Somehow, down through the years, a number of myths about our bodies and our health have endured and been passed on from generation to generation. Most people probably wouldn’t take the time to research things like this (it was a lot more difficult before the internet came along) and were quite likely to believe these myths, since they often heard them from authoritative figures like parents, grandparents, teachers and even doctors. Fortunately, a lot of these myths can be tossed onto the scrap heap now that they have been proven wrong. There is no need to concern yourself with the following myths because they have been busted.
1. Hats are optional
It’s been said for years that hats are an important accessory in cold weather because most of the body’s heat is lost through the head. Lord knows how that got started, and despite the fact that a warm hat may keep you toastier in cold weather, there is nothing special about the head when compared to other parts of the body where heat loss is concerned. Perhaps this one was started by a manufacturer of hats!
2. Sick of food
“Feed a cold and starve a fever,” is probably one we have all heard at one time or another. Actually, there is no need to change your eating habits when you are sick, but it’s always a good idea to increase your fluid intake to help flush toxins out of the body. I know some people that never lose their appetite and others who really don’t feel like eating at all when they are sick. Personally, I just go with what my body tells me, which most of the time is “don’t eat” when I am feeling sick, which hasn’t seemed to have harmed me in any way.
3. Don’t catch cold
This has to be one of the most enduring health myths of all time and has been preached to countless children around the world for a very long time. There is no evidence that going out in the cold makes you sick. Sickness is caused by a virus or bacteria, many of which probably don’t survive as well in very cold environments. One theory suggests that people tend to get sick more often in the winter, not because of the cold, but because they spend more time indoors sharing their germs.
4. Milk and mucous
Many have held the belief that drinking milk causes increased phlegm production in the body. Researchers tackled this one by rounding up a group of people with colds and having some of them drink a lot of milk. When the volume of the phlegm was compared to the volunteers who did not drink any milk, there was no detectable difference.
5. Bathroom break
Having at least one bowel movement per day is considered by some to be necessary for good health. The truth of the matter is that we are all individuals, and much the way our hair color, eye color, body shape and about a million other things differ from person to person, so does the digestive process. There is no “right” number of times a person should have a bowel movement. Most of us are pretty good at figuring out when it is needed, and we’re just fine following along with the hints our body gives us.
6. The daily apple
Sound like a good name for a newspaper or something. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is another extremely popular old saying that really doesn’t have any basis in fact. There’s nothing magical about apples that will make you healthier, in fact, there are a lot of foods that have more health benefits than apples. Perhaps this belief originated because someone knew that eating a healthy diet that included fresh fruit was a good idea, and that certainly sounds more reasonable.
7. Scary relief
Among the crazy ideas that have been conjured up to help stop the hiccups, startling someone is about as useless as most of the others. There was never any real evidence to suggest that startling someone was effective at all in stopping hiccups. One potential treatment was actually printed in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 1971, and that suggests eating a teaspoon of sugar. Research at the time claimed that out of 20 people with the hiccups who were given sugar, 19 of them stopped.
8. Cracking up
It would be interesting to know how many children were admonished when they were caught cracking their knuckles, and informed that it would lead to arthritis later in their lives. This one goes down in flames with the rest of them since there is nothing to suggest it is true. Some people find the sound of cracking knuckles unpleasant, but the reality is that it will do the perpetrator no ham.
9. No swimming!
Another enduring old myth states that it is dangerous to go swimming any sooner than an hour after eating, since it may result in cramps. The only real “cramp” is the person who was silly enough to start this myth many years ago and pass it along as truth. There is no increased danger whatsoever by swimming immediately after eating. If you are prone to seasickness, you may throw up, but that is something the local fish population would probably appreciate. I just made that last part up.
10. No double dipping!
Fans of the Seinfeld show will likely appreciate this one. It turns out George was right to call out the guy that was double-dipping his chips. Researchers decided to delve into this matter and found that between three and six double dips added about 10,000 bacteria from the dipper’s mouth into the container of dip. It pays to keep an eye on any dip you intend to eat at a gathering unless you are not bothered by the idea of sharing someone else’s bacteria.