Old wives’ tales that are actually true

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An old wives’ tale is a supposed truth which is actually spurious or a superstition. 

Old wives’ tales often centre on women’s traditional concerns, such as pregnancy, puberty, social relations, health, herbalism and nutrition.

Old wives’ tales are often invoked to discourage certain behaviours, usually of children, or to share knowledge of folk cures for ailments.

Science, though, is slowly catching up to these fables, and it turns out that some of them are based in fact. Here are some old wives’ tales with more than a hint of truth to them.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away
This is a no-brainer: eating fruit and veggies is good for you, but what about the literal interpretation?  Well, a 2013 study found that if all people aged over 50 in the UK ate just one apple per day, they would prevent – or delay – 8500 heart attacks and strokes every year. 

Count sheep to fall asleep
My kids refuse to try this one and instead insist on calling out, telling me that they can’t get to sleep. But the use of visualisation or mental imagery has been found to help distract people from stressful or anxious thoughts, which are commonly associated with insomnia.

A long, tough labour means a baby boy
A 2003 Irish study found that woman who gave birth to boys were more likely to run into complications during labour, highlighting the superstition that boys give their pregnant mothers a tougher time than girls. The study suggests this is because boys are generally larger and heavier at birth than girls and tend to have bigger heads.

Have chicken soup if you’re under the weather
Chicken soup does not cure the common cold, but it does help alleviate some of the symptoms. Scientists have discovered that chicken soup can reduce inflammation by slowing down the white blood cell activity that causes it.

Heartburn during pregnancy means the baby will have a full head of hair
We heard this one quite a bit when my wife was pregnant with our two girls, as she suffered from quite a bit of heartburn and it turned out to be true. Both our girls were born with a healthy amount of hair. It turns out there has also been a study supporting this theory. A 2007 study at John Hopkins University discovered that women who endured horrible heartburn did in fact give birth to babies that had more than the average amount of hair.

Do you know any old wives’ tales that you steadfastly believe to be true? What are they?

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Written by Ben

7 Comments

Total Comments: 7
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    Chicken soup does not fix anything it is the vegies in it. A good vegie broth can help with sickness, but more so lots of fruit.

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      It depends on how the chicken soup is made. It should be made with the whole chicken withe bones and cartilage being boiled for many hours. I have seen the suggestion that there are elements from within the cartilage that do have additional health benefits.
      Typically commercial chicken soups have to work on the placebo effect as there is as little as 3% chicken in that can.

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      Yep a good vegie broth with plenty of meat, great on a cold winters day as well.

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    Rosemary Stanton is a staunch supporter of using home cooked chicken soup. I am too.

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    Couldabeen is absolutely correct and not only is the home made soup good for colds etc the cartilage is good for knees and hips, so much so that the English Product Flexeze Fortify is a proven remedy for worn cartilage in the knees and hips with a success rate of over 90% for the knees and the low 80s for the hips ( it’s a bit harder to get it into the hip joint ) It is made from Chicken Cartilage. I should know I was booked in for a hip replacement, saw the Placebo, Double Blind Trial on the Net by two separate United States Universities and sent away for a four month supply. My hips are now pain free and the pain in my knees is now only caused by the trimmed miniscus. which is no longer recommended. When taking the Flexeze Fortify Vitamin C and exercise of the joints are proven to help the take-up of the product. I now take a small amount of Gelatin in my coffee just to maintain the repair. Isn’t nature wonderful.


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