How Good is Your Health Knowledge?

On the subject of wavy health concerns, there is a minefield of inconsistent guidance around. Below has the bottom line.

Can stress give you grey hairs?

Quite possibly, as it’s thought stress hormones impact melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells that give hair its colour. However, the three-month life cycle of hair means it’s impossible to “suddenly” go grey after a stressful event or shock it’s more likely to happen as a result of chronic, long-term stress, says Dr Brian Morton, chair of the Federal Australian Medical Association Council of General Practice.

Should you avoid yoga during your period?

It’s traditional in yoga to avoid inversions like head or shoulder stands during menstruation, however there’s no medical reason for this, it’s more an energetic principle. “Menstruation is governed by a force called ‘apana vayu’, which is responsible for moving anything down and out of the body,” explains Dominique Santana Salerno, principal of the Australian Yoga Academy. “To encourage the ‘downward flow’ of energy, steer clear of inversions during the first three days of your period.” In the meanwhile, gentle twists, forward bends, yogic ‘squats’ and gentle back bends are beneficial.

Is it a good idea to detox from time to time?

Detox devotees claim the occasional cleanse “flushes out” toxins, but according to dietitian Catherine Saxelby, the science is scarce. “No-one has ever identified what these ‘toxins’ are and there’s no proof our liver or bowel actually need cleansing.” What’s more, a weekend of clean living is not going to negate months of poor eating, drinking and late nights. “I’m more about good nutrition all the time, for all of your life,” Saxelby says.

Do eggs raise your cholesterol?

Cracking good news for egg lovers: You can enjoy up to six eggs a week without increasing your cholesterol levels. “Saturated and trans fats possess a greater influence on cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol, so it’s more important to avoid things like butter, cream, biscuits and visible fat on meat,” says Aloysa Hourigan, spokeswoman for Nutrition Australia. Even if you have high cholesterol, you may still be able to eat cholesterol-rich foods like eggs and prawns, but check with your doctor or dietitian.

What’s better for your back: a chair or fitball?

If you’re aiming to improve your posture and prevent back pain, using a fitball could have the opposite effect. “Most people don’t have the muscle capacity to use them for eight hours straight and end up adopting a bad posture to keep the ball stable,” explains Dr Jodi Oakman of La Trobe University’s Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors. While it’s fine to use a fitball for 20 to 30 minutes every few hours in a home office where it’s unlikely to be hazardous to colleagues, Oakman says the best seating choice is a supportive, adjustable office chair.