Those Old Wives’ Tales your grandmother used to tell you aren’t actually all that far off the mark, according to some new scientific studies.
The wisdom of old wives has developed over centuries of life and human experience – and while many of these have now been proven by modern science to be mere superstition, some of them do have some surprising scientific merit!
Here we present 12 old wives tales that science has proven have merit and may surprise you:
1. Chicken soup as medicine
We’ve all heard the ye olde wisdom that when you have a cold you should eat chicken soup, no? Well, turns out it has some truth to it. While chicken soup won’t go so far as curing you of the common cold, it will go some way towards relieving the symptoms.
Scientists have discovered that chicken soup can actually reduce inflammation by slowing down the white blood cell activity responsible for causing said inflammation. So go forth – and eat soup, snotty ones!
2. A long, arduous labour = baby boy
It’s true – science has proven that boys give their mothers more grief during labour than girls. A 2003 Irish study found that women who give birth to baby boys are more likely to run into complications during labour, resulting in a higher number of emergency caesareans.
Why? The study suggests that this is because boys are generally larger and heavier at birth than girls – and they have bigger heads.
3. An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Yeah, yeah – we all know eating fruit and veggies every day is important for our overall health. But an ‘apple’? A ‘day’? Turns out those old wives weren’t just nagging … they were actually spot on.
A 2013 study found that if all people aged over 50 in the UK ate just one apple per day, they would actually prevent – or delay – 8500 heart attacks and strokes every year. So let them eat apples!
4. Chocolate helps to relieve premenstrual cramps
Turns out those chocolate cravings you get just before you get your period don’t just rock up to undermine your healthy eating regime. They actually happen for physiological reasons.
Studies suggest that chocolate contains nutrients and antioxidants such as anandamide, which can have a calming effect, and keep anxiety and moods in balance. So you don’t need to feel guilty about inhaling that extra piece of chocolate – but don’t overdo it!
5. A hot bath decreases chance of conception for blokes
If you and your partner are trying to conceive, make sure the man in the equation avoids a hot bath prior to the ‘act’. While old wives have known it for eons, science has proven it to be so.
A 2007 scientific study found that ‘wet heat exposure’ in a hot tub, bath or jacuzzi, is in fact a real risk factor for male fertility. So skip the hot bath before bed, fellas.
6. Heartburn in pregnancy means you’re going to have a hairy baby
Yep, that’s right. Ancient wisdom predicts that if you’re pregnant and suffering from hardcore heartburn, chances are you’re going to give birth to a hairy one …
And science now backs this theory up! A 2007 study at John Hopkins University discovered, much to their surprise, that a sample of women who endured horrible heartburn did in fact give birth to babies that had more than the average amount of hair for a newborn bubba.
7. Full moon
No, you’re not imagining it when your kids go a bit bonkers when there’s a full moon on display. Those old wives have been hinting for centuries that a full moon can make for some weird-ass behaviour – from both animals and humans alike.
Generally, researchers have yet to prove categorically that our behaviour, fertility and birth rate, etc. are affected by lunar patterns (are you are LUNAtic?). But one study in particular has found that we find it more difficult to sleep around the time of a full moon, despite black-out blinds, etc.
8. Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight
Is the old adage “Red sky at night, sailor’s/shepherd’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s/shepherd’s warning” true, or is it just one of those silly old wives’ tale?
According to the Library of Congress there’s certainly a scientific explanation for it:
“When there’s a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles, indicating high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Meaning good weather will follow … A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.”
9. Hair of the dog
Did you overdo it last night and drink more champagne than you should have? Feeling a bit crook as a result? Ye ol’ wives would tell you to get straight back on that horse and have another drink to alleviate the symptoms of a hangover.
Do they speak the truth? Science says yes. Research has shown that consuming small doses of alcohol can actually relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But a word of caution – easing the effects can increase dependency on alcohol creating a vicious cycle. So best way to avoid a pounding hangover? Drink a big glass of water before going to bed. Or even better … just don’t drink alcohol to excess!
