Medical Professionals Debunk 63 Health Myths People Still Believe To Be True

A lot of people turn to the internet when they get unwell. For example, in the United States, up to 81.5% of adults go online to address concerns about their health.

Experts say that children and teens are increasingly using social media for self-diagnosing mental disorders too.

The problem is that the quality of such resources varies dramatically and they can be full of inaccuracies, which can perpetuate already harmful myths.

So in an attempt to remind everyone to stay vigilant, we invite you to take a look at an online thread where doctors, nurses, and other industry professionals are sharing some of the biggest health misconceptions.


When prescribed a course of antibiotics, it is NOT okay to stop them when you feel better. At this point, you probably feel better because most of the bacteria has been killed, except for a few which are naturally stronger. If you don't finish your full course, these will then multiply and you will have an even worse infection which is much harder to get rid of.

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Mental Illness is a disease. Don't be afraid to seek help when you need it. So many people suffer from depression/anxiety and go through years of suffering because they are too proud to seek help.

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Not a doc but my whole family is and I'm pre-med, my parents always laugh when people say not to go out in the cold or they might catch a cold.

Being cold =/= getting a "cold."

The common cold is a viral infection that has nothing to do with being cold. However, if you are cold for a long time it can depress your immune system and leave you more susceptible to viral infection, probably the origin of the saying, but people should know better in the twenty first goddamned century.

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You don't need to detox. Detox won't cure or have any impact on months of binge drinking. Don't f*****g detox. I get so angry when these frauds get money.

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Quite a few people i've nursed have been surprised when they were discharged quite soon after surgery, and were concerned that it was too soon. I think some people presume that a hospital setting is somehow sterile and they'll recover faster there. Wrong. You're much more likely to get an infection if you stay in hospital. I'd much rather go home and be surrounded by my own microbes, thank you very much.

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Flu vaccinations cannot give you the flu. I know this is pretty widely accepted at this point, however the amount of people who still prescribe to this belief is pretty appalling.


The flu vaccine (the shot, not the intranasal) is dead and cannot get the flu, except in the odd cases where your body does not properly produce the immune cells to fight the virus. Similarly, the flu vaccine only protects you against the 4 strains that were predicted to be the most prevalent that season. If you got a flu shot, then got the flu, chances are it was a strain you were not innoculated for.

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“If you are an organ donor, emergency crews are less likely to save you if you are badly injured so they can get your organs” No. Stop it.

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Vaccines do not cause autism. It was simply a convenient scape-goat since every kid gets vaccines. Also, poorly done studies.

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Not yet a Nurse but just finished an MSc focusing on infections and sexual health and hoping to start Nursing studies soon: Douching - DONT DO IT. A lot of females seem to think its ok to douche and its really not, the pH of the vagina is extremely sensitive and differs from person to person so feminine hygiene products and using stuff like vinegar or whatever are a waste of money and damaging to your lady regions. If anything they are more likely to cause infections than prevent them.


That all herbal medications are safe and effective. They aren't regulated by the FDA (and therefore don't require the studies for safety and efficacy) and some can have very serious side effects. Always ask a pharmacist or doctor before picking some up at the store.

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A defibrillator **isn't** used to restart a heart that has stopped beating. It is used to stop the fibrillation of the heart and will "reset" it to its normal rhythm. Thanks to TV shows and movies a *lot* of people have this misconception about what the device will do and what it's meant for.

Also, when the shock is administered the patient won't spasm violently. The muscles in the chest area will contract, but it's nowhere near as violent as often portrayed.

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Quite common but crackling your knuckles does **not** give you arthritis.

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Migraines and headaches are not the same thing. It really annoys me whenever someone says "oh man, this is giving me a migraine" because they don't know the pain of an actual migraine. The blind spots, the numbness, the nausea, the excruciating pain. Your headaches may be bad, but they're not migraines.


I am not a doctor or nurse, but one of the biggest health misconceptions that I encounter is the difference between Lactose Intolerance and a Milk Allergy.

