know. Here are a few things we do know but they may be surprising to most people. So check out the 10 health facts that may surprise you!
Surprising health fact number 1:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
So number 1 on the list of 10 health facts that may surprise you is suitably the first thing you do in the morning. Now I bet you’ve heard this one! breakfast is the most important meal of the day, if you skip it then you’ll get fat because it kick starts your metabolism. I reckon this was probably marketing that has become so engrained that we just believe it as fact, however it is way off base. Metabolism is a reactive and dynamic process so eating and digesting and breaking down food does consume energy, this is called the thermic effect of food. But this is where things go wrong. If you have 2000 calories in a day of the same macronutrients then you will have the same effect on this thermic effect and this makes no difference whether breakfast was part of this 2000 or not, 2000 calories are 2000 calories! This was even proved by Ogato et al (2019), where they found no change in metabolism over a 24 hour period whether people skipped breakfast or not.
In fact, it gets worse for this statement, it has been found that most people aren’t even hungry at breakfast time but amazingly still eat for the sake of it! The reason hunger is generally low in the morning is that the hunger hormone, Ghrelin is inhibited by sleep so is low in the morning (Spiegel et al 2011).
Breakfast is far from the most important meal of the day and a study by Sievert et al (2019) found that people who skipped breakfast did not eat more calories later in the day nor did they gain any weight compared to those who ate breakfast. Even more damning for breakfast, the breakfast group consumed more total calories that day!
Surprising health fact number 2:
How have to lift heavy weights to build muscle
This one is ‘Bro Science’! For a long time bodybuilders and gym-goers alike used to say you have to lift heavy to build muscle and this was partly because lifting heavy does build muscle and if you do light weights with the same reps and sets as you would heavy then the effect on muscle building is rubbish with the light weights. However, they didn’t realise that it’s all about intensity and proximity to failure in each set.
You can build muscle with light or heavy weights but you must be within 5 reps of failure to achieve this. Haun et al (2018) found that you can build muscle with light weights so long that you are close to failure with on average 4.4 reps in reserve at the end of your sets.
Surprising health fact number 3:
It is more important to be nice than to be experienced as a healthcare professional!
Yes, this one is true, you would think that the more experienced that your doctor or physio is, the better they would be, the more likely you are to get better care and you should choose them based on this but the research indicates this simply isn’t true!
Incredibly in a study by Choudhry et al (2005), they found that physicians who have been in practice for more years may possess less factual knowledge and are less likely to adhere to appropriate standards of care, which in turn causes poorer patient outcomes.
Actually, this doesn’t surprise me because the evidence is ever progressing and studies are being done all the time, which updates the knowledge base. If you don’t constantly read it then you will gradually fall behind. This is why here at Hawkes Physiotherapy we are ‘on it like a car bonnet’ lol!
So if their experience doesn’t matter, then what does?
Kaptchuk et al (2008) actually found that patients did better if the practitioner was caring, warm, confident and attentive. This was even effective when the patient was offered a placebo treatment. This is also supported by Hall et al (2010), where they found that a positive therapist & patient relationship was more likely to give a positive treatment outcome.
Now I’m pretty experienced as I have been working as a physiotherapist for 16 years but don’t let that put you off as unlike some practitioners out there, I keep up to date as my blog illustrates, plus I’m nice too! Lol!
Surprising health fact number 4:
Stretching doesn’t reduce injury risk!
How many of you stretch? Why do you do it? I bet it’s because someone once told you that it reduced your chances of getting injured. However, static stretching was found to make no difference at all to your injury risk (Lauersen et al 2013), this was echoed by Van Mechelen et al (1993) where they found that stretching was ineffective in reducing the number of running injuries.
Even more problematic it has been found that static stretching can negatively affect your performance as seen in this video:
Surprising health fact number 5:
Pain doesn’t mean injury and injury doesn’t mean pain!
Pain is a complex experience involving not only the transmission of noxious stimuli but also cognitive & emotional processing by the brain. The relationship between pain and tissue damage is not always what we expect or understand. Basically, pain is not always a warning of harm or damage but obviously it can be.