10. Count sheep to fall asleep
Those old wives have been telling wakeful kids for centuries to close their eyes and count sheep to fall asleep. And it turns out they’re right about that as well … Well, sort of.
You see, while there hasn’t been a specific scientific study proving that counting actual ‘sheep’ will work to put you to slumber, the use of visualisation or mental imagery can certainly assist in getting you to the land of nod. How? It can help to distract you from thinking stressful or anxious thoughts – commonly associated with insomnia – which will make you fall asleep sooner. So baa.
11. Not-so-sweet dreams are made of cheese
Have you experienced the phenomenon of eating a cheesy pizza for dinner and then having a sometimes scary, lucid dream that night? Well, this is so common that the old wives have been at it again, giving it a place in folklore.
But it also has a place in science too, apparently. There are some scientific theories that suggest it’s the bacterial and fungal elements of cheese that are the culprits. These contain psychoactive ingredients, which have the potential to affect dreams. BUT … not all cheese-induced dreams will be scary.
12. Fish is brain food
“Eat your fish, it’s good for you,” says every mother to every child, like, ever. It’s old wisdom that fish is good for the brain. But does this hold true in science? Why, yes. Yes it does.
A recent Harvard study found that the more fish mothers ate during their second trimester of pregnancy, the better their babies did on tests when they were six months old. But mums need to be mindful of the kind of fish they’re eating when pregnant to avoid the mercury-laden ones, such as swordfish.
Seasoning with spices can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with it but – like painting – with the right tools and practice, you’ll be cooking up a masterpiece in no time.
We created our ‘Guide to Flavoring with Spices’ infographic to show you some of the most common spices that are hiding in your cupboard and how to use them. This chart gives you an idea of the flavor each spice will add to your meal, what spices go well together, and what foods to add them to. Spices are alphabetized for easy reading.
|Can you decipher this:
Take you out to lunch.
How do you sleep at night? On your side, back, or your belly? Believe it or not it can say a lot about who you are when you’re awake.
Log position, in which the sleeper slumbers on their side, legs extended straight and arms by their sides, is the second most popular position. Though the position looks stiff, a person who sleeps like this is anything but rigid. Log sleepers are very social and easygoing people. Although they like conversing with all kinds of people, they definitely prefer running with an A-list crowd. They are also very trusting, which can sometimes make them seem a little gullible.
The yearner position looks a lot like the log. The sleeper snoozes on their sides but their arms are stretched out in front of them, kind of like a mummy. Studies say that people who choose this position are usually very inviting and open. Yet, they can be suspicious and are often very cynical. Yearners are also as slow as turtles when it comes to making decisions, but once their minds are set, they’re as stubborn as a mule about changing it.
Attention! A person that sleeps in soldier position is one that sleeps on their back with their arms straight down at their side. Solider sleepers also live up to their name, tending to be strong, silent types who don’t like a big fuss. They are very structured and take themselves, and those around them, very seriously. This also means that they have high expectations for themselves and others around them. They have a tendency to snore as well.
A freefaller sleeper dozes on their stomachs, head to the side, with their arms wrapped around a pillow. As the name suggests, freefaller sleepers have open, gregarious, and playful personalities. Yet they can be so to-the-point that it comes off as brash. They may seem free spirited most of the time, but freefaller sleepers are also secretly anxious and crave control. Although they tend to be risk takers, they’re surprisingly sensitive to criticism as well.
The starfish position is the least popular slumbering style. Starfish sleepers lie on their backs with their legs stretched out, and their arms stretched up by their head, looking a bit like a cactus. People who snooze in this unconventional style are very loyal pals and make friendship a huge priority in their lives. They love hearing the problems of others and will go out their way to help when they can. Makes sense, since it the position makes them look like they reaching their arms out for a hug.
The fetal position, in which a person sleeps on their side with their legs curled up, is one of the most popular. In fact, according to a survey performed by sleep specialist Chris Idzikowski, PhD and author of the book Learn to Sleep Well, 41 percent of people sleep this way. If you fancy the fetal position while you catch your Z’s, you may seem to have a tough exterior, but are very shy and sensitive on the inside. They can also overthink a problem and worry unnecessarily.
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