Personally, being allergic to milk, it is always frustrating when people say that a milk allergy and lactose intolerance are the same thing, and I will only get a "stomach ache", so I should try the food they are eating. Well, unfortunately I wish that were the case.

Lactose Intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. While a milk allergy is the body's immune system reacting to milk protein, and in severe cases (including mine) can cause anaphylactic shock, which is deadly. So no, I do not want to try your meal...


"I am just big boned".....i have seen a lot of x-rays and CT scans and have yet to find a person that this holds true for.

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If you're clinically dead and are brought back to life there's a good chance you won't last long afterward. You don't just get up and get back to life, you probably suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen for x amount of minutes.

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Taking an ambulance to the ER does NOT get you seen faster.

For those of you intelligent enough to downvote, this is 100% true. ER's triage patients based on acuity. Just because you took a $1400 ride in, doesn't mean you won't get sent to triage.


1. when you have an IV site, there is not a needle in youre arm. there is a tiny, flexible, plastic catheter and it is not going to tear through your veins and skin if you bend your elbow.

2. a few air bubbles in the IV line or in a syringe will not kill you. in fact it takes a WHOLE lot of air to be injected into you to even effect you.

3. you have a catheter in your urethra, you do not need to pee. its peeing for you. (mostly older people)

4. if a medication makes you nauseous or produces a sedative effect, you are not allergic to it. those are expected side effects.

5. your night shift nurses are not sleeping. please dont ring your call bell and say "im sorry to wake you, but...". its kind of cute, but offensive that you think im relaxing out there on a comfy bed when in reality im running around like a chicken with my head cut off all night.

6. most facilities dont do blood draws through your IV site (unless you have a port or a central line), so yes, im going to have to stick you again.

7. it is not okay to eat/drink the night/morning before surgery. they tell you not to so you dont aspirate your own vomit into your lungs while youre under.


I can't tell you how many times I see parents with kids who have fever and say, "I gave him tylenol but 4 hours later his fever came back".

Tylenol, Motrin, fever reducers, treat the symptom of fever, they don't cure the disease causing it!


For the love of f**k, do NOT try to a cook a fever out of someone. You could get their temperature too high for the brain to handle, and you could make them suffer a febrile seizure. If they're hot to the touch, give them a tylenol and put them in a tub of cool/room temp water.

I haven't seen this happen in a while, so maybe people are learning, but those old folk remedies don't always work, and sometimes do more harm than good.

Yes; you can kill an infection quicker with high heat, but too much makes the body inhospitable to its delicate internal components (like the brain).

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Unless you're celiac or have a sensitivity to gluten, the whole gluten free fad is total b******t.


You cannot cure a cold. It is a virus.

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Pharmacist here: generic medications really are the same as name brand in 99% of cases. Those that aren't are usually ones that are monitored and dose adjusted anyways so it doesn't matter.

Yes the FDA does allow something like a 15% tolerance when testing generics against name brand, but again, in most cases a 15% difference is not enough to have a clinically significant effect.

Also, many times they company that manufactures the name brand d**g is the same company that manufactures the generic.


-Homeopathy. It's complete b******t. Yet it exists and people believe in it!

-That big pharmaceutical companies are evil and only interested in money, and alternative/natural therapies will save you.

Both traditional western medicine and every other mode of medicine all want to get their product to the people (see $$$), and the practitioners (usually) have a genuine desire to help people. They all cherry pick their information, they all use the same dirty tricks as each other. However, alternative medicine that works does eventually become medicine. That way the pharmaceutical companies can make money from it and the health insurance companies can save money with it.


If someone can't swallow due to a progressive disease (ie: Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, MS, etc), putting in a feeding tube will NOT keep them from aspirating.

There is a huge amount of neuromuscular coordination that goes into swallowing and the eventuality of these diseases is that this will falter. We use different food and liquid textures and feeding techniques, but eventually the person just can't be safely fed anymore. Putting in a feeding tube won't change that. The patient can (and will) keep aspirating their saliva/mucous, and probably also the tube feeding we're putting down the tube.