Pain doesn’t mean harm or damage:
The anticipation of pain has been found to have the same neural responses that occur in real clinical pain in conditions such as fibromyalgia & osteoarthritis according to Brown et al (2014). So if you think something will hurt then it will. They once did an experiment with a rubber hand which highlights how your brain can play tricks on you with pain:
Harm or damage doesn’t mean pain either:
Another example is that injury or damage can be present without pain. This has been highlighted many many times with MRI scan studies such as this one by Nakashima et al (2015) where they found that 87.6% of normal people with no pain or symptoms had a disc bulge seen on Cervical spine MRI!
Surprising health fact number 6:
Osteoarthritis isn’t only present in older people!
Number 6 on the list of 10 health facts that may surprise you is about arthritis, specifically Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is very common, affecting 80% of the population beyond the age of 55 years old according to Kruger et al (2000).
What about younger age groups?
MRI scans found degeneration in at least one Lumbar level in 35% of twenty and thirty-nine-year-olds and even more impressive these people had no symptoms at all (Boden et al 1990). Another study by Culvenor et al (2019) found features of knee osteoarthritis in pain-free people under the age of 40 at a prevalence of 4-14% of cases.
Surprising health fact number 7:
Surgery is very effective as it corrects the problem
It has been found that placebo surgery is just as effective as real surgery according to this systematic review by Wartolowska et al (2014). More specifically, Arthroscopic debridement for osteoarthritis of the knee doesn’t improve pain or function compared to placebo according to this Cochrane review by Laupattarakasem et al (2009). So surgery may work but it is not necessarily because of the mechanical changes that the surgery makes that corrects the problem, it could be all in the mind?
Here is more discussion on surgery and its effectiveness:
Surprising health fact number 8:
Eating after 7.00 pm makes you fat
It has long been said that eating after 7.00 pm will mean that you will go to bed and your metabolism slows and then you store what you have eaten as fat but this is just a myth with no scientific backing. In fact, science proves this is just flat out incorrect. Keim et al (1997) found that comparing people trying to lose weight who ate 70% of their daily calories earlier in the day against those that ate 70% in the later evening lost weight just as well but the later eaters retained more muscle mass, which is actually better. This doesn’t mean we should all eat late but it certainly debunks the myth.
Surprising health fact number 9:
Running causes arthritis
Did your mum use to say ” don’t run marathons because you will wear out your knees”? Well, I think mine did! Sorry mum but you’re wrong lol! In a study by Lane et al (1993) they took X-rays 5 years apart in runners from the 50-Plus Runners Association and did the same for non-runners. They age-matched them and also matched them in severity at the start of the 5 years and after 5 years they found no differences in degeneration between the two groups for osteoarthritis in the knees and the lumbar spine.
Surprising health fact number 10:
Cracking your back puts you back into alignment
Now this one is such a big myth that I even wrote a whole article on it (Click on the image to access it):
In a nutshell, 33% of people believe that cracking your back is re-aligning the joints or putting them back into place according (Demoulin et al 2018). However, the noise you hear is called cavitation, which is a sudden decrease in intracapsular pressure, caused by dissolved gasses in the synovial fluid of the joint being released into the joint cavity. The noise is thought to be a combination of the pressure release and the elastic recoil of the synovial capsule as it snaps back. In terms of alignment changes, de Toledo (2019) and Tullberg (1998) looked at the effect of a Sacroiliac joint (SIJ) manipulation on the SIJ position and it did not alter afterwards. So it simply doesn’t happen!
So that concludes the list of 10 health facts that may surprise you, so are you suitably surprised? Overall then, just because something has always been done or said by somebody doesn’t mean that it is still true. Science and research are constantly moving forwards and ideas change. So be careful in what you believe because it might be wrong as these 10 surprising health facts prove. This is precisely why here at Hawkes Physiotherapy we are always reading research and updating our knowledge to ensure that we are best that we can be for our patients at our Stoke-on-Trent clinics. Remember it wasn’t so long ago that everyone thought that the world was flat!
The content in this blog article is provided for general information purposes only and is not meant to replace a physiotherapy or medical consultation.