In college, one my roommates freaked out when she saw me eating a raw green bean. “They are poisonous!!” she screamed fearing for my life. Laughing, I asked her where in the world she had learned that ridiculous (and false) fact. “My mom…” she said.
Oh wives’ tales….the mostly merit-less things our parents and grandparents told us that we believed (and in some cases still believe). But how many of these tales actually contain some truth? Since we have been delving into the world of “why we eat what we eat”, I got to thinking about old wives’ tales.
There are some old wives’ tales that are just ridiculous …
“Feed a cold, starve a fever.”
Forget the old saying about ‘starving a fever’ to make it go away. (Actually, the original saying was ‘feed a cold, stave a fever,’ stave meaning to prevent.) Fasting will weaken you just as you should be preserving your strength. Even if you don’t feel like eating, at least have some chicken soup and toast or other soothing foods.
Some that are just myths but SOUND plausible…
“Don’t go outside with wet hair. You’ll catch a cold.”
Sorry my FITfriends but this one is FALSE. Getting chilled does not cause a cold—at least not under laboratory conditions. In one study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, two groups of people were exposed to viruses that cause the common cold. One group was exposed to the germs in a chilly 5°C room; the other group, in a balmy 30°C room. The result? Both groups caught colds at about the same rate.
And others, that actually have a good deal of merit. Like…
1. “An apple a day keeps the Dr. away“: Studies show that there really are health benefits to eating an apple each day! Not only do they contain nutrients like fiber that can help us maintain a healthy weight and have a healthy heart, new research shows that the compounds in apples called phenols may help to protect cells against DNA damage that can be caused by cancer.
2. “Chicken Soup will cure your cold”: Maybe not cure, but it will help. It seems that the centuries-old home remedy for fighting the common cold is not just an old wives’ tale. Scientists believe that a bowl of the soup may reduce inflammation of the lungs. It is thought that chicken soup slows down the activity of white blood cells that can cause the inflammation. Here is a GREAT homemade chicken soup recipe!
3. “Carrots will help you see better” : While they won’t actually improve your eyesight, they do contain lutein, a nutrient which can help prevent vision problems such as macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness). However, leafy greens are even better sources of lutein!
So keep on eating those apples, chicken soup, and carrots for a healthy, happy life! (And feel free to pass on these old wives’ tales to the next generation…)