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 An unpublished Swiss study in the 1940s also linked wet heat to temporary male infertility.
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.
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