The kindest thing you can do for your loved one is to let them go.


You are NOT sitting in the ER waiting room because you do not have insurance. You are sitting out in the waiting room because there is a whole group of people that are going to die first. So wait your turn and please don't yell at us registration people... Really it's not our fault!


Not a nurse or doctor, but my mother is a RN at a major city hospital here and often shares wisdom/funny stories.

After a workmate of ours suffered a non-fatal heart attack we got to talking.

She sees more people admitted to the hospital in the cardiac ward for smoking related illnesses than she does patients for smoking related cancer illnesses.

It is not often raised enough, that smoking causes almost irreversible damage to your heart and arteries, and smokers don't realise this because they are too busy being invincible to cancer.


Grapefruit (and its juice) cause many major d**g interactions. It's a very potent metabolic inhibitor, even a small amount shuts down the CYP3A4 liver enzyme for up to 24 hours. A d**g which uses that pathway will persist in the blood far longer than specified, and you may essentially "double dose" after taking the next dose on schedule. Long, long list of medications it f***s with. On the positive side, like Cialis is on the list, so hypothetically you might be able to stretch your "boner weekend" out quite a bit on one pill if you keep drinking grapefruit juice.


That 'pulling the plug' as seen on every tv show is shenanigans. It drives me up the wall to see people unplug an i.v, only to watch a person choke to death. Those b**ches are battery powered.

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Today, one fourth of hearing losses in people over 50 were completely 100% preventable.

Longterm exposure to moderately-loud steady-state noise (think highway driving with windows down, personal music players, musical instruments, working at a pub or night club) without even the most minimal hearing protection will not only cause as much hearing loss as short impulse sounds like gun shots over time, but it will also speed up the progress of any age-related hearing loss you were predisposed to have.



“If its natural, it must be good for me!” The “all-natural” trap is a very misleading one that people fall into all the time. There is a misconception that if something is natural, it must be better for you but there is just NO REASON for it to be. Ignoring the fact that natural supplements aren't even regulated by the FDA (meaning that there is no governing body enforcing quality control or even effectiveness), Natural d***s work on concentrating a plant of some kind, which in turn concentrates the active ingredient. Pharmaceutical d***s just isolate this natural ingredient, so all you get with a pharmaceutical d***s is the pure ingredient that actually WORKS, and its effects (good and bad) are well documented and regulated. With “natural” d***s, EVERYTHING is concentrated. You not only take a concentrated d**g, but you concentrate every other chemical present in the plant. And because most plants produce some sort of chemical defense against herbivores (plants can't run away from their predators after all), you are concentrating this defense as well, which might lead to unforeseen health issues (and because the supplements aren't regulated, there's no way of knowing what these issues may or may not be) Of course, YMMV, but the TL;DR version is that Natural =/ Better.


“Rubbing dirt in a wound will stop it from bleeding” While true, please never do this. Its the easiest way to get a nasty infection that will be MUCH more painful, inconvenient, and potentially dangerous than 5 minutes of bleeding ever will. Direct pressure and elevation of the wound above the heart will work just fine, I promise.

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Effects of diseases:

- High blood pressure is a painless and comfortable disease. You won't feel any immediate effects on you body for decades, however, the long-term effects are devastating, thus your doctor is so persistent to treat you.

- This roughly applies to diabetes, too. It's the long-term effects we fear (and we fear them a lot). While you may feel perfectly fine when diagnosed with diabetes, it is really urgent to fix this problem.

- Thanks to the tireless efforts in the development of effective d***s, HIV patients who receive a sufficient treatment have a normal life expectancy. AIDS is only rarely seen these days in countries with a good health care system.


- There is little to none reliable evidence for any food to cause or prevent cancer.

- If on a balanced diet (and not suffering from certain diseases), supplementary vitamins will neither improve your health nor prevent illness.

- Diet constitutes only roughly 35% to blood cholesterol levels.

- There is no such thing as "detoxification" as a fasting cure. It's all bogus.


- If a poison, acid or alkaline solution is ingested, never force to vomit.

- Likewise, drinking milk doesn't help.


- Nobody gives you placebo.

- Generic d***s are not necessarily as effective as the original. Many are, but the accessory agents (e.g. added for galenic purposes) are important, too.

- We like to think a treatment we administered was the reason for your cure. But there is somewhat a probability of coincidence and that you would also feel better without our d***s. (However, it's common standard to scientifically test the effectiveness of every treatment.) All we can say is that a certain d**g will rise the probability of you getting better again (and that's perfectly fine).

- If you like grapefruits or grapefruit juice, always tell your doctor whenever a new d**g is prescribed. There's a chance this will influence the effectiveness.

- Isotretinoin and other retinoids should under no circumstances be prescribed to girls, teens and women capable of bearing children. Some of the most horrific malformations may develop. (The medical guidelines that are applicable for my country only require to educate about the consequences of getting pregnant during treatment. However, since none of these d***s are without any alternative, it is my personal and many other's opinion and advise to better not subscribe at all.).


Low-carb diets like keto and paleo aren't healthy if you just replace the missing calories with meat. They can also cause misconceptions about nutrition...


CPR works only 8% of the time.

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Alternative medicines don't work. If they did, they would be called medicine instead.

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It is okay if you do not poop everyday, as long as your schedule is at least 2-3 times a week and consistent.


“Vitamin X improves body function Y, so I'll take a whole bunch of it!!” Another dangerous trap people seem to believe, especially with vitamin C. The usefulness of vitamins is almost exclusively limited to when you are DEFICIENT for that vitamin. So is vitamin C good at bolstering your immune system? Sure, if you have been at sea eating dried meat for two months! But for your cold, much less so. No conclusive evidence has been found to support Vitamin C's effectiveness for reducing either severity or length of colds. Vitamin C overdose, however, is a well documented condition, and can make you even more ill by giving you diarrhea, and is especially dangerous if you are prone to having oxalate kidney stones, as Vitamin C overdose can cause them to form.


A lot of people with certain musculoskeletal conditions (ie osteoarthritis) stop exercising or don't exercise at all because they think it'll exacerbate pain or make their pain worse. Research shows that it does the opposite and helps.

Source: I'm a physical therapy student.


Mental ilnesses aren't static/unchangeable conditions. I know quite some people that were diagnosed with schizofrenia or personality disorders but don't have that diagnosis anymore, because they feel a lot better and can just cope better.

People will keep a certain vulnerability, but they can get rid of the disorders and lead normal lives like anyone else.

This annoys me a lot because a lot of the stigma's of the untreatability of psychiatric disorders came from the professionals... Take the Personality Disorders. Patients were found untreatable by means at that time so they gave them a diagnosis in which untreatable was included... When treatment is unsuccesful its the patients condition and not the professionals ignorance?

I also like how they say "some children grow out of ADHD" (or psychiatric disorder x), but they haven't come up with a treatment to make this happen for other children or adults even. So when people get over something by themselves they grow out of it? But other than that people should just take their methylphenidate, get up on time and learn to use an agenda...

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Unless something is protruding from your eye or you have a serious physical injury to your eye, don't waste your time going to the emergency room for an eye problem. They are not usually equipped with the right equipment or the expertise to treat you. You can often reach an on call ophthalmologist at most clinics. They are just going to send you to see us the next day anyway and you can save yourself the money.


That cardiovascular surgeons make a lot of money. This is a misconception. A heart surgeon makes about as much off a typical case as a dentist gets paid to cap a tooth. And capping a tooth takes much less time. Do NOT become a heart surgeon for money, do it because you want to save lives.


