Seven old wives’ tales that are true

Health News – Editors Choice

Who doesn’t remember being told old wives’ tales when they were young? However, while most of them are false and are used purely to discourage naughty behavior, there is an element of truth to some of them. We go in search of the superstitions that have more than a hint of substance about them.

Sitting in a hot bath makes men infertile

Your granny has been saying it for years, but now it seems that sitting in a baking hot bath can indeed damage men’s fertility. A three-year study of infertile men found that wallowing in hot water may be the reason behind their infertility. Five of the 11 men tested saw their fertility soar after they ceased exposing themselves to “wet heat”, or water that is hotter than body temperature, researchers from the University of California in San Francisco found.

The men’s average active sperm count rose by 491% after they stayed out of hot baths for between three to six months. University researcher Paul Turek said: “It has been believed for decades, as an old wives’ tale, that wet heat exposure is bad for fertility, but this effect has rarely been documented. Sperm is known to develop best in cool surroundings, which is why the testicles hang outside the man’s body within the scrotum.” An unpublished Swiss study in the 1940s also linked wet heat to temporary male infertility.

What you can do to combat infertility

An apple a day, keeps the doctor away

Not many people would argue that this favorite saying is just a devious ruse to make us eat more fruit. Eating an apple is indeed a fantastic way to incorporate essential health-boosting nutrients into your diet. But then again, so is tucking into any fruit, which can protect you from numerous conditions including heart disease, cancer and stroke. Just make sure apples are part of your five-a-day regime and you will help keep your body in fine fettle.

Fish is good for your brain

This old adage has been given credence by a raft of recent research that says eating fish can indeed boost brainpower, especially in children. Researchers at the US National Institute of Health found that children of mothers who ate more fish and other seafood while pregnant were smarter and had better developmental skills than kids of women who ate less or none. Elsewhere, a school in England announced last year that it would be giving its pupils fish oil tablets to improve their performance in exams, while the government even considered giving pupils the supplements en masse.

Statistics show that young people in the UK are consuming less fish than they used to, something that worries Prof. Michael Crawford, Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at North London University. He said: “We need to get back to feeding our minds as well as our bodies. We should all be eating oily fish at least once a week.”

Eat your crusts

While there is little truth to the saying that eating your crusts will make your hair curly, there is plenty of evidence that says the last thing you should do is cut the crusts off your bread. Bread contains an antioxidant called pronyl-lysine, a nutrient which helps the body fight carcinogens. Research carried out by German scientists found that there is up to eight times as much pronyl-lysine in the crust of the bread compared to the less-baked centre.

Eating carrots helps you to see in the dark

I would wager that almost all of us were told this by our mothers when we were young – and they were right. Carrots are jam-packed with vitamin A, which is something our retinas feed on. Worldwide, vitamin A deficiency is considered to be a common cause of blindness, which suggests that eating carrots is indeed a good idea if you want to keep your eyesight in tip-top shape. The Eye care Trust supports this idea and lists carrots as one of its top-ten foods for protecting eyesight. And before you ask, masturbation does not have the opposite effect.

Lifestyle choices that will help protect your eyes

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

This old phrase perhaps contains more truth that any of our other old wives’ tales. Eating a nutritious breakfast is essential if you want to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. This is backed up by numerous studies, which all say that eating breakfast prepares your body both mentally and physically for the day ahead.

According to NHS Direct, eating first thing in the morning stabilizes your blood sugar levels, while missing out on breakfast can lead to fatigue and poor concentration. Not eating breakfast also slows down your metabolism and makes it more likely that you will pig out on unhealthy, sugary snacks. So, if you are trying to lose weight, missing out this essential meal is in fact one of the worst things you can do.

Listening to music will damage your hearing

“Turn that music DOWN!” is a common cry in many households containing teenagers, and research shows that parents are right to ask their kids to turn the volume down a bit. Studies have shown that as many as one in five of today’s teenagers have already done damage to their ears due to exposure to music played at excessive volumes – three times as many as twenty years ago. The rocketing popularity of MP3 players isn’t helping matters either. Dr John Low, chief executive of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, said: “If young people don’t heed our warnings about safer listening, they could end up facing premature hearing damage. If you are regularly plugged in, it’s only too easy to clock up noise doses that could damage hearing forever.”

By Ross Chainey, Health & Wellbeing Editor


9 thoughts on “Seven old wives’ tales that are true

  1. Delete52Mitch

    Wonderful list. I was going to say I’ll never take hot baths again, but who would I be kidding? I mean, would I really want another kid?  

