5 Common Old Wives Tales

Fact or Fiction

5 Common Old Wives Tales

When I was young I remember my Sicilian grandmother had a thousand old sayings/wives tales. Here are just a hand full.

1) An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Fiction: An apple everyday is not necessarily going to keep you from having to visit your doctor’s office, but it is a good source of nutrition. It has a lot of vitamins and is a good source of fiber. It can help keep our blood sugar in check and help with cravings.

2) The hair of the dog that bit you.

Fiction: The phrase “hair of the dog” originally came from the belief that a person bit by a rabid dog could be cured of rabies by drinking a potion containing the hair of the rabid dog. So basically, you can cure what ails you with more of what ails you. In the case of a hangover, drinking the alcohol that got you drunk the night before.”

A little sidebar here … there is another drinking saying that goes something like "beer to liquor never sicker, liquor to beer you are in the clear.”

3) Do not go outside with wet hair or you will catch a cold

Half Fact/Half Fiction: While going outside with wet hair will not automatically generate a case of the sniffles. It could make catching a cold easier. Viruses are found more often in cooler months because they can survive longer. So, it only makes sense that if your nose, mouth and throat are cooler than normal and the air you are breathing in is cold, then having wet hair may make matters worse. Conditions must be just right though and the chances of catching a cold are pretty slim.

4) You should wait an hour after eating before you go swimming.

Half Fact/Half Fiction: While it is not advisable to do any kind of exercise after eating a heavy meal, going swimming after eating is not bad for your health. “It’s not any worse than trying to go for a run or playing baseball after a heavy meal. It may not feel good, but it isn’t bad for you.”

5) Starve a fever and feed a cold.

Fact: There are two ways at look at this one. The first way is figuratively. You are supposed to “feed” a fever meaning that you are suppose to make yourself warm in order to “break” your fever at the same you are supposed to “starve” a cold by steering away from anything that would keep you cold there for making your cold worse or at the very least keep it from getting better.

Another way of look at this is that temporarily avoiding food improves immune response. A fever is part of how the body fights infection. It is thought that loss of appetite is in this way part of the body's natural infection-fighting process. So, the best advice is indeed to avoid eating temporarily when one has a fever and a loss of appetite. A cold in contrast typically has no fever, and appetite is not diminished. Just make sure to stay hydrated.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this short story. I found it fun and entertaining when researching these old wives' tales.

fact or fiction
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Paula Winemiller
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