I recently took a poll to see what old wives tales you've heard of, and I certainly got some interesting answers. So I decided to visit Dr. Tamara Spriggs at Round Hill Family Practice with the most popular responses to sort out what is real and what isn't. The first one is cutting an onion and placing it in a room will ward off sickness and germs.
Dr. Spriggs says, "that will only work if the onion stops other people from coming in the room. Onions are very good for you. They have a lot of antioxidants, but the good effects come only when you eat them."
Another popular old wives tale is feed a cold and starve a fever.
"The first documentation of it was really in the 1500s. But what they've noticed is that people who have a fever just tend not to have much of an appetite. So it doesn't do you any good to intentionally starve yourself. It's not as important to eat as it is to drink during that time. Now feeding a cold, I think what that came from is people tend to feel better when they're drinking or eating warm things like your chicken noodle soup, things like that. So you don't have to force food either, it's not going to do you any good. But staying well hydrated and getting plenty of rest - those are your important things," says Dr. Spriggs.
Hold the dessert: can eating too much candy and sweets give you "sugar diabetes?"
Dr. Spriggs answers, "not directly. Diabetes is a problem with the sugar in your blood vs. the insulin that gets your blood sugar back down. So even though eating sugar and sugary beverages and high fat foods and things can cause obesity, obesity can be a risk factor for diabetes. But there's not really a one to one ratio of the sugar you eat to the sugar in your blood."
Can having heartburn while pregnant mean your baby is going to have a full head of hair?
"If you have severe heartburn when you're pregnant it's more likely that your child will have more hair because what we're thinking is some of the hormones that cause babies to grow a lot of hair on their heads actually have something to do with increasing the risk of heartburn anyway from lowering the pressure in the stomach and letting the stomach acid come into the esophagus," explains Dr. Spriggs.
One of the biggest myths is if you go outside with a wet head you can get sick. Turns out this might not be true.
Dr. Spriggs adds, "not directly, no. Wet hair just makes you uncomfortable. Sickness comes from germs. Viruses, bacteria. Wet hair will make you uncomfortable, but the only thing that can happen directly from going outside with wet hair is hypothermia, which can make you more likely to get illness. But if you're a nice healthy person likely it's not going to make you sick."
So there you have it. Although it's probably ok to keep eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away. See below for additional myths.
Drinking baking soda will make you pass a kidney stone.
"No. Drinking baking soda might make more stones form depending on the type of stone. There are some daily treatments that some people can do to try to stop stones from forming, but once they're formed they kind of need to pass somehow on their own," says Dr. Spriggs.
Having dry skin means your unhealthy.
Dr. Spiggs explains, "this is one of those 'one thing doesn't exactly mean the other.' There's a number of medical problems that can manifest in the skin, and you could have dry skin from those. But dry skin itself is very very common, and so it doesn't necessarily mean that you're unhealthy and you have dry skin."
Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.
"Pretty conclusively it will not. What it can do though is loosen some of the ligaments in your hands so that you might actually have a decrease in your grip strength or weakness in your hands. But it's not going to end up being arthritis," concludes Dr. Spriggs.
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