“Antibiotic soaps/cleaning products/etc. Are always the best choice” This is a tricky one. While our culture seems to be one that is obsessed with obliteration of all bacteria, remember that bacteria (for the most part), are our friends! After all, we are more bacteria than we are human, by up to a factor of 10! So using harsh chemicals may not always be the best option when cleaning or sanitizing, because washing bad bacteria away with traditional detergents/soaps can be just as good in terms of keeping yourself sickness free. While on the topic of gut bacteria, you may also want to reconsider routine enemas if you do them. Washing away our little friends may not be in your best interest, but of course, again, YMMV.


RN. Antibiotics won't cure everything. In fact, overmedicating with antibiotics is what is causing multiple d**g-resistant organisms, such as MRSA, VRE, etc. Seriously, just because you have a sore throat doesn't mean you need medicine for it. Most sore throats are caused by viruses, anyway.

Edit: I should have been more clear in saying that overmedicating for VIRAL issues is what the problem is. You should only be on a course of antibiotics if your issue is BACTERIAL in origin. If your doctor has determined that you need antibiotics, then by all means, take them! But if you go to the doctor for an illness and don't get prescribed an antibiotic, don't assume that you need one and don't get upset that you didn't get them.


I just saw my dermatologist, and people may already know this, but it was news to me and clarified a lot.

it takes up to 6 weeks for acne medications to start working. Using treatment, then changing after 3 weeks of no improvement is counterproductive.


Vitamin c doesn't cure or prevent the common cold.

We're not keeping you in the ICU because we're siphoning money from you. It's because you are potentially closer to death than everyone else in the hospital and 99.9% of people outside the hospital. Not to mention, if you are bugging us about discharge, you're probably annoying enough that we can't wait to get you on your way!

Pain cannot always be eliminated. If you shatter your pelvis, break 7 ribs and have an open tib/fib fracture, I will do my absolute best to make your pain tolerable, but realistically would not be able to eliminate it without an overly dangerous amount of narcotics.

If your loved one is getting Trached and PEG'd after a brain injury, we're preparing them for death, not to resume life. I know your cousin's friend's sister-in-law heard of a miraculous recovery from a non-survivable injury, but that just doesn't realistically happen.

And lastly, healthcare is not burger king, and you can't have it your way. A "costumer is always right" attitude has been ingrained in people in the US. Yes, it's your body, but let the centuries of research, decades of university education, and years of on-the-job training and experience guide you. It's our job to be the experts, and if we were wrong more than we were right, we wouldn't be in the position of helping you make decisions anyway.


That using hand sanitizers and washing hands are the same thing. They're not.


Using hydrogen peroxide on cuts isn't an effective way to clean wounds. The best thing to do is just wash the cut with water and possibly put some topical antibacterial (e.g. Neosporin) for a few days to prevent infection. Also, applying some Aquaphor or some ointment to keep the wound moist helps it to heal faster.

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Don't enema hard liquor people.


Medical student here. You should go to your doctor for regular checkups EVEN IF YOU FEEL FINE. I've heard way too many times that a person knew someone who was totally fine until they saw the doctor. They weren't fine. They had a chronic disease, and unfortunately stuff like emphysema, diabetes, and high blood pressure don't manifest their problems until they become serious enough to have significant impacts on someone's health.


Reading in the dark won't make your vision worse. It just affects the type of light going into your eye, not change anything within the organ itself. You may feel a little uncomfortable and deal with some eye strain, but there's no long-term problem.

Wearing high heels is not harmless and can lead to foot problems. When wearing sneakers, your weight is distributed ~~all over your feet~~ in a healthier, more comfortable pattern. When you're on high heels, that redistributes your weight in a way that can damage your heel.

So many people have weird ideas about losing weight that involve weird dietary restrictions and only eating certain food groups. If you want to lose weight, you need to watch what you eat and reduce calories. Don't starve yourself. You'll be miserable and have lots of cravings. Instead, try to find healthier alternatives to what you currently buy. For example, replace soda with diet soda. (Yes I am aware that not everybody can afford healthier food and that exercise is also necessary for maintaining a healthy body.) Edit: I've been getting a few comments in opposition to diet soda. I just want to make it clear that my stance is not that diet soda is a health food. I just selected switching to diet soda as an example because it represents an easy step to reduce calories that involves no sacrifice, since you can still drink some soda. As others have said, water is a better alternative. Juice has more nutrients than soda, but just be aware that it has about as many calories as regular soda.

