We’ve all heard them before. Old wives’ tales that proport to know an old secret to eliminating that cold or relieve pain. Some even claim to “keep the doctor away” by making you so healthy that you won’t ever get sick! Sadly, a LOT of these are simply not backed by science. That isn’t to say all of them aren’t, however!
In the mood to test your guessing skills a bit? We’ll play a little game of two truths and a lie. Two of the old wives’ tales below are true and one will be false. We’ll include which was a lie at the end of the post.
Cold Weather Can Lead to a Cold
The old belief that the cold leads to a cold may not be as ridiculous as it sounds. While we now know that it’s the virus that causes the common cold, we also know that cold temperature can help lead to sickness. Scientists have found that spending time in the cold can lower your immune system. The cold constricts blood vessels, lowering the supply of warm blood to the area. This also lessens the supply of white blood cells, which weakens your immune response.
Winter creates the perfect environment to make you sick. The lowered humidity that comes with winter makes it easier for viruses to travel from person to person. Added to this, we tend to spend more time inside in the winter. After all, it’s cold out! The risk here is that we’re in a confined space with more people. The more people in an enclosed space, the higher the likelihood that you’ll be around someone who’s sick. When combined with a weakened immune system and a strengthened virus, getting sick is more likely.
Eating Carrots Improves Eyesight
Everyone has, at some point, been told to eat more carrots. They make you see better! It seems funny, but there’s some scientific sense behind this. Vitamin A is a very important nutrient for the overall health of your eye. It’s also a nutrient that is not created by our bodies, so we have to get it from our diet. This is where carrots enter into the equation. Carrots are rich in a provitamin known as beta-carotene. It’s the chemical compound that gives vegetables their coloration. Our bodies take beta-carotene and synthesize it into vitamin A.
The more carrots you eat, the more vitamin A you have in your body. Besides promoting overall eye health, beta-carotene can decrease night blindness caused by a lack of vitamin A. In this case, it only goes to show that improved eye health would lead to stronger eyesight.
Chicken Soup Can Relieve a Cold
When you were sick, one of the go-to “cures” from your mother was probably chicken noodle soup. Since then, science has found that mom may have been on to something. While the soup won’t cure your cold, it’ll alleviate many of the symptoms that are leaving you miserable. A large reason for this is the broth. It turns out that broth has a lot of positive effects in relation to the symptoms of a cold. For one, studies show that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory effects, clearing congestion and relieving other symptoms. Broth is also surprisingly hydrating, having just the right levels of liquid and salt.
Chicken noodle soup’s ingredients also help you feel better during a cold, especially the vegetables. The veggies in your soup have been linked to stronger immune systems and a quicker recovery from your illness. Chicken is no slouch either when it comes to helping you feel better. Lean chicken is high in protein, which also supports your immune system and helps you fight off your sickness. So, while chicken noodle soup won’t cure your cold, it’ll help you ‘survive’ until it’s gone.
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To see which old wives’ tale is a lie, keep reading below. Make your guess first — no peeking!
OK, so we’ll level with you. Almost everything we shared in this article is true. There is only a slight fib that causes one of the claims to be false. If you guessed home remedy No. 2, carrots and eyesight, you’re correct. Carrots do not directly cause better eyesight. While carrots can help improve levels of Vitamin A through beta-carotene, they will not make your eyesight 20/20. Instead, they’ll only promote eye health. While this may keep your eyes strong, it won’t take poor eyesight and make it better. You won’t stop needing glasses!
This myth actually has its origins in World War II. During the Blitzkrieg of Great Britain, troops of the Royal Air Force developed a striking ability to repel German pilots. We now know that this was the creation of a new radar technology. In order to confuse the Germans and protect their secret technology, the British undertook a propaganda campaign that claimed that carrots and Vitamin A were responsible for their soldiers’ impressive night vision. The idea took off and has been in the public imagination since.
So, what did you guess? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook if you got it right! Old wives’ tales are fun, while some sound outright crazy. They hearken back to a time when medical remedies were mostly the best guess based on what’s worked before. For this reason, it’s probably more surprising that some of them have been proven to work! If you have any homespun remedies you want us to look into, or you enjoyed this little game, send us your thoughts. You can get in touch with us on social media or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proof for Cold Weather Can Lead to a Cold
- CNN — ‘Wrap up’ advice to stop colds
- Harvard Health Publishing — Out in the cold
- PBS — Scientists Finally Prove Why Cold Weather Makes You Sick
- PLOS — Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature