Amusing and interesting health-based myth busters
Each one of our childhoods was flooded by false tales. Naturally, every teacher knew a child that cracked their head open by swinging on a chair and parents were ever so convincing that the song an ice cream van plays indicates that they’re out of ice-cream! Many of these tales related to health tips and bodily functions too: as kids, the consumption of bread crusts was essential if you wanted curly hair.
But how many other health myths do we unconsciously still believe and follow? Is it time some of these health myths are debunked?
Here we look at some common health myths, as well as some that may be less well-known nowadays but are incredibly amusing, that may not be quite as factual as you expect. .
Knuckle cracking is a habit that seems to affect at least one person in every room and the sound produced causes wincing and disgust. But can it actually cause arthritis?
Research has found that up to 54% of us actually do it — whether it’s pulling the tip of each finger until they crack, making a fist or bending our fingers away from our hand. Men are also more likely to do it.
The popping noise and sensation is created by the spaces between the joints increasing, which causes gases dissolved in the synovial fluid to form microscopic bubbles. These bubbles then merge into larger bubbles and are popped by additional fluid that has filled the enlarged space.
There hasn’t been much investigation into the subject, but it is suggested that it can cause a similar level of wear as a mechanical joint might. However, a study from 2010 claimed that there was no difference in the prevalence of osteoarthritis between those who did or did not crack their knuckles.
Keep on cracking! At least for now.
Soapy bed sheets?
Muscle cramps plague many of us, especially after an intensive bout of exercise. But can placing a bar of soap in your bed help with this? While those who perform this method may stand by it, there is no plausible or scientific explanation that has been given to suggest that this actually does work.
If this is an issue for you, there are some natural alternatives that should help with the situation. This includes reducing your caffeine intake during the evening, stretching your calf muscles before bed, and increasing your intake of essential electrolytes including potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Onions and socks
Some may claim that this odd solution is perfect for sufferers of the flu, and by putting onions in your socks it will actually help with recovering. The concept is that, because onions are slightly acidic, there can be antibacterial results when rubbed against things. Unfortunately for the believers, onions in your socks haven’t been found to aid your recovery. As viruses require direct contact with a human being to spread, this wouldn’t allow an onion to draw the virus in and absorb it.
Therefore, this myth appears to only work as a placebo effect.
Starve a fever, feed a cold
The majority of occasions where you have fallen ill, you will have heard this phrase as a bit of advice.
The folklore of starving a fever has been around for hundreds of years, with some medical historians linking it as far back at the 1500s. Back then, doctors believed that a fever was caused because your metabolism was in overdrive.
However, you shouldn’t starve your fever, modern-day experts have warned. Doing so means you’ll have a lower calorie intake, which can then make it more difficult for your body to fight off the flu virus.
We recommend that you completely ignore this ‘advice’ as research has suggested that lowering consumption in the early stages of infections can actually be very detrimental.
Chewing gum lasts seven years
Nearly everyone has heard that chewing gum is not for consumption and should be avoided at all cost. Some of us may have been scared off swallowing our gum as it will stay in our system for seven years.
While it’s not particularly advisable to swallow gum, you can relax — this is a decades-old bit of folklore, according to paediatric gastroenterologist David Milov of the Nemours Children’s Clinic in Orlando. He explained:
“That would mean that every single person who ever swallowed gum within the last seven years would have evidence of the gum in the digestive tract. On occasion, we’ll see a piece of swallowed gum, but usually it’s not something that’s any more than a week old.”
Carrots improve vision
If you believed all the myths about carrots, you would be convinced they can give you superpowers.
Throughout the years, they have been associated with helping cure everything from snakebites to STDs. However, one of the most popular comments is that carrots can help you see in the dark.
Sadly, this was little more than Second World War propaganda by the British Royal Air Force. The tale of Jon ‘Cats’ Eyes’ Cunningham’s great piloting skills was accredited to the orange vegetable. This led to it being mandated for people to eat their carrots, as it would help them see better during the blackouts.
Although they don’t directly improve vision, they hold vitamins that are useful in maintaining healthy vision, so do have a go at growing your own, There’s nothing better than your own fresh produce and feeling safe in the knowledge that they havn’t been grown with any nasty insecticides. But do remember that a range of fresh vegetables, as well as oily fish and citrus fruits, can help to provide the right vitamins to keep your eyes healthy.
But sometimes we can’t eat enough of the right foods to provide all the vitamins we need, so often using health supplements is a much faster and easier way of getting these.
Many myths can be easily quashed with little research and evidence. In regard to your health, however, it is never worth risking it in hopes an old tale is true — without having the facts and figures to back up the claims, don’t mess with your health. Make sure to trust your professional health practitioners before any of these old wives’ tales!