  2. me

    hi kate, at last my eating of crusts has proven value 🙂 as a kid, and i confess an adult, instead of leaving the crusts i would cut the whole crust  of an uncut loaf and eat that lol.
    As usual interesting and useful facts.
    take care

  3. vєє

    The amount of times my mum and dad told me to turn down my music when I was a teenager. I think I eventually developed ‘selective’ deafness and pretended I couldn’t hear them shouting for the music! My dad has now developed selective deafness, and only hears sentences with the word ‘food’ in them!
    Blessed be,

  4. Bittersweet on-the-hill.

    Hi Kate,
    As I was reading each heading, I realized there was an element of truth to each of the so-called wive’s tales. But it did make for good reading.  
    We are enjoying some very pleasant weather although it will be short lived. The summer harvests of fresh local produce has been quite good.  We’ve enjoyed some very sweet corn and some of our own tomatoes. Delightful.   The other day was the first time I baked the fried tomatoes rather than frying them in a pan.  I prepared them much the same way; dipping in egg batter and then breading them. Then i layed the slices ina lightly greased cookie sheet and baked them. Was just as good as frying them except I didn’t have to worry about the cooking oil.
    Do have a good day.  Bittersweet 

  5. Ye Olde

    Hi Kate,
    Sorry about the delay in revisiting, time is the problem.. now there’s an interesting one.. but not for now!
    Glad to see you still putting over some very valid points of view, and posing intriguing questions.
    Regarding old wives tales, the apple a day one, apparently helps to keep your stools loose as a side benefit! : o )
    I always eat my crusts, and what little hair I have left, is straighter than straight. : o (
    The carrots business goes back to the second world war, when we had developed radar, and a certain flyboy gent called " cats eyes " Cuningham, was achieving considerably success shooting down german planes at night, so the rumour was put about the the aforementioned cats eyes used to eat carrots when he was a lad, and consequently had fantastic night time vision….apparently.
    I never have  breakfast, but am on a continual diet…… this one might be worth trying ; o )
    last but not least, loud music HAS DEAFENED ME!!!…. QUARTER TO THREE… sorry!!
    I’m not sure about the hot baths, I take showers, but I do eat a  lot of fish, mainly Tuna out of a tin, though when we go away I do eat a lot of fresh fish.
    Living in the midlands means that the term fresh can be taken with a bit of salt! : o )
    I love the old ladies letter, and I also read about the early period of global warming… thats a nutty one…..
    As always its a pleasure to be back, enjoying a cup of the dark brew,and the company of course.
    I will try not to leave it so long next time…. promise : o )
    take care
    see you soon
    Woof woof

  6. Kenneth

    Morning Kate.
                             There exists an element of truth in many a old wives tale and some of them I think are funny.
    I recall some that my Grandmother and mother would use, with tongue in cheek of course.
    1.   Don’t sit on cold hard surfaces…you will get hemroids.  
    2.   Don’t stand close to the fire after coming in from the cold…you will get chilblains.
    3.   Don’t wear wet cloths…you will get arthritis in later years.
    4.   If you use the same pen when taking a test that you used to study the test, then the pen will remember the answers.
    5.   If three people are photographed together then the one in the middle will die first.
    6.   Salty soup is a sign that the cook is in love.
    7.   A white moth in the house or trying to enter the house is a sign of death.

    Wall to wall sunshine today…just what these old bones need, or is that another old wives tale.
    Have a pleasant weekend Kate.

  7. Judex

    Hi Kate,
    I like your article about Men sitting in hot bath for too long and become less fertile or infertile ! I hope I understood well !
    Medical Science is giving us a life bonus of 15 to 25 years. The world’s population is increasing so fast, and we are creating Global Warming.
    To solve this problem, I think we all should sit in a hot bath as frequently as possible. What is your opinin ?  Nature is also taking care of this overpopulation problem. See the floods everywhere and probably more to come.
    Kate, I wish you a peaceful Sunday.
    Take care,
    Judex XXXXX

  8. Kenneth

    Hello Kate.
                         Have a wonderful time on this your special day, and may all the things that are brought to you today are things of beauty and things that  make you happy.
    love Kenny.x

  9. Suki x

    Hi Kate
    Interesting article and VERY interesting comments.   Regarding the hot bath thingy, when a man gets over passionate at an inapropriate time we suggest he takes a cold shower, or I just throw a bucket of cold water over them, it works every time hee hee,
    I see you have a birthday ….. perhaps today? well you shair it with my grandson who will be 9 years old today, he has a cake in the shape of a football field, I hope you have a lovely day and a super cake too
    Love Suki x 


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