My Top 5 Favorite “Old Wives Tales” BUSTED.

First, let me say, the phrase ”Old Wives Tale” does bother me a bit.  So, it’s just us women spreading these false rumors huh?  Poo.  Men are guilty too.  Now that that’s off my chest, let’s run through a list of five of my personal favorite health rumors that are oh so fun to catch people on.  If you’re armed with the proper knowledge, you can win every time, after all, who doesn’t like to be right?     

Cracking your knuckles will lead to arthritis – FALSE.  Oh boy, my old college roommate would have had severely arthritic fingers long ago if this one were true.  The pop of a cracking knuckle is the result of the burst of air bubbles in the fluid surrounding the joint.  The air will return to the knuckle in about 25-30 minutes, thus making the knuckle cracking possible once again.  A knuckle cracking habit, while annoying to others, won’t send you down an arthritic road.  But, cracking may not come completely without damage.  A study done Raymond Brodeur involving 300 knuckle crackers showed that those who cracked most often had tissue damage and a decrease in grip strength, likely from repeated stretching of the joint.

For more info on knuckle cracking, check out this article by Discovery Health.             

You lose most of your body heat through your head – FALSE.  The old saying that 40-45% of the body’s heat is lost through the head just doesn’t hold.  If that were the case, going outside in cold temperatures without a hat would feel like going out without pants on.  It turns out covering up one part of the body has as much effect to combat the cold as covering up another.  But, studies have shown that the face, head and chest are more sensitive to the cold which makes it feel much better to cover them up on a cold day. 

More info on heat loss in a medical research report from The Guardian.  

Sugar makes kids hyper – FALSE.  What?!?  Taking away the sugar won’t keep my child under wraps?  I don’t want to know that this one is false, after all they’re taking away my power, right?  Surprisingly, a number of scientific studies have shown that sugar doesn’t make children hyper.  In fact, in those studies, children did not behave differently at all when given sugar full or sugar free diets.  But, this shouldn’t be a cause to let your child load up on sugary sweets.  Consequences like excess weight, tooth decay and vitamin deficiency still lurk.

More from the Businessweek article that summarizes a study from the British Medical Journal.        

Eating too much sugar can cause diabetes – FALSE.  First, I don’t know anyone who wants diabetes, and for good reason.  Fatigue, numbness and tingling and blurred vision are just some of the symptoms.  To realize what causes diabetes is to learn more about the two types of diabetes.  So here it goes, from the mouth of the American Diabetes Association.  “Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.  Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories, whether from sugar or from fat, can contribute to weight gain.  If you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating a healthy meal plan and regular exercise are recommended to manage your weight.”   There you have it.  Sugar is a means of adding calories to your diet but not a direct cause of diabetes. 

Click here for more about diabetes and its effects on the human body from the American Diabetes Association.

Eating spicy foods or stress cause ulcers – FALSE.  As I learned from a college biology course, eating spicy food or being stressed does not cause ulcers, a bacteria called helicobacter pylori does….and I didn’t even have to look up the spelling on that one.  Some medications can also cause stomach ulcers.  Is this a surprise to you?  It’s certainly a common myth.  An ulcer is an open sore in the lining of the digestive tract.  While stress and spicy foods will not cause an ulcer, they sure can exacerbate them.  So the real question for those suffering from ulcers is, how do I get rid of helicobacter pylori?  They are a tough group to kill because they live in the lining of the stomach.  Good news, a combination of acid reducing medications and a course of antibiotics can help.  Talk with your doctor to find out the best course of treatment for you.   

Check out the Mayo Clinic for more about ulcers.

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