I’ve sure we’ve all participated in the exchange of folk wisdom at some point in our lives, either as the sharer or the recipient. While some of it is helpful, common sense advice, many “old wives’ tales” have turned out to be just plain wrong.
But not all old wives’ tales have been debunked, and some are even supported by scientific research! And we’ll be exploring some of those in today’s post, where I’ll be sharing 9 old wives’ tales that actually have some truth to them.
And I’d love to hear from all of you about the folk wisdom you’ve heard over the years! I think if we put our heads together, we can probably come up with a whole new post’s worth of tales for me to look into. :-)
9 Surprising Old Wives’ Tales That Are Actually True
1. Carrots Are Good For Your Vision
While it may not be as simple as “eat a carrot, acquire 20/20 vision,” there is some truth to the claim that carrots are good for your eyes. When we consume the beta carotene found in carrots, our bodies turn it into vitamin A, which is essential for overall eye health.
So while eating carrots won’t improve your vision or enhance it to any extent, it will help keep your eyes healthy! So take Grandma’s advice and eat your carrots. :-)
2. You Can Catch A Cold From Being Out In The Cold
I’m sure all of us have been reprimanded at least once by our moms or grandmas for not being properly bundled up before going outside, even if it wasn’t particularly cold. While we may not “catch our death” like they insisted, there is evidence that being exposed to colder temperatures can make us more likely to catch a cold.
In a 2005 study, researchers found that participants who sat with their feet in cold water were more likely to report cold symptoms 5 days after the fact than participants in the control group, who weren’t exposed to cold water. These results suggest that exposure to cold may suppress the immune response to some degree, potentially increasing the likelihood you’ll get sick in the days after you were exposed to cold conditions.
That’s reason enough to bundle up when it’s cold outside (and to apologize to your mom for all the times you you ignored her sage advice!) ;-)
3. Eating Cheese Can Cause Vivid Dreams
Have you ever heard that eating cheese (or dairy) before bed will give you crazy dreams? As strange as it sounds, there may actually be some truth to it!
In 2005, the British Cheese Board performed an informal study where they asked volunteers to eat a small amount of cheese before bed every night, and keep a journal of the type of cheese they ate, how well they slept, and the content of any dreams they had while sleeping. The results not only indicated that cheese consumption lead to restful sleep, but often lead to dreams that varied based on the type of cheese the person had consumed!
In an NPR interview about the study with the Secretary of the British Cheese Board, he shared that those who ate blue cheese reported the most vivid and outlandish dreams, those who ate cheddar had dreams about celebrities, and those who ate Red Leicester (a British cheddar-like cheese, but milder and more crumbly) experienced nostalgic dreams.
Have you ever had vivid dreams after a late-night cheese snack? Let us know in the comments below! :-)
4. Baby Boys Lead To Longer Labor
People often say that if you’re pregnant with a boy, you can expect a long and intense labor to deliver them. And while I don’t think that’s a particularly helpful thing to share with a pregnant woman, it might be more than just an urban myth.
Support for this idea comes from the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, where researchers studied detailed data on the deliveries of over 8,000 babies at the hospital between 1997 and 2000. They found that boys were slightly more likely to need C-sections, forceps, and vacuum pump assistance than girls, and that labor for boys was slightly longer on average than for girls.
Researchers say that these differences can partially be attributed to size differences between the sexes, but that they also suggest baby boys are simply more vulnerable during and after birth. It sounds like boys start giving us moms a hard time from Day 1, and that has certainly been my experience with my 3 boys! ;-)
5. An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away
When it comes to healthy eating, you can do much worse than apples! Apples are rich in both vitamin C and fiber, and contain special phytochemical that can help regulate digestion and improve blood glucose control.
Fiber and phytochemical are most concentrated in an apple’s skin, so you’ll get the most benefits from eating your apples with the skin on. While eating apples won’t prevent accidents or diseases, they can support your overall health and wellness!
6. Eat Chicken Soup When You’re Sick
Chicken soup may be more than just a comforting meal when you’re feeling lousy. Over the years, several researchers have attempted to study the effects of chicken soup on those sick with respiratory infections, including a report published in CHEST in 2000.
According to that report, homemade chicken soup can help to reduce inflammation, which is responsible for many of the unpleasant symptoms associated with respiratory infections. Researchers also agree that the social benefits of having a loved one who is willing to make soup for you probably have a beneficial impact as well.
So if your parents ever made you chicken soup when you were sick, make sure to thank them! And if you want to pay it forward by making soup for someone else, check out my chicken taco soup recipe here.
7. Eat Honey For A Cough
Some people tend to doubt the effectiveness of natural remedies, but eating honey to soothe a sore throat or cough is one you can hang your hat on! It is thought that it helps coats the throat, which can have a soothing effect for those with a nighttime cough.
This information can be especially useful for parents of young kids. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cough and cold medicines often don’t work in children younger than 6, so honey can be an effective and safe option for relief (as long as the child is at least 1 year old.)
8. Put Onion On Insect Bites & Stings
Have you ever heard that onion can soothe an insect sting? Apparently there may be something to it! It’s thought that the enzymes found in onions can break down the irritating toxins left behind by the insect, helping to reduce pain and swelling.
9. Predict The Weather By Looking At The Sunset
As the old saying goes, “red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” There’s a reason this sailors’ saying has stuck around, and that’s because in certain conditions, it can be a pretty dependable way to evaluate the weather.
In the mid-latitudes, weather systems generally travel from west to east. As the sun rises in east, it may illuminate clouds from an approaching weather system, resulting in a “red sky at morning.” And as the sun sets in the west, it may illuminate clouds of a passing weather system, resulting in a “red sky at night” signaling fair conditions to come.
There’s a lot more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the gist of why this old wives’ tale is more than meets the eye! :-)
What are some old wives’ tales you were told as a kid?