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Are Any Old Wives’ Tales True?

  • Category: Kids' Tips
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Are Any Old Wives’ Tales True?

Despite access to medicine, expertise and well-proven treatments, old wives’ tales continue to be passed down from generation to generation, many of them claiming to address common ailments or giving advice on elements of health. Some are loosely based in fact, and most are harmless. Let’s look at the top 5 old wives’ tales about health to see if any of them are true and how many you may still be following:

Feed a cold, starve a fever.

False. Drinking plenty of fluids is important for both high fevers and colds. When you’re sick, fluid loss can happen in a number of ways – sweating from fever, blowing your nose, vomiting, diarrhea. Drinking water or Pedialyte is best to help prevent dehydration. (It will also continue to give your body electrolytes to fight off the illness.) And with both fevers and colds, you may not feel up to eating but it’s fine to eat regular meals — skipping important nutrients may only make you feel worse.

You have to wait at least 30 minutes to swim after you’ve eaten.

False. The American Red Cross has even chimed in to debunk this old wives’ tale, which dates back to a Boy Scouts handbook from the early 1900s. Digestion does divert some blood flow from your muscles to your stomach. So the concern was that swimming would further inhibit the necessary blood flow to the stomach, causing cramps so severe that you could possibly drown. Another variation is that your limbs wouldn’t get enough blood flow, also causing a risk of drowning. Remember to drink plenty of water while swimming so you don’t get dehydrated. And, avoid chewing gum or eating while in the water, both of which could cause choking.

If you go outside with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold.

False. The common cold is caused by a virus, plain and simple, spread through respiratory droplets in the air. Sure, having wet hair can make you feel colder, and if it’s chilly outside, that feeling is amplified. But feeling chilled doesn’t make you more susceptible to catching a cold. In fact, if you already have a cold virus in your body, feeling chilled could be the onset of symptoms.

Watching too much TV is bad for your eyes.

This one can be true, in the short term. Watching a lot of television or sitting very close to it may cause eye strain – headaches, tiredness in the eyes, dry eyes -- but won’t cause any serious permanent damage. Today, this could apply to any digital screen – tablet, computer, or smartphone. And if you have to sit too close to the TV, you could have vision problems in the first place, so be sure to get that checked out.

Eating carrots will improve your vision.

False. Carrots do contain beta-carotene and are a source of vitamin A. Vitamin A can help prevent the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration, the world’s leading cause of blindness. So yes, these are essential nutrients for good eye health, but eating them won’t improve your eye site regardless how many you eat.