Old Wives’ Tales – True or False
Putting Old Wives’ to the Test
We’ve complied a list of what’s true or false, so the next time your well-meaning friend gives you some oft-repeated advice, you can fight back with some facts!
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”
Well, obviously not entirely, however recent research has shown that apple phenols may protect the DNA in colon cancer cells, and may even help to protect against breast cancer.
“Long labour means you’re having a boy”
This sounds like a typical old wives’ tale, but actually could contain a grain of truth. A study of 8,000 births at Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital showed that mothers of boys were significantly more likely to experience a long labour and more complications.
“Chicken soup will cure a cold”
Well, not exactly, but a by-product of chicken soup - the amino acid cysteine - can help fight congestion. It’s even related to an antibiotic that’s prescribed for respiratory infections!
“Milk makes mucus”
No it does not! At least, that’s what the researchers say. People just think it does because it makes mucus appear whiter and more gluggy. So if your snotty 3-year-old wants a glass of milk, give it to him!
“Feed a cold, starve a fever”
There is no scientific basis for this commonly held belief (and I always remember it as “feed a fever, starve a cold” anyway). In both cases it is important to drink lots of fluids and eat healthily.
“Wear a hat, most body heat is lost through the head”
Wrong again - only about 10 per cent of heat is lost through your noggin, so if you’ve spent an hour on your hair this morning, don’t panic about covering it up!
“Don’t go outside with wet hair – you’ll catch a cold”
Another hair myth. Viruses cause colds, not the weather. Colds are only more prevalent in winter because viruses thrive better indoors where it’s warmer.
“Don’t crack your knuckles, you’ll get arthritis”
Sorry Mum, you are wrong! Well actually, while cracking knuckles can cause hand swelling, a weak grip and impaired hand function (and much irritation to others!), it does not cause arthritis.
“You’re carrying out front, must be a girl”
As someone with a short torso, I was regularly told this when carrying my two boys. There’s no fact behind this old wives tale at all. Short torsos push the baby bump out, and a wide belly may just mean the baby is sideways.
“Eating sugar makes kids hyper”
As anyone who’s been to a child’s birthday party can attest, this one seems the most plausible. In spite of this, researchers believe it’s actually just the excitement of a party that causes hyperactivity, not sugar itself. Caffeinated products, like cola and chocolate, can cause hyperactivity, but research has shown that lollies and sweet drinks do not.
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