Essentially anything that claims to be a miracle cure and/or side-effect free is probably not a good idea to to take.

The mechanisms behind things like reflexology, acupuncture, energy healing, etc. have minimal scientific basis. In general, if you have something done to influence your chakras, qi, energy flow, energy field, etc., it's probably not going to do what you hope it would do. (To clarify, things like acupuncture may do things like reduce pain, but there's minimal evidence that such a potential effect is the result of qi.)

Medical professionals are trained mainly to treat patients and because we like helping people get healthy. They don't necessarily like everything in healthcare related to insurance and pricing. Also, nobody's hiding the cure for cancer or AIDS just to keep patients sick and paying.


1) a few cigarettes a day is not alright 2) if you have diabetes, control it 3) doctors are not agents for the CDC to keep people sick (have been told that from patients).


An apple a day does not keep the doctor away.


Doctor here but I need to say this:

That your doctor/provider may not know best--I think this problem is going to get worse when universal health care will basically mandate a "gate keeper" to your health care.

Get a 2nd or 3rd opinion when dealing with a difficult diagnosis or a diagnosis that will need potential surgery. Specialists/Surgeons will have different approaches to the same disease.

Keep your medical records organized-copies of recent labs, imaging studies, medications. This will reduce duplicate studies and labs and also help inform your doctor/specialist while keeping your costs down. Always get a CD/film of your imaging study and take it with you to any relevant doctor visit--unless they are in the same system.

Oh, and Brain Death=Death.


That you have to eat every 3-4 hours to boost your metabolism.


Showed up a bit late, but ill still comment anyways. Nursing student here. Nursing homes aren't as bad as there portrayed to be. Living in a nursing home is just about the only time that you can hang out with a lot of your friends all day; other then when you were a child in school. Most residents in these homes are happy, and have quite interesting personalities.


Studying to get my BSCN right now. The one misconception I know that people don't believe is that there is no study that says 8 glasses of water is good for you and in fact there are studies that say the opposite and 8 glasses of water is too much and can be harmful. Run on sentence ftw.


Probably the perception of how serious type 2 diabetes is. In many cases it can be cured by losing weight. Somebody told me recently your prognosis is worse with type 2 diabetes than with HIV (properly managed on d***s).


Not a doctor or a nurse but...

"Eating fewer than 1200 calories/day will put your body in to starvation mode."

B******t. Everyone's caloric needs are different. Someone who is 6'3 and 250 pounds of muscle will go into metabolic slow down on far more calories than someone who is 5'1 and 100 pounds. Nor should everyone be eating 2000 calories a day. There IS no hard and fast rule for everyone, just like the same pair of shoes/jeans/whathaveyou won't fit everyone. Do research. Talk to a nutritionist. Have metabolic testing done. Find what works for YOU.


Taste zones on the tongue! This is a 100 year old concept that has been disproven, but they still push it on us in Nursing School.


There are very few tests that are black and white, positive or negative. Almost everything is up to interpretation with regards to positive or negative predictive value, pre and post test probability. Also, there isn't a test for everything! I once had a parent demand that I test her Reese's Peanutbutter cup after her morbidly obese child got a tummy ache from eating a bunch of them!


I'm not a nurse, but know something pretty interesting that's health related: Dish soap doesn't actually intentionally kill bacteria that are on your dishes. The dawn you use isn't actually "soap" in the truest of sense. It's actually a detergent that acts as an emulsifier. When you rinse off your plate, what you're doing is scrubbing away grease and oil which bacteria binds to. Oil doesn't mix with water, so you use the "dish soap" to act as a buffer and emulsify the oil and water into a temporary homogeneous mixture. So the oil, which the germs bind to, can be scrubbed off instead of the food oils just smearing around your plate.


Taking multivitamins doesn't really help.