Just as families pass down recipes from generation to generation, tips and “secrets” for healing various ailments also get bestowed to younger generations. Some of these often unusual, and sometimes wacky, treatments may work, but there may be some that have little basis in truth.
When it comes to the serious topic of health and illness, you simply cannot rely on what you hear from others. You need to know the truth behind the popular old sayings before following them blindly.
Here are the top 10 health-related old wives’ tales and their facts.
1. Cod liver oil reduces joint pain.
Cod liver oil can actually help reduce pain in joints. According to a study done at Cardiff University, 86% of patients who took 2,000 mg of cod liver oil capsules every day suffered from less pain compared with those who took dummy capsules.
Cod liver oil has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids along with anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain as well as swelling. This is one reason cod liver oil is highly recommended for treating arthritis at home.
2. Eating carrots will improve your eyesight.
There is some truth in this statement. Carrots are very good for the eyes because of the antioxidants they contain. Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, which is a precursor for vitamin A that helps slow the progression of macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness among older people.
Vitamin A also helps maintain a healthy, clear cornea and protects the cells in your eyes and your body. Also, the high amount of lutein in carrots protects the retina and lowers the risk of macular degeneration.
3. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
This is one of the most well-known health sayings. Apples are a powerful source of antioxidants and eating them daily can help prevent diseases. Apples also contain vitamin C, which is highly beneficial for the development of collagen in your bones, muscles, cartilage and blood vessels.
The apple’s skin has pectin that can lower cholesterol, too. Apples are healthy but they will not keep you from visiting your doctor if you do not also exercise regularly, follow a healthy diet, and abstain from smoking and excessive drinking.
4. Reading in dim light can damage your eyes.
There is little truth behind this popular tale. Human eyes have two types of photoreceptors in the retina known as rods and cones. Cones help you read and see colors, while rods help detect motion in your peripheral vision and enable you to see in low light.
Reading in poor light may cause strain on your eyes and give you a mild headache, but it will never cause long-lasting damage to your eyes or affect the quality of your vision. However, whenever possible, read in an environment with enough lighting.
5. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.
Cracking your knuckles may make very annoying sounds, but it does not cause arthritis. In a study done at Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital in Detroit, a comparison was made between people who had been chronic knuckle-crackers for decades and those who always left their hands alone.
Researchers found no difference in the incidence of osteoarthritis between the two groups. However, this same study found that the knuckle-crackers had weaker grip strength and greater hand swelling, which can limit dexterity. So, it is better to break this habit as soon as possible.
6. Don’t go swimming after eating.
It is good to follow this useful advice as it has been found that people who go swimming with a full stomach really do have a higher risk of drowning.
This has been proven by scientists from Tokyo Women’s Medical University who did thorough research on 536 autopsies. They found that almost 80% of swimmers who died from accidental drowning still had food in their stomachs.
This can be due to the fact that blood is diverted to the intestine during digestion, causing circulation problems in the arms and legs. To be on the safe side, wait for about half an hour after eating to go